|THE CAUSES OF DIABETES
Diabetes is a condition with many causes. The causes may include one or more of the following:
*Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
*Lack of Activity
Due to hereditary factors, individuals can be more susceptible to developing diabetes, especially Type 1 Diabetes(1). However from wholistic perspectives, it is important to understand that it is environmental factors that play an important role.
Due to low resistance, viral infections can trigger and develop diabetes (2). Suppressive drugs used by the unnatural system of western medicine, creates further destruction of the human body, making it more susceptible towards diabetes.
Overweight, obese individuals have a 400 percent greater chance of developing diabetes (3). 70% to 90% of non-insulin dependent diabetics (NIDDM) are overweight. Restoring a normal range of weight in many cases can cure diabetes (4).
This is a concept not known in western medicine. However, diabetes mellitus Type 2 is usually an outcome of many years of abuse of the digestive system, including use of 'junk foods', such as fats and preservatives on a regular basis. Overeating is also a common cause. Use of mono-diets such as those found in western lifestyles, eating wheat a number of times during the day also depletes certain enzymes and leads to insulin resistance. In all human societies, until industrialisation, great importance was placed on understanding and using foods and drinks to maintain health and cure disease. However, due to industrialisation and removal of many people from natural environments, in particular from farming, many people view food as having no real relationship to health. This is particularly true of western trained health care professionals. Natural medicine knows the importance of good food and its role in keeping healthy.
The Prophet Muhammad said "The stomach is the home of disease, diet is the main medicine".
The Chinese people clearly saw this relationship when they wrote, "Whatsoever was the father of disease, an ill diet was the mother".
Hippocrates, who is sometimes called the 'Father of Medicine', wrote, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food".
Ibne Sina, a great Arabian physician and scholar, wrote a thousand years ago, "Most illnesses arise solely from long continued errors of diet and regimen".
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Optimum vitamins and minerals together with carbohydrates, protein and other essential nutrients are the foundation of good health. Individuals with diabetes are often lacking in a number of essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, they usually have low levels of Chromium (5).
Lack of Activity
The value of exercise in preventing and treating diabetes mellitus is well documented and is beyond any doubt (6).
COMPLICATIONS OF DIABETES
Diabetes is a debilitating condition, which if not treated properly can lead to serious complications, disability or death. The complications can be divided into 2 groups, Acute and Chronic.
The short term or acute complications are:
*Hypoglycaemia, or Low blood sugar
*Hyperglycaemia, or High blood sugar
These are both life-threatening conditions that need to be managed properly (1).
The long term or chronic complications are:
*Diabetic Retinopathy : eye diseases that can result in blindness
*Diabetic Neuropathy : nerve damage that can lead to serious complications such
as pain, weakness and loss of nerve function, particularly in the lower limbs,
leading to foot ulcers, gangrene and amputation.
*Diabetic Nephropathy : kidney damage that can lead to sexual weakness, kidney
failure and death.
*Diabetic Skin Lesions : there can be a number of different skin problems
associated with diabetes.
In this article, meant for the general public, it is difficult to go into details regarding these complications, except that you need professional help, in some cases, as an emergency.
DIAGNOSIS AND MONITORING OF DIABETES
It is important to know and be able to check, accurately and conveniently, an individual's blood sugar level(s). There are a number of ways that this can be done:
How do you feel?
The first and most important thing is that you should feel well and be able to manage your daily tasks with relative ease. If you are in-tune with yourself then it is fine. However, there are external measurements that can be used to provide more objectivity.
In earlier times and even now, in some communities, individuals observe their urine. If ants, flies or other organisms rush to lick an individual's urine from the ground, then this can be an indicator of diabetes. Usually in a non-diabetic individual there is no sugar in the urine, but at a certain level in the blood, sugar will spill over into the urine. This level, also called 'Renal Threshold' is 180 mg per 100 ml. There are a number of chemical tests available that can be used at home or a clinic to test the presence of glucose in the urine.
Blood testing is more accurate and is convenient. Details and equipment is available from any good chemist or health professional.
Fasting Blood Glucose Test
This is the standard method of diagnosing diabetes. The normal fasting blood glucose level is between 70mg and 110mg/dl. Levels greater then 140mg/dl on two separate occasions is a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus or Type 2, levels below 50mg/dl indicate fasting hypoglycaemia (1).
THE ROLE OF FOODS IN DIABETES
"The stomach is the home of disease, diet is the main medicine".
Proper understanding of foods is essential in preventing and curing diabetes mellitus, as it is a metabolic disorder. There are a number of confusions and myths perpetuated by western techno-medicine about foods in general and their role in prevention and treatment of diabetes in particular.
