Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

Author -  Good Health

November is Diabetes New Zealand’s annual Diabetes Action Month. As one of New Zealand’s fastest growing chronic diseases with 7% of Kiwis already living with diabetes and another 25.5% who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes (source), the aim is to educate New Zealander’s more about what is becoming an increasing prevalent health concern.

In the spirit of Diabetes Action Month, here we’ll cover the different types of diabetes, who could be at risk and natural ways to help support your blood sugar levels.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

Diabetes is a category of diseases that are diagnosed when a person has too much sugar (glucose) in their bloodstream. This happens because the pancreas has stopped being able to produce enough insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that plays a key role in the regulation of blood glucose (sugar) levels. A lack of insulin, or an inability to properly respond to insulin, can lead to the development of diabetic symptoms. In addition to its role in controlling blood sugar levels, insulin also helps to regulate how the body uses and stores glucose and fat.

There are three key types of diabetes –

Type 1:
People who make very little (if any) insulin as a result of their pancreas being attacked by their immune system. Because type 1 diabetics cannot produce insulin they need it administered daily either by injection or pump.

Type 2:
People with type 2 diabetes are still able to make insulin, but the production is either very slow or they are unable to metabolise glucose. Some people with type 2 diabetes become insulin resistant. This resistance to insulin usually results in a person being overweight. Type 2 is a progressive condition that may require more treatment and medication over time as the pancreas becomes more sluggish.

Gestational Diabetes:
This is when a woman has high levels of glucose in her blood during pregnancy. Women need their insulin levels to be two to three times more than usual when pregnant. Unlike type 1 and type 2, gestational diabetes is only temporary and usually disappears after pregnancy. However, there is an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes at a later stage.

Who is at risk?

Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

Family history is a very important factor in type 1 diabetes. If a parent or sibling has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes there is an increased likelihood that you might develop it as well, so regular check ups are important. Environmental factors, like being exposed to a viral illness, can also play a role in type 1 diabetes.

People who are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes may also have a history of it in their family. Further lifestyle variables that increase your risk include a high sugar diet, being over 40, high blood pressure and being overweight - especially around the middle. Mother’s who had high blood glucose in pregnancy, gestational diabetes or gave birth to a large baby weighing more than 4kgs are also prone to developing type 2 diabetes. 

Natural ways to help

Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

Diet plays a huge role in helping to manage your blood sugar levels. Foods you should consider removing from your diet are refined sugars, which rapidly spike blood glucose. You should also be careful with grains if you have diabetes as they contain large amounts of carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugar quickly after consumption. It is also recommended to avoid alcohol, as it dangerously increases blood sugar levels and impacts the incidence of liver toxicity. 

Exercise and any form of physical activity is another crucial part of managing diabetes, especially those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

As well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are also a number of natural nutrients that can provide some help to support blood sugar balance and insulin levels.

5 key natural nutrients to help support blood sugar levels

Diabetes: A Kiwi Epidemic

1. White Mulberry Leaf
The compounds found in this leaf have blood sugar balancing effects, which help glucose to be released slowly and reduce overall blood sugar levels. Sugar Stop contains high levels of Deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), which is the active ingredient in Mulberry Leaf and has the ability to absorb up to 99% of some of the sugars you get from carbohydrates. It also helps to reduce sugar cravings, which is helpful for those with a sweet tooth.

2. Chromium Nicotinate
This is an essential trace mineral that your body needs to be able to use insulin. Along with DNJ, Sugar Stop also contains Chromium Nicotinate which helps maintain normal glucose tolerance through regulating the action of insulin and increasing insulin sensitivity.

3. Gymnema
This Ayurvedic herb is traditionally used to treat blood sugar levels and is well known for its ability to help reduce glucose absorption in the digestive tract. As well as being a weight management aid, Glucozone containing Gymnema is designed to support healthy blood sugar and energy levels.

Gymnema can actually alter the way sugar tastes, making it taste less desirable so you won’t crave sweet foods as much.

4. Cissus Quadrangularis
Another helping hand from nature, this plant extract helps support your blood sugar balance because it limits the amount of glucose absorbed from high glycaemic foods (foods that increase your blood sugar levels). Synetrim Slim contains this extract and helps reduce blood sugar spikes so that the glucose doesn’t end up being stored as fat. It has also been clinically proven in multiple studies to help block the absorption of dietary fats, carbs and sugar and manage emotional eating.

5. Magnesium
If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body it will not perform at its best. Magnesium is a very important mineral that is required to help more than 300 different enzymes in your body that are responsible for many different processes and functions. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to higher levels of insulin, so taking regular magnesium supplements can help to play a role in keeping your insulin and blood glucose levels regular. 

If you already have diabetes it is important to consult with your healthcare professional before taking any additional natural nutrients as blood sugar levels may be altered.

With the spotlight on diabetes this November, it’s never been a better time to get a check-up and to give some thought to some of the ways you can naturally support your blood sugar levels. To find out more about diabetes visit: diabetes.org.nz.

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