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 Naturopathic Medicine: Adult Onset Diabetes 
Diabetes - Adult-Onset Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)
The name of this set of symptoms comes from the Greek; diabetes means "passing through" and mellitus means "honey." In other words, "honey passing through," or high levels of sugar in the urine, was what the ancient doctors first observed. The disease is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood, which "spills over" into the urine, and is almost universally related to chronically high intake of simple carbohydrates in the diet. With 4% of the population medically diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus, it has become the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the incidence is rising.

The good news is that 90% of non-insulin dependent diabetics will be cured by achieving their optimal weight and eating a balanced diet. This means no donuts!

Other theoretical causes for the defiency of insulin include viral infection of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, toxic reaction to N-nitroso compounds (found in smoked and cured meats), and auto-immune disease. The great dangers of uncontrolled didabetes include premature heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, and eventually gangrene of the lower limbs, blindness and pancreatic failure. There is a significant familial component to this disease.

Because diet is so critical to the control of this disease, nutritional approaches will be discussed first. However, there are lots of other ways to control DM (Diabetes Mellitus), including Botanical Medicine with its array of insulin-like plants, Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and psychological approaches.

What about Nutritional Medicine? Do I have to radically change my diet?
If you like coffe and donuts for breakfast, a grilled cheese sandwich followed by a pastry treat for lunch, then pasta and cookies washed down with a soda-pop for dinner, then yes, you do have to radically change your diet. This is an extreme picture, obviously. Changing your diet is something that must be done slowly, lovingly, with great patience and persistence. Most of us are very attached to "our" foods and making changes at this fundamental level doesn't come easily. It can be done however; and it could save your life. Be easy on yourself. Reward yourself with little treats every day, like a walk at sunset, or a bubble bath, or calling a friend long-distance. And make a plan. Starting with not keeping sugary foods in the house.

The trick to eating to control Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is basically low to no refined sugar, high complex carbohydrates and raw foods, low fat, high fiber and easy on the fruit. Refined sugar means any carbohydrate that has been processed, bleached or otherwise chemically altered. Anything made with white flour and white sugar spells trouble for the diabetic. We're talking about cookies, cake, candy, ice-cream, pastries, pizza, boxed cereal, all soda-pops, alcohol, honey -- all that good stuff. Unfortunately, most of us live life in the fast lane and this is why "fast-food" joints are a multi-billion dollar industry.

Real food, made from healthy ingredients, usually takes a little more time to prepare than the standard fare at Wendy's or Burger King. So, one thing to adjust to is not only not eating junk food (and you know what that is...) but to creating TIME in your schedule, as a priority, to shop for fresh vegetables 2 or 3 times weekly, to eat at home more often, learn to use a steamer, don't fry foods, never drink Coke (or any other soda-pop) and get together with others who are learning to live longer through healthy eating. Maybe you can form a dinner group in your apartment building or neighborhood.

The other critical technique to treat DM through diet is to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. Don't let yourself get hungry, because then, guess what? Right, you'll grab the nearest available snack, and that is sure to be loaded with sugar or white flour. The other reason to not eat 3 "big" meals a day is to spare your pancreas. You have DM because your pancreas has a hard time producing enough insulin to keep the sugar in your blood from getting into the cells. Insulin acts as a carrier molecule for sugar across the highly selective barrier of the membrane of each and every cell in your body. Not enough insulin means the sugar builds up in the blood. And that means not enough sugar, or raw fuel, in the cells. All of you interested in DM know about "diabetic coma" where you can literally pass out, and maybe die, because of a critical shortage of fuel to the brain. The treatment, conventionally, for diabetic coma is to give insulin. But that's a choice with grave implications. You want to do everything you can to avoid becoming dependent on insulin injections. Please believe that improving your diet is a much more pleasant alternative than having to shoot insulin before every meal.

Now, enough of what you can't, or shouldn't, eat. There are many ways of using foods to help DM. For example, some of the very best foods for prolonging the action of your compromised insulin stores are onions and garlic. Use these tasty foods liberally in your diet. Experiment. Did you ever try baking a whole onion along with your yams or potatoes? Delicious! Garlic is tasty baked, too. Learn to make a gourmet onion soup. Buy a garlic press. Other therapeutic foods for DM include:

  • Jerusalem artichokes, burdock, parsley. These plants are high in inulin, an insulin analog.
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 About The Author
Emily Kane NDA graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China,......more
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