Forty years ago, Type 2 diabetes was a rare disease almost unknown outside of the elderly. Today, it’s running rampant through the global adult population and alongside obesity is a new epidemic amongst children and teens. In the Middle East, a staggering 35 million people are diabetic, many millions more are pre-diabetic. How are our changing lifestyles contributing to the soaring rates of this devastating disease and can we turn back the tide without a lifetime of insulin injections. Chloe Elgar reports.
Diabetes is prevalent and chronic. In just one generation, it’s gone from being relatively rare to a condition so common, it’s a household word. Most of us know at least one person suffering from the disease. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a global health problem. How did this disease become so proliferate around the world?
According to the International Diabetes Federation, 382 million people are suffering from diabetes worldwide. Here in the Middle East and North Africa, 35 million people have the disease. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar take spots number seven, nine and 10 on the world’s list of Top 10 countries/territories for age adjusted prevalence percentage of diabetes in 2013. The UAE comes in at number 15 out of 219 countries, with a diabetes rate of 18.9 per cent of the population. The Saudi figure is 23.9 per cent.
There is no better time to evaluate the region’s health and give more attention to preventative health.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases with an uncontrollably high blood glucose level as a result of either the body’s resistance to insulin (Type I) or because the body does not effectively produce insulin (Type 2), or both. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, which acts like a key, essentially, opening the cell’s doors to accept glucose from the blood. Without the effective use of insulin, glucose remains in the blood stream, negatively affecting the body’s successive processes and balance.
When present in the body over many years, diabetes can create imbalances that cause heart disease, neuropathy, kidney disease and retinopathy. If these conditions are left untreated, issues like neuropathy can lead to amputation of limbs due to severe circulatory problems, vascular disease (damage to the blood vessels) or infection. According to the American Diabetes Association, the highest reports of amputations in the world occur in diabetic patients.
So, the question begs: Can diabetes be reversed with food and exercise? There are many-recorded cases of people who are proving to decrease and effectively manage their blood sugar levels, and even eliminate their need for needles and insulin, naturally.
CONVENTIONAL ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT
If you go to your traditional Western- educated GP, the typical route of treatment for those people who are pre-diabetic or who have full-blown diabetes includes a rigid schedule of blood glucose testing, administering regular insulin either with insulin injections or an insulin pump, and supplementing with other medications including diabetes pills and aspirin. Diabetes is seen as incurable and once you have it, it’s a downhill run.
Allopathic medicine prescribes a plan for diabetes based on treatment and survival, which varies depending on the severity of your diabetes and whether you have Type I or Type 2. The conventional outlook is that these treatments will be a part of the rest of your life from the point of diagnosis.
There is another route however. Alternative medicine offers a path promoting prevention of disease and a way back from a lifetime of injections. This path includes nutrition education, plant-based food and more focus on the mind-body connection. Although the conventional route seems easier and more immediate at first, taking a look further down the road may make you think twice before agreeing to an insulin pump-regulated future.
Our bodies are incredibly efficient and intelligent machines and are constantly sending us messages to demonstrate what is going on beneath the surface. These messages and signs are what we refer to as symptoms. The key is not to cover-up the symptoms with medicine and pills, rather, to listen to them in order to understand a much deeper root; the cause.
THE TREE OF LIFE FOUNDATION
It is no longer a question of prevalence or relevance. Diabetes numbers are growing rapidly and the big question is: is it reversible and preventable? According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, the answer to that is, absolutely, yes.
Dr. Gabriel Cousens is a pioneer in the Alternative Medicine world and is known for his innovative
work with diabetes. Based on 40 years of clinical research working with diabetes, Cousens opened the Tree of Life foundation, and created the ‘Diabetes Reversal Program’ a medically supervised rejuvenation clinic where guests are immersed in a world of dietary, nutritional and lifestyle education related to building awareness and empowerment around holistic health.
The fundamental premise of the Tree of Life Foundation is that disease is caused from imbalances in the body. Dr. Cousens created a 21-day programme where guests are immersed in holistic health through nutrition education, natural plant- based food, exercise and meditation. Every meal (including snacks) is 100 per cent organic, vegan and living plant-based food, which includes vegetable and fruit-based juices, smoothies and unlimited wheatgrass.
Of the first 110 participants to attend Dr. Cousens program, 60 per cent of the Type II diabetics were off all oral medications with recorded fasting blood sugar (FBS) levels under 100. Out of all Type II guests, 28 per cent reversed their diabetes after three weeks with no insulin and a FBS level under 100. Amazingly, 100 per cent of the non-insulin pre-diabetic guests were completely healed.
This approach is in stark contrast to the one often – but not always – prescribed by an allopathic doctor. Madyson Page, who undertook Dr. Cousen’s Tree of Life Diabetes Recovery Program, was told by her GP that she would not have to make lifestyle changes because of diabetes.
“My doctor told me I could eat whatever I wanted and just give myself a little insulin. She told me, ‘Your life doesn’t have to change’.”
