How to Get Off Your Diabetes Medications
The Functional Health Model can not only help you control your blood sugar issues but heal the systemic effects diabetes has on your other organ systems as well. Granted, blood sugar control is the primary outcome those with diabetes struggle with, but the unseen ravages diabetes has on the blood vessels and the heart does not go unnoticed in the entire picture of diabetes care.
Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism characterized by elevated blood sugars and confounding illnesses such as kidney, eye, heart, and nervous system disorders.
Type I diabetes is often seen in children and adolescents is more difficult to treat and is oftentimes the result of organ dysfunction or viral illness.
Type II diabetes is the type functional health practitioners can have the most impact on and is generally seen in those who are sedentary and obese, two major lifestyle contributors. This is the type of diabetes being discussed here.
Type III diabetes refers to Alzheimer’s disease and newly evolved theories of the similarities between insulin dysfunction systemically and insulin dysregulation in the brain of Alzheimer’s victims.
Where Does the Path to Wellness Begin?
It does not start with stopping your medications by any means. The process of healing Type II diabetes (or even prediabetes) takes time and multiple lifestyle changes that need to be sustainable to get blood sugar and the pathology of diabetes controlled to the point that drugs may not be needed anymore.
The path begins with diet. Whether you are talking with your functional health practitioner or the American Diabetes Association, it is well-founded that the first step to managing diabetes is managing your diet. It seems like such a simple statement when in reality some health professionals study all their lives to learn how to help people change that one seemingly small thing…diet.
Prevalence of Type II Diabetes
More than 30 million Americans have Type II Diabetes, a disease once seen in the over 45 crowd is now attacking our youth. Unlike type I where the pancreas just doesn’t function to make insulin, insulin in type II diabetes is what we call “resistant”. There may be enough insulin or even too much insulin but the receptors that receive the insulin are insensitive to it. Like a lock and key analogy with insulin being the key and the receptor being the lock, the key no longer fits into the lock to open the door to allow glucose to get into the cells thus making the cells think they are starving which sets up a whole pathological process.
Walking the Functional Health Path to Wellness and Freedom from Medications
There are several lifestyle steps that can decrease insulin resistance, help decrease blood sugar and alleviate the need for medications if the changes are made and sustained. Some of these changes are:
- If overweight, lose weight. Overweight people have insulin resistance and this insulin resistance can be reversed by losing weight. Insulin resistance prevents glucose from getting into the cell and causes hyperglycemia. The prevalence of adult obesity hit almost 40% in 2016 and is steadily increasing.
- Cut down or eliminate high glycemic index foods. These are foods that elevate the blood sugar rapidly calling on an immediate insulin response that isn’t there. Learning what high glycemic foods are and how to replace them with healthier, lower glycemic foods is part of the nutritional therapy in healing diabetes. This is supported by the American Diabetes Association.
- Engage in a fun exercise program of at least 150 minutes per week. This is supported by the American Heart Association.
- Get sufficient sleep. Even a partial poor night’s sleep can increase insulin resistance. Use of the hormone melatonin may be needed to recycle the sleep-wake cycle if poor sleep habits are a problem.
- Control stress levels through a combination of exercise, mindfulness, prayer or meditation, adequate sleep, yoga, the behavioral response to stress and use of botanicals. Studies have shown that stress increases the hormone cortisol which in turn can aggravate insulin resistance, blood sugar control, appetite, and weight management.
These are just a few things in a functional health practitioner’s toolbox to help the individual with diabetes better control their type II illness, gain optimal glycemic control and rid themselves of the side-effects associated with the disease. Other therapies exist such as ashwagandha root to help control stress and cortisol secretions, berberine herb to lower lipids and glucose, fiber supplements to lower calorie absorption and decrease glucose levels and a whole plethora of individualized therapies that may suit your condition and energize your life with new hope outside of metformin, sulfonylureas or insulin.
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