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Diabetes


Introduction

Diabetes (medically known as diabetes mellitus) is a condition characterized by poorly managed blood sugar levels that elevate in response to insufficient production and/or utilization of the hormone, insulin. Insulin promotes the absorption of glucose at the cell site in an effort to convert sugar into energy. In diabetes, the body either fails to utilize insulin efficiently, does not make enough insulin, or both. The result is an accumulation of glucose in the blood, which, if left untreated, may lead to various medical complications.

There are two major types of diabetes: type 1diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disorder of the body's immune system. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. When beta cells are destroyed, insulin can no longer be produced and blood glucose levels begin to rise. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious damage to all of the organ systems of the body.

Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. Scientists do not yet know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but they believe that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved. Individuals with type 1 diabetes must take insulin in order for their bodies to process sugar efficiently. This involves undergoing daily injections, or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump, and testing their blood sugar levels multiple times a day. People with diabetes must also carefully balance their food intake and their exercise to regulate their blood sugar levels in an attempt to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening.

Type 2, adult-onset, non-insulin dependent diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It affects 90 to 95% of the population and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Many of these cases could have been prevented by dietary intervention. With its complications, diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It is a chronic degenerative disease in which disturbances in normal insulin mechanisms impair the body's ability to use carbohydrates. Type 2 diabetics produce insulin, however it is not used properly (insulin resistance), causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream and depriving cells of the nutrients they need to function.

In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetic complications such as neuropathy (nerve damage), retinopathy (eye damage), nephropathy (kidney damage), and cardiomyopathy (heart disease).

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Common Symptoms

Gh blood sugar; constant hunger with rapid weight change; blurred vision; a tendency to infections; leg cramps, tingling in the extremities; impotence; dry, itching skin; insatiable thirst; lack of energy; kidney malfunction leading to bladder and prostate problems, and excessive urination with high sugar in t he urine; obesity; hypertension; accelerated aging.

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Common Causes

Strongly linked to a modern fast food diet - too many refined foods, fats and carbohydrates; glucose and fat metabolism malfunction leading to obesity (the leading cause); chromium, HCL deficiency; possibly a virus; pancreas and liver malfunction from excess caffeine, alcohol and stress overloads; inherited proneness usually accompanied by several allergies; hypothyroidism.

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Natural Treatment

Controlling diabetes naturally is ideal and also a way to avoid and/or reduce the need for oral hypoglycemic medications and insulin. Diet and exercise are the most important ingredients in promoting blood sugar balance. A diabetic diet is individualized depending upon gender, medications and weight goals. (online or in person) In many cases, therapeutic vitamins and minerals may provide support in promoting insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance. Exercise and physical activity help make insulin receptors more efficient at utilizing the insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. High stress and poor sleep will cause blood sugar levels to rise. Therefore, stress management and sleep support are a significant part of a diabetic program as well.

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References

Diabetes public health resource. Center for Disease Control. 2008. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/general07.htm#what. Accessed on October 22, 2009.

Page L. Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone Eleventh Edition. Traditional Wisdom, Inc; 2000.

Rister S. Healing Without Medication. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc; 2003: 229-233.

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