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The diabetes epidemic continues to worsen every year.
This disease currently affects over 30 million people and is the seventh-leading cause of death in the US.
What is more concerning, though, is that there are more than seven million people who are not even aware they have diabetes and another 84 million who have prediabetes.
Fortunately, the symptoms of diabetes – high blood sugar, and the significant health problems caused by it – can be reversed naturally by making changes to your diet, lifestyle, and activity level.
Are you ready to lower your blood sugar? Our guide is here to help you learn how.
Understanding the Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, when not managed properly, can cause blindness, nerve damage, loss of limbs such as feet or legs, kidney disease, and even death.
In 2015, diabetes played a role in the death of a quarter-million people (1).
Those with diabetes are at higher risk for other medical problems, as well.
Diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and other significant medical problems.
While the diagnosis of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, so is the incidence of prediabetes.
Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are elevated, but not above the criteria for diabetes.
Those with elevated blood sugar, or prediabetes, are highly likely to develop Type 2 diabetes within the next ten years (2).
Over 80 million people in the US now have fasting blood glucose levels that indicate prediabetes.
In addition to the medical concerns related to the diabetes epidemic, we must also consider the financial implications.
Diabetes treatment is responsible for $245 billion a year in medical costs.
Those living with diabetes usually have medical costs over twice as high as healthy individuals, with annual medical expenditure nearly $14,000 per year for people with diabetes (3).
Perhaps the most significant concern regarding Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes is that it is a reversible and preventable condition.
You can begin making changes to your life today to treat your diabetes naturally.
A diagnosis of diabetes does not mean you will inevitably have a life of medical problems.
You can be back on the road to good health again soon if you follow these natural guidelines.
The Causes of Diabetes
It is important to understand the causes of diabetes to prevent and reverse this disease’s symptoms.
The food you eat supplies your body with fuel in the form of glucose, or sugar.
To do this, your digestive system breaks your food down, then releases the glucose into your blood, which supplies your cells with needed energy.
Your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood.
If your body uses insulin inefficiently, or you don’t produce enough insulin, sugar remains in your blood instead of going into cells, resulting in elevated blood sugar, or diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a form of the disease that occurs when your pancreas does not produce insulin or produces very little insulin.
Most people with Type 1 diabetes are born with the condition, which is why it is most often diagnosed in childhood.
People with Type 1 diabetes must supplement their body’s supply of insulin to manage their blood sugar.
There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, and treatment includes careful attention to diet, as well as insulin injections (4).
While Type 1 diabetes is not reversible, you can use natural remedies to reduce your dependence on insulin and other medications to control your blood sugar level.
Type 2 Diabetes
If your body produces less insulin than needed or uses insulin inefficiently, you have Type 2 diabetes.
This is the most common form of the disease.
The most common risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are being overweight, smoking, being over the age of 40, and eating an unhealthy diet.
Those with Type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means your cells do not respond efficiently to insulin in the bloodstream.
Insulin resistance causes glucose to remain in your bloodstream, which triggers your pancreas to release more insulin, creating a cycle that is difficult to break (5).
Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled or reversed by making changes in your diet, activity, and lifestyle, all natural and effective methods for reducing blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of risk factors and conditions.
Knowing your risk and making changes to those factors you can control are vital to preventing Type 2 diabetes (6).
The most common causes or risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese;
- Eating an unhealthy diet;
- Being sedentary;
- Chronic or extreme levels of stress;
- Inflammatory disorders or diseases;
- A family history of the disease;
- Having a cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure;
- Hormone conditions or imbalance.
There are several natural ways you can reverse your Type 2 diabetes, leading to improved health.
Changing how you move your body, as well as what you eat, are necessary measures that can allow your body to use insulin more efficiently.
Foods to Eliminate from Your Diet
There are certain types of foods that have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels, can trigger an immune response, and create inflammation in your body.
By removing these foods from your diet, you can help lower your blood sugar and reverse your Type 2 diabetes symptoms.
Eating and drinking refined sugar creates large spikes in your blood sugar.
Because your body does not need to work very hard to process this energy, refined sugar enters your bloodstream quickly, causing a rapid rise in glucose.
Sugary beverages like soda and juice are common culprits (7).
If you eat a diet high in simple carbs and sugars, you have a 40% higher risk of developing diabetes, so eliminating these foods can be beneficial to your overall health (8).
Selecting natural sweeteners, like agave, honey, or maple syrup, are better choices, but these should still be used in moderation.
An even better option for sweetening foods is to use stevia, which has less impact on your glucose levels.
Grains, Particularly Gluten
When you consume lots of carbohydrates, like those found in grains and wheat (gluten), your body breaks these calories down into sugar very quickly.