According to Dr. Cousens, the rise of diabetes is a symptom of global disharmony. “That disharmony in terms of eating is coming in the pandemic we call diabetes. White sugar, white flour and the introduction of high fructose corn syrup are the main culprits. Also, a high incidence of animal fat are key players but it’s really the sugar that’s the number one cause.”
For more information on Dr. Gabriel Cousens and his Diabetes Reversal Program, watch his documentary Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days, or read his book, There is a Cure for Diabetes.
HOLISTIC HEALTH KIT
When it comes to holistic nutrition, the key is to look at the body as a whole functioning unit, as opposed to singling out one system, organ or symptom to treat. With diabetes, keeping the blood sugar levels down with extra insulin isn’t going to solve the core imbalance long-term. Addressing one single symptom (high blood sugar) ignores all other contributing factors such as low immune system, high stress, toxin overload, gastrointestinal problems and poor diet.
Furthermore, with diabetes, the body is demonstrating an imbalance and inability to regulate and produce insulin. Thus, adding more insulin to the blood stream, which is left circulating overtime, can lead to further issues with the pancreas.
That being said, there are key steps to follow if you are pre-diabetic or have Type I or Type 2 diabetes, which will begin your journey to reversing your condition naturally. Treat these recommendations as your starter kit on how to take your health back into your own hands.
1. Gain control of your body’s insulin levels
This involves limiting consumption of sugars, processed grains and refined carbohydrates. Substitute these foods with natural whole foods, good quality fats (coconut oil, cold-pressed and extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, fish oil, avocado and ghee), protein and green vegetables.
2. Ban junk, especially sugar
Always have healthy snacks on hand and remove unhealthy foods from your house so that you aren’t tempted: Nuts and seeds, hummus, fruit, nut butters, vegetables (carrot, cucumber, celery)
3. Restore balance in your gut
The gastrointestinal tract is the area of nutrient assimilation and therefore hugely influences your body’s overall health. Correcting an imbalance involves identifying food intolerances, re-balancing your gut bacteria with a probiotic and improving the overall absorption and assimilation of vitamins and minerals.
4. Exercise daily
This could be yoga, walking, stretching, resistance training or cycling. Make sure it’s exercise that you enjoy doing – one that helps to relieve stress. You don’t have to climb mountains or do Ironman triathlons; a 30 minute brisk walk every day will do wonders.
- Take out: fried foods, carbonatedbeverages (colas, sparkling water), artificial sweeteners, processed foods and sugar, table salt and refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, biscuits)
- Bring in: whole, natural foods including: fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains (quinoa, rice, amaranth), legumes, fish, herbal teas, coconut water
6. Water is a wonder
Drink anywhere from 3 to 5 litres of water per day
7. Never skip meals
Keeping blood sugar levels stable means eating smaller amounts every few hours – avoid the famine and feast pattern.
8. Keep a rhythm
Have regularity in your life, take regular meals, regular sleep times and wake up at a regular time.
9. Reduce stress
Stress plays a major role in your body and an over- production of the stress hormone cortisol can, overtime, cause hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue and consequently affect your body’s insulin levels and blood sugar regulation.
http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-amputation.html http://healthintelligence.drupalgardens.com/content/prevalence-diabetes-world-2013 http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/other-treatments/
CASE STUDY: DIMPLE JIVOTHAMA
Dubai-expat Dimple Jivothama reversed her diabetes naturally and lost 26 kgs in the process.
Dimple Jivothama was just 32 when she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic after going to a routine check-up. Considerably overweight, it could have been an inevitable slide into full-blown diabetes but Dimple took action and reversed the signs by changing her diet and getting regular exercise.
“I went from 102kg to 76kg, yes, and I did not do it by going to the gym or any slimming centers or by taking any pills…”
Through commitment and courage, Dimple found an alternative course of treatment that was supportive of her body’s own recovery. Dimple would get up at 4.10am in order to walk seven kilometres before work. She’d walk another four kilometres in the evening as well as do an hour’s yoga with Friends of Yoga in the park. “The yoga toned my body. I don’t do so much walking anymore, I did it intensively for three months but I still always do my morning walk.”
In regards to nutrition, Dimple followed a balanced plan that was not grounded in restriction and the concept of dieting. In contrast, she followed a plan of eating foods high in fibre (lots of fresh fruit), and always had dark chocolate on hand to relieve a sugar craving or feelings of low blood sugar.
Dimple’s Weight-loss Rules
w Buy a pair of good walking shoes and walk six days a week
w Weight-loss is 60 per cent what and when you eat and 40 per cent exercise
w No starchy carbs – no bread/rice/roti
w Never miss breakfast – eat healthy and heavy
w Lunch is the biggest meal (your body needs the right food at the right time)
w No dinner
w Oil-free cooking
w Lots of whole fruit (not juice) and protein
w Drink five litres of water per day
w Green tea an hour after every meal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chloe Elgar is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner whose own history of eating disorders and subsequent gastrointestinal imbalances took her on a journey through holistic nutrition and natural food. Through her business, Chloe’s Countertop, she shares information and inspiration on nutrition. Chloe also works as the in-house Holistic Nutritionist for Essentially AE, Dubai’s first cold-pressed, organic juice business, go to www.essentially.ae.