Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

What is diabetes and how does it affect the body?

Diabetes is a very common, serious condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high as the body has difficulties to utilize it properly. Diabetes occurs
  • when the pancreas does not produce any insulin
  • when the insulin production is insufficient
  • when the insulin produced by the pancreas does not work properly (insulin resistance)

There are many forms of diabetes, but the two most common are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells, the pancreatic beta cells. This type of diabetes afflicts children and young adults, although the disease onset can occur at any age. People with this type of diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes.


The majority of all diabetes is Type 2 diabetes (estimated 85%-95%), which in many cases can be prevented or reversed. People with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use the insulin they produce, but can often manage their condition through diet, exercise, and supplementation, although many go on to require medication, including insulin, to properly control blood glucose levels. It is estimated that 60 per cent or more of type 2 diabetes could be prevented. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance - a condition where the body cells cannot properly utilize insulin. With time the need for insulin in the body rises, but the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Research shows that exercise and moderate weight loss can delay or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in adults with the high risk of developing diabetes.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes represent a serious health threat. In 2007 diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the USA. It is estimated that approximately 7.8 per cent of the US population has diabetes. About one quarter of all cases remains undiagnosed. Statistics show that people who are obese are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people who manage to keep their weight at optimal levels.

Diabetes can affect every organ in the body. People with diabetes are susceptible to:
  • cardiovascular disease that may lead to heart attack and stroke
  • vision problems including blindness in extreme cases
  • nerve damage in the lower extremities that may lead to gangrene and amputation
  • kidney damage
  • gum disease that may lead to the loss of teeth

To prevent the diabetes related diseases, people with diabetes must make radical changes in their lifestyle:
  • they have to lose weight if they are obese and learn to keep their weight in the optimal range
  • they have to change their nutrition and follow a healthy meal plan
  • they have to increase their physical activity and develop an exercise program
  • besides keeping their blood glucose at the healthy level, they must control their blood pressure and their cholesterol levels
Diabetes reversal plan has to involve healthy nutrition and supplementation with blood glucose regulating supplements as well as physical activity. Self-education is vital. When we understand the dangers of diabetes and what is happening in our body when we eat, it is easier to introduce lifestyle changes and follow healthy nutritional plan. These strategies are not only life-saving. They allow people with diabetes to live a more normal, happier lives.

Anti-diabetes action plan involves:
  • healthy nutrition
  • supplementation
  • exercise
  • stress control 

Nutrition

Obesity is maybe one of the most important factors in developing insulin resistance syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. About ninety per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. It could not be stressed enough that weight loss is vital in reversing in preventing Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is very important as the fat cells secret pro-inflammatory proteins that interfere with the insulin receptors. There are some risks associated with a rapid weight loss. It is therefore advisable to consult a nutritionist who will be able to assess overall health of a person and devise an optimal nutritional plan. A low glycemic load (GL) diet created by the British nutritionist Patrick Holford as well as the Mediterranean Diet have proven to be most effective for preventing and reversing Type 2 diabetes. Nutrition rich in healthy oils, lean protein, whole grains, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is beneficial to health. It is important to avoid saturated and hydrogenated fat, sugar and all foods with sugar added to it, as well as coffee as it negatively affects the blood sugar levels. For those with a "sweet tooth" choosing a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, is important.

