November is National Diabetes Month. It’s a time when communities work to bring attention to this disease. Type 2 diabetes is steadily on the rise, and is estimated to double the number of cases in the first quarter of this century.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar, called glucose, becomes elevated. The food you eat is converted into glucose, which is your body’s main source of energy. Glucose is ushered into your body’s cells by a hormone called insulin, which is made by your pancreas. In people with type 2 diabetes, either their body doesn’t make enough insulin or it can’t use insulin well enough to guide the glucose from your bloodstream into the cells, where it’s needed.
Type 2 diabetes is sometimes called adult onset diabetes, because most people who develop this condition are over the age of 45. This is different from type 1 diabetes in which your immune system mistakenly destroys the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2, and it’s frequently diagnosed in young adults and children.
Diabetes is a big deal because if it’s not managed properly, it can lead to a number of serious health complications. This includes a type of nerve damage called neuropathy, fatty liver disease, kidney damage, heart disease, slower healing times, an increased risk for strokes and vision and eye problems. Diabetes awareness month is important because often the symptoms of diabetes are subtle and overlooked. Many people don’t know that they have this disease until damage has occurred and they’re diagnosed with some other condition that was caused by their undiagnosed and untreated diabetes.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Feeling thirsty a lot of the time
- Increased urination
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
- Sores that takes a long time to heal
- Sudden or unaccounted for weight loss
If you’re having any of these symptoms, please get checked for diabetes—it involves a simple blood test. Also know that the symptoms may develop slowly over time, and may be mild.
The Most Important Thing for You to Know About Type 2 Diabetes
Here’s the thing about type 2 diabetes; there’s no cure for it. But there’s good news in that by making some healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle, it’s possible to manage type 2 diabetes. Also, if you have something called prediabetes, (your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes) diet and lifestyle changes can prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes. That’s right; there are a number of things that you can do to bring your blood sugar levels into the normal range. Through dietary changes, exercise and weight loss, you may be able to avoid taking medications, manage your blood sugar levels and remain in remission, prevent the progression, and avoid the health implications of type 2 diabetes.
For many people making lifestyle changes can feel overwhelming. At BodaHealth, we get it—and we’re here to help. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can play an important role in helping you make lifestyle changes that count. Acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese food therapy can help with weight loss, decrease food cravings and promote better digestion.
Acupuncture can also help by regulating your metabolism. Research studies have discovered that acupuncture treatments can help regulate hormonal function through your endocrine system and something called the HPA axis in your brain. Remember, insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter your cells. In addition, when you’re under a lot of stress, the balance of cortisol, adrenalin and insulin (again, all hormones) can be thrown out of balance. A great deal of scientific research has confirmed that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of stress and stress-related health issues.
At BodaHealth, we also offer holistic nutrition and naturopathic health care. This means that our naturopathic physicians can perform lab tests and provide detailed assessments of your diet, nutritional status and hormone function. Based on their findings, they can provide you with a plan that may include dietary strategies, herbal or nutritional supplements, exercise guidelines and lifestyle changes that can help you control your blood glucose levels.
The most important thing for you to know about type 2 diabetes is that it can often be managed with a number of changes to your lifestyle and daily routines—in fact those changes may be the most significant thing that you do for your health. And that doesn’t mean you have to change everything at once. Whether it’s cleaning up your diet, incorporating exercise into your life or losing weight, we can help you start with small steps and support you along the way. If you or someone you love has type 2 diabetes, we can help. Give us a call today to find out how.
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Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.