27 June 2018 | Column | By Luke Coutinho
What causes diabetes?
There are 2 kinds of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is rare and hereditary, while type 2 is the most common and is a growing concern worldwide.
Your fat and muscles store glucose for generating energy by breaking it down when required. Now sometimes these cells get resisted to insulin, especially when insulin levels in blood are consistently high which could be due to high blood sugar. In this case, glucose stays in your blood as insulin is unable to carry sugar into the muscles and tissues. This signals the pancreas to produce more and more insulin and the cells keep becoming resistant to insulin. If this keeps happening, your pancreas start losing life. They start losing the ability to produce more insulin, causing Type2 diabetes.
Now what causes insulin resistance is a range of things like sedentary lifestyle, increased intake of processed and refined foods, lack of good quality sleep, nutritional deficiencies, obesity and of course stress. Apart from these certain micronutrient deficiencies like magnesium can also lead to diabetes.
Can diabetes be controlled naturally?
Diabetes can be controlled naturally, and in fact, natural way of managing type 2 diabetes is the right way to deal with it. With diabetes, it is important to understand that what causes diabetes is also what can reverse it. Things like lack of exercise, weight gain, poor diet habits and nutritional deficiencies are responsible for not only causing diabetes, but also reversing it naturally.
What are 10 of the best ways to control diabetes naturally?
Controlling diabetes naturally will need a holistic approach. Firstly, control your carb intake. White foods should be avoided as they are highly refined and cause a spike in blood sugar levels immediately. This includes refined flour or maida, white/polished rice, and the worst of all – refined sugar. Controlling carb intake does not include only avoiding white carb, but to consume the right kind of carbs. Fibers are good carbohydrates that should be consumed more.
Secondly, choose foods with low glycaemic index. For example, fructose is a carb with lesser glycaemic index than sucrose (table sugar). Glycaemic Index (GI) represents the ability of a food to increase sugar levels in the blood. Foods with low GI can help control diabetes by not spiking the blood sugar levels abruptly.
Next is getting good sleep. A good way to sleep well to achieve hormonal balance and help control diabetes is to practise the 6-6-12 breathing technique. It involves sitting with an erect spine, taking 6 seconds to breathe in, holding the breath for 6 seconds and taking 12 seconds to breathe out with a “whoosh” sound. This technique helps you get the deep good quality sleep and help achieve hormonal balance.
Stress is a major cause of variety of diseases, including diabetes. Stress reduction through aerobic exercises, meditation, and yoga can further help with hormonal balance and help regulate blood glucose metabolism in the body.
Yoga is another effective way to control diabetes. Asanas like Vrikshasana helps pancreatic activity and stimulate insulin secretion. Also Dhanurasana (bow pose) improves the functioning of pancreas as well as helps in controlling blood sugar level by improving blood glucose metabolism.
Green Tea With Srilankan roll cinnamon: Srilankan roll cinnamon is a safe cinnamon, as “Cassia”, the Indian counterpart can cause liver toxicity when taken in excess. Srilankan roll cinnamon has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels and is best consumed with green tea, or adding it to your food, or with yogurt.
Beginning the day with fenugreek seeds is another small and smart way of controlling diabetes. Just soak some fenugreek (methi) seeds overnight, and have them with warm water in the morning. This needs to be done consistently over days, and also adding more methi to food can help reduce the blood sugar levels and control diabetes.
Grow Aloe Vera at home and consume it on an empty stomach. Many people have been using aloe vera as the natural aloe gel helps control blood sugar levels as well as helps prevent dependency on insulin injections.
Exercise: Make your body expend energy with light-moderate exercise as it works well in improving uptake of sugar from blood into muscles without utilizing as much insulin. Besides exercise also helps control body weight which further helps control diabetes. Now the time that you exercise is very important. 30 minutes after any of your meal - it could be breakfast, or lunch or dinner – simply walk for 10-15 minute walk.
As I said, a holistic approach is required to control diabetes, make sure you look after your pancreas and gut health. Avoid extremely spicy foods and include probiotic foods like yogurt in your diet to stay away from acidity and indigestion. A healthy digestion is important to not affect the health of pancreas, as pancreas secrete insulin which in turn controls the blood sugar levels.
Luke Coutinho, Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine – Holistic Nutrition and Founder - Purenutrition.me