Natural Answers to Diabetes
Adding healing foods, while removing unhealthy choices from your diet, can help reverse this all-too-common condition.
by Martha Everett
Let's get the cold, hard statistics out of the way first.
According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, released Jan. 26, 2011, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have type 1 (juvenile) or type 2 diabetes. This is about 8.3% of the total population. That staggering figure includes a projected 7 million undiagnosed persons who have the disease. According to the same source, there are currently another 79 million people living with prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar or A1C levels are not high enough to diagnose them with the disease, but they are at risk.
In the decade between 1998 and 2008, the number of Americans with diabetes rose from 5 million up to 25 million — a 500% increase.
About 5% of these diagnosed persons have type 1 diabetes, where the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugars, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. That leaves about 24.5 million people in the US with type 2 diabetes, which typically appears in adulthood. The treatment of both types of this disease is done by insulin injections, oral medication or both. The latest cost projection of the disease from the diabetes.org website, updated March 6, 2013, show:
- $245 billion in total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2012
- $176 billion for direct medical costs
- $69 billion in reduced productivity.
After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.
That's a lot to swallow and it's what we have been swallowing that is the direct source of this epidemic. The increase and prevalence of the diabetes epidemic in this country can been seen alongside with the growing popularity of processed foods, milled flour, juice and soda pop. This disease scarcely existed before the 1900s.
The typical American diet, heavy in refined grains/carbs and sugar, saturates the blood with so much sugar (glucose) that the pancreas frantically produces too much insulin, as it tries to keep up with the rise in blood-sugar levels. Over time, the body becomes resistant to the elevated amounts of insulin in the system and type 2 diabetes develops. Glucose (sugar) cannot pass through the cell wall to sustain normal cell function without insulin. There is new research showing that the wrong kinds of fats can cause a resistance to insulin in the cell wall as well. Insulin is like a key that fits into the cell receptors' lock, but if that key won't turn in the cell wall, no glucose passes through.
Diabetes is a disease that is preventable and reversible if people with it are willing to return to a natural diet, full of fresh foods that can naturally reverse this resistance.
In September 2011, my mother, like so many overweight women over the age of 65, was formally diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She was prescribed an oral medication by her doctor, which seems to be the general practice for her weight, activity level and type of diabetes. She was directed to attend a Living with Diabetes class series and there, she learned how to take her blood-sugar levels and order supplies. She was given some dietary advice, yet there was never any discussion about how she could reverse the disease. Most of the diabetic cookbooks and recipes she acquired still had high starch content pasta dishes and breads, as well as having fruit in the recipes.
This didn't make sense to me. When I searched on the website of the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org), a main source of western medicine advice on diabetes, their main dietary advice was using the plate method, where you divide your dinner plate into sections and one-quarter of your dinner plate would be for starchy carbs. It also recommends adding a piece of fruit or half-cup of fruit salad to each meal. This is the information that is predominantly available for diabetics when it comes to dietary advice. For me, it is still too much sugar in the form of fruits and starch. You may be able to manage living with diabetes with this method, but it is not going to be reversed.
Conquering Any Disease is a comprehensive book written by my Qigong teacher, Jeff Primack. This book goes beyond just healthy eating. He shares information of many foods that have been proven to reverse diseases such as asthma, diabetes and cancer. The main principle of all the protocols in this book is to allow the body to heal itself through the consumption of high-phytochemical foods. If you give your body the right foods, it will repair itself, by boosting your natural immune system for helping reverse cancer or balancing your blood sugar and insulin resistance for diabetes. Paired with removing all the harmful foods from one's diet, a person can reverse a life-threatening disease.
The diabetes protocol is very strict, but not impossible to do if you are really ready to take charge of your health. The only carbohydrates allowed are from beans and vegetables. There is no fruit allowed but lime and açai berry. You must increase insulin-like foods into your diet; the bitter melon is the most effective.
Bitter melon, also known as Balsam pear, balsamina (Spanish), ku gua or foo gwa (Chinese) and assorossie (French), is a unique and bitter ingredient that is not yet well-known in the United States. It is the edible fruit of the plant Momordica charantia; it contains the insulin-like phytochemicals charatin and polypeptide-P that lower blood sugar and help insulin uptake. This was shown in a 2011 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Bitter melon was also shown in a 1962 study in the Journal of the University of Bombay to repair the beta cells of the pancreas, thereby reversing type 1 diabetes over time. This scientific evidence is why it is the most important diabetes-reversing food in the Conquering Any Disease protocol.
A few other foods may also help. A 2010 study in the Mini Reviews of Medicinal Chemistry showed that raw Swiss chard contains syrinic acid, an enzyme that helps inhibit the breaking down of carbs into sugars and helps balance blood sugar. The cucumber was shown in a 2007 study in India to balance blood sugar. A 1982 study in Yakugaku Zasshi, the journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, showed cinnamon stimulates the insulin receptors and increases the cells' ability to use glucose.
In my advanced food healing certification course last year, I heard a testimonial of one gentleman who had average blood sugar levels over 400, which is dangerous and can lead to blurred vision, blindness, heart disease and the myriad of complications that occur from diabetes. He started making high-phytochemical smoothies with bitter melon, and saw a dramatic decrease in his blood sugar over time. Doctors started reducing his medications. He had not completely reversed his diabetes at the time of the course, yet he was well on his way to living without the disease.
While I am not a doctor or a dietician, I have been witness to so many stories from people who have changed their lives by reversing major diseases with healing foods and following the protocols from Conquering Any Disease. It is inspiring and exciting to hear, with the rising costs of health care and medicines, that the answers could be found, fresh and inexpensive, at your local farmers market.
Martha K. Everett is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Qigong Practitioner and a certified Advanced Food Healing Practitioner with Supreme Science Qigong. She is holding a class, "Food Healing: Focus Diabetes," on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 2:30-5 p.m. for $25 at the Integrative Health and Wellness Center at the corner of 6th and Pinos Altos Streets in Silver City. There are three scholarship positions available for this class. Samples of recipes and smoothies with bitter melon will be enjoyed. To register or ask questions, contact her at (575) 388-2098 or see www.abundancetherapeutics.com.
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The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Desert Exposure or its advertisers, and are not intended to offer specific or prescriptive medical advice. You should always consult your own health professional before adopting any treatment or beginning any new regimen.