A Functional Medicine Approach to Managing Type II Diabetes
We all know that there has been a huge uptick in the number of Americans diagnosed as pre-diabetic or with type II Diabetes. For many individuals, insulin and various other medications could become a life-long requirement. It’s also no secret, that food plays a huge role in both preventing and causing blood sugar issues.
Diabetes is influenced by diet and lifestyle factors, oxidative stress, and genetics. SAD diet (Standard American Diet) which includes sugar, processed fast food, poor fats and high glycemic index foods can contribute to high blood sugar.
The best way to prevent diabetes type 2 is to eat a balanced diet, exercise and decrease stress. Ask your physician to run blood work which includes fasting glucose, insulin, and hemoglobin A1C as a baseline. The hemoglobin A1C is an average glucose level over the last three months. If your blood sugar is elevated, then the goal would be to start changing the diet before it goes into full blown type 2 diabetes.
Individualized Food Plan
No two individuals have the same chemical make-up; therefore, it is important to seek the guidance of a dietitian or an Integrative Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP). We are trained to understand blood work and various other tests and create an individualized food plan for you. Often, IFMCP's will work with your primary care doctor.
Plan of Action
You will be asked to record what you eat daily so you can start to track your balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
It’s important to lower your carbohydrates especially simple carbohydrates (sugar, honey, cookies, candy, white flour, bananas) and high glycemic index foods (pasta, white bread, potatoes, crackers) as an example.
The glycemic index indicates how quickly a particular food will raise the blood sugar. The higher the number the higher the blood sugar response. Foods with a high glycemic index signal the body to produce large amounts of insulin, a hormone that carries blood sugar into the cells to be used for energy or stored for later use.
If You Already Have Type II Diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes your physician will most likely recommend medication to lower your blood sugar. If the blood sugar continues to be elevated it could cause complications and result in kidney, nerve, retinal and vascular damage.
With Type II Diabetes the cells become less sensitive to insulin which results in excessive glucose to accumulate in your bloodstream which in turn causes high blood sugar.
Plan of Action
Check your blood sugar levels daily.
Keep a food journal. A food journal will help pinpoint foods that elevate sugar level.
Your dietician and/or IFMCP will work with you on an individualized food plan. Part of the plan will be to review and recommend changes in the type of fiber you consume.
There are two types of dietary fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber can be found in the bran (outer coat) of vegetables and whole grains. This type of fiber creates motility and movement and keeps you more regular. Soluble fiber attracts water and creates a gel-like substance that helps to slow digestion and slows the release of glucose from food into the blood.
The foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits. I recommend 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
Include lean protein in your diet and make sure you include it at every meal. This would include chicken, fish, lean pork, beef, tofu, tempeh, cheese or beans.
Include healthy fats as well which include olive, avocado oil, nuts and seeds, grass fed butter, olives, avocado.
Watch your serving sizes as too much carbohydrates or protein can stimulate insulin.
Fasting is something we will discuss in another blog, however consider starting with a 12 hour fast overnight. If you go for 12 hours without eating your blood sugar and insulin levels will began to fall.
Combine an overnight fast with changing your diet and exercising and you may see your blood sugar start to decrease. Make sure if you are on medication and your blood sugar starts to drop you contact your physician because they may need to reduce your medication.
Food is medicine and can play an important role in reducing your risk for developing metabolic syndrome as well as provide options to support the treatment of Type II Diabetes.
Until next time…remember to eat healthy and move.