6 Natural Ways to Reverse Diabetes Symptoms
In my two previous articles in this series, I detailed the types of diabetes and their warning signs and symptoms, and how to test for them. Now I’d like to cover the natural steps you can take to reverse the symptoms of this group of chronic conditions. Whether you are on the low end of the spectrum with prediabetes, or higher up the scale with early type 3 diabetes, also known as Alzheimer’s disease, I saw great results with patients in my clinic who followed these simple steps.
Why Be Concerned?
I can’t stress enough that diabetes touches so many of us and is a growing health concern around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the US in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. And the older you are, the more likely you are to have diabetes. In fact, 25% of those 65 and older have a diagnosis.1 Heart disease, poor circulation that can result in amputations of toes or feet, and blindness are some of the serious health risks for people with diabetes. Yet, you have a lot of control over this! Let me tell you what you can do to prevent and reverse the symptoms of diabetes.
1. Heal Your Gut
Nearly 80% of your entire immune system is located in your gut, and your gut wall is only one cell layer thick, connected by a tight junction. Your gut is the foundation of your health! Your gut is naturally semi-permeable which means these tight junctions open a tiny bit to allow micronutrients in — this is how you absorb nutrients from food.
But when we bombard our gut with inflammatory foods (especially gluten), infections, toxins and stress, these tight junctions open up, and large molecules that were never meant to get into your bloodstream get in. Gluten is one of the main foods which can not only cause these tight junctions to open but also cause them to stay open. Your immune system then “attacks” the gluten. However, the gluten molecule looks very similar to some of our tissues, and in a case of mistaken identity, your immune system can wind up attacking your own body, causing autoimmune diseases like diabetes.
Most everyone is aware that diabetics should avoid toxic foods such as highly processed, high-sugar foods, and alcohol. I also advocate ditching dairy. In fact, I believe everyone — not just those with diabetes — should avoid these foods. However, recent research has shown a very strong correlation between increased milk consumption and rising rates of type 1 diabetes. In China, for example, drinking cow’s milk was once uncommon. However, in a single 14-year period, milk consumption more than tripled. The rates of type 1 diabetes increased by more than 33% during that same time. Scientists believe the A1 β-casein protein in milk is a key trigger in type 1 diabetes.
Furthermore, modern food processing and storage techniques may also play a role. For example, the heat treatment of foods containing lactose, glucose, fructose, or ascorbic acid can produce glycated (that is, sugar-coated) products that may have diabetogenic (diabetes-causing) effects. Finally, cesarean delivery, low levels of vitamin D,2 little or no breastfeeding, chronic inflammation, and leaky gut all have an impact in the onset of type 1 diabetes. 3
The good news is it’s actually pretty easy to repair your gut! Your gut cells naturally turn over every 24 hours or so, which means my “4R program” can start taking effect very quickly! My 4R approach involves the following:
- Remove the bad including toxic and inflammatory foods and gut infections such as Candida overgrowth and SIBO.
- Replace what’s missing including digestive enzymes and stomach acid.
- Reinoculate your gut with high potency probiotics.
- Repair your gut with healing foods such as bone broth or supplements like my Leaky Gut Revive®.
Imbalanced gut flora leads to a compromised immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections, inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic illnesses. According to new research, the microbes in your gut may play a role in your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There appears to be a link between the changes in gut flora in recent decades and the increase in both obesity and diabetes.
While research is still ongoing, it is important to repair your gut to create a balanced microbiome that promotes health. In The Autoimmune Solution, I explain The Myers Way® approach to repairing your gut and reversing the symptoms of autoimmune disease including diabetes.
Research has also shown that Candida overgrowth can be a precursor of type 2 diabetes because it can impact the way your pancreas produces insulin. In fact, I never saw anyone in my clinic with diabetes who did not also have Candida overgrowth. Since Candida feeds on sugar, if you already have any form of diabetes, the resulting blood sugar spikes create a feeding ground for Candida.
Once Candida has overgrown, disrupted your gut, and escaped into your bloodstream, it can create inflammation all over your body, putting your immune system into overdrive. This can result in symptoms from digestive distress to toenail fungus and brain fog to skin irritations. If Candida invades the pancreas, it can provoke an elevated level of insulin production, increasing the chances of diabetes.4
2. Get Rid of Gluten, Grains, and Legumes
I recommend that all of my patients remove gluten from their diets because it wreaks havoc on your gut due to proteins that can lead to a leaky gut and inflammation throughout the body. Regarding diabetes and prediabetes, eliminating gluten-filled grains such as wheat, semolina, spelt, rye, kamut, and barley, generally keeps your blood sugar lower, as the body converts carbohydrates to sugar, which adds stress on your pancreas. With diabetes, the goal is to eat a diet lower in sugar, from sweets, fruits, and carbohydrates.
And these grains are not the only ones to cause problems. Pseudograins such as quinoa and millet, and legumes such as peas and kidney beans, contain proteins that can cross react with gluten and can themselves be inflammatory. Healing your immune system is the path to healing diabetes as well.
3. Tame the Toxins
Fewer people are aware that environmental toxins may be one of the reasons behind the diabetes epidemic. As far back as 1961, researchers began to label environmental toxins that may increase the risk of diabetes as diabetogens. You probably already know that lead, mercury, and other heavy metals, industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides are dangerous. However, there are also toxins hiding in commercial cleaning and beauty products, processed and non-organic food, and plastic packaging. They may be in the water you drink and the air you breathe. Even a little exposure to toxins makes you vulnerable.
You can prevent toxic exposure by:
- Eating pesticide-free, non-GMO, organic food.
- Utilizing non-toxic cookware.
- Cleaning the air in your home and office with an air purifier.
- Avoiding plastic water bottles and using a water filter to ensure clean drinking water.
