Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic both in the United States and around the world. Almost 10 percent of American adults have type 2 diabetes and 25 percent have prediabetes; These numbers only continue to rise, with a surprising third of U.S. adults projected to have diabetes by 2050.
Conventional medicine falls short
The conventional medicine approach to treating type 2 diabetes, long focused on a “wait and see” mentality and drug therapy, is not working to stem the tide of these epidemic numbers, nor are preventive strategies emphasized.
Keep reading this article to learn why functional medicine, which has a science-based approach to preventing and treating disease that focuses on diet and lifestyle changes, is the most effective first-line strategy for managing type 2 diabetes.
Understand what type 2 diabetes is
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar. It is characterized by a progressive loss of sensitivity to insulin, the pancreatic hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, the body produces more insulin to try to overcome the reduced sensitivity to insulin; however, in the long run, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to maintain blood sugar levels, resulting in high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia induces oxidative stress, which, in turn, contributes to many of the complications of type 2 diabetes, such as kidney, nerve, retinal, and vascular damage.
What causes the appearance of type 2 diabetes?
The question of why a person develops type 2 diabetes has been debated and explored for decades. For many years, dietary fats were blamed for causing the disease. Later, obesity was thought to be the culprit (obesity and diabetes share many of the same underlying causes, they are often collectively referred to as: " diabesity ").
However, it is now clear that type 2 diabetes can occur in the absence of obesity. Today, we understand that we cannot blame a single factor for the onset of diabetes. Rather, the disease process is driven by a complex web of diet and lifestyle factors, oxidative stress, and genetics.
The Western diet, full of refined carbohydrates, fructose, and industrial seed oils, is an established risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Wherever the western diet goes, type 2 diabetes follows.
For example, hunter-gatherer populations such as Aboriginal Australians are often healthy by eating their traditional diets. However, when they are displaced and moved to urban settings, they replace their traditional diets with a Western one and develop diabetes at record speed.
However, diet is not the only contributing factor: a sedentary lifestyle, inadequate sleep, chronic stress, intestinal dysfunction, and environmental toxins also play a role. They cause oxidative stress, damage pancreatic beta cells (responsible for producing insulin), and induce cellular resistance to insulin, setting the stage for severe metabolic dysfunction.
Type 2 diabetes and blood sugar levels
To successfully manage diabetes, it helps to have a basic understanding of the science behind blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down in your gut into monosaccharides, or simple sugars, the most basic unit of carbohydrates.
One of these monosaccharides, glucose, is subsequently absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream, where insulin transports it to the cells. In type 2 diabetes, several factors have caused cells to become less sensitive to insulin, causing excess glucose to build up in the bloodstream (the state of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar). Blood sugar measurements are essential to assess the progression and severity of type 2 diabetes.
Why doesn't a conventional medicine approach work all that well?
The conventional medicine approach to type 2 diabetes is fraught with problems.
Under the conventional system, professionals wait until people have full-blown type 2 diabetes before starting treatment. Little is done to alter the course of the disease in the prediabetic stage when the body responds best to changes in diet and lifestyle.
Medications used to treat type 2 diabetes have serious side effects. Sulfonylureas, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, and meglitinides are just a few of the classes of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. They are associated with liver and kidney dysfunction, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, rashes, weight gain, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Conventional Diabetic Diet Guidelines Are Outdated
The American Diabetes Association dietary guidelines for type 2 diabetes have long promoted a relatively high carbohydrate intake while demonizing dietary fats. However, abundant research indicates that not only does this dietary approach not work for type 2 diabetes, it may actually make the condition worse.
Functional medicine: an effective way to prevent, treat and control type 2 diabetes
Unlike conventional medicine, the Functional Medicine approach emphasizes prevention and treatment through changes in diet and lifestyle.
1. Adjust the quantity and quality of carbohydrates
It is well established that a diet high in starch and low in fiber increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Despite this fact, mainstream health experts continue to recommend a high-carbohydrate diet for type 2 diabetics to achieve best results.
The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics get 45 to 60 percent of calories from carbohydrates, while the American Dietetic Association recently rescinded its endorsement of high carbohydrate intake for diabetics and remains reluctant to recommend low carbohydrate intake. in carbohydrates.
Despite such an effort, a growing body of scientific research indicates that low-carbohydrate diets are superior to high-carbohydrate diets for treating type 2 diabetes.
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled trials found that reducing dietary carbohydrates leads to significant improvements in HbA1c, triglycerides, and cholesterol, while reducing patients' diabetes drug requirements.Importantly, the definition of a ' low carbohydrate diet ' varied between the studies included in the review; If the definition had been stricter, a greater beneficial effect of this type of diet could have been observed.
How much do you need to reduce your carbohydrate intake to control type 2 diabetes?
While the answer to this question varies from person to person, people with blood sugar regulation issues generally benefit from limiting carbohydrate intake to 10 to 15 percent of total calories.
In addition to adjusting the amount of carbohydrates, the quality of carbohydrates that are consumed must also be changed. Instead of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and bread, it is recommended to eat moderate amounts of starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, beets, and kohlrabi), apples, whole fruits, and moderate amounts of whole dairy, if tolerated and not available. lactose intolerance.
Determine the types of carbohydrates that are functional for you
While methods for measuring blood sugar in the clinical setting have their place, they do not reflect how the body responds to glucose in food. To better understand which carbohydrate-containing foods our body tolerates best and which cause unhealthy blood sugar swings, you will need to test your blood sugar at home. And for this, there are many new products that help measure blood sugar without extra punctures, such as the Freestile Libre system, a patch that constantly measures glucose.
Check your blood sugar level first thing in the morning after fasting for at least 12 hours. Drink some water right after you get up, but don't eat or exercise before the test. The measurement you get at this point is your fasting blood sugar level.
1. Check your blood sugar again just before lunch.
2. Eat a typical lunch and test your blood sugar one hour, two hours, and three hours later. Don't eat anything during this three-hour period after lunch.
3. Record your blood sugar results, along with what you ate for lunch.
4. Repeat this practice the next day. The blood suga