This can cause raised blood sugar.
Also, gluten causes inflammation in the digestive tract of some people.
Inflammation impacts your hormone balances, which can lead to spikes in glucose levels, too.
Switching from simple and refined grains to ancient grains that are sprouted can help decrease your inflammation, and maintain more consistent blood sugar levels.
Hydrogenated oils like vegetable, canola, cottonseed, and soybean, are often treated at very high temperatures and contain unhealthy additives.
Eating a diet high in unhealthy oils leads to added weight and cardiovascular problems, which can contribute to Type 2 diabetes.
Alcohol elevates blood sugar very quickly, and those who are heavy drinkers increase their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by over 40 percent.
Heavy drinking means consuming more than two drinks per day (9).
Alcohol made from grains or drinks containing sweet mixers are exceptionally easy for your body to turn into glucose, so avoid these if you choose to drink in moderation.
Milk and dairy products contain natural sugars that can raise blood sugar levels, especially when those products are highly processed or come from non-organic cows.
Cows raised using conventional methods produce dairy high in A1 casein proteins, which can cause inflammation in many people.
This immune response is similar to that produced by gluten and can trigger blood sugar spikes in those with Type 2 diabetes.
If you want to eat or drink dairy, look for those from goat, sheep, or A2 cows.
Buy only organic and raw dairy products to ensure you get the most benefit from eating dairy.
Foods to Add to Your Diet
Now that you have eliminated trouble foods from your diet, replacing those with healthier options is the next step.
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can control your blood sugar, lose weight, and correct some of the medical issues that contribute to diabetes.
Eat More Fiber
Foods rich in dietary fiber improve Type 2 diabetes symptoms, help you manage your weight, and improve the healthy function of your digestive tract.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and foods containing this type of fiber are released into the blood more slowly.
This leads to a more gradual increase in blood sugar (10).
Eating more whole-plant foods is an excellent way to increase your daily fiber intake.
Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and artichokes, as well as berries, seeds, nuts, flaxseed, and avocados, are all excellent sources of dietary fiber.
Proteins are released slowly into your bloodstream and slow down the absorption of glucose.
Eating lean, whole-food proteins can help you control your blood sugar, as well as provide essential nutrients to your body.
Lentils, beans, eggs, and organic and grass-fed meats are good examples of lean proteins.
Wild-caught fish are also excellent sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lean protein.
Fatty acids, particularly omega-3 and omega-6, are vital to your overall health, and can also help balance your glucose levels.
These fats are an excellent source of fuel for your body compared to sugar, which is digested quickly.
These healthy fats can raise your good cholesterol and lower your triglycerides, all of which contribute to a healthier heart and body.
Low Glycemic Load
Eating foods with a low glycemic load will help you control your glucose levels.
While the glycemic index of food tells you how quickly a particular type of food is converted into blood glucose, the understanding glycemic load is better for overall diabetes management.
Glycemic load refers to how much energy is in a portion of food, and therefore how much sugar it will deliver to your bloodstream over time.
To get a slower and more consistent delivery of glucose, select foods with low to medium glycemic loads.
These won’t cause large spikes in your blood sugar but will deliver consistent energy.
Examples of foods with low glycemic load include eggs, nuts, seeds, berries, stone fruits, avocados, coconut, and non-starchy vegetables.
Eat More Chromium and Magnesium
You can improve your insulin resistance by eating foods higher in chromium, like broccoli, brewer’s years, green beans, and raw cheese.
Chromium’s role in promoting insulin absorption is important, and if you are deficient in this mineral, your Type 2 diabetes symptoms may be worse than necessary.
Magnesium also plays a role in blood glucose metabolism, so making sure you are getting enough is essential.
Those with diabetes are often magnesium-deficient, so selecting foods higher in magnesium can help (11).
Dark leafy greens, almonds, black beans, and yogurt are all excellent sources of magnesium.
Eat Smaller Portions
Maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) is also crucial to your overall health, as well as to reversing your Type 2 diabetes.
Eating less is helpful for shedding pounds, and smaller portions also have a positive impact on glucose levels.
When you eat a large meal, your blood sugar undergoes large spikes.
Eating smaller portions, even if you eat several meals per day, can provide you with a steadier supply of sugar.
Eating smaller amounts of healthier foods will be helpful not only for your diabetes but also for your overall weight.
Herbs and Supplements
Curcumin, which is found in turmeric, is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin decreases insulin resistance and can slow or stop diabetes progression (12).
Curcumin increases insulin sensitivity and enhances pancreatic function.
Berberine is another anti-inflammatory that lowers blood sugar and can treat Type 2 diabetes.