- Buying natural, organic cleaning products or making your own.
- Purchasing clean cosmetics and body products.
You can detoxify your body by:
- Pooping. Eat a nutrient-dense diet to support detoxification and remove waste.
- Sweating! Infrared saunas are a powerful detoxification support.
- Peeing. Drink plenty of clean water.
- Taking a glutathione supplement to help move toxins out of your body. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful detoxifier.
4. Heal Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
In The Autoimmune Solution, I outline specific ways to heal infections that may be caused by bacteria or viruses such as Epstein-Barr. Additionally, there are a number of viruses that have been associated with type 1 diabetes including rotavirus, mumps, cytomegalovirus, and possibly also rubella. However, by far the most common viruses linked to diabetes are enteroviruses such as Coxsackievirus (CVB4). Coxsackie can infect your islets (clusters of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin), provoking a strong inflammatory response that attacks the virus and the islets alike, stopping your body’s production of this important hormone.
Research is ongoing on how to trigger mechanisms within the body to condition islets to withstand autoimmune attack,5 thus preserving the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin. There’s some good news here. You may be surprised to learn that even though the insulin-producing islets may be destroyed, the rest of the pancreas continues to function normally, producing digestive enzymes. A recent promising treatment involves transplanting healthy islet cells in an effort to enable the pancreas to once again produce insulin on its own,6 reversing diabetes.
Stress is also a critical factor in diabetes. While no one can avoid stress completely, learning to manage it is a key component in taking control of your health. Dealing with chronic, daily stressors can cause long-term, high blood sugar levels due to the increased levels of cortisol released in your body when you are under constant stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, elevates blood sugar, so learning how to lower and relieve stress is important for both managing and preventing diabetes. No single stress-reduction technique works for everyone. Here are some other great ways you can relieve stress:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Exercising moderately
- Meditating/breathing exercises
- Listening to music
- Playing with pets
- Getting a massage or self-massage
- Drinking herbal tea
5. Manage Your Carbs
Because diabetes has its roots in autoimmunity, consider avoiding other inflammatory foods, such as eggs, nightshades, and citrus that may contribute to an autoimmune condition. Remove these foods from your diet for at least 30 days. Reintroduce them only if your gut tolerates it. If you have an autoimmune condition or want to uncover any food sensitivities, I recommend my Comprehensive Elimination Diet eCourse.
Generally speaking, most diabetic diets shoot for no more than 45% of calories from carbs. Some research suggests that an even lower amount may be beneficial for blood sugar control, hence the “low carb” craze!
We have all heard of the “ketogenic” diet. A modified ketogenic diet is indeed very beneficial to your health minus the dairy! This diet involves eating healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil, healthy organic meats, eggs, nuts (if you can tolerate them), and low-sugar vegetables and fruits. Research has shown significant impacts of ketones on the brain in particular.
Ketones are chemicals released by your liver to break down fat for fuel, when your insulin is kept at a lower level. This is significant, because recent studies have shown one particular ketone (beta-HBA) is a “super fuel” for energy production — it’s even better than glucose. It has also been shown to protect brain cells from toxins associated with Alzheimer’s, which we know is type 3 diabetes. Coconut oil, which inhibits Candida overgrowth, also increases the production of this ketone. So, while keeping any food sensitivities (to eggs or nuts for example) in mind, a non-dairy version of a modified ketogenic diet, especially for those with pre-diabetes or diabetes,7 can be very beneficial.
Talk to your diabetes care team to create an eating plan that’s right for you. Here are some tips to follow:
- Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day.
- Be careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat.
- Choose a variety of fiber-rich, nutrient-dense greens and vegetables every day.
- Select low-glycemic-index foods, such as berries.
- Enjoy good fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, coconut butter, and olive oil.
- Eat nutrient-rich protein, such as organic, grass-fed meats or my Paleo Protein powder.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Use less salt.
I cannot stress enough the importance of physical exercise if you have any blood sugar issues. We all need exercise for a wide array of health benefits. Our bodies function at their best when we exercise regularly. If you are overweight, which contributes to diabetes in the first place, exercise can help you manage your weight. Movement helps lower blood sugar, reduces your risk for heart disease, reduces stress, and alleviates depression.
If you have diabetes, consult with your healthcare professional before starting an exercise routine. Remember to start slow. Your healthcare professional will ask if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or leg pain when you walk. You may need to discuss how to manage any medication with exercise if you are on diabetic medication that already lowers blood sugar. Once you begin your exercise regimen, stop immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sores on your feet
Start with walking, and increase gradually if you have no negative symptoms. Be sure to wear a bracelet that says you have diabetes, and take a snack along to raise your blood sugar quickly if needed. Check your blood sugar before, during (if you are going for 45 minutes or longer), and after you exercise. Also, drink plenty of water. If you take insulin, ask your doctor what to eat before you exercise, and do not inject insulin in any part of your body that you will be exercising, such as your arms or legs.
Take care of your feet too. Ensure you don’t have any sores, and that your shoes are well-fitting and comfortable. Diabetes can cause numbness in the extremities, making it difficult to know if your feet are suffering during exercise. Most importantly, be patient with yourself. It can take time to reap the rewards of exercise.8
If you’ve read my two previous articles in this series — articles on the warning signs of diabetes and how to test for diabetes — you are now truly armed to turn the ship around in regards to your blood sugar. You understand what diabetes is, the types of diabetes, how to test for it, and how to reverse it symptoms naturally!
I have seen thousands of my patients take back their health, and you can too! Taking natural steps can save you from the expense and discomfort of insulin therapies, and allow you to live your optimal life! For more information about how you can take control of your health, check out my free training. It’s an easy first step to reversing the symptoms or preventing them in the first place.
- Perlmutter, Grain Brain, 183.
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