Age-related diabetes and nature

Physician and health consultant Carsten Vagn-Hansen writes about the kind of diabetes closely associated with an inappropriate lifestyle, namely type II or age-related diabetes. The following contains a great deal of good advice.

There are more people suffering from age-related diabetes, otherwise known as type II diabetes, than ever before. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described it as an epidemic.

There also no doubt that type II diabetes is a lifestyle disease, which is closely connected to welfare and abundance, which leads to people to move to little and eat too much. It causes one to become overweight, thus causing the insulin produced by the pancreas to function poorly. Insulin resistance, also called decreased insulin sensitivity, ensues. Insulin resistance prevents the body’s cells from absorbing and using the sugar in the blood (blood glucose) to make energy.

Because insulin is important for the cells’ uptake of blood sugar, the body tries to rectify insulin resistance by producing more insulin. Almost all overweight type II diabetics have too much insulin in the blood most of the time, but this is often not enough to hold the blood sugar levels normal. Insulin is the key that sugar needs to leave the blood and enter the body’s cells where it is used for energy. Those with type II diabetes lack keyholes for the insulin, so large amounts of insulin-“keys” don’t help.

Some evidence indicates that an excessive amount of insulin in the blood has negative effects. Insulin stimulates the growth of muscle cells in the blood vessel walls and thereby stimulates the development of arteriosclerosis. Insulin also has negative effects on the system that the body uses to dissolve blood clots. Insulin causes the liver to produce more harmful LDL-cholesterol which in turn increases the amount of another blood fat, triglycerides, which causes the amount of good cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, to fall. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is also a relationship between excessive insulin and high blood pressure and some studies have shown that insulin promotes the growth of malignant cancer cells. If obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are present together it can be regarded as a “deadly triad” because the risk of death increases drastically with this combination. The chief reasons for insulin resistance are a poor diet and overeating, too little use of the muscles, and the resulting tendency for increased body weight.

A small group of type II diabetics are younger, either normal or underweight, and often have a double edged problem. They both lack insulin and the insulin that they have does not work properly. They lack both the keys and the keyholes. Their lack of insulin also causes tiredness because insulin is an important tissue-building and stimulating hormone. This group of diabetics are often called type 1½.

It is important to find all of the people to have deceased insulin sensitivity or diabetes who are unaware of their condition. It is possible to have type II diabetes for many years without having noticeable symptoms, or even develop complications, before it is diagnosed.

The most important goal of type II diabetes treatment is the reestablishment of normal insulin sensitivity. You and nature have much to contribute towards this goal. Many people could become healthy if they follow a natural course. This is what this article is about.

Blood pressure
Blood pressure is very important in type II diabetes. The newest studies have shown that it is more important to keep the blood pressure down and hold the blood sugar at normal levels. This means that it is not good enough to have only slightly high blood pressure. It needs to be normal, which is to say under 140/85.

This requires a lifestyle change to a lifestyle good for diabetics. You can do the following to lower you blood pressure
  1. Don’t eat a lot of salt (remove the salt shaker from the table and don’t use too much salt in cooking.
  2. Do not eat liquorish
  3. Keep a good exercise regimen.
  4. Start going to a sauna regularly. This relaxes the small arteries, which are often responsible for increasing blood pressure (they do this to ensure that enough blood comes to the tissues.
  5. Do not smoke (this contracts the arteries and increases the risks of cancer and arteriosclerosis).
  6. Learn meditation and relaxation techniques and do them daily as much as possible.
  7. Keep your weight normal.
  8. Eat low fat and fiber rich foods. Use olive oil.
  9. Eat fruit regularly.
  10. Eat celery (three stalks daily to relax the arteries) and garlic.
  11. Take supplements of magnesium (not Magnesia).
  12. Vitamin C can help to stabilize the blood pressure. Diabetics often lack vitamin C. Take for example 750 mg 2 times daily. The product AL-C contains both vitamin C and magnesium.
  13. Eat fatty fish, preferably daily (potentially as fish oil supplements).
  14. Find out what makes you stressed and raises your blood pressure. Buy a unit to measure your blood pressure and use it to find your circulatory reactors to different stimuli.
  15. Do not drink too much alcohol.
As you can see, these recommendations are good for all diabetics.