Carbohydrates - Source of Energy
Carbohydrates are natural organic compounds, produced by plants during photosynthesis (1). Carbohydrates (Nashasta) are the body's primary source of energy. Once produced they are converted into Disaccharides and move from leaves (translocation) to be used elsewhere or stored. Plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the soil and use the energy of sunlight to fuse the two together. This combination forms a series of complex chains called sugars and starches. These are hydrated carbon chains or carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made from a single ring or chain of carbon atoms called monosaccharides. An example is glucose. Monosaccharides are the basic units from which all other carbohydrates are built. When two sugars are bonded together, they are called disaccharides. An example of this is sucrose, common sugar or maltose, malt sugar. Polysaccharides are a 100 or more monosaccharides joined together, e.g. starch, glycogen and cellulose. The carbohydrate molecule consists of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and the energy from the sun that is trapped during photosynthesis. Human beings eat these carbohydrate foods and burn it with oxygen through respiration (breathing) producing carbon dioxide and water releasing the original energy derived from sunlight. Through this process, the human body is able to maintain within itself an internal source of energy which is analogous to an internal sun. It is interesting to note that in natural traditions of medicine, solar plexus is the term used to refer to the area of body where the digestive process (hazam) takes place. This area is symbolised by a flame (2).
Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy, they contain 4 calories per gram and are metabolised into glucose.
Carbohydrates come in two main forms:
1. Fast Releasing (? High Glycemic Foods). These break down relatively quickly, such as sugars, malt, sweets, honey and most refined food.
2. Slow Releasing (? Low Glycemic Foods). Theset break down slowly and release their components slowly, such as whole grain, pulses, vegetables and most fresh fruit.
It is important to aim to have 60 to 70 percent of your total calories from complex carbohydrates. Traditional diets all around the world contained slowly digested and absorbed carbohydrates - low in sugars, whereas "Modern Western Diets" are high in quickly digested foods such white flour, white sugar and fat.
The Glycemic Index. This is a very useful and practical concept. The glycemic index was developed by David Jenkins in 1981 to measure the rise of blood glucose after eating a particular food. The standard value of 100 is based on the rise seen after the ingestion of glucose. The glycemic index ranges from about 20 for fructose and whole barley to about 98 for a baked potato. The insulin response to carbohydrate-containing foods is similar to the rise in blood sugar (3).
The glycemic index is used as a guideline for dietary recommendations for people with either diabetes or hypoglycemia. People with blood sugar problems are advised to avoid foods with high values and choose instead foods containing carbohydrates with lower values. However, the glycemic index should be used with understanding. For example, high fat foods like ice cream may have a low glycemic index, but a diet high in fat has been shown to impair glucose uptake,so these foods are not good food choices for people with hypoglycemia or diabetes.
Fruit and Fructose
Fructose does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Because fructose must be changed to glucose in the liver in order to be utilized by the body, blood glucose levels do not rise as rapidly after fructose consumption compared to other simple sugars. While most diabetics and hypoglycemics cannot tolerate sucrose, most can tolerate moderate amounts of fruits and fructose without loss of blood sugar control. Fructose has actually been shown to enhance the sensitivity to insulin.
AN IDEAL DIET FOR DIABETICS
Carbohydrate 70%, Protein 20%, Fat 9%, Optimum Minerals & Vitamins 1%
Structure of Protein
Protein (Lahmiyat), means 'of prime importance'. Protein consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. They can also contain sulphur and phosphorus. Protein is made of a long chain of Amino Acids. These amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When two amino acids combine it is called a peptide. If many combine together, they are called polypeptide. When the structure is very complex it is called a protein. When two or more amino acids combine they give rise to a peptide plus the by-product water. When we digest proteins with the enzyme protease, separate amino acids are released. These are divided into 2 groups:
Essential, which means they must be supplied from our diet as our bodies cannot make them. These are :-
Non-Essential, which our bodies can make from other food sources. These are :-
Glutamic acid and Glutamine
Cysteine and Cystine
Functions of Protein
Protein has an important number of functions such as:
*Used in structural building of bones, hair and muscles
*Used in various substances such as enzymes. An example is Amylase, which helps to
*Hormones, such as insulin that regulates glucose.
*Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which helps to induce sleep at night. This is made
from the amino-acid trypophan.
Sources of Protein
A food which contains the eight essential amino acids is usually called a complete protein. Examples of these are, fish, meat, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese. There are other foods that are deficient in two amino acids, rice being an example. Rice is deficient in isoleucine and lysine but sufficient in sulphur amino acids, while broad beans are rich in isoleucine and lysine, but low in sulphur amino acids. When combined, rice and broad beans become a complete protein. About 20% of food we eat needs to be protein.
Fats - Who Needs Them?
Fats are an essential part of the human diet, however, most people eat too much fats and the wrong kinds of fats. The role of fats or lipids as they are known is very confusing. Basically they are:
Saturated Fats which are generally solid at room temperature and are only useful as padding, in small quantities. Examples of this kind are meats, cheese and most fast foods, which are full of fats.
Unsaturated Fats on the other hand are necessary for positive health. These are oils, such as olive oil, sunflower and sesame etc.
Margarine or Butter?
Unsaturated fats such as olive oil can be converted into saturated fats such as margarine. A process of 'hydrogenation' is used to do this. It is better to avoid use of margarine and only use moderate amounts of butter.
Fats provide 9 calories per gram, making them the most concentrated calorie source in diabetes. There is a close connection between the amount of your body fat and insulin function. Having too much body fat, especially on the upper part of your body, makes it difficult for your body to use insulin. Being overweight puts a strain on the liver and pancreas, which in turn makes it hard to produce sufficient insulin (4).
© Copyright Wholistic Research Company 2001
Click here for additional copyright information.