Type 2 Diabetes is a very common condition that I see in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice, and it is also a condition that is highly influenced by a patients diet and lifestyle. By learning the impact of diet and lifestyle on blood sugar levels, patients can take an active and empowered approach to managing their Diabetes and minimizing long term complications.
Diabetes is one of the most common illness we see in the population as people age, and it can also have some serious consequences if not managed properly. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of Diabetes, and makes up approximately 90% of Diabetes diagnoses. This condition occurs when the body becomes less sensitive to the insulin that is released by the pancreas, resulting in a decreased movement of sugar from the blood into the muscle tissue. This of course leads to an increased level of circulating sugars in the blood. This is what causes the serious complications of long term, improperly managed Diabetes, some of which include chronic kidney disease, numbness and tingling of the feet (peripheral neuropathy), erectile dysfunction, blindness, heart attack, and stroke.
Some symptoms of Diabetes could include fatigue, increased urination, thirst, weight gain or loss, blurred vision, or frequent infections. This condition is diagnosed by several simple blood tests performed by your medical doctor, and is usually checked for routinely on your annual physical and blood tests.
As stated above, diet and lifestyle factors can play a significant role in the management of Diabetes and prevention of long term complications. Keep reading below to see what Naturopathic Medicine has to offer in the management of Type 2 Diabetes.
Diet and Nutrition for Type 2 Diabetes
What you eat is very important in managing your blood sugar and insulin levels. A diet that is high in sugar, alcohol, and refined grains, and low in protein, fiber and healthy fat, contributes to elevated insulin levels which in turn contributes to decreased insulin sensitivity and elevated blood sugar. By being aware of your levels of protein in your diet, and focusing on glycemic index of your foods you can maintain a stable blood sugar and lower baseline levels of insulin. Aside from Diabetes, an elevated insulin level also predisposes patients to abdominal weight gain (one of the most common complaints I hear from patients) and cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
Monitoring blood sugar levels after eating certain foods will also give patients an individualized idea of what types of foods tend to cause a higher spike in their blood sugars than other foods as well. You can learn more about Diet and Nutrition here.
Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise is a very significant part of managing Type 2 Diabetes. I always suggest that my patients walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day (outside or on a treadmill if it is cold outside), or some other type of lower intensity, sustained cardiovascular exercise that has been approved by their MD, in order to “burn” excess blood sugar levels. Exercise is also helpful to resensitize muscle tissue to circulating insulin levels. Some patients do find that high intensity training can elevated their blood sugars so each patient must find the level of activity that is healthy for them.
Stress Management for Type 2 Diabetes
Although easier said than done, managing one’s stress levels plays an important role in managing Type 2 Diabetes. Elevated levels of stress causes high cortisol levels, which the body experiences as “fight or flight mode”…and responds by elevating blood sugar levels so the body can “flight” or “run” from our stressor. However, as we know, our daily stressors in this time are not running from a bear, but rather our stressful thoughts about our bills, tasks, etc. Unless we are exercising regularly we are not “fleeing” from our stresses and our elevated blood sugar is not being used. Some methods of stress management include yoga, exercise, meditation, social support, and so much more.
Vitamins and Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes
These can play a role both in complication management (such as peripheral neuropathy and supporting the nerves), as well as to help with blood sugar levels and managing stress levels and energy levels. Once I get an overall picture of what the patient is experiencing I can prescribe vitamins. You can read more about professional line vitamins and supplements here.
Botanical Medicine and Herbs for Type 2 Diabetes
Herbs also can play a role in complication management as well as with the blood sugar levels and stress levels. A thorough health history is taken before herbs are prescribed to minimize the risk of interactions or blood sugar levels that go too low. You can read more about herbs here.
As you can see, there are many options that Naturopathic Medicine has to offer a patient diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, both in managing blood sugar levels as well as preventing long term complications. It is a condition that is significantly impacted by healthy diet and lifestyle choices by the patient, and being educated and empowered is very important. Please do not hesitate to contact me at my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice if you have any questions about how Naturopathic Medicine can help you!
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW