Diabetes

Diabetes

A Functional Medicine Approach

Diabetes mellitus occurs as a result of the destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas, which primarily produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps transport blood sugar or glucose into the cells as a source of energy. Think of it as a “key” for glucose to enter the cells. Since the body makes use of blood sugar for energy, insulin plays a vital role. Without sufficient insulin, blood sugar cannot be transported inside the cells and remains in the bloodstream. Sugar levels can get too high if your pancreas produce little to no insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or when your body does not make use of insulin properly even in adequate amounts (Type 2 diabetes). If blood sugar remains elevated (hyperglycemia) for a long period of time, this results to various symptoms such as:
  • Blurry vision
  • Heavy, difficult breathing
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Increased appetite/excessive eating
  • Drowsiness
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Extreme thirst resulting in excessive drinking
  • Sugar in urine (ants may gather in your urine)
  • Frequent urination
  • Tingling sensation, pain or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Fruity or sweet odor on breath
  • Unconsciousness

In severe cases, chronic hyperglycemia can lead to eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), and kidney damage (nephropathy).

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A Holistic Approach to Balancing Insulin Levels

Insulin injections and oral medications are not enough to manage insulin level fluctuations in diabetes mellitus. A multidisciplinary team is essential to maximize the care of diabetic patients. Self-management education and patient-centered care are the cornerstones of an effective diabetes management in addition to lifestyle and diet modifications.

Diet Management

One of the most efficient ways to maintain your blood sugar levels within the target range is controlling what you eat. Basic guidelines to control blood sugar through diet modification include the following:

  • Eat 6 small frequent meals (3 regular meals and 3 snacks in between meals).
  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Eat meals and planned snacks the same time every day.
  • Eat a sufficient amount of carbohydrates during each meal and snack. It is best to consult with a registered dietician in order to have an organized meal plan.
  • Test your blood glucose before and after meals.
  • Limit sodium intake and saturated fats.
  • Increase fiber in your diet because fiber aids in lowering blood glucose.

Activity Adjustment

Exercise plays important role in managing diabetes. You should develop the habit of exercising regularly. However, exercising and other activities of daily living require great energy expenditure and may cause low blood sugar. The following may be done to avoid its occurrence:

Check your blood sugar levels before and after exercising

Check your blood sugar levels before and after exercising

Eat 10 to 15 grams of simple carbohydrates before engaging in any strenuous activity

Eat 10 to 15 grams of simple carbohydrates before engaging in any strenuous activity

Retest after 15 minutes and repeat initial treatment if needed

Retest after 15 minutes and repeat initial treatment if needed

Contact your physician for adjustment of insulin dose before, during, and after strenuous activities.

Contact your physician for adjustment of insulin dose before, during, and after strenuous activities.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can cause spikes in insulin levels by elevating the stress hormone cortisol and may affect the body’s response to insulin. Doing relaxing activities such as yoga, deep breathing exercises and other recreational activities can help minimize stress.

Seek Professional Help

Diabetes mellitus is a major risk factor for other fatal diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Its management is complex, requiring multi-factorial approach composed of medical and self-help strategies. Early intensive control of blood sugar levels and other risk factors delays and prevents the onset of long-term complications associated with the disease. Diabetes can have debilitating symptoms which can affect your quality of life. However, the disease is manageable and you can still be able to live a healthy and virile life with the help of medical professionals. Consult with one of our highly qualified and experienced doctors to help you develop a customized treatment plan to properly manage your blood sugar and insulin levels.