When it comes to diabetes, it’s best not to sugar coat it! Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death, and at this rate, one in three North Americans will be affected by 2050! We have the tools to stop the rising incidence of diabetes, and we find them in our kitchen.
Most of this increase refers to ‘type 2’ diabetes mellitus, which is typically diagnosed in adults. This form of diabetes (T2DM) is usually triggered by frequent fluctuations in blood sugar that lead to impaired secretion and usage of insulin. The result is chronically high blood sugar that damages the kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, and nerves.
Genetics determine some susceptibility for diabetes; however, from a naturopathic perspective, it is considered preventable. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) manage the blood sugar and prevent further damage through dietary changes, mineral supplements, and herbal therapies.
As professionals, we recognize that in North America most of our foods are processed to contain refined sugar and grains. This has become generally accepted by our culture. To manage blood sugars, it is important to understand what a ‘sugar’ is.
So, why does our body crave sugar?
It turns out that Eve was onto something when she was tempted by the apple in the Garden of Eden. As mammals, our palate enjoys sweets because natural sugars and carbohydrates yield fuel faster than proteins or fats. From your tongue’s perspective, anything that turns into glucose is delicious! This includes fruits, refined white sugar, honey, syrups, fruits and all starchy vegetables and grains. The food industry has capitalized and profited on in this biologic appeal by adding sugars and starches to frozen foods, processed meats, sauces, and more.
Although we consider sugar a source of calories, its effect is so profoundly addictive that it is best considered a drug. [bctt tweet=”Studies done on small mammals have demonstrated that sugar is favored over illegal stimulants like cocaine!”]
The popularity of foods with added sugar has become a major global health issue. Aside from its contribution to the increase in type 2 diabetes, the sugar industry relies on those living in extreme poverty. This pretty white powder is harvested by people are unfairly compensated for hard labor in poor conditions. Once processed, sugar is sold to the local economies as well as exported all over the world. As sugar-laden refined foods become more widely available to developing countries, we’ve been able to see diabetes developing and spreading in those areas.
What about grains?
Grains are also refined; this means the husk and germ are taken away to leave only the starch, which is simply a chain of linked sugars. Once starches meet the stomach, digestive enzymes break them apart to yield sugars. These small molecules enter the liver, are converted to glucose and enter circulation after consumption. Once it is taken up by the cells, we receive the cue to replenish the supply, catching us in a vicious cycle of craving.
How do you stop the cycle of craving?
- Eat protein with every meal and snack, and this means no sugar or fruit on an empty stomach. Fruit is nature’s candy and is best balanced with protein rich foods.
- Start making meals before you’re hungry and make portions large enough for several meals. Always have a portion to freeze so that you are always prepared. Having healthy home-cooked meals on hand will not only save you time but make it easier for you to eat healthy at every meal.
- Snack with fats! Fats tell the brain that the stomach is full and slow the movement of sugars into the bloodstream.
- Breads and cereals are a waste of calories. They contain very few minerals and are best viewed for what they are – sugars! There are a lot better things you can eat that will leave you feeling full and nourished.
How can an ND help with diabetes?
As a naturopathic doctor, we’re experienced in getting the body to stabilize and regain hormonal balance, to supplying specific recipes that are carb-balanced, NDs use supplemental nutrients, minerals, and herbs too. Sugar imbalance affects many of us who are not showing diagnostic symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and the long-term consequences are preventable.
From basic nutrition to helping stop diabetes in its tracks, ask me how I can help you move towards balance in your life. If you have any questions and would like to discuss an individualized health plan, please book an appointment and we’ll get you on track! First-time patients get a free, 15-minute consultation.