Functional Medicine Approach to Diabetes
Why is Diabetes Skyrocketing?
There is no doubt that diabetes is on the rise at an alarming rate. The CDC estimates that 1/3 of all Americans will develop diabetes. Currently in the United States, nearly 80 million people have some form of Diabetes. What’s worse, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is now among children and teens and has also skyrocketed.
WHAT IS CAUSING DIABETES TO SKYROCKET?
Statistics such as these, point to two very important facts.
- It tells us that diabetes cannot be primarily caused by genetics. Secondly, it literally screams that something we’re doing consistently is horribly wrong, and we need to address it.
- Type 2 diabetes has been pegged as a problem with blood sugar rather than the underlying problem of improper insulin and leptin signaling. The reality is that diabetes is a disease rooted in insulin resistance and perhaps more importantly, a malfunction of leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels.
It is time to take a look at and address the underlying issues. Current treatments do not seem to be getting anywhere.
Diabetes is an illness that causes elevated blood sugar levels in the body. Let’s look at the different types:
Type 1 diabetes – is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The damage to the pancreatic cells leads to reduced ability or complete inability to create insulin. Common triggers may include viruses, GMO organisms, heavy metals, vaccines or foods like wheat, cow’s milk and soy.
Foods like wheat and cow’s milk have been linked to diabetes because they contain the protein gluten and A1 casein. These proteins can cause leaky gut which in turn causes systemic inflammation throughout the body and overtime can lead to autoimmune disease. For this type of Diabetes, in functional medicine we start with removing the triggers, healing the gut, and reducing inflammation. This type is rarely reversed but with the right dietary changes major improvements in blood sugar levels can be achieved to reduce dependence on insulin medications and reduce risk for complications of the diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes- This is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by insulin resistance. It is a metabolic disorder that is caused by high blood sugar. The body can keep up for a period of time by producing more insulin, but over time the insulin receptors sites get burned out. Type 2 diabetes starts out as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance and over time progresses into Type 2. From a functional medicine approach, we always look for underlying issues; inflammation, leptin resistance, food intolerances, heavy metals and/or leaky gut.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include foods that spike the blood sugar levels and cause intestinal inflammation.
Let’s look at the top foods that MUST get removed to help reverse Diabetes type 2 and improve the health for Diabetes type 1
Foods to remove:
Glucose– all soda (even diet soda), fruit juice, energy drinks and other sugary beverages are the worst culprits.
Grains -especially gluten like wheat grains contain a large amount of carbohydrates that break down into a sugar after consumption. Gluten can also cause intestinal inflammation and that effects cortisol and leptin this leads to spikes in blood sugar.
Cow’s Milk- especially for type 1 diabetic, stay away from all forms of dairy that has A1 casein produced by conventional cows it will harm the body and trigger and immune response similar to gluten. You could try milk from goat or sheep or A2 cows.
Alcohol-this can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity, beer and liquors are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
GMO corn, soy and canola-have all been linked with kidney and liver disease and may promote diabetes. Removing all GMO foods and all packaged foods from your diet is best. Also, be aware of hydrogenated oils found in vegetable oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil
Foods that help Diabetes:
High Fiber foods – adding foods high in fiber can help slow down glucose absorption. Aim for at least 30 grams of fiber in your diet daily. When starting to increase your fiber, go slow and gradually increase it over a period of time most people average 15 grams a day. Add in fresh vegetables, avocados, berries, nuts and seeds.
Chromium – foods that are high in chromium can improve your glucose tolerance factor and help the body naturally balance the blood glucose levels. Broccoli, green beans and grass fed beef are all high in chromium, however broccoli is the highest by far.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids – (also known as MCFA’s) is found in coconut and red palm oil they are very helpful in balancing blood sugar levels and are a preferred fuel source for the body rather than sugar
Wild-caught fish – omega-3 fats are found in wild caught fish and help reduce inflammation which can help with the negative effects of elevated blood glucose levels. Fish like salmon and cod, can be helpful when eating about 2 or 3 times a week
Foods with low glycemic load – focusing on low glycemic foods helps to keep blood sugar levels from spiking. Literally can take you off the roller coaster. These foods include vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, organic meats and eggs, wild caught fish and raw dairy or dairy alternative.
Always cook with fresh herbs and spices like cinnamon, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil and ginger. These spices are also helpful in balancing blood sugar levels.
There are many helpful supplements that can be used as a synergistic effect with a healthy meal plan. Supplements should be high quality and not purchased over the counter or on line. Make sure they are third party tested and GMP certified.
Here are a few supplements that are helpful:
Chromium Picolinate: helps improve insulin sensitivity
Cinnamon: 2 teaspoons a day added to Greek yogurt, smoothie or tea can help improve blood sugar
Fish oil: high quality omega 3 fatty acid is necessary for proper insulin function, at least 1,000 mg daily
Alpha lipoic acid: improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of neuropathy 300 to 1200 mg daily
Fiber Powder: fiber from vegetables and seeds can control blood glucose. A fiber powder that contains sprouted chia and flax seeds is very beneficial
Magnesium: Intracellular Mg plays a key role in regulating insulin action, insulin-mediated-glucose-uptake and vascular tone
If you would like help with creating a customized plan that will help address your underlying issues to diabetes – we can help you at Forum Health Clarkston. 248-625-5143
Cindy Crandell RN, CN, Functional Medicine Nutritionist
Forum Health Clarkston
World J Diabetes. 2015 Aug 25; 6(10): 1152–1157.
Published online 2015 Aug 25. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i10.1152
American Diabetes Association
Dr Josh Axe- How to reverse diabetes naturally
Dr Mercola – Causes, prevention and treatment