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Over one and a half million Zoomers are currently living with Diabetes in Canada today. (1) As disturbing as this figure may be, even more troublesome are the projections made by the Canadian Diabetes Association regarding the future of Diabetes in our country. According to a special medical committee convened by the CDA, “if the increase in the prevalence of diabetes follows current trends, the number of individuals with diabetes in the general population in Canada will increase approximately to 2.4 million patients in 2016.The total healthcare costs are projected to increase to $8.14 billion in 2016. This increase represents a 75% increase in healthcare costs.” (2) The cost of diabetes is much greater than dollars and cents. Diabetes “greatly increases one’s risk of many degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and loss of nerve function.” (3)
Diabetes is a disease whereby carbohydrates, fats and proteins are improperly metabolised and blood glucose (sugar) remains high, even after periods of fasting. Sugars broken down from foods consumed are meant to be transported into cells as a fuel source, but when this mechanism is impaired (either because the pancreas is not making sufficient insulin to facilitate the sugar transport, or cells become resistant to the action of insulin) then Diabetes results.
There are several different types of diabetes. Type I or Juvenile diabetes occurs in 10% of those with the disease and is most often seen in children and adolescents. Type I diabetes results from an anti-body reaction to one’s own pancreatic cells, causing damage and impairing the natural sugar-regulating action of this organ. Secondary diabetes can occur after a primary disease (such as pancreatic disease) damages tissues of the pancreas. Gestational diabetes refers to a glucose intolerance seen in women during pregnancy. However, the majority of those with diabetes, roughly 90% of those diagnosed, have Type II diabetes. (4)
Until recently, Type II diabetes was referred to as “Adult On-Set” diabetes because it is considered a lifestyle disease, typically presenting after several decades of poor dietary choices and inactivity. The modern day tragedy of type II diabetes is that with the high consumption of overly processed food, high sugar intake and minimal activity across all age groups this degenerative disease is being seen in patients that are getting younger and younger every year. In this chapter we will focus on information surrounding type II diabetes.
Factors to Consider
- Glycation is a term that describes a reaction between glucose (sugar) and protein in the body, causing them to bind together. When “glycated proteins” form they cause extensive damage to cells in numerous ways, like damage to kidneys, nerves and eyes. (5) Glycation also contributes to inflammation in the body, increases free radical production and impairs cellular function. (6, 7)
The damage triggered when sugars attach to protein can contribute to cellular aging, inflammation, dysfunction and degeneration in multiple systems of the body including blood, blood vessels, nerves and organ tissues, therefore effective treatment of diabetes must take measures to not only regulate blood glucose levels, but also inhibit glycation as well.
- Oxidative damage is a natural process that occurs when cells are exposed to oxygen during respiration. Like a car that sits out in the elements and begins to rust over time, the same “rusting” can occur in humans on a cellular level. Ideally, we consume ample “anti-oxidant” nutrients to keep this natural process in balance but in diabetic patients, oxidative damage occurs at a rate which is faster than average. This increased pace makes the intake of high potency anti-oxidant nutrients essential for diabetics to prevent cellular degeneration and pre-mature aging.
Conventional Medical Treatment
Diet & Exercise. The management of blood glucose levels through lifestyle changes is an essential first step in the battle against diabetes. The diet currently endorsed by Canadian & American Diabetes Associations is a high carbohydrate, high plant-fibre diet. Multiple research studies illustrate that diabetes is a disease clearly linked to inadequate fibre intake. Frequent intake of pears, apples, oat bran, legumes, nuts and seeds will provide both the soluble and insoluble fibre necessary to encourage balanced blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Fibre. A multitude of clinical research and population studies have demonstrated that diabetes is a disease clearly linked to the inadequate intake of dietary fibre. (12, 13) Although it is currently recommended that the typical adult diet consist of at least 35 grams of fibre daily, the average Zoomer consumes a mere 12 grams per day. Frequent consumption of fibre rich food such as pears, apples, oat bran, legumes, nuts and seeds will provide both the soluble and insoluble fibre necessary to encourage balanced blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
As the process glycation (see explanation above) occurs in diabetic patients, there is an increased rate of oxidative damage and subsequently an above-average need for antioxidant nutrients. Most Zoomers fall dramatically short of eating the recommended 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, the most abundant food sources of antioxidants. For those with diabetes, this shortfall in the diet creates an even greater deficit as their need is far above average. Scientists have identified the plant compounds in fruits and vegetables that provide these protective benefits; polyphenols and proanthocyadins. A high potency antioxidant supplement that contains these natural compounds from nature’s most abundant sources such as; Grape Seed, Red Wine, Pine Bark, Bilberry, Green Tea, Cranberry, Olive Leaf and Citrus can provide adequate amounts of antioxidant nutrients without the burden of eating extra-ordinary volumes of food each day.
Supermeal is a whole-food, meal replacement or dietary supplement specially formulated for the nutritional needs of men and women age 45+. The balance of low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein and fibre make Supermeal an ideal tool for diabetes management. For those who have difficulty swallowing tablets, Supermeal contains a complete multivitamin and mineral supplement in every serving.
Supermeal, as part of a balanced whole foods diet, benefits diabetic Zoomers in several important ways – One serving of Supermeal provides:
- The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of ten servings of fruit and vegetables.
- The protein of five egg whites balanced with low-glycemic carbohydrates for blood sugar control.
- The fibre of four bowls of oatmeal to ensure a slow release of sugar – versus the quick spike experienced with low fibre foods.
- Contains chia seeds, a natural source of essential fatty acids with antioxidant benefits and blood sugar balancing effects.
- Bioenergy Ribose, to enhance energy and promote regular activity
- Is naturally sweetened with low-glycemic, 100% natural and diabetic friendly sweeteners: Yacon & Stevia.
In a recent study conducted by researchers at the San Diego School of Medicine, the compounds DHA and EPA from omega 3 fish oil supplements, demonstrated a dramatic ability to work on specific cellular receptor sites, improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation in animal studies. For 15 weeks, two groups of mice were fed high fat diets to induce obesity and insulin resistance. The positive effects of omega 3 supplementation, including improved insulin sensitivity and decreased inflammatory markers were seen after only 5 weeks. (16)
“Cinnamon has a long history of use in both Eastern and Western Cultures as medicine.” (17) Scientific studies have supported the use of cinnamon as a sedative for smooth muscle (like the muscle found in the middle layer of arterial vessels) and circulatory stimulant. (18) A study examining 60 patients with Type II Diabetes for 40 days revealed that consuming 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon daily reduced fasting blood glucose by up to 29 percent, triglycerides by up to 30 percent, LDL cholesterol by up to 27 percent and total cholesterol by up to 26 percent. (19)
Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), member of the gourd family of fruit, has green skin and appears something like an ugly, bumpy cucumber. Beneath its unattractive exterior is a white flesh and loosely packed seeds with serrated edges. One of the most popular fruits in South East Asia, Bitter Melon has a long history of medicinal use in both Ayurvedic Healing and Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, Bitter Melon has a potent healing capacity that has been scientifically proven to work as well as pharmaceutical drugs for some diabetic patients (20). The health benefits of Bitter Melon are derived from the insulin-like compounds contained in the juice of the fruit which have an exceptional capacity to lower blood-sugar levels without the side effects of insulin, even when consumed in small amounts.
Zwell Lifestyle Recommendations
CRON. When we think of diabetes control, we tend to think only of blood sugar management. This is an essential aspect of living better with a diabetes diagnosis but the role of good nutrition does not end there. Because of increased glycation and oxidative damage a diet that is nutritionally dense, while remaining calorically balanced is of the utmost importance for diabetics. The diet must consist of high potency anti-oxidant foods filled with vitamins, minerals and co-factor nutrients without adding excess calories that can contribute to over-weight. Scientific studies show us that diabetics have an above-average need for protective and anti-inflammatory nutrients and so special care must be taken to consume the highest quality food in at all times.
