Western or conventional therapies for diabetes have been geared toward regulating blood glucose with a combination of diet modification, insulin and/or oral pharmacological agents, weight loss when appropriate, and exercise. Although Western medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) share the diabetes treatment goals of reducing symptoms and preventing complications, their approaches to conceptualizing, diagnosing, and treating the disease are very different. This article will outline the key concepts and therapies of TCM that play a role in the evaluation and treatment of diabetic patients.
Type 2 diabetes, although influenced by a person’s genes, is largely thought to be brought about by a poor diet and being overweight for prolonged periods of time, particularly at an old age. The pancreas is either unable to produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells simply don’t react to insulin, which leads to dangerously high blood sugar levels.
The guidelines, if widely accepted, would affect up to a quarter of Americans living with diabetes whose BMI is between 30 and 35. Worldwide, the effects would be even greater, since the majority of the 422 million people with diabetes have a BMI lower than 35. For people of Asian descent, the DSS-II agreed surgery could be considered for people down to 27.5 BMI, since many patients of Asian decent develop diabetes at a lower BMI.
Currently, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but it can be treated successfully by administering insulin, either by an injection or pump, and by following a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular physical activity. Looking after diabetes requires planning and attention, which may feel overwhelming at times, especially when your child is first diagnosed. However, there’s no reason for it to stop your child living the healthy, happy and successful life you had hoped for them.
Alternative: “I’m a fat-atarian,” says DeLaney, who tells her patients to avoid low-fat foods. She encourages them to eat whole-fat dairy products, egg yolks, butter, olive oil, and avocado. “Restoring healthful fats to our diets as well as eliminating trans fats and all refined oils that help deplete our fat and vitamin stores will help nourish the body and reduce the need for diabetes medication.”
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The three main types of nutrients found in foods are carbohydrates (or carbs), proteins, and fats, which all provide energy in the form of calories. Foods containing carbs cause blood sugar levels to go up the most. Foods that contain mostly protein and/or fat don't affect blood sugar levels as much. Our bodies need all of these nutrients — in different amounts — to function normally.
Metformin: The DPP study found that metformin, the safest first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes, may help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Participants who took the low-cost generic drug had a 31% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the control group (those not on metformin or intensive lifestyle intervention). Again, 15-year follow up data showed that 17% of those on metformin continued to have a significant reduction in type 2 progression. At this time, metformin (or any other medication, for that matter) is not currently FDA approved for prediabetes, and it is sometimes prescribed “off-label” by a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can give you more information and determine whether metformin is a good option for you.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can start when the body doesn't use insulin as it should. If your body can't keep up with the need for insulin, you may need to take pills. Along with meal planning and physical activity, diabetes pills help people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose levels on target. Several kinds of pills are available. Each works in a different way. Many people take two or three kinds of pills. Some people take combination pills. Combination pills contain two kinds of diabetes medicine in one tablet. Some people take pills and insulin.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.
According to TCM, diet plays an important role in maintaining health and treating disease. In the TCM paradigm, foods are valued and prescribed for their energetic and therapeutic properties rather than solely for their chemical makeup. Attention is paid to the quantity, quality, method of preparation, and time of food intake, as well as to the patient’s body type, age, vitality; geographic location; and seasonal influences.
First, the health of your gut is critical to your overall health. This is because your gut is home of trillions of microbes called the gut microbiome. These microbes work in symbiotic and antagonistic relationships within your body. A 2017 study using multiple therapies to manipulate the gut microbiome composition, found they could impact the individual’s health more rapidly. This study also found manipulating the gut microbiome as an effective way to avoid insulin resistance and therefore prevent diabetes.