A Holistic Approach to Diabetes

Diabetes in the U.S. has become an epidemic. Almost one in ten Americans have the disease or approximately 29 million. That’s up from the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010. Another 86 million, or one in three Americans, have prediabetes.1 This leaves a lot to be said about that state of health in the United States. More often than not developing diabetes has a great deal to do with lifestyle and diet; often being closely linked with being overweight and low physical activity or the side effect of prescribed medications.2

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, or blood sugar, is too high. Glucose is the body’s primary source of energy and, when utilized properly by the body, fuels the body’s cells. The catalyst for this process is insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin facilitates the transport of the glucose to the cells, and without insulin, the body’s ability to produce energy is greatly diminished.3 

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your body simply does not make any insulin. The result of the body’s immune system attacking the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. While type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed early, it can occur at any age. Those with type 1 diabetes require insulin to stay alive. 

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not utilize the produced insulin well. Type 2 can occur at any age, though most typically later in an adult’s life, and is possible to treat and even reverse through proper diagnosis and management holistically. Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common of the two.

The health risks associated with diabetes are myriad. In addition to low energy, they include heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) can occur when glucose levels remain too high for too long.

What are the Options for Treating Diabetes?

While managing type 1 diabetes requires doses of insulin, either orally or through injection, treating type 2 has a number of far more appealing options. Of course, those with Type 2 always have the option of utilizing insulin as well, though there are a number of drawbacks. Putting aside the obvious lack of appeal and inconvenience of injecting oneself with insulin throughout the day there’s also the danger of hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is arguably the most dangerous risk associated with insulin injection. It occurs when glucose in the body drops too low. While the milder symptoms include being dizzy, weak, and uncoordinated sever conditions can include far more severe symptoms. In the most severe cases seizures, unconsciousness, and even death are possible.

With the dangers of conventional treatments well established, it’s no wonder that a great deal of research has been conducted to certify the legitimacy of naturally treating the disease including clinical based studies.4

Holistically treating diabetes starts with seeking out a qualified internist such as Dr. Finn from the Advanced Medical Care Center. Diabetes is no laughing matter and having a qualified medical clinic to guide your treatments is not only recommended but potentially lifesaving.

Holistically Treating Diabetes

Integrative medicine should be the first thing sought out when seeking to treat diabetes holistically. Integrative medicine is the practice of taking into account the patient’s entire lifestyle when making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment and lifestyle changes. It includes an observation of past diet, family conditions, physical activity, and even the patient’s hobbies. 

More often than not a clinically certified nutritionist or a dietician will be consulted and actively be engaged in the treatment. Often reviewing changes to the overall diet of the patient and seeking to optimize the ratios of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in order to make the most efficient use of the insulin the patient currently produces. As the patient potentially makes progress over time, this diet may even change eventually becoming less strict. 

Managing nutrition, however, is only part of the battle. Physical activity plays a crucial role in increasing insulin sensitivity.5 Often times this journey starts with a need for initial weight loss before more demanding activities can be pursued. A physical therapist is often consulted regarding issues related to muscle conditioning, increasing flexibility and range of motion, and actively engaging the body in ways that limit stresses on joints such as the hips and knees.

Chiropractic care can be utilized in order to facilitate pain management and help to restore blood flow throughout the body. Often restricted blood flow, especially throughout the legs and feet, is a symptom of diabetes. In addition, chiropractic can have a profound impact on restoring nerve sensitivity throughout the body. As an added bonus chiropractic will help your posture. Acupuncture is also an effective pain management tool and may be used alone or in addition to chiropractic care.

Ultimately, it’s about the wellness of the patient as a whole and finding a treatment program that works for them. The only way to really treat a patient is for the doctor to get to know the patient; to ask them questions beyond the symptoms. To effectively manage diabetes requires more than just prescribing insulin, which can be dangerous, and assess not only what the patient need but what the patient wants. Managing the pain allows more physical activity. A physical therapist ensures that the physical activity is performed safely and helps the patient reach a level of fitness, if required, so that they can be active in the first place. Physical activity helps increase insulin sensitivity. A dietician or nutritionist ensures that the patient’s diet matches the insulin production.

Moreover, the internist, such as Dr. Finn, ensures that the individual moving parts move together.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/
2 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes 
3 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes 
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4043717/ 
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3782965/