Humans evolved as plant eaters and we are designed to hunt and farm with our own strength and resources. With time we have gone over to eating much more meat and fat and much less vegetables and we use machines to do everything which strains the body. We have forgotten what it means to starve, when there simply isn’t any food available.

During World War II, the number of newly diagnosed diabetics fell. Towards the end of the war there were no new cases of type II diabetics in Holland because people didn’t get enough to eat. When food began to stream in from other countries no more than three months passed before there once again were new cases of type II diabetes.

The problem is not the amount that we eat; it is what we eat and how we eat. It is almost impossible to eat too many vegetables, and we are naturally limited to how much we can eat.

On the other hand, it is easy to consume too many calories from fat, and because fat decreases the rate at which the stomach empties, it takes time for broken down fat to reach the blood and for the brain to register fullness. If one also eats quickly, it is very easy to eat too much before feeling full. With age related diabetes, the pancreas is often very slowly triggered and insulin which is released during meals enters the blood too late. This allows the blood sugar to rise to high levels.

The type of carbohydrates one eats is important. Fiber rich vegetables and fruit are best because they contain important vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals such as bioflavonoids, which are powerful natural antioxidants. Some carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugar in the intestines and quickly absorbed, if they are not delayed by indigestible plant fiber.

Potatoes and white bread are absorbed almost as fast as grape sugar if eaten alone. The same is true of white rice, bananas, raisons, and carrots. Theses foods have a high glycolic index in common, they cause a quick increase in blood sugar.

The best carbohydrates are those with a low glycolic index. Some of these include lentils, beans, cabbage, broccoli, green pepper, zucchini, onion, and cauliflower. Oats are the best grain sort, possibly because they contain high levels of chromium (see below).

Fruit such as grapefruit, apples, and oranges and berries also contain good fiber; but only if you eat the whole fruit, not just drink the juice. Whole fruit contains indigestible carbohydrates which don’t make the blood sugar rise quickly.

It is recommended to eat a carbohydrate rich diet, but if the diet contains too many carbohydrates with a high glycolic index it can be difficult to control the blood sugar and body weight. This also increases the risk of increased levels of triglycerides in the blood.

The Northern European diet contains far too much fat and most of this is animal fat which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in people whose fat settles around the abdomen (the “apple form” body shape). The risk of heart disease in male diabetics with apple form bodies is two and a half times normal and the risk for diabetic women with this body shape are eight times higher than normal. Therefore it is important to decrease the intake of fat considerably.

You should obtain a maximum of 30% of your daily caloric intake via fat. It is also important that you get the right kind of fat from your diet. Fat preferably comes from plants or from fish, and it should preferably be liquid. If fat is solid, the risk of harmful effects is increased because of its chemical make up.

Nature does not produce fat in solid form, except for in animals. Animal fat decreases the effectiveness of insulin. Olive oil is especially good for diabetics, but the amount used should still be kept at a minimum. Another good oil rapeseed oil, which is often called salad oil in stores. A good way to cut down on fat is to avoid using fatty spread to stick cold cuts to bread.

Protein is also an important part of the diet, and there is no reason to cut back on protein. On the other hand, there is good reason to be aware that there might be hidden fat in the meat and other protein-rich food you eat. Protein has the advantage that it delays the absorption of glucose from carbohydrates so that not as much insulin is necessary at any given time.

Good sources of protein include low fat cheese and other low fat milk products, poultry, protein from vegetables.

Eat six meals daily. It is better to eat more small meals than three large meals. Large meals cause both the amount of insulin in the blood and the blood sugar to increase greatly. Cholesterol also falls by eating more, but smaller, meals.

Eat slowly, and enjoy your food. It should taste good, so you automatically eat slower and in small portions. Eat and talk with those around you, and put your fork and knife down once and awhile. This way the feeling of fullness arrives without overeating. If you crave something sweet, eat fruit instead of candy, which often contains a lot of sugar and fat.

Weight loss
If overweight, even a small weight loss can give better control over blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity. If you can get your weight down to a weight acceptable for your age, you might even find that your diabetes has disappeared. It is not really, but lies in wait for it you again gain weight. The best investment into your health as a type II diabetic is to keep your weight normal through diet and exercise.

It is important to loose weight in a healthy way. Do not fall for the often advertised “light” meals, which are more often detrimental than healthy.

