“How we eat, how much we exercise, how we manage stress, our exposure to environmental and food-based toxins, and the structural violence or “obesogenic environment” that influences these factors are what is truly driving our diabesity epidemic.” ~ Mark Hyman (Author of “The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now!”)
Diabetes and Environment
When discussing chronic illnesses in functional medicine, diabetes is often one of the first to come up.
Type II Diabetes (versus juvenile diabetes) is the most common type and disease fueled mainly by lifestyle.
Although there can be a genetic component, as it tends to run in families, the environment generally ‘pulls the trigger’, so to speak, in diabetes progression.
This means that you can have several genes associated with diabetes. However, it can be prevented and even reversed with the right lifestyle factors.
It may take a combination of conventional and complementary care to manage your diabetes if it has already progressed, so be sure to discuss any treatment interventions with your physician.
Of the ways to control diabetes, I have listed one conventional and four integrative ones below. They are as follows:
- A Low Glycemic Diet
- Incorporating Nutritional Supplements
- Blood Sugar Monitoring
Ways to Control Diabetes
1. A Low Glycemic Diet
Regarding diabetes prevention and treatment, the extent to which diet can play a role in disease progression cannot be understated.
A few factors in food, such as additives that make foods highly palatable and added sugars, can lead directly to blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, and diabetes over time. These factors can be correlated with increased cravings leading to overeating, playing a more insidious role in the diabetes epidemic we see today.
A low glycemic diet keeps your blood sugar relatively stable and would include more/less of the foods below.
Foods to Include:
- Lots of fiber from vegetables and fruit
- Adequate protein with every meal
- Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil in moderation
Foods to Avoid:
- Added sugars
- Processed foods with multiple additives (including those branded as ‘natural’)
- Foods high in trans or saturated fats
Portion control may also play a role, although paying attention to the types of foods consumed and their effect on blood sugar can go a long way in minimizing cravings and overeating.
Willpower is a finite resource, and an easy way to avoid indulging in less-than-optimal food choices is to minimize access and keep highly palatable processed foods out of the house.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the optimal diet for your particular makeup.
2.Incorporating Nutritional Supplements
Supplements can be powerful nutritional agents that can help with disease prevention and progression. However, the devil is in the details when it comes to supplements.
Brand, sourcing, dosing, and whether there are interactions with medications are all factors to consider.
The following supplements are helpful in the prevention and management of Type II Diabetes:
- Fish oil
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Bitter Melon Extract
Talk to a Functional MD or Naturopathic Doctor about the ideal supplements protocol for your unique physiology and the details on brands, sourcing, and dosing. Your pharmacist should also be able to check for interactions with any medications you might be taking.
Engaging in regular physical activity will help regulate your blood sugar levels.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous weekly exercise.
Try incorporating forms of exercise you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing, into your routine. You’ll be much more likely to keep up with your exercise routines if they include naturally enjoyable activities.
4.Blood Sugar Monitoring
Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels to understand how your body responds to different foods, activities, and medications.
This information can help you adjust your diet, exercise, and medication regimen.
Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate frequency and method of monitoring.
In the pre-diabetic range, lean on exercise, diet, and supplements to reverse your blood sugar levels.
Depending on your blood sugar levels and discussions with your Doctor, you may need to incorporate diabetes medications or insulin in your protocol.
Speak to your healthcare provider regarding the options. Sometimes a combination of medication and lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise may be most effective if your Diabetes is relatively progressed.
Next Steps to Prevent or Manage Diabetes
Type II Diabetes is predominantly a lifestyle disease, with some genetic factors at play.
If you have diabetes in your family or have gotten information suggesting you may be heading in that direction, be sure to take action as soon as you can, knowing that there’s a lot you can do to prevent and manage diabetes.
You have what it takes inside you to make a definite choice that will change the future trajectory of your health.
Our team at Tiger Medical has the experience, clinical skills, and coaching acumen to help you get your health and blood sugar in check.
To talk to one of our professionals, click here to schedule your call!
For further reading, view the following articles on our learning center: