Written By: Sonja N. Fung, ND

In the United States, there are 23.6 million people diagnosed with diabetes. That is about 8% of our country’s population! Not only that, but over 2 million adolescents (1 in 6 children and young adults) are already pre-diabetic. In 2007, we spent over $174 billion of our health care dollars on diabetes care, with an additional growth of $8 billion each year. To think that 95% of diabetes is completely preventable with moderate diet and lifestyle changes!

There are two main types of diabetes that we currently face today; Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes results from your body’s inability to produce insulin, the hormone needed for your body to absorb and utilize glucose from your blood stream. This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed during childhood and thus is formerly known as juvenile or insulin dependent diabetes. Only 5% of diabetes diagnosed is Type I.

Type II diabetes comprises the majority of all diagnosed cases of diabetes and increases the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, nerve, eye, and kidney damage, and Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, this is also the most preventable type of diabetes. Changing your diet and increasing your daily exercise is common advice given almost as an afterthought, but it plays a significant role in decreasing your risk for developing diabetes. A study done by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), an affiliate of the National Institute of Health (NIH), found that simple diet and lifestyle changes decreased the risk of Type II diabetes by 58% overall and by 71% in adults over 60 years old.

One of the greatest risk factors in developing Type II diabetes is weight gain. 90% of Type II diabetes is attributed to being obese or overweight. The more fatty tissue a person has, the less effective insulin is on blood sugar control. This leads to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and eventually to diabetes. With the rise in childhood obesity, we have seen a dramatic increase in the development of diabetes and heart disease in our adolescent population. Currently, over 2.7 million children are considered severely obese. How is this even possible?

Did you know that the average American consumes 135 pounds of sugar every year!
Sugar can be found in every day foods from soft drinks, breads, packaged foods, and ketchup. You have to be a conscious consumer to avoid excess sugar in your diet. One way is by shopping on the periphery of the grocery stores where the fresh foods are located. In addition, you can eat according to the low glycemic diet. The low glycemic diet based on the sugar content of your foods and how they affect your blood sugar. The lower the rank, the milder the blood sugar response is to the food. This helps stabilize your blood sugar and reduces the sugar spikes and dips through out the day, thus controlling your blood sugar.

A relatively under-emphasized symptom of diabetes is gastroparesis, or “stomach paralysis”. Damage to the nerves that innervate your stomach decreases its ability to digest food, causing reflux, bloating, nausea, vomiting undigested food, stomach pain, and causes difficulty in regulating your blood sugar. Naturopathic primary care doctors work with you to improve your digestive function with natural supplements along with a therapeutic diet and exercise program, which will help control your blood sugar.

If you are looking for a comprehensive program to manage or prevent diabetes you may find licensed holistic doctors such as naturopathic physicians to be a natural fit for your health plan. They will work with you to develop a diet and exercise plan especially suited for you and your life, along with other measures to control your blood sugar in the most natural way possible. If you are already on blood sugar controlling medications, we can work with you and your prescribing physician to enhance the ability of your blood sugar medication through improving your digestive functions and starting on a lifestyle plan that will improve your diabetes and your quality of life!

Dr. Sonja Fung is a Naturopathic Doctor at Live Well Clinic. Live Well Clinic is located at 78900 Avenue 47, Ste 102 in La Quinta, CA. For more information you can visit Live Well Clinic’s website at www.livewellclinic.org or call at 760-771-5970.