It is very difficult to loose weight without putting in the time and energy that it takes. This primarily means by using your body more. The more that you use your muscles, the more key holes you produce for your insulin keys. You improve you insulin sensitivity. For most people, lifestyle changes and a more active life is enough.

Walk more, ride your bike, garden, dance, go to aerobics, or play badminton, tennis or shuffleboard. Make sure that you have fun and have a feeling of well being, otherwise you will stop. Remember that when you have reached your goal, you must not fall back into old habits. The reason that you will feel better is because you will live more naturally than before.

Measuring the blood sugar
It is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure so that you learn what happens under different situations, for example when you eat or after exercise. It is easy to measure blood pressure with small, modern devices where only a small drop of blood is required and the result comes after only about 20 seconds.

Mind-body techniques
Constant stress and living life in the fast lane worsens diabetes because stress hormones influence insulin. It is therefore important to take control over your life. Don’t take on more tasks than necessary and focus on what interests you. Don’t spend more than you earn. Economic worries are some of the most stress causing things in life.

Learn some kind of mind-body technique: relaxation, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong. These methods help stabilise your mind and thereby your blood sugar. Do this daily. Often 10-15 minutes is enough.

Nutrients and diabetes

Garlic and onion
In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the raw onion and garlic have been a natural remedy for diabetes for hundreds of years. As early as 1923, researchers found blood sugar lowering substances in onions. In the 1960’s substances resembling the blood pressure lowering drug tolbutamide were found in onion.

Garlic has been shown to have positive effects on the fat content of the blood. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol and moderately high blood pressure. One study has shown that garlic can reduce blood sugar, though this has not been shown by other studies.

A study published in the American Diabetes Association’s journal, “Diabetes”, concluded that supplements of chromium clearly reduce haemoglobin sugar (Hb A1c) in type II diabetics. Haemoglobin sugar is a measure for the average blood sugar over a two month period. In one group where participants received especially high doses of chromium (1000 micrograms daily), fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, and cholesterol fell. The group which only received 200 micrograms chrome daily had only a lower blood insulin level.

Professor Jay Skyler, earlier president of the American Diabetes Association, has stated that the effects of chromium are comparable or better than the effects of most medicines against type II diabetes available in the USA. Broccoli contains especially high levels of chromium.

Ginseng has always been popular in China for the treatment of diabetes. A Finnish study, published in “Diabetes Care” in 1995, showed that Gerimax ginseng can improve mood and psychological and physical performance in newly diagnosed age related diabetics. In the study, fasting blood sugar was decreased and there were indications of improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Just the fact that the participants changed their lifestyles and got more exercise could have contributed to the improvement of diabetes regulation. There were no side effects. Earlier studies from the 1980’s have indicated that ginseng can increase insulin release, decrease blood sugar, and that it can have positive effects on diabetic neuropathy.

Spices, especially curry and cinnamon, have long been used in the Middle East and India in diabetes regulation. Turmeric, cloves, and bay leaves, have been shown to stimulate insulin’s effectiveness, but according to Dr. Anderson of the American Diabetes Association, cinnamon has the greatest effect.

Coriander, which is often used in India, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese cooking, can reduce the blood sugar. The same is true of celery. Fenugreek seeds, which are an ingredient in curry, also can improve insulin sensitivity, and therefore type II diabetes.

Spices have powerful antioxidant effects which protect the body’s cells against the free radicals created when oxygen is transformed in the body. If suffering from disease or exposed to chemical substances the need for antioxidants is increased. Diabetics are believed to have an especially large need for antioxidants.

The pigments in fruit and vegetables are bioflavonoids. Bioflavniods are powerful antioxidants and some researchers believe that they are the most important reason why people who eat Middle Eastern diets generally have long life spans. Both men and women on the island of Crete have long life spans, and type II diabetes is not a large problem for them. Plants contain many other antioxidants, which have the purpose of protecting the plants from free radicals.

Tea, especially green tea, contains large amounts of antioxidants. This is believed to be an important reason that the Japanese have especially long life spans. Green tea reduces the blood pressure. Indian researchers have shown that a cup of regular black tea can have antibiotic effects.

