Although the numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes have staggered to near-epidemic proportions in recent years, by no means is diabetes a new disease. By the latter half of the 1800’s a diet specially designed or treating diabetes had been developed in Paris. Insulin – for the treatment of diabetes – was available as early as 1923. After more than 140 years of treating diabetes through diet, is it really true that – according to websites such as Wikipedia – it is a “disease with no cure”?
There is a bit of disagreement among medical professionals about how to answer this question, but a quick review of physiology makes it clear that many cases of diabetes are both curable and preventable. While the Type 1 diabetic(described in the article above) will need a lifelong treatment of insulin to survive, the pre-diabetic and Type 2 diabetic – up to a point – have a chance to live a life free of medication.
A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t happen overnight. Our ability to produce and utilize insulin does not fail all of a sudden without warning. There are symptoms and signs that indicate there is a problem with our blood sugar regulation long before any diagnosable disease sets in. If you’ve ever run short on sleep, either one very short night or several short nights in a row, you may have noticed you didn’t feel well the next day. You were hungrier than usual, thirstier than usual, sleepy in the afternoon, and more grumpy or emotional. These are indicators of blood sugar regulation problems. Even one poor night of sleep is enough to trigger pre-diabetic blood test results the following day. A repeated pattern of too little sleep and poor dietary choices will over time predispose us to diabetes.
When this pattern is first established, the first condition to develop is reactive hypoglycemia. In this condition the pancreas overreacts when we eat sugars or other carbohydrate-rich foods. Due to the over-secretion of insulin, we may feel sleepy or groggy after eating a big meal. Later, because the insulin continues to be produced after we have digested our meal, we will get hungry to the point of feeling shay or light headed and feel the need to eat immediately. This is an indicator that we are already experiencing blood sugar regulation problems that can quickly and easily be corrected with diet and lifestyle changes.
After developing reactive hypoglycemia, after a period of prolonged over-production of insulin, we can develop insulin resistance. Our cells become so tired of being bombarded by insulin that they start to “resist” it by pulling in the receptors that bind insulin. In this condition it becomes increasingly difficult to get the glucose from our food into our cells where they are needed to do their work. At first there will be no additional symptoms. In fact there may be no sign that we are developing insulin resistance until we gain weight, especially around our middle.
Finally, after a prolonged period of insulin resistance, after there has been too much sugar in our blood (a.k.a. blood glucose) for too long, then we will go to our doctor’s office and find out that our test results fall into the range of pre-diabetic or diabetic. This is the point at which we will be warned about the complications of diabetes: foot neuropathy, vision degeneration, impotence, and more.
Fortunately our pulse diagnosis enables us to detect diabetes even before a diagnosis is given on a blood test. By carefully assessing symptoms we can see the preliminary warning signs of blood sugar issues. Because the diagnosis is reversible, even at this point we can help people prevent or reduce their need for medication with acupuncture and herbs. Through nutritional counseling we are able to tailor dietary and lifestyle recommendations that will facilitate a reversal of the disease process.
Our genes are constantly affected by food and other lifestyle factors, and our cells are constantly adapting to their environment. Therefore even those with an increased genetic risk may be able to avoid this diagnosis. Every meal, every bite of food we put in our mouths, is an opportunity to prevent diabetes. Every day is an opportunity for lifestyle choices that will build our health. We look forward to the opportunity to support you in achieving your optimum health.