Supplements to regulate blood sugar

  • Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant made by our body. It is present in every cell where it converts glucose into energy. It is both, water and fat soluble. Research shows that it can regulate blood sugar levels. It is also useful in reducing the nerve damage caused by diabetes. As a nutritional supplement it is best taken in its biologically active form as R-lipoic acid. Daily dose is 300 mg.
  • Bitter gourd (Mormodica charantia) is well known in China for its medicinal properties, especially for its ability to regulate blood sugar. At least three active compounds involved in blood sugar regulation have been identified, most importantly charantin and polypeptide P. The Chinese use bitter gourd as vegetable in various dishes or as a tea. In the West an ongoing research is being conducted and the results are very promising as the active compounds appear to regulate sugar metabolism in the body.
  • Chromium polynicotinate is an organic form of the non-toxic mineral, essential for metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat in the body. Chromium helps to restore blood glucose balance. It increases both, insulin binding and insulin effectiveness. Moreover, it increases the number of insulin receptors. Research shows that up to 50 per cent Americans are deficient in chromium. Chromium can safely be taken in a dose of 400-1000 µg per day, which is more than eight times the current allowance. There is no known toxicity even at levels that are ten times higher than the recommended dose.
  • Cinnulin PF is a proprietary water soluble extract of cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii). Cinnulin appears to support glucose transport mechanisms and to diminish the blood glucose spikes that normally follow after a meal. The recommended dosage is 250 mg before each meal. It is important to know that cinnamon contains volatile oils that can be toxic if cinnamon is consumed in large amounts over a long period of time. Cinnulin, on the other hand, is extracted in a process in which the toxins found in whole cinnamon are filtered out.
  • Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Studies suggest that magnesium-rich diet can significantly lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance can be mitigated with supplementary magnesium. The recommended dose is 400 mg per day. For a better absorption magnesium is best taken with its co-factor vitamin B6.
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) contain compounds that can significantly lower blood sugar. These mushrooms have been used for centuries to successfully treat diabetes in China and Japan.
  • Vanadium is an essential trace mineral that is associated with the regulation of blood sugar. Vanadium as vanadyl sulfate has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 diabetes. Some vanadyl complexes, especially the vanadyl complex of garlic compound allixin, show strong insulin-mimetic activity. An extensive research is being conducted all over the world. Recommended doses of vanadium do not exceed 30 µg. Because the much higher therapeutic doses may be toxic to the body, it is not recommended to supplement with vanadium without supervision of a trained health care provider.
  • Zinc is involved in many bodily functions. Among others it is important to normal insulin activity. It regulates the production of insulin by the beta cells in the pancreas and stimulates the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity in the body. A study conducted in Finland shows that zinc helps prevent heart attacks in people with Type 2 diabetes. The recommended daily dose is 15-30 mg. Zinc is best taken with vitamin C and the amino acid histidine.
There are many more herbs and supplements believed to regulate blood sugar. Herbs such as cedar berries, coccinia cardifolia, golden seal root, licorice root, fenugreek, and gymnema are used to support healthy blood sugar. Vitamins A, B complex - especially biotin, C, and E and supplements such as CoQ 10, manganese, and glucomannan are useful in regulating blood glucose. It is important to consult a health care provider before beginning supplementation. 

Exercise

Exercise is vital to health in general, and to prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in particular. Regular exercise supports weight loss. It contributes to a better cardiovascular health and optimal glucose economy in the body. Regular exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity. It is considered that at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week is beneficial because the muscles use more sugar and oxygen during exercise sessions. Studies also show that walking as little as 2.2 miles a day may improve cardiovascular health and contribute to a permanent weight loss.

A continued moderate exercise would decrease blood sugar as the muscles store up to twenty times more glucose than they normally do in a resting state. Intense exercise, on the other hand, may have an opposite effect - the blood sugar level may increase. To the body intensive exercise is stressful and it responds to it by releasing stress hormones that call for more glucose to fuel the muscles. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms of too little or too much blood glucose during or after exercise in order to avoid complications.

Type 2 diabetes and stress

The latest research shows that chronic stress negatively affects blood sugar level in people with diabetes. In people with Type 2 diabetes the blood sugar level goes up. When we are stressed, the body produces stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones cause the blood glucose level to increase as the body needs energy for the "fight or flight" response. In healthy people the blood sugar goes back to normal with the help of body's own compensatory mechanisms. However, when a healthy person suffers from a chronic stress, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases. In people with Type 2 diabetes stress not only increases the blood sugar level, it also prevents the body from releasing insulin. The blood sugar remains elevated for a prolonged period of time causing irreversible damage in the body. It is absolutely vital to learn how to manage stress and relax properly in order to keep blood sugar from spiking. Moderate exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, or autogenic training are very helpful tools for stress control.

As diabetes in on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever to stay informed and understand this disease. Radical lifestyle changes may be life saving. Healthy nutrition, physical activity, and careful supplementation can help prevent or even reverse Type 2 diabetes and improve the overall quality of life.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.


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Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do We Really Need Nutritional Supplements?

There is no simple answer to this question. The common belief is that people who are healthy, exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, do not smoke or abuse alcohol, do not need any supplementation. It is believed that their daily nutritional needs are met and there is no need for additional supplementation. Another line of thought, however, advocates the need of supplementation independently of the lifestyle and nutritional preferences. Some of the writers and researches, especially in the field of gerontology and aging, as well as the specialists in ortho-molecular medicine* take nutritional supplementation one step further. They suggest that so called aggressive supplementation combined with healthy diet is the only way to deliver optimal amounts of nutrients. The doses of nutrients often exceed the generally accepted daily allowances and supplementation goes beyond the regular multivitamin and mineral formulas.

Are we malnourished?

In order to function optimally we need nutrients that constitute the building blocks of our bodies and sustain all the processes that keep us alive. A well balanced diet consisting of nutritious foods is the most important way to deliver all the nutrients that we require to stay healthy and fit. Unfortunately, many people do not receive the minimum dietary requirement with the foods they consume on daily basis. They become malnourished. Long-term nutritional deficiencies have adverse consequences on their health and may be the cause of serious chronic ailments.


There are many reasons why the food we consume daily may not provide us with all the nutrients we need to stay healthy and energetic. An average person does not receive the suggested RDA amount of nutrients from food. Nutritional value of fruit and vegetable depends on the soil on which they grow. Due to commercial farming practices the soil is often depleted of its mineral content. Harvest, transportation, and food processing may be responsible for some loss of nutrients as well. Very often the produce is harvested in an unripe state and transported over long distances. Such practices are responsible for the diminished nutrient content in our produce. Nutritional value of commercially raised animals, commercially produced eggs and dairy differs from the values that were measured only fifty years ago, but our nutritional needs may have increased over the years due to pollution and the stressful lifestyles we are leading.

What are nutritional supplements?

Nutritional supplements are preparations intended to deliver nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. They can come in form of tablets, capsules, powder, or in a liquid form and are to be ingested. They are meant to replenish what is missing in one's diet and are either considered to be foods or drugs depending on the regulations of a particular country. The dosage of nutrients vary from preparation to preparation and while some offer a minimum necessary for the overall well being, other offer mega-doses that exceed the daily RDA allowance. There are also supplements containing nutrients for which there is no established daily dose.

What is RDA?

RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance is the amount of certain nutrients that a healthy individual should consume daily in order to maintain good health and decrease the risk of developing chronic disease. There are allowances for vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber. The individual need for nutrients may vary greatly depending on age, gender, personal disease history, and lifestyle factors such as veganism, medication, alcoholism, drug abuse, or smoking.

How to choose the right nutritional supplement?

Choosing a nutritional supplement may be very difficult unless we know what our needs and deficiencies are. Most of the commonly available and inexpensive nutritional supplements contain synthetically manufactured nutrients. They contain fillers and artificial coloring and may be full of allergens. The more expensive, state of the art nutritional supplements are made of extracts derived from plants and provide nutrients in higher concentrations. Nutrients that come together with their co-factors are more bio-available and effective. Such supplements are formulated for maximum absorption and use the pharmaceutical grade active nutritional ingredients. They do not contain allergens such as lactose, soy, yeast, or gluten, and are free of toxic contaminants.

The most commonly used caking agents, fillers, or flow agents such as magnesium stearate often interfere with the nutrient absorption making the low-dose supplements inefficient if not completely useless. Magnesium stearate, for instance, not only decreases absorption of nutrients, it may also be toxic and is suspected of suppressing the immune system. However, finding nutritional supplements that are free of magnesium stearate is not very easy as even the best ones on the market contain this agent which is made from hydrogenated cottonseed oil and commonly used as a flow agent to facilitate the manufacturing process.

If you decide to use a nutritional supplements, it is often best to consult a certified health care professional. If you have an existing medical condition or a medical history, it may be necessary to perform blood tests in order to find out your deficiencies or contra-indications. Take particular care when purchasing your supplement that you know and understand any added ingredient and its toxicity or allergenic potential. You do not want to take anything that may cause adverse reactions. Moreover, it is important to know whether your supplement interacts with any medication you are currently taking.

Conclusion

Supplements are very useful and necessary to alleviate any nutritional deficiencies, but they should never be taken in place of proper nutrition. Active lifestyle and healthy eating habits are absolutely necessary for optimal health. But unless we grow, harvest, and prepare our food ourselves, we must be aware that our nutritional needs may not be met on daily basis. High quality supplements may have be taken additionally to enhance our well being and deliver what is missing on our plates. The natural aging process is also responsible for some nutrient deficiencies. As we age, we may not be able to metabolize and absorb all the nutrients that we need. Supplementation can help us maintain the equilibrium and slow down the degenerative processes. As Dr. Linus Pauling postulated in 1960, "Optimum nutrition and correct nutritional supplementation is the medicine of tomorrow." Today this statement is more relevant than ever.

By Dominique Allmon ©2009

*Ortho-molecular medicine is a complementary therapy form that seeks to prevent or treat diseases with high doses of nutrients that are either taken as dietary supplements or in form of food. The phrase was coined by Dr. Linus Pauling


    

This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License
Do We Really Need Nutritional Supplements? by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Prevent SAD with Nutrition

Winter depression, also known as the Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a disorder that affects normally mentally healthy people, especially in the Northern hemisphere, during the winter months. Women are more often affected than men. The serious mood changes are recurrent and set in with the change of seasons and usually last from November until March or April. Most sufferers have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to winter infections. The SAD symptoms include:
  • mood swings
  • depressed mood
  • lack of energy
  • lethargy
  • decreased concentration and memory function
  • withdrawal
  • cravings for sweet and starchy foods that might eventually result in weight gain
  • increased need for sleep and difficulty to wake up in the morning and start the day
  • decreased libido
  • irritability
  • in some severe cases, suicidal tendencies.
These symptoms are very much the same as the symptoms of clinical depression and some people with SAD may even require hospitalization.


Treatment of SAD normally includes bright light therapy, medication with antidepressants, supplementation with melatonin and Vitamin D, and behavioral therapy.

The reasons for SAD are still widely disputed. Some researchers postulate the serotonin connection. Serotonin which is considered to be the mood neurotransmitter, reaches its lowest levels in the brain during the winter months and women are more affected by its fluctuation than men. Serotonin affects sleep pattern, appetite, and metabolism. The imbalances of serotonin can be easily corrected with nutrition and nutritional supplements. Serotonin is synthesized in the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Diet rich in tryptophan helps to maintain high levels of serotonin. Protein-containing foods such as turkey, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, bananas and wheatgerm, are rich in tryptophan and should be consumed on daily basis. You can also supplement your diet with L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP which is a precursor to tryptophan. It is important to remember that 5-HTP should not be taken together with Vitamin B6 as it might convert into serotonin before it crosses the blood-brain barrier. There should be about six hours time interval between ingestion of these two supplements. 5-HTP is best taken on empty stomach about 30 minutes before bedtime.

The bright light therapy is successfully used in countries like Canada and Finland. Exposure to light activates the production of Vitamin D in the body. Research shows that there is a connection between depression and the levels of Vitamin D in patient's blood. Vitamin D may help alleviate depression not only in patients with the SAD, but those suffering from clinical depression as well. Vitamin D can be safely used in higher doses and it is recommended to take 3,500 to 7,000 IU per day. Intensive exposure to sun during the summer months results in blood levels of Vitamin D equivalent to those produced by the supplementation with 10,000 IU daily. The dose of supplemental Vitamin D can be reduced if fatty salt water fish is consumed on regular bases. Cod liver oil is probably the richest source of Vitamin D. One hundred grams provide about 10,000 IU of Vitamin D. In addition, cod liver oil contains very high level of Vitamin A as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids.Maybe the idea of consuming large amounts of cod liver oil does not sound like much fun, but there are excellent supplements on the market made made from high quality fermented cod liver oil.

Oily salt water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring, is the best source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is proven that nutrition rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids effectively enhances mood and alleviates depression. People who are deficient in omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially EPA, are more likely to experience mood swings and depression. Eat fish three to four times a week or take 1000 to 2000mg omega-3 fish oil in a capsule form. Look for products of highest purity that are hexane-free.

We tend to eat more fruits and vegetables during summer, but there is no reason why you should not eat them during the winter. On the contrary. Putting more fresh raw fruits and vegetables on your plate will help you maintain high energy levels and deliver vitamins and minerals that your body need to function optimally. The cold season offers a multitude of colorful fruits and vegetables. Try beets, cabbages, pumpkin, pomegranate, persimons, and citrus. Add nuts to your diet, especially walnuts and almonds. Supplement with high quality multivitamin to make sure that you are getting enough vitamins of the B group. Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Cyanocobalamin (B12), and Folate (B9) are all very important when you want to enhance your mood.

Chocolate is considered to be a pleasure-giving food. It contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA). Phenylethylamine is chemically related to amphetamine. It tends to rise the blood pressure and increase the secretion of endorphins. This gives a feeling of alertness and contentment. Research demonstrated that phenylethylamine acts as fast as amphetamine. The dose does not have to be increased continually, however, as it does not produce tolerance. Phenylethylamine helps to elevate mood and brings relief to even very depressed people. Additionally, the pleasant smell, taste, and texture of chocolate may help release additional endorphins in the brain. When buying chocolate, choose the one with the highest level of cocoa and very little sugar. There are products on the market made of raw cocoa. Some may contain as much as 87 - 99 per cent cocoa. Remember that chocolate also contains the stimulating caffeine which may cause agitation.

If you suffer from SAD or mood swings, it is vital that you keep your blood sugar levels well balanced. Avoid stimulants such as coffee and other caffeine containing drinks. Eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you possibly can. To curb the sugar craving take 600 µg chromium polynicotinate. This will help you feel more energetic. Spend some active time outdoors and enjoy the occasional sunny day. Exercise regularly and take time to relax and pamper yourself. And no matter what, next Spring is only a few months away.

By Dominique Allmon 


      

This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License
The Joy Diet for the Winter by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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