In this age of fast food, oversized meals, and pre-made microwaveable dinners, it’s no wonder that the world has literally gorged itself to death. Type 2 diabetes- the kind that is non-genetic and can be attributed to external factors- is one of the world’s fastest growing chronic conditions, responsible for killing millions of people around the globe (the figure stands at 3.4 million as per a 2012 estimate by the World Health Organization). The United States itself has something of a diabetes epidemic, with the disease affecting 25.8 million Americans and causing a significant financial strain on the healthcare system to the tune of $245 billion dollars a year.
Diabetes is a serious problem-especially for children who will continue developing other health issues related to it. However, the irony of the matter is that, while serious as it is, Type 2 diabetes is actually reversible especially when detected early on, and can be easily controlled through natural means. All you need is a few lifestyle changes, and you’re good to go.
1. Get Enough Sleep
A few studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep weigh more on the average than those who do. And this excess weight can lead to complications that may develop into full-blown diabetes. According to Dr. Mahowald of Hennepin County’s Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, sleep deprivation can induce a physical state that is akin to insulin resistance. Cells in the body would have a hard time processing insulin, thereby raising blood sugar levels.
There is a correlation between diabetes and sleep apnea too. A condition marked by loud, excessive snoring and pauses in breathing while sleeping, sleep apnea is understood to be caused by excess fat deposits blocking the upper portion of a person’s airway. Those who snore loudly and are overweight have a high chance of being pre-diabetic (or have the condition already) and are encouraged to see a medical professional immediately.
If you experience difficulty sleeping or are not getting enough of healthy sleep, try incorporating some of these good habits and natural remedies into your daily routine.
2. De-stress Regularly
Stress is the result of a body behaving as if it was under attack. It can both be physical- as with a health condition or a wound, and mental- like experiencing financial, social, or career-related troubles.
When you experience stress, the body behaves like it is being attacked and prepares itself to go into a fight-or-flight response. Hormone (including insulin) production goes into overdrive, prepping the cells of the body for danger. During this process, energy stores from glucose and fat are released to be used by the body during the danger period, causing blood sugar levels to go up.
Prolonged stress can raise your glucose levels unnecessarily. While stress is something that all people experience, you shouldn’t allow yourself to wallow in it for too long. Take regular breaks at work, learn how to meditate, get yourself out of the office, and play with your pets. Even just talking and venting out your troubles to a listening friend or loved one is a big help.
3. Be Active
The benefits of exercise in controlling and preventing Type 2 diabetes can’t be stressed enough. Not only does it prevents you from gaining extra weight, it also keeps your heart healthy and helps you sleep at night. For a lot of people, exercise and working out can also be a way for them to de-stress. It has a positive influence on their self-confidence and well-being
And there’s no need to spend money on a gym membership or fitness lessons either, if you don’t want to. A brisk 30-minute walk is enough to lower blood glucose levels, according to a 2012 study. Walking for a full hour on the other hand is estimated to reduce a person’s medical costs by at least $750 a year.
4. Eat Real Food
Pre-made, processed food is often full of harmful fats, additives, chemical preservatives, and refined sugars that can increase one’s chances for Type 2 diabetes or exacerbate current diabetes-related complications. Canola, soy, GMO corn, and hydrogenated oils (e.g. vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil) are all linked to various types of liver and kidney disease.
Among sugars, fructose seems to be the major offender when it comes to raising people’s insulin levels (which, over an extended period of time, can eventually lead to pancreatic damage and insulin resistance). Should you need to consume fructose, make sure that it’s not from artificial sources like high fructose corn syrup, but rather from natural sources like fruits, honey, molasses, and agave (and only in limited amounts).