3 herbs to keep diabetes from sneaking up on you

Warning signs are great. They can be scary, especially when they indicate something bad is going to happen. A wise person knows those signs are an opportunity to change the future. But far too many people think bad things won’t happen to them. Would you bet your life on that?

Our bodies evolved by developing sophisticated mechanisms which help us adapt to changes in our diets, lifestyles and environments. But what happens when there are too many negative influences impacting our health all at once – unhealthy foods, an overload of environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyle — and we can’t adapt well enough?

Our complex biological mechanisms can start to miss-fire, and we have trouble maintaining that biochemical balance needed for optimal health. As a result, a number of chronic illnesses can start to develop. Diabetes is a classic example.

The big warning sign: Metabolic syndrome

So far, there’s not much that can be done to prevent type 1 diabetes; however, type 2 diabetes is a different story.

With type 2 diabetes, cells gradually lose their ability to respond to insulin, causing toxic levels of glucose to accumulate in the blood stream. This gradual loss could be caused by age, obesity or other issues such as over-consumption of high-sugar foods over time. As blood sugar accumulates, pancreatic cells have to work harder to produce more insulin. The condition gradually escalates: Cells become more insulin-resistant; glucose accumulates in the blood stream, and the pancreas produces more insulin to compensate. Eventually, pancreatic beta cells burn out and the condition can become more like type 1 diabetes, in which no insulin is produced at all.

But it takes a long time to develop type 2 diabetes and it’s often preceded by a condition called Metabolic Syndrome, which comes with a laundry list of warning symptoms:

  • Excess belly fat.
  • Too much bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides and too little good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Inflammation.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Excessive blood clotting and poor circulation.
  • Initial insulin resistance.
  • Elevated fasting blood glucose.

If many of these warning signs look familiar, it’s because they are also associated with cardiovascular disease – metabolic syndrome’s close-knit relative. However, these conditions are controllable and even reversible, with a healthy diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes.

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Diet and exercise

Perhaps the greatest contributor to Metabolic Syndrome, and ultimately type 2 diabetes, is weight. Multiple studies have made the correlation between excess weight and poor sugar metabolism. If you’re carrying too many pounds, do everything you can, within healthy guidelines, to take them off. In this case, the age-old approach may be the best: increase activity and emphasize a healthy diet.

Being mindful of your food intake goes beyond counting calories though. For people with concerns about diabetes, metabolic syndrome or weight, it’s critical to emphasize low-sugar foods that are low on the “glycemic index.” This index measures the amount of time specific foods take to break down into glucose. The faster they’re metabolized, the quicker blood sugar ticks up – something you want to avoid. Find foods that are low on the glycemic index scale and won’t cause blood sugar to spike and crash. Good choices include high-fiber vegetables, whole grains and legumes and many nuts. Avoid sugary cereals, high-sugar fruits, white enriched pastas or bread and white potatoes, to name a few.

Many studies support this approach. When people eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, they cut their risk of diabetes in half. In my view, this is the smartest approach, as it requires no medication. And it’s important to recognize, exercise doesn’t mean running a marathon. Simply walking 30 minutes a day has been shown to provide remarkable improvements in metabolic, cardiovascular and overall health.

The role of stress

Even with a healthy diet and regular exercise, however, our relationship with insulin is still somewhat complicated. While excess weight can lead to insulin resistance, so can mental and emotional stress, as well as environmental toxins and other factors which increase oxidative stress in the body. Again, studies have shown that elevated stress can lead to spikes in insulin production, which can also cause insulin resistance. In addition, stress elevates cortisol levels, which in turn elevate blood sugar.

Embrace methods to fight stress. Exercise, yoga, Tai Chi and meditation are all effective. Find the mode that works best for you and practice diligently.

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The botanical approach

Traditional Asian medicine is an abundant source of powerful herbal remedies that can help address diabetes and metabolic syndrome from many angles. Here are a few examples:

  • Gymnema leaf is believed to improve insulin release and glucose uptake and support beta cell growth. In controlled studies, patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have responded to a gymnema leaf extract.
  • Fenugreek seeds are rich in fiber and protein and naturally control glucose levels. This botanical slows digestions and carbohydrate absorption, leveling off insulin production. Studies have shown that patients have improved blood sugar control and lower triglycerides.
  • Holy basil is believed to enhance beta cell function and has shown positive results for patients with type 2 diabetes.

In my practice, I recommend a comprehensive natural metabolic formula to address diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This formula incorporates a number of clinically proven ingredients to support beta cell function, glucose balance, insulin sensitivity, circulation, and offers other important benefits related to glucose metabolism in the body.

As always, I recommend a balanced approach incorporating diet, lifestyle and natural supplements. Metabolic Syndrome and type 2 diabetes are treatable conditions, and by addressing them with natural solutions, you can benefit numerous other areas of health in the process.

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Dr. Isaac Eliaz

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a renowned integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator and frequent guest lecturer. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the early 1980s, and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on several of his key integrative health formulas. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Clinic in California, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions. Dr. Eliaz is an expert in using highly strategic, synergistic protocols to address numerous areas of health including metastatic cancer, immunity, digestion, detoxification, diabetes, cardiovascular health and more. His approach integrates modern science with traditional healing wisdom for optimal health and wellness. To download any of Dr. Eliaz's comprehensive wellness guides, click here.