The natural approach to tackling diabetes
Do you have diabetes, or know someone who has? Recent reports have shown that the condition, particularly type 2 diabetes, is placing an ever-increasing burden on the NHS.
Type 2 is where the body produces insufficient insulin. With type 1, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells. There’s a third one that has recently been tagged under the diabetes remit – the Alzheimer’s gene type 3. But it’s type 2 that is the most prevalent – 90% of diabetic adults have type 2 and more than 80% are overweight.
The main systems of diabetes are:
• Excessive thirst
• Changes in weight either way
• Blurred vision
• Cuts/sores that take a long time to heal or itchy skin
However, you may not have any of these symptoms and still be diabetic.
The human body is very good at healing and maintaining itself. By taking a naturopathic approach, which means eating the right foods and making some lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse and prevent type 2 diabetes. In other words, you don’t have to be on medication to control your blood sugar levels.
Unfriend diabetes to prevent or reverse it
A low glycaemic diet is worth considering and below are my top 10 food recommendations:
1. Oats: to help keep your blood sugar even
2. Whole grains instead of wheat also help to maintain blood sugar
3. More pulses, such as lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and butter beans. You can make some really smashing recipes with these or even soups which may become your favourites.
- Quinoa: contains 9 of the amino acids our body needs and it’s a complete protein, even better than meat. It’s a grain and is a great source of essential fats, vitamins and minerals. This grain is very versatile, you can make salads with it or soups or serve it up with other foods, such as fish.
- Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin (great product to eat if you are pre-diabetic) or walnuts as a form of snacking. These are all great sources of antioxidants or natural fats. You can make yourself a lovely smoothie in the morning using chia seeds or any of these seeds/nuts. You can add some flaxseeds into a humus.
- By using chia/flaxseeds you are also increasing and getting good levels of calcium and magnesium. On the plus side, chia is very low in sodium, so in terms of sodium it beats flax seed.
- Eat more courgettes, pumpkin, butternut squash and other varieties of winter squash - all these are low on the glycaemic table.
- Low sugar fruits: berries, cherries, plums, blueberries and blackcurrants. All of these are a great source of antioxidants as well as low in sugar and you can have them for dessert or make a wonderful tasty smoothie, adding some of our seeds. What a great combo.
- If you like your cordial drinks, the best one to choose is ‘Cherry Active,’ made from Montmorency cherries. It compares well with other juices, such as grape juice, which contain pure glucose. Everything in moderation
Nature is best
Chromium is one of the best things you can take to keep diabetes at bay, and it’s a tasty spice. Its active ingredient is MCHP, which mimics the action of insulin, which removes excess sugar from the bloodstream. You can cook with it, add it to teas and cereals. Take a teaspoon a day, which is roughly the equivalent of 3g.
One of my favourites is baked apple and cinnamon. The best apples to use are Bramley cooking apples and ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Increasing your fibre also helps to get rid of excess cholesterol. Effectively, fibre is a good internal cleaner. Examples include chia seeds and barley, apples and pears (these fruits are high in pectin).
You need good fats to break own the bad fats
Our bodies need fat and there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are those such as olive oils, fish or fish oils, nut and seed oils. Add these into your low glycaemic foods, experiment a bit with your food, get to know what you like, what things you can mix together to produce something you really enjoy. One of the most well-known diets is the Mediterranean diet, which chooses fish over meat. Another important point is that omega 3s also increase the level of a hormone called adiponectin, which helps to burn sugar rather than storing it.
Let’s not forget that fish also contains vitamin D, something in which many of us are deficient. Vitamin D is great for keeping your immune system strong and healthy and ideally, we need 30mcg a day. Other than fish this vitamin is found in eggs and, of course, outside in the fresh air on a lovely sunny day. Just make sure you’re not completely covered up, otherwise you won’t benefit from those sun rays.
Example of some food or combinations you can choose
- Boiled, poached or scrambled eggs on toast and use wholegrain rye toast
- Apple and cinnamon compote using Bramley apples
- Artichoke and red pepper omelettes – you can combine it with smoked salmon on another day.
- Wonderful bean salad: combine any type of beans such as green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or black-eyed beans. Use a mixed salad leaf and make a salad dressing you like, for example, 1 teaspoon of wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Meat and dairy come under the saturated fat topic, these promote insulin resistance when you combine it with a high glycaemic carbohydrate diet.
Try and avoid sugar
Sugar is mainly the culprit that triggers inflammation. That and starches, which are another form of sugar found in potatoes and processed carbs, such as white bread and pasta. All these are high in the glycaemic table.
By making changes to your diet and taking more exercise, it is possible to kick type 2 diabetes. Spare a thought for the man who, being among the 170 people a week having amputations due to the disease, told the BBC that it was his own fault for ignoring his doctor’s advice on healthy eating.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask or do leave a comment or your experience.