Diabetes – Manage yours naturally!

Diabetes is a condition marked by too much glucose, or sugar in the blood. There are 2 types of diabetes. The first is called type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas quits producing insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is non-insulin dependent and results when the cells of the body become insulin resistant, meaning that they no longer respond to the insulin produced. Type 2 diabetes is the most common. About 90 percent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death by disease in this country. It is also a major contributor to conditions such as blindness, kidney disease, memory loss, amputations of the lower extremities and premature death from heart disease.
The incidence of diabetes has tripled in the last 35 years and is expected to double again within the next 15 to 20 years. One of the most dramatic changes in disease patterns has been the appearance of type 2 diabetes in children. Ten years ago, this type of diabetes did not occur in children; however, now there is a significant increase in this age group which directly corresponds to the rising rates of obesity in children.
You are at risk for type 2 diabetes if you: are over the age of 55; have a family history of diabetes; are overweight; have high blood pressure; have had gestational diabetes; or are from particular ethnic backgrounds such as American Indian, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican American, or African American.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by inappropriate diet, inactivity and deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals. The good news is that type 2 diabetes responds very well to exercise, dietary changes and nutritional supplements.
Exercise is particularly effective at removing glucose from the bloodstream. It increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and lowers insulin requirements.
Dietary changes are extremely important in managing blood sugar levels in the body. One of the key concepts around diet for diabetics is the glycemic index or GI. Glycemic index is a measure of the quality of a carbohydrate based on its immediate effect on blood sugar levels. High GI foods are those that have a quick and high blood-glucose response. Low GI foods break down slowly in the digestive tract, releasing glucose gradually.
There are several good books on the glycemic index. These include Sugar Busters and The Glycemic Load Diet.
Nutritional supplements fall into several categories. There are supplements that improve insulin sensitivity. These include chromium (see recent article), alpha lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10. And, I particularly like the multi-vitamin called GlucoBalance.
Other supplements help guard against the complications of diabetes. These include magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, grape seed extract and alpha lipoic acid.
Finally there are herbs that have various beneficial actions. Gymnema is known for slowing absorption of sugars in addition to revitalizing the pancreas. Banaba leaf and bitter melon help in glucose transport and lowering blood sugar. Bilberry helps with diabetic retinopathy. Ginkgo biloba aids with circulation in the extremities and with memory loss.

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Herbs – Food and Medicine

Herbs have been used for centuries as both food and medicine. They are great natural remedies that help to nourish, cleanse and balance the human body.
Herbs tend to be greatly misunderstood. One of the first ways that people think when they want to restore health is allopathically. Allopathic means that a disease or condition is treated with a substance that causes the opposite effect of the symptoms. Examples of allopathic remedies include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, beta blockers, proton pump inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, COX-2 inhibitors, etc.
Allopathy works to address symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s way of reporting an imbalance. Merely treating the symptoms does not address the cause of the imbalance. Treating just the symptoms tends to result in greater imbalance sometime in the future.
Finding the underlying causes for the chronic health problems suffered by most Americans always involves nutrition. In searching for answers, I always think of the confession in the Episcopal prayer book. What has been done that should not have been done and what should have been done that was left undone?
The answer typically involves more than just one simple pill. The issues tend to be complex and unique for each individual. In other words, your high blood pressure has a different underlying cause than my high blood pressure.
Part of the reason that the natural remedies seem to be so confusing is that what works for one person may not work for another. Natural remedies work when they correct the underlying cause of the condition and not because they are working to suppress a symptom of imbalance.
Herbs and natural remedies were not meant to be used allopathically except in certain acute situations. Herbs are natural, concentrated packages of particular nutrients that help correct the result of imbalances in nutrition. Specific herbs have an affinity for certain organs and glands. For instance hawthorn berry tend to nourish the heart muscle; dandelion cleans the blood; red beet root cleans and nourishes the liver, etc.
Another way that herbs tend to be misunderstood is the issue of quality. The health supplement industry is big business and with that goes some practices that are more about money than health. This practice is not limited to fly-by-night companies, but is rampant throughout some of the largest companies in the business.
Herbs are priced to the supplement companies based on their quality which is a factor of the level of active chemical constituents in the herb, the absence of pesticides and heavy metals, the area in which the herbs were grown, the method of harvesting, etc. The highest quality herbs go to the highest bidders which tend to be the most reputable herbal companies with strict quality control.
If you are going to use herbs, ask what quality control the supplier has. You may be surprised. Also, keep checking. Large pharmaceutical companies are buying supplement companies and the quality is changing – and not always for the better. Remember that full-service, independent health food stores usually have great information about quality.

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Water Retention – Get rid of the excess naturally!