The mineral selenium is also a powerful antioxidant which can play a role in diabetes control. There is far too little selenium in the soil of much of Northern European, so people living in this area are at high risk of suffering from selenium deficiency. Selenium is important for the blood and circulation, the immune system, fertility, and in preventing cancer and allergy. It also slows aging and protects against poisoning form, for example, mercury, lead, and synthetic medicine.

The mineral zinc is involved in insulin metabolism, and diabetics often loose a lot of zinc via urine. Zinc also plays a part in wound healing and in the immune system. Therefore it is recommended that diabetics take zinc supplements.

It is best to take zinc in periods of one month at a time. This is because zinc competes with copper absorption and copper is just as important as zinc in the body. Take zinc during the evening separate from the normal vitamin-mineral tablet.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A
One of our most important antioxidants is vitamin C. A Danish Ph.D. department has indicated that vitamin C deficiency could be an important factor in the development of complications to diabetes. It is known that diabetics have a considerably greater need for vitamin C than others, despite a healthy diabetic diet. They need at least 500 mg twice daily. Vitamin C decreases the amount of the sugar sorbitol in red blood cells and in other places in the body where it has a tendency to accumulate in diabetics, such as in nerve tissue.

It is also known that vitamin E, another important antioxidant, is important for diabetics. An Italian study has shown that a supplement of vitamin E improves the effectiveness of insuline by over 50%, possibly due to vitamin E’s antioxidant effects. Vitamin E inhibits a bodily process where proteins are coupled together with sugar. A study recently showed that a high dose of vitamin E decreases the risk of eye damage from diabetes. Researchers believe that the coupling of protein and sugar plays a role in the development of diabetic complications, including the development of stiffness in joints and muscles.

A third powerful natural antioxidant is beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. In its natural form it is completely harmless, but in artificially produced preparations it can be harmful for some people (tobacco smokers). It is therefore safest to use natural products as a source of beta-carotene, for example green and yellow vegetables and colourful fruit.

Recent research indicates that there is a relationship between diabetes and magnesium deficiency, and that even small amounts of magnesium can prevent the development of diabetic complications. Diabetics with severe diabetic retinopathy often have too little magnesium in their blood. Diabetics as a whole often have too low amounts of magnesium in their blood and tissues, which can increase the tendency to develop blood clots, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, and decreased insulin sensitivity. This is also true for non-diabetics. Many people who are in treatment with diuretics, lack magnesium.

Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the activation of magnesium in the body and deficiency can lead to degenerative diseases. It is important for the blood sugar balance and for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and especially protein. It prevents blood clots and arteriosclerosis and thereby protects against cardiovascular disease. It is one of the most important natural antioxidants. It is important to get enough of all of the B vitamins; so you can choose to take strong vitamin B tablets.

Gamma linoleic acid (GLA) and N3 fatty acids
Gamma linoleic acid is an important fatty acid which is produced by other fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, in the body. Some people have a hard time producing sufficient amounts of GLA, which is important for the structure and function of nerve cells. GLA is believed to be able to prevent and improve diabetic neuropathy. English and Finnish researchers have shown in a common study that 48o mg GLA improves all of the problems in neuropathy, without meaningful side effects. These problems include muscle strength, tendon reflexes, temperature sensitivity, and sense of touch in affected limbs.

Fish oil is healthy, but eating fatty fish 2-3 times weekly is better. Any fish will do, for example herring, tuna, mackerel, or salmon. Fish contain healthy and good proteins that fish oil does not contain. Both contain all important N3 fatty acids.
N6 fatty acids, including GLA, and N3 fatty acids found in fish oil and linseed oil are known as essential fatty acids. This means that they are essential to life.

Getting diabetes is like getting a set of maps to be used in a difficult journey through life. You can use a map with little detail to find your way, but you will become very dependent on the advice of doctors and other diabetes experts. You will have no possibility for deciding much yourself and there will be little opportunities to take side trips such as parties and vacations abroad.

If you instead learn to read a more detailed map, you will become the mast of your life and will make do with using the doctor or other consultants only if there are problems.
Good health is not only not having a disease. It is also being able to have a life where disease is not the central factor.

Living as a diabetic also means being forced to live after the same rules that all people who want a healthy life must follow. Living with nature and trying to avoid easy and bad solutions is mostly up to you. If you don’t break the rules, you can achieve health despite disease. You will also have the opportunity to think deeper about your life and better understand that other people can also have a hard time one in awhile.