Found in plants like Oregon grape, Chinese goldthread, barberry, and yellowroot, berberine may be as effective at lowering sugar levels as traditional diabetes pharmaceuticals (13).
The addition of a 200 microgram chromium picolinate supplement to each meal can have a significant impact on insulin sensitivity.
Researchers in 13 trials have seen improved glycemic control with supplemental chromium.
People with Type 2 diabetes could see reduced symptoms and disease complications by taking chromium picolinate supplements, including lowering cholesterol and triglycerides (14).
Fish oil contains the essential fatty acids your body needs for proper insulin function and regulation.
It also improves levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers triglycerides.
These omega-3s prevent insulin resistance and control inflammation, which helps prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Supplementing your diet with 1000 mg of the omega-3s in fish oil can help treat your diabetes symptoms.
Bitter Melon Extract
Another plant that can help regulate your cells’ use of insulin, as well as decrease glucose levels, is bitter melon.
This plant’s extract can be used to reduce your Type 2 diabetes symptoms and manage blood sugar.
It is also useful for controlling kidney damage, hormone imbalances, and damage to blood vessels caused by diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (15).
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) reduces symptoms associated with diabetes, including nerve pain, as well as increases insulin sensitivity.
Your body naturally produces ALA, and you can get it from dietary sources like tomatoes and broccoli, but adding an ALA supplement can be helpful when trying to reverse existing symptoms of Type 2 diabetes (16).
Consuming cinnamon significantly decreases blood glucose levels and also lowers levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides.
Cinnamon enhances insulin sensitivity and can increase HDL levels.
Adding just one teaspoon of this spice to foods and drinks can be beneficial, as can using cinnamon essential oils (17).
A Suggested Diabetes Eating Plan
This eating plan will help you get started on your journey to reversing your Type 2 diabetes symptoms.
Focus each day on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables plus lean proteins, a small number of healthy fats, and plenty of fiber in each meal.
After you have tried the plan for three days, start rotating the suggested foods into different meals and configurations.
Review the foods and recommendations above to add more healthy foods to your diet that can help to control your blood sugar and rein in your Type 2 diabetes symptoms.
Grass-fed beef burger served without a bun and with steamed broccoli.
One apple with 2 Tbsp nut butter
Drizzle with avocado-yogurt dressing.
Veggie omelet with one egg white, 1/2 c spinach leaves, 1/2 c mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs topped with 1/4 c goat cheese. Serve with ½ c fresh berries.
Salad with 2 c vegetable greens, 1/2 c mandarin orange slices, vinaigrette made with olive oil, 2 Tbsp chopped almonds; 5 whole grain crackers with 2 Tbsp nut butter.
Raw vegetables with guacamole
Grilled fish tacos with 2 oz grilled fish, 1 c shredded cabbage, seasoned with rice vinegar, on two corn tortillas.
Top with 2 Tbsp salsa; 2 c steamed vegetables.
Tuna salad with 2 oz water-packed tuna, two tsp olive oil, one tsp lemon juice, and four chopped large black olives; serve on two slices whole grain bread with lettuce and sliced tomato.
Hummus and baby carrots
Grill 3 oz organic chicken breast sprinkled with herb seasoning and 1 c vegetables tossed in 2 tsp olive oil.
Serve with 2/3 c cooked wild rice.
How to Change Your Activity
Regular exercise is essential for helping to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise makes your body’s cells more sensitive to insulin, meaning you will need less of it to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
For lasting, meaningful effects on glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, exercise regularly.
Regular exercise has other positive health effects like promoting a healthy heart, helping to control your weight, and improving your quality of life (18).
There are many types of exercise known to reduce the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
You can participate in strength training, interval training, or aerobic exercise.
You can walk, ride your bike, go swimming, attend a fitness class, or work out with weights.
Regular exercise, of at least 30 minutes per day and at least five days per week, is a practical, natural strategy for managing your diabetes.
Because of the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, it is vital that everyone know and understand their risks for developing this disease.
Because it is a preventable disease, becoming aware of the natural ways to treat diabetes at home can help you and your family stay healthy and live longer.
To reverse your diabetes symptoms, you need to remove unhealthy foods like refined sugars, conventional dairy, refined grains, and alcohol from your diet.
Filling your diet with healthier choices, like fiber, whole foods, healthy fats, lean proteins, and nutrient-dense foods will help you manage your glucose levels and eliminate your diabetes.
Adding in regular exercise and dietary supplements will also be beneficial to your overall health, as well helping to maintain healthy sugar levels.
You can reverse your Type 2 diabetes through attention to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
These natural treatments can keep you from becoming one of over 30 million people with Type 2 diabetes in the US and will help you live a long, healthy life.
Take control of your blood sugar today to prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes.