In 2015, 30.3 million Americans had diabetes. Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 252,806 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.
Diabetes disrupts all bodily systems and paves the way for serious complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, lower-extremity amputations, impaired immunity and nerve damage.
Diabetics with insulin resistance typically experience fatigue, sweet cravings, frequent urination, excessive thirst, delayed healing, weight gain, and peripheral tingling or numbness in more severe cases. Symptoms vary in those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Studies show increased musculoskeletal pain in patients with type 2 diabetes adversely impacts body mass index, quality of life, physical function, and physical activity abilities.
Chronic inflammation from lifestyle habits and environmental toxins increases insulin resistance and cortisol levels, which further increases blood sugar levels, setting a vicious cycle in motion. When insulin receptors become over-saturated due to inflammation or insulin resistance, sugar cannot get into cells. The result is continuously high blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels remain elevated over a prolonged period, the blood vessels supplying the eyes, nerves, and kidneys become damaged. Infections, hormonal imbalances and dysbyosis of the gut among other conditions can also lead to decreased insulin sensitivity, causing blood sugar levels to rise. For example, increased cortisol, due to high stress or medications can play a role in insulin sensitivity.
Typical treatment for diabetes in Western Medicine consists of dietary restrictions, strict blood glucose monitoring and symptom management with expensive medications accompanied by many side effects ranging from weight gain to gastrointestinal distress and kidney complications. While this will decrease the damage caused by hyper-elevated blood sugar levels, it is only increasing the amount of systemic insulin, which causes more storage of adipose and further exacerbate insulin resistance. Greater insulin resistance will ultimately be treated with higher doses of insulin medications over time. Treatment of diabetes with pharmaceuticals will result in a downward spiral of worsening symptoms and medications to suppress those symptoms. Furthermore, the root issue is not solved and will likely progress and influence function of other systems if untreated.
The Functional Medicine approach aims to correct the origin of the disease rather than treat the symptoms. To manage this condition, Dr. Marci will evaluate systemic inflammation, vitamin deficiencies, food sensitivities, cortisol levels, adrenal gland health and hormones concentrations. Interventions such as proper diet, exercise, decreased stress and reduced exposure to toxins will reduce inflammation and allow the body to better utilize insulin and improve control of blood sugar.
The link between diabetes and nutrition is a fundamental one that should never be ignored. The food you eat has a profound impact on insulin levels, meaning that insulin is one of the hormones that we can control. Exercise increases insulin receptor sensitivity and can lower blood sugars. Finally, stress management can begin the process to normalize hormone levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Pre-diabetes is a condition of increasing blood sugar levels, most often due to insulin resistance. Pre-diabetes is a result of metabolic abnormalities and must be addressed to prevent progression to worsening conditions. Pre-diabetes is, by itself, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, vision problems, kidney malfunction and future diabetes.
Learn how you can treat your diabetes and reduce or eliminate your need for medication. Contact us to today for a consultation to learn how we can create a plan to manage your condition.
“Statistics About Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. 2018. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/.