American Diabetes Alert Day is here! The fourth Tuesday of March is observed to raise awareness about the risk and seriousness of Type 2 diabetes.
Over 30 million Americans are affected by diabetes, a disease that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise. About 1 in 4 adults don’t even know they have diabetes. Another 84 million Americans have prediabetes, when blood glucose levels are slightly elevated but not enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. And nearly 9 in 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it.
It is important to know the risks so that you can take steps to prevent and manage this condition as soon as possible to stay healthy. Today is the day for a “wake-up call!”
Diabetes Causes and Risks
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition where the body doesn’t use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone secreted from the pancreas that facilitates sugar to enter the cells for energy, therefore maintaining blood glucose levels in the bloodstream. When the body becomes resistant to insulin or is unable to produce enough, blood sugars run high, then leading to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
You are at higher risk of diabetes if you have a family history, are overweight, or not physically active. If you tend to store more fat in the abdomen than other areas of the body, you also have greater risk.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often progress slowly, and many people will have the disease for years and not know it. The longer it goes untreated, the higher the chances of serious complications. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
Complications of Diabetes
Controlling blood sugars can help to prevent long-term complications of diabetes. In the early stages you might feel fine, but it’s important not to ignore this condition and take the steps for treatment. Complications can become life-threatening over time. When blood sugars continuously run high and uncontrolled, it can cause damage to many parts of the body. Some of these problems may include:
- Heart disease – increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and narrowing of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) – tingling, numbness, or pain in the toes or fingers. Also nerve damage to internal organs such as the stomach (gastroparesis).
- Kidney damage – diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
- Eye damage –increased risk of damage to small blood vessels of the retina (retinopathy), glaucoma, cataracts, and vision loss.
- Slow healing – untreated cuts and blisters can become serious infections.
Prevention and Lifestyle
Changes in diet and lifestyle choices can prevent or help to control type 2 diabetes. Whether you’re type 2 diabetic, prediabetic, or your family members are diabetic, here are some things you can put into practice to stay on top of your health:
Regular physical activity helps with weight loss, blood sugar spikes, and prevention of type 2 diabetes. Moderate to high intensity exercise has shown to increase insulin sensitivity by 51-85% (1). This means that less insulin is needed to control blood sugar. Find an activity that you enjoy so you’re likely to stick with it!
Eat high fiber foods that include lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. It’s best to limit refined sugars and carbs, which don’t have fiber and will spike blood sugar (this includes sugary beverages and soda). Include protein and healthy fats in each meal, which will curb hunger and keep blood sugar consistent.
Watch your weight
Not all type 2 diabetics are overweight, but the majority are. Studies have shown weight loss to reduce risk and decrease blood sugar and insulin levels (2). Start getting active and eating healthy, and weight loss will follow.
See your doctor
Please see your doctor if you’re not feeling well or experiencing any of the above symptoms. The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood glucose screening every 3 years after age 45. If diagnosed with diabetes, there are various types of drugs that your doctor may recommend, or possibly have you control blood sugars exclusively with diet and exercise in the early stages.
Supplements to Treat Symptoms of Diabetes
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes several supplements are currently being studied for their impact of blood sugar levels and the complications of diabetes, like neuropathy.3 Some supplements have shown promise in supporting the way the body processes glucose. In addition to glucose support, these supplements might help reduce sugar cravings and maintain a healthy weight, both of which are essential in preventing disease progression for prediabetics.
Blood Sugar Balance – contains 2 powerful ingredients shown to help improve glucose metabolism: benfotiamine (an underappreciated form of vitamin B1 shown to lessen damage from high glucose levels) and alpha lipoic acid (an antioxidant that may lower blood sugar).
Chromium Picolinate – an essential mineral that supports blood sugar levels by enhancing the action of insulin. It is directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Diets high in sugar can decrease chromium in the body as well as infection, exercise, pregnancy, and stress.
Bilberry – full of flavonoids that have powerful antioxidants that support vision. It may fight oxidative stress while increasing circulation and supporting blood vessels in the retina.
Alpha-lipoic acid – studies indicate alpha-lipoic acid may be helpful in improving insulin sensitivity and reducing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy4,7
Chromium – studies indicate that chromium may be helpful in improving blood sugar control by helping the body process glucose5,7
Gymnema sylvestre – studies indicate that gymnema sylvestre may be helpful in improving blood sugar control and reducing sweet cravings6,7
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, some patients do develop diabetes and require medication to manage their blood sugar and other health effects of the disease. Starting a medication regimen to regulate blood sugar does not mean they should abandon the lifestyle changes they have already implemented. Diet and exercise are still beneficial in patients with diabetes, and they might even be able to continue their supplements. A healthcare provider can evaluate a medication and supplement regimen and make sure there are not drug-nutrient interactions that could result in side effects, in this case dangerously low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.3,7 In addition to your healthcare provider, Persona’s online assessment cross-references their supplements with more than 2000 prescription medications, including medications commonly used to manage diabetes, and evaluates these combinations for drug-nutrient interactions.
If you are looking for the highest quality Vitamin and Mineral Supplements that can help support your Blood Sugar, please go to www.personanutrition.com and take our on-line questionnaire providing individualized vitamin and mineral recommendations. Persona is the only Science Based supplement provider on the web today! Take advantage of our knowledge and use it to your health’s benefit!
Rynders CA, Weltman JY, Jiang B, et al. Effects of exercise intensity on postprandial improvement in glucose disposal and insulin sensitivity in prediabetic adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;99(1):220-8.
Hamman RF, Wing RR, Edelstein SL, et al. Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006;29(9):2102-7.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Diabetes and Dietary Supplements. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/diabetes/supplementsAccessed 10/25/2019
Singh U, Jialal I: Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation and diabetes. Nutrition Reviews.2008;66:646–657
Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2014;39(3):292-306.
Baskaran K, Kizar Ahamath B, Radha Shanmugasundaram K, Shanmugasundaram ER. Antidiabetic effect of leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol 1990;30:295-300.
Birdee GS, Yeh G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Diabetes: A Clinical Review. Clinical Diabetes2010 Oct;28(4): 147-155.