Are fighting with diabetes? Learn how a natural therapies, healthy diet and certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your condition.
Nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, with about 90 to 95% having type 2 diabetes according to American Diabetes Association. Sugar, in the form of glucose, is the main source of fuel for body cells. The hormone insulin allows glucose in blood to enter cells. In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cells are resistant to effects of insulin.
Diabetes treatment can include many elements, including traditional medications, alternative medicine, and natural remedies. If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s very important that you learn all you can about your disease and the treatment options available to you—because you do have options. Careful management of type 2 diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications. If you are already on insulin, absolutely do not stop taking insulin, and do not stop measuring your glucose levels, without your doctor’s permission.
Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is in the process of being redefined as an autoimmune disease rather than just a metabolic disorder, said an author of a new study published in Nature Medicine this week, the findings of which may lead to new diabetes treatments that target the immune system instead of trying to control blood sugar.
Alternative therapies encompass a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of alternative treatments include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatments, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation exercises, herbal remedies, massage, and many others. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a “group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” Complementary medicine is used with conventional treatments, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
Commit to managing your diabetes
1. Learn all you can about type 2 diabetes
Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.
2. Identify yourself. Wear a tag or bracelet that says you have diabetes.
Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams. Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace regular physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
3. Keep your immunizations up to date
High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends hepatitis B vaccination if you haven’t previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B and you’re an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven’t previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.
4. Take care of your teeth
Diabetes may leave you prone to more-serious gum infections. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss your teeth once a day, and schedule regular dental exams. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen.
5. Pay attention to your feet
Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Dry them gently, especially between the toes, and moisturize with lotion. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness and swelling. Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that isn’t healing.
6. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be needed, too.
If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.
7. If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly
Alcohol, as well as drink mixers, can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and if you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and always with a meal.
Many herbal and natural therapies are the best home remedies to treat diabetes. Many common herbs and spices are claimed to have blood sugar lowering properties that make them useful for people with or at high risk of type 2 diabetes. A number of clinical studies have been carried out in recent years that show potential links between herbal therapies and improved blood glucose control, which has led to an increase in people with diabetes using these more ‘natural’ ingredients to help manage their condition.
Aloe Vera: Although aloe vera gel is better known as a home remedy for minor burns and other skin conditions, recent animal studies suggest that aloe vera gel may help people with diabetes.
Ginseng: Ginseng is a collective name for a variety of different plant species. In some studies utilising American ginseng, decreases in fasting blood glucose were reported. Varieties include Korean ginseng, Siberian ginseng, American ginseng and Japanese ginseng.
Chromium: Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and helps body cells properly respond to insulin. In fact, studies have found low levels of chromium in people with diabetes.
Gymnema sylvestre: Gymnema sylvestre is also employed in traditional ayurverdic medicine. The plant grows in the tropical forests of southern and central India, and has been linked with significant blood glucose lowering. Some studies in animals have even reported regeneration of islet cells and an increase in beta-cell function.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in nutritional supplements. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and for bone health.
Cinnamon: A couple of studies have found that cinnamon improves blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. In the first study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes were divided into six groups.