Water retention bogs down many of us and is often a symptom of other health problems. Water balance within our bodies depends on many factors.
Poor kidney function will cause excess fluid to build up in the body. There are many herbs that act as diuretics while also being nutritive to the kidney and strengthening it over time. These include uva ursi, dong quai, juniper berrys, asparagus, burdock, dandelion and more. There are many good herbal blends available at health food stores.
Sodium/potassium balance controls fluid balance in the body. Sodium governs the fluid between the cells while potassium governs fluid within the cells. Sodium in general attracts water and increases the amount of fluid in our bloodstream and throughout our bodies. The increase in blood volume from high sodium intake results in high blood pressure, which explains why high blood pressure is sometimes treated with diuretics.
Potassium is depleted by diuretics. When our mineral stores of potassium get low, the body tends to hold onto this valuable mineral by retaining water. A more natural solution in managing excess fluid would be to decrease sodium intake and increase potassium intake. Supplementing potassium helps, but since potassium and sodium compete with each other for absorption, it is necessary to reduce sodium intake.
Histamine release due to allergies also causes water retention. Eating foods that you are sensitive to will cause water retention. The most common food sensitivities are related to wheat (both refined and whole), dairy, corn, citrus, sugar, soy, and food additives and/or preservatives. Several successful weight loss methods involve eliminating reactive foods resulting in loss of up to 10 pounds of water. If allergies make you puffy and bloated, supplements that help are quercetin, bromelain, and vitamin E.
Hormone balance also affects water retention. Excess estrogen in relation to progesterone tends to cause fluid retention. Excess estrogen is a problem common today since estrogen is in commercial meat and since there are estrogen mimicking chemicals in our environment and in our food supply. Vitamin B6 helps to block the salt-retaining effect of estrogen and is a good supplement to use cyclically for hormone related bloating and/or PMS.
Blood vessel weakness (capillary fragility) allows fluids to leak out into the tissues, resulting in water retention. Supplements that help strengthen vein walls such as rutin and butchers broom will help with this condition. Butchers broom is particularly effective if the fluid retention is due to poor circulation.
Finally, diets too low in protein or poor protein assimilation will contribute to water retention. Increasing the amount and/or quality of the protein in your diet along with adding digestive enzymes containing betaine HCL will help the body fluids normalize.
An interesting note about water retention: Traditional Chinese medicine links the water element to emotions. Too much water or water retention is related to depression.

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Sport Supplements – Naturally!

Sport supplements have been something I have left to the GNC’s and bodybuilders of the world.- that is until recently when Jeff did a lot of research into them. For all of us who are aging, but still like to play tennis, run, or exercise, there are some things that help.
My favorite is d-ribose – a sugar that occurs naturally in the body for fueling the muscles. There is a lot of research on d-ribose. It is used in fairly high levels for chronic fatigue, heart disease and fibromyalgia. And it is also useful for people like me who like being active. What I like about it is that it keeps that spring in my step and helps keep me from getting sore. It is available in powders and chewable tablets. We usually have a sample open, so stop by if you would like to try it.
Branched-chain amino acids are another product that helps improve performance and reduce muscle breakdown during intense exercise. I have used these in much smaller doses than recommended with good results. These amino acids are actually useful in other areas. According to WebMD, they are used to treat ALS, brain issues related to hepatitis and to slow muscle wasting in people confined to bedrest. Some people use them to increase energy and concentration.
The other part of sports related issues deals with injury. There are some really good natural pain relievers that help reduce inflammation and pain while helping the body recover. I am not fan of NSAIDS, such ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as they do reduce pain and inflammation, but they interrupt the recovery process and block cartilage formation.
One of the best selling natural supplements in the nation for pain, swelling and bruising due to injuries is arnica montana, a homeopathic that is very safe. There are several forms of arnica – pills and gel, plus it is part of successful formulas such as Traumeel. There is also a great spray form that includes MSM and boswellia.
Another great supplement for inflammation is enzymes. Some people like bromelain – an enzyme from pineapple. Our best seller is something called Intenzyme that helps reduce inflammation. These enzymes have to be taken on an empty stomach so that they will break down inflammation instead of digesting your food . They also will thin the blood, so people on blood thinning medication cannot take them. These enzymes will also help reduce symptoms of gout and can be used for chronic inflammation such as arthritis.
I also use herbals for pain and inflammation. I like blends of boswellia, devils claw and white willow bark. Yucca is another herb that is useful – especially with bone, ligament or cartilage damage. I recently used a blend of these on one of my horses who injured his stifle and now have him back ready to ride.
There are many good supplements on the market. Find a good quality product that works for you and get naturally free of pain and inflammation while increasing your energy and decreasing your recovery time.

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