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Addressing Type 2 diabetes through diet and lifestyle

It was World Diabetes Day this week and the whole of November has been dedicated to diabetes awareness. 

If you have Type 1 diabetes you will be under the care of a doctor to help you live well with your condition.


Regarding Type 2 diabetes, this where you may need more awareness.  You may or may not have been diagnosed and you may be pre diabetic without really knowing it.  Latest figures show that Type 2 diabetes is on the rise.  This is concerning because it can lead to further serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation, osteoporosis, eye, hearing, foot and mouth problems, nerve damage, and dementia.


Signs to be aware of

If you regularly have any of these symptoms make a doctor’s appointment to get tested.

Prediabetes type 2

Type 2 diabetes is often preceded by insulin starting to have difficulty (or resistance) in moving glucose from the blood into the cells where it can be burned for energy.  You may have heard it referred to insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

Signs include: fat around the belly know as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, high serum triglycerides, low high-density cholesterol (HDL) levels.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is identified by high blood sugar levels due to the body not making enough of the hormone insulin, or what it does make not working properly.

Signs include needing to urinate frequently, always being thirsty, always feeling hungry, unexplained weight loss, always feeling tired, increased irritability, blurry vision, tingling in hands and feet, cuts and wounds taking longer to heal, genital itching or thrush, dark dry patches of skin usually in body creases such as armpits or neck.



Reversing Type 2 diabetes

There is no single cause of Type 2 diabetes.  The wrong diet, lack of exercise, stress and toxins can all increase insulin resistance. By addressing these factors your body will be able to process and use insulin better. Even if you don’t end up reversing Type 2 diabetes, the lifestyle changes you make can dramatically reduce the need for supplemental insulin or other medication.

Reduce refined sugar

A diet high in refined sugar creates high insulin levels, eventually leading to insulin resistance.  Remove as much refined sugar from your diet as you can.  Start looking at labels.  Don’t replace sugar with artificial sugar as this can cause other issues.  Instead try to get your taste buds used to no sugar.


Eat predominantly whole foods

Make the greater part of your meal vegetables and fruits, especially those low on the glycemic index.

Regularly eat food high in omega-3 fats

These foods help prevent glucose intolerance and have anti-inflammatory properties.  They include cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), walnuts, flax and chia seeds.

Replace trans-fats with moderate amounts of monounsaturated oils

These help your body better process the sugars in your food, making it easier for your body to use them for energy.  Have olive, cold pressed rapeseed, sesame and avocado oils. Eat these as food too plus incorporate nuts (no peanuts as they are inflammatory) and seeds into your diet.

Increase your magnesium (Mg) intake

Mg can help promote healthy insulin production. Good food sources are spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also good sources of magnesium.

Increase your chromium (Cr) intake

Cr works with insulin to help transport glucose into cells..Good food sources are broccoli, green beans, garlic, basil, apples, bananas, oranges, beef, turkey.


Useful supplements

A supplement should always be combined with the right diet and lifestyle habits.  The ones that can help balance blood sugar to help reverse or prevent diabetes include Omega 3, Vitamin D, Magnesium glycinate, Alpha-lipoic acid (also promotes eye health), chromium polynicotinate and Coenzyme Q10 (also an antioxidant to help maintain a healthy heart).

Work with a health practitioner for guidance on the right dosage for you.

Herbal medicine

There are scientifically proven herbal medicines to address Type 2 diabetes.  Your herbalist will make a prescription suitable for your unique needs.  Herbs you can incorporate into your diet include cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, green tea and matcha.


Exercise regularly

Aerobic activity improves insulin sensitivity in muscle cells, allowing more glucose to enter the cells..  You don’t need to go the gym, just do something to get your heart rate up such as a fast paced walk, bike ride, rowing, a swim or dancing. Aim for at least 20 minutes daily.

Have quality sleep

Bad quality sleep can affect your metabolism, spike sugar cravings and make you eat more. Create a nighttime ritual to help promote good sleep.  See my sleep tips here.

Address stress

Stress and anxiety can cause an in increase in insulin, cortisol, and cytokines which induce inflammation. This leads to insulin resistance, weight gain and eventually Type 2 diabetes.  Consider meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, regular massages, sound baths, aromatherapy baths, socialising with friends and family, a hobby etc.  Anything that relaxes you and makes you feel happy.

Leading new research


Over to you

Consider if you need to see your doctor to get tested.

Consider if you should start making some diet and lifestyle changes – what will you do?  See a health practitioner, herbalist, nutritionist and exercise specialist to help guide you.

I'd love to hear about the positive impact on your health that your changes make.

Always check with your doctor before making changes and for any interactions with current medication that herbs or supplements may have.


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