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What is Diabetes?
Diabetes (also called Adult onset diabetes or Non-insulin dependent diabetes) is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat and insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them the energy they need.
With Type 1 diabetes, your body does not make any insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, which is the more common type, your body does not make enough insulin and may not use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood and can lead to problems.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can lead to serious problems such as damage to your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb due to lack of oxygen. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.
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Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may include fatigue, weight loss, thirst, blurred vision and frequent urination while other have no symptoms. A blood test can show if you have diabetes. Activities that help control diabetes are exercise, weight control and sticking to a healthy meal plan.
Complementary & Alternative Therapies for Diabetes
For those interested in alternative therapies for diabetes, The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." The main difference with the two is that complementary medicine can be used along with conventional therapy, whereas alternative medicine may be used instead of conventional medicine.
There are several examples of complementary and alternative medicine therapies are discussed below. For more information, talk with your allopathic and/or complementary / alternative health care provider.
Acupuncture is a procedure in which a practitioner inserts needles into designated points on the skin. There are scientists that believe that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief for conditions such as chronic pain. Acupuncture is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage of diabetes.
Biofeedback is a technique that helps a person become more aware of and learn to deal with the body's response to pain. This alternative therapy emphasizes relaxation and stress-reduction techniques. Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that some professionals who use biofeedback do. With guided imagery, a person thinks of peaceful mental images, such as ocean waves or a beach setting. A person may also include the images of controlling or curing a chronic disease, such as diabetes since there is a belief that their condition can be eased with these positive images and thoughts.
Chromium - The benefit of added chromium for diabetes has been studied and debated for several years. Several studies report that chromium supplementation may improve diabetes control. Chromium is needed to make glucose tolerance factor, which helps insulin improve its action. Because of insufficient information on the use of chromium to treat diabetes, no recommendations for supplementation yet exist.
Magnesium - Although the relationship between magnesium and diabetes has been studied for decades, it is not yet fully understood. Studies suggest that a deficiency in magnesium may worsen blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes. Scientists believe that a deficiency of magnesium interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and increases insulin resistance in the body's tissues. Evidence suggests that a deficiency of magnesium may contribute to certain diabetes complications. A recent analysis showed that people with higher dietary intakes of magnesium (through consumption of whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables) had a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sources: MedlinePlus http://medlineplus.gov and http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov
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