According to the World Health Organization, 346 million people worldwide now have diabetes! When you count the number of people with prediabetes who are already experiencing some organ damage, that number jumps up to about 1.7 billion people with blood sugar problems. Here in the United States, about 10 percent of Americans have diabetes and another 20 percent prediabetes. That means that in this country alone, we’re faced with over 70 million people with abnormal blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. The metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats directly or indirectly leads to the production of the substance glucose, also known as blood sugar.
Glucose is needed to supply energy to every cell in the body. If glucose levels become too elevated, then they become toxic to the brain and other body organs. With diabetes, two main problems can occur. One is a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that transports glucose into cells.
The second is the resistance of the cells to insulin so that blood sugar cannot enter the cells.
Diabetes is categorized into three main types. In type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, the production and the secretion of insulin by the pancreas are severely deficient. Type 1 diabetes usually develops during childhood or adolescence. Because insulin levels are absent or dramatically low, people with type 1 need to inject themselves with insulin and monitor their blood sugar daily. This condition is thought to involve an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system attacks and damages its own pancreatic cells that produce insulin.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of US cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non—insulin dependent diabetes, is by far the more common of the two: about 90 to 95 percent of the diabetes in the United States is type 2. It strikes during adulthood, most often in the elderly or in obese people over forty. It is becoming increasingly common in children, due to lack of exercise, obesity, and poor dietary habits. People with type 2 can produce sufficient insulin, but the insulin and the glucose it transports cannot effectively enter into the cells.
This category of diabetes is most often linked to a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber, and it can usually be treated with an effective diet, exercise, and specific nutritional supplements.
The third category is known as gestational diabetes, diabetes that occurs during a woman’s pregnancy.
All three types of diabetes are very serious medical conditions. When left unmonitored and untreated, blood sugar levels can swing from dramatically low (hypoglycemia) to dangerously high (hyperglycemia). Hypoglycemia comes on quickly and leaves you feeling dizzy, pale, sweaty, and confused. You may feel uncoordinated or have palpitations. If your glucose levels are not raised, your symptoms could grow worse, and you could lapse into a coma. Hyperglycemia isn’t much better. It may take hours or days to develop and can result in diabetic ketoacidosis,
a life-threatening condition. Over the long term, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney and nerve disorders, loss of vision, and other problems. The high levels of blood sugar can also leave the body vulnerable to infection.
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Public Health found that higher levels of mercury exposure as younger adults increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life by a whopping 65 percent!
The study involved 3,875 American men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty-two who were followed for eighteen years.
Even after controlling for dietary and lifestyle factors such as omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium—both of which help with blood sugar metabolism and reduce the toxic effects of mercury—researchers found that participants who had the highest exposure to mercury as young adults had a tremendously increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. It appears that one of the many problems with mercury is that it damages the cells of your pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone needed for blood sugar control. Sources of mercury include mercury-laden fish, especially tuna, swordfish, and shark.
Other sources include decaying amalgam dental fillings, and a by-product of coal-burning power plants.
Another important aspect of this disease is prediabetes. This is a condition in which the blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that 57 million American adults have prediabetes.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you must work very closely with a good doctor and follow a lifelong treatment plan that includes medication, diet, and exercise. Complementary therapies, while they may not substitute for conventional medical treatment, can provide helpful support to your taxed endocrine and other systems, help decrease the need for medications, and reduce the long-term complications of the disease.
In very rare cases some people are able to get off insulin therapy when a comprehensive natural approach is followed. This, of course, should never be tried without a doctor’s supervision.
People with type 2 diabetes must also take their disease very seriously and consult a doctor on a regular basis; however, they will usually find that a comprehensive dietary, exercise, and supplemental program will reduce or eliminate the need for medication.
No matter which kind of diabetes you have, you must always talk to your doctor about any therapies you plan to incorporate into your protocol. And never go off your medication without a doctor’s consent.