How to Take a Holistic Approach to Treating Diabetes

May 7th 2016

Most modern medical practitioners recommend taking a holistic approach to diabetes, and while people with type 1 diabetes will always need medical support, those with type 2 stand a chance of effectively controlling their conditions by changing their lifestyles. Significantly upping activity and exercise while removing sugary foods to consciously control weight and blood sugar levels are actions that are proven to improve diabetes symptoms. Choosing foods and supplements that balance blood sugar levels can also contribute to a lifestyle that can remove diabetes symptoms completely for some.

Weight Management

Most modern academic studies of Type 2 diabetes agree that one of the major co-presenting symptoms is obesity. While diabetes has many causes, being significantly overweight for a long period appears to exacerbate the condition. In order to improve the condition, weight loss is therefore recommended.

One article noted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information examined a program that aimed for a weight reduction of at least 7 percent over the course of a year in all participants. Subjects were given a lifestyle regimen consisting of a restricted calorie diet and increased exercise program, with support from professionals in terms of education and making good choices. The results of this study showed that participants in the lifestyle program showed decreased impact of their diabetes on measures such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved insulin use and at least some cardiovascular improvement.

Exercise

As well as contributing to weight loss, which as already noted can help to control type 2 diabetes in particular, exercise is important to maintain circulation, which can be affected by diabetes complications in both type 1 and type 2. Regular movement helps to maintain good blood flow, and weight-bearing exercise strengthens muscles and boosts the metabolism.

Insulin-dependent diabetics may need to consult their physicians about adjusting dosage to take increased glucose use by muscles into account, but this increased use does help to reduce blood serum levels of glucose. Diabetes is well known for causing damage to the circulation, and in particular issues with the feet, so it's important that diabetes patients take extra care to ensure their footwear is well-fitting and supportive when exercising, and that they avoid risky surfaces where possible.

Food Choices

As well as using diet to control weight and help diabetes symptoms stay under control, some researchers suggest that including certain foods in the diet can help to balance blood sugar levels and control type 2 diabetes. This balancing effect can also help type 1 patients control their insulin regimens better, though diet-based solutions are never recommended as a sole response for this type of diabetes.

According to a WHO report quoted by an article in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, up to 50 percent of type 2 diabetes patients can manage their condition with diet alone. The basic recommendations are for high-fiber, low-carbohydrate foods with plenty of water. Protein is important in the diet, and has little to no effect on blood glucose levels, so can be incorporated in normal healthy doses. Dietary fat consumption, while also having little direct effect on blood sugar levels or insulin response, should be monitored to prevent weight gain.

The inclusion of certain supplements or herbs can also supply micronutrients that help circulation and reduce insulin resistance. As always, patients should consult a medical practitioner to check that the combination they choose is right for their situation, but recommended supplements to try include alpha-lipoic acid, American ginseng, beta glucan, bitter melon, chromium, cinnamon, coenzyme Q10, fenugreek seeds, gymnema, magnesium, selenium, vanadium and zinc.

Conclusion

While people with diabetes should always consult their medical practitioners and seek advice on formal treatment, managing the symptoms and lifestyle effects, particularly of Type 2 diabetes, should be a holistic process. Even those with Type 1 diabetes who are prescribed injectable insulin can gain from looking at lifestyle choices and making self-care a priority, potentially evening out any blood sugar spikes and allowing insulin treatment to be most effective.

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