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Natural Support for Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are two different conditions but both disease processes generate dangerously high blood sugar levels. There is no “natural magic pill” to cure either type of diabetes but there are a number of natural methods that can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and minimize the complications of already-active diabetes.

With either type of diabetes is it imperative that you follow your doctor’s instructions regarding diet, exercise and medication. If you would like to supplement your current regime with natural health care methods, be sure to discuss your choices with your doctor before making any changes. Please exercise caution and always work together with your doctor and your natural health care provider for the best – and safest – results.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas, the cells that produce insulin. Diet is a vital factor in controlling blood sugar levels and limiting the damaging side effects of type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is largely a disease of modern civilization, caused by an unbalanced diet, obesity and lack of exercise. Careful attention to a healthy diet is both the best prevention and the best treatment for this type of diabetes. Vegetarian diets are especially suited to diabetes prevention due to their high levels of fiber and nutrients and low levels of fat and sugar.
Type 2 diabetes in particular is more prevalent among African-Americans than other population groups. While there is some debate as to the reason for this, this prevalence makes nutrition all the more important for African-Americans.

A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement with extra antioxidants is good “health insurance” for the prevention of diabetes and the control of blood sugar levels in active diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes caused by many years of the modern American diet, your body will be very grateful for the extra nutrients. Just be sure to stay within the recommended range for the supplement you’re using.

Mega doses of many vitamins can alter or destabilize blood sugar metabolism. And make sure your supplement contains a healthy dose of antioxidants to help combat the organ, circulatory and nerve damage that diabetes can cause.

One of the most helpful supplements for diabetes is the trace mineral chromium. Found in whole grains, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits, chromium is a vital factor in the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates. Regular consumption of refined sugars can make the body chromium-deficient, a condition that can make diabetes worse.

The most effective form of chromium is chromium picolinate, which is easy to find wherever supplements are sold. If you already have diabetes, consult with your doctor before beginning chromium supplementation. Your doctor will probably ask you to monitor your blood sugar more frequently than usual since chromium can dramatically alter blood sugar levels. If you do not currently have diabetes but are at risk for developing it, 400-600 mcg (that’s micrograms, not milligrams) of chromium picolinate daily, in conjunction with a healthy diet, can help reduce your risk.

One unique herb may help support diabetic health in several different ways. The leaves of the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana are 300 times as sweet as sugar, but contain virtually no carbohydrates or calories. The dried leaf powder, powdered extract and liquid extract are all available at health food stores. This natural sweetener provides a safer alternative to artificial low-calorie sweeteners for those times when you just have to have a sweet drink or baked goods. And unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia doesn’t break down with heat, so it is easy to cook and bake with.

For many people, stevia helps reduce the desire or craving for sweets. Stevia also appears to help the body regulate blood sugar levels, though further research is needed to determine the specific processes by which it produces this effect. In the meantime, stevia is a natural, sugar-free sweetener that can help us all curb carbohydrate consumption.

Bear in mind, just because something is natural you cannot assume it is always safe for you. There are a few natural supplements that diabetics should avoid. Mega doses of B vitamins and vitamin C may inactivate insulin and should be avoided. Fish oil supplements, often recommended for heart health, can cause blood sugar levels to rise. And the amino acid cysteine can interfere with the absorption of insulin into the body’s cells. When choosing natural supplements, it is always best to work with your doctor and a natural health care provider who is familiar with diabetes.

There are a number of safe, natural supplements that can help the body regulate blood sugar, reduce the risk of diabetic complications and support overall health. Combined with a healthy diet, they can prevent diabetes or aid in its treatment. Talk with your health care providers to find the best solution for your good health.

Rev.Laura Perry,N.D. is a holistic health consultant in Woodstock,Georgia. She can be reached by phone at 678.445 0357,or via the web at



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