High blood sugar is a startling new health epidemic in North America. High blood sugar results from the body’s inability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream into cell tissue. Statistics are shocking when you consider the skyrocketing increase in diagnoses over the past decade. As of 2012, more than 29% of the US population had diabetes, and of that number, 96% were diet-related Type 2 cases, as opposed to 4% diagnosed with Type 1 (genetic).
Exponentially more shocking is the number of Americans with prediabetes in 2012 – 86 million, compared to 79 million just two years prior. Fully one-third of the population today is at risk of developing devastating health issues resulting from chronic high blood sugar, including kidney failure, blindness, pancreatic cancer, and circulatory damage severe enough to necessitate amputation of limbs. Epidemic cases of type 2 diabetes being diagnosed in teens and children is even more startling.
So what on earth happened to cause this explosive trend? Food is what happened! Garbage diets – junk food, fast food, genetically modified food, most with zero nutrition and addictive ingredients that cause us to crave more and more empty calories, have resulted in astonishing weight gains among the overall populace. Obesity rates in the US are higher than any other country in the world with more than half the population (160 million people) overweight, including 78 million diagnosed as being obese (20% or more over ideal body weight ).
If this is you, sirens should be sounding an alarm in your brain and red lights should be flashing behind your eyelids – DANGER, DANGER! Dramatic changes are required to avoid becoming a diabetes statistic. Attaining a healthy weight should be top priority, and there isn’t a magic pill. The one successful method for achieving lasting weight loss is a combination of healthy eating and sufficient physical activity.
The term ‘healthy eating’ creates confusion today because various institutions promote conflicting diets. So I’ll simplify it. Healthy eating means avoiding fast food entirely, except for the two restaurant chains which serve healthy meals and have vowed to become GMO-free – Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. Healthy eating means non-GMO and organic eating. Aldi Foods recently committed to significantly increasing its stores’ organic food line and removing products that contain artificial ingredients.
Organic Garage is a fairly new grocer with three stores in the greater Toronto area that stock only non-GMO and organic food, and prices are surprisingly reasonable. Organic Garage maintains a ‘dump-it’ list of toxic ingredients typically found in processed foods. If a grocery item contains even one ingredient on the dump-it list, the stores refuse to stock it. Finding a trustworthy organic grocery store is the first step in eating a healthy diet. Trader Joe’s might be considered a comparable source in the US.
Equally crucial is getting mobile. So many professionals sit all day at a desk and then plop on the sofa all evening, absorb mind-numbing babble pouring from their TVs. Dedicated gym rats work out after the business day ends, but if you hate the gym (like me), you can go for a bike ride, or do yoga in your living room, or take evening zumba classes. I bought a few dance videos for home use that actually make exercising fun.
It’s mind boggling that so many people choose convenient food over health. When I was an insurance professional, I met with business clients to discuss affordable health insurance for their company’s employees. My lunch meeting was with the owner’s wife, who was in charge of evaluating health insurance options. She was barely five feet tall, but she weighed just shy of 300 pounds. She was diabetic of course, and her doctor had just increased her insulin prescription to an astounding 240 units per day, while an average prescription was 35 units per day. She adored her useless doctor, because rather than reprimand her about attaining a healthy weight, he just kept increasing her insulin as her weight increased. She devoured an entire large pizza herself during our lunch meeting.
The woman was uninsurable, of course, before the days of guaranteed-issue employer health plans. I couldn’t help her because she refused to help herself. In addition to being diabetic, she was at high risk of having a stroke or heart attack. For clients who actually cared about their health though, I could help free them from dependence on insulin pills or injections and thus help them qualify for insurance. How did I do it?
Natural Cures for Diabetes
Before I learned about controlling blood sugar with red yeast rice, I recommended a formula of honey and garlic mixed in orange juice. After a few days of consistent use, clients with high blood sugar levels saw significant decreases, and with continued use, I was able to eventually qualify them for life or health insurance.
Twenty years ago, I discovered a red yeast rice based nutrition supplement called RiSoTriene that successfully normalizes blood sugar levels, even in insulin resistant diabetics, and I stopped recommending the icky tasting honey garlic goop.
Many people find success in controlling blood sugar simply by losing weight and revising their diets – for starters eliminating all white carbs, like breads, rice, pasta and potatoes. Substituting multi-grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and sweet potatoes is very beneficial. Eliminating sugar laden, processed foods and drinks, especially soda and juice drinks with added sugar is very important.
Recently Hubby had a scare, in that his hands were tingling consistently for a few weeks. Of course he didn’t mention it to me, but he did do some research and discovered that tingling hands is an early symptom of high blood sugar. And since his mother was diagnosed with diabetes at about age 70, he immediately became concerned about a possible genetic tendency.
Being a very healthy eater with minimal body fat, Hubby’s symptoms were unexpected. His diet consists predominantly of organic and non-GMO fruits, eggs, peanut butter, tuna, chicken, and salads. We consume almost no processed food and limit restaurant dining to once or twice a week. But his diet was still problematic. The volume of raw fruit Hubby consumed was remarkable, in that he ate half a dozen bananas/apples/oranges or several pints of berries every day. That, combined with two teaspoons of organic raw sugar per cup of coffee (one cup of strong coffee and up to three cups of decaf daily), plus frequent consumption of organic chocolate bars and his affection for fresh baked apple pie all led to an eventual surge in blood sugar. People often don’t understand that sugar is sugar, even in natural forms like fresh fruit.
After discovering the correlation between tingling hands and excessive blood sugar, Hubby immediately eliminated sugar from his coffee – no small feat considering this was a 40-year habit. He said good-bye to his chocolate bar habit, reduced fruit consumption to three pieces per day, and reduced apple pie purchases to one per week.
Hubby also made a very important change in chronological order of consumption, being careful to eat some protein before consuming anything else. Food order is important in controlling blood sugar, in that eating protein before carbs prevents blood sugar spiking upon initially introducing food into the digestive system, and also leads to lower post-meal levels of blood glucose and insulin.
Within a few weeks of Hubby’s diet revisions, his hands stopped tingling as his circulation returned to normal. Fortunately he knew better than to consult an M.D. for his symptoms. A doctor would have diagnosed him diabetic via blood testing and then prescribed insulin pills, which would eventually fail to control blood glucose levels. Like the vast majority of the diabetic population, Hubby would end up dependent on insulin injections and possibly suffer severe late life complications of diabetes, like his mother did.
So many of my family members have suffered those complications. My paternal great grandmother was a double amputee due to diabetes. A diabetic uncle ended up on kidney dialysis the last few years of his life. My maternal grandmother went blind due to diabetes. And my paternal grandmother died shortly after she fell and broke her pelvis as a result of insulin-induced confusion. Despite my strong genetic disposition toward Type 2 diabetes, I have no problem sustaining normal blood sugar levels via healthy diet and attention to maintaining a healthy weight.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile onset diabetes, is an entirely different health matter which requires another approach. But that’s a lengthy conversation, which we’ll save for another time.
Please feel free to ask questions about reversing diabetes with naturopathic remedies, or comment on this article.