Sleep & Stress. Insufficient sleep is often a contributing factor in weight gain by triggering the release of stress hormones which negatively impact blood sugar control and encourage abdominal weight gain. Sleep is your body’s time for repair and rejuvenation. When this natural healing process is disturbed by sleeplessness a cascade of negative consequences begin. Research shows that after only a few nights of inadequate sleep stress hormones rise, setting off a chain reaction of daytime irritability and blood sugar imbalances that set the stage for serious degenerative disease.
Engage every day in activities that help reduce and manage your stressful feelings before they trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages abdominal weight gain, wreaks havoc on blood sugar balance and can contribute to poor quality sleep.
Sweat. Although diabetics need to take care in designing a fitness routine, the effort to do so is completely worth the reward. Diabetics who engage in regular physical activity and train their bodies enjoy the benefits of enhanced insulin sensitivity, improved glucose tolerance, reduced serum cholesterol and triglycerides and improved weight loss. (21) Animal studies suggest that exercise may achieve these benefits by acting on insulin receptor sites and increasing tissue levels of chromium. (22)
Connect. Eating well, moving your body, resting and de-stressing appropriately must be integrated into your way of living in order to produce consistent health benefits. Keeping up these routines in isolation can be an overwhelming feat. When you are living with a diabetes diagnosis and working to make the best choices for yourself every day, forming alliances with others who share your goal can make all of the difference. Eating well is much easier when you dine with others who want to make food their medicine. Work outs don’t feel like work when you are walking, cycling or jogging with a friend. Strengthen the network of health conscious folks in your life and truly enjoy the process of living better longer.
Safety Considerations & Contraindications
- This information is meant for educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure disease. If you require medical attention, please seek a licensed health care provider.
Therapeutic use of natural food constituents (such as vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts) may potentiate the effects of prescription medications. Speak with a licensed health care practitioner about possible interactions.
As new lifestyle, diet and exercise choices improve blood sugar control, prescription medications should be monitored by a licensed medical professional to ensure proper dosing.
Check with your health care professional before beginning any exercise or diet program.
These recommendations may not be suitable for children, pregnant or lactating women.
1. Canada Public Health Agency http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/health53a-eng.htm
2. The Projection of Prevalence and Cost of Diabetes in Canada: 2000 to 2016 Arto Ohinmaa1,2 PhD, Philip Jacobs1,2 PhD, Scot Simpson1 PharmD MSc, Jeffrey A. Johnson1,2 PhD Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
3. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998.
4. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998.
5. Forbes JM et al 2003; Sakurai S et al 2003
6. Wright E Jr. et al 2006
7. Forbes JM et al 2003; Schmidt AM et al 2000
8. Joshi SR 2005
9. V.A. Koivisto and R.A. De Fronzo, “Exercise in the treatment of Type II Diabetes,” Acta Endocrin suppl 262 (1984): 107-111.
10. J.V. Shelby, B. Newman, M.C. King, et al, “Environmental and Behavioural Determinants of Fasting Plasma Glucose in Women: A Matched Co-Twin Analysis,” Am J Epidem 125 (1987): 979-88.
11. M.L. Pollack, J.H. Wilmore, and S.M. Fox Exercise in Health and Disease (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1984).
12. D. Burkitt and H. Trowell, Western Diseases: Their Emergence and Prevention (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1981).
13. G. Vahouny and D. Kritchevsky, Dietary Fibre in Health and Disease (New York: Plenum Press, 1982).
14. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998. Pg 114
15. Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, The Vitamin D Solution
16. September 3, 2010 issue of the journal Cell
17. Study of 60 individuals with Type II diabetes. Peshawar University, Pakistan
18. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998.
19. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998.
20. Ahmad, N., M.R. Hassan, H., Halder, K.S. Bennoor. Effects of Momordica charantia (karolla) extracts on Fasting and Postprandial Serum Glucose Levels in NIDDM Patients. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull 1999;25(1):11-13
21. Michael Murray, ND., Jospeh Pizzorno, ND., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition, Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1998. Pg 428
22. O. Pederson, H. Beck-Nielson, and L. Heding, “Increased Insulin Receptors after Exercise in Patients with Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus”. N Eng J Med 302 (1980): 886-92