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Controlling Diabetes

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in diabetes, originally published in issue 21 - August 1997

Diabetes is on the increase. There are approximately 700,000 people currently being diagnosed yearly in Britain, and in America it is the seventh leading cause of death.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreatic beta cells fail to produce the correct amount of the hormone insulin. Lack of insulin can result in hyperglycaemia causing excessive thirst, skin and fungal infections, blurred vision and extreme tiredness. If left untreated it can result in more serious conditions, such as ulcerated skin, gangrene, cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy and death.

The cause of diabetes is either sudden trauma or damage to the pancreatic beta cells. Damage to the cells can be through a viral attack or a hereditary disposition. Other links to diabetes include some foods such as smoked and cured meats, cow's milk products and high exposure to prescription drugs in utero and early childhood.

The aim for the diabetic is to keep the blood glucose levels stable; however, the mechanisms for blood glucose management are not totally understood. Even guidelines set down by the British Diabetic Association seem limited and confusing..."There is little evidence to show whether compliance with the diabetic dietary guidelines produced for the 1980s (high carbohydrates) is better or worse than with diets used in the era of carbohydrate restriction."

Other control mechanisms include insulin supplementation, the aim of which is to have peaks of insulin activity immediately following meals. However, everyone reacts to insulin in different ways as the onset of action, peak of action and duration all vary. Also, when insulin is given in fixed amounts rather than in the minutely measured doses that the body produces in response to inner environmental changes, the automatic feedback loop between blood sugar and insulin is broken. It may be that the only way to correct insulin levels is through conscious feed-back based on the correct metabolic decisions, taking biochemical individuality into consideration.

Research is showing that these metabolic decisions should include external testing of blood, the site, type, dosage and timing of insulin injections, nutrition, supplementation, self pollutants, exercise and stress. Working to understand one's own blood glucose mechanisms requires information, self knowledge, perseverance and time. It is a learning of being in tune with your self, but is well worth it if you are an insulin-dependant diabetic, who wants to live a near normal life. Tony, my client, has been through this process.

Tony (52 years) came to see me in April 1996 with presenting symptoms of adult onset, insulin-dependant diabetes. His blood glucose readings were totally erratic, reaching highs and lows within the space of a few hours. He complained of aches and pains, low energy and was unable to enjoy his running, which was the love of his life. He was in a state of deep depression and described himself as a cripple.

A thorough case history revealed digestive problems, adrenal exhaustion, macromineral imbalance and a degree of candida. Kinesiology revealed food sensitivities along with high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. The urine analysis suggested an acid environment within the body and slight liver malfunction.

Tony followed my recommendations carefully and conscientiously. He carried out a colon/liver cleansing programme and followed a wholefood diet, high in carbohydrates and fibre, no refined sugar foods and low in saturated fats. He also avoided yeast, dairy, wheat, tea, coffee and salt. He ate lots of organic vegetables, cereals, fruit, fish, chicken and soya products, plus adequate essential fatty adds. Onions, garlic and fenugreek seeds were taken regularly and lots of bottled/filtered water was drunk to cleanse the system along with crushed celery seed tea.

Attention was also given to the ratio of 2:1 carbohydrates to protein at each of his frequent meals and snacks to allow for optimal secretion of insulin and glucagon, helping to prevent the threatening rapid highs and lows in blood glucose levels. Low and moderate glycaemic index foods were also emphasised.

The supplement programme consisted of chromium picolinate, multi-vitamin and mineral without iron and copper, B complex and Vitamin C. These were used to target the stress and regulate the blood glucose levels. Tony used Actrapid insulin daily and Insulatard in the evenings for overnight control.

Other non-nutritional strategies included a regular exercise programme. Exercise enhances tissue levels of chromium, increases the number of insulin receptors in Type I diabetes and helped to boost Tony's self esteem. Aromatherapy offs of basil, lavender and clary sage were used for massages / baths to target stress and muscular pains, and techniques for relaxation were used frequently.

Daily, we recorded graphs of the timing and dosage of insulin, time of eating, blood glucose levels, weight, food intake, exercise and feelings. A pattern began to emerge, and interpretation of the results helped me to fine tune Tony's programme. The main problem area was his stress levels which coincided with blood glucose highs. His greatest stress was accepting that he had diabetes. Through deep counselling therapy and the influence of Stephen Levine's book, Healing into Life and Death, Tony is now learning to live with, rather than to fight his condition.

By September, Tony's blood glucose levels stabilised to a monthly average of 8.5mmol/l, his triglyceride levels were down to 0.6mmol/l and his cholesterol levels were 3.8mmol/l. All his symptoms had cleared and he was working hard to deal with his stress levels. He felt well, had lots of energy and was starting to compete in races again. His GP and specialist were confounded by his spectacular progress.

In October, Tony announced his intention to run the 1997 London Marathon and presented me with an intense training programme averaging 70 miles a week. Using our daily graphs we were able to calculate his energy intake and output with the correct timing and dosage of insulin. In April 1997, a year into his therapy, Tony completed the London Marathon in an admirable time of 3hrs 34mins.

Research Papers and Books

The role of chromium in the control of high and low blood sugar. Anderson, R. Nutr Rep, 6:41; 1988.
Optimal Vitamin C might help regulate blood sugar and aid in the prevention of diabetes. Chen Land Thacker R. Effects of dietary Vitamin E and high supplementation of Vitamin C on plasma glucose and cholesterol. Nutr Res. 5:27-34; 1985. Jenkins, D et al. Diet factors affecting absorption and metabolism, p 583-602, in Shils, M et al., editors, Modem nutrition in Health and Disease.(8th ed.),W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1994.
Tepperman J. and H., Metabolic and Endocrine Physiology, (5th ed.), p 249-96,Year Book Medical Publishers, Chicago, 1987.
Westphal, S., Metabolic response to glucose ingested with various amounts of protein, Am J Clin Nutr 52:267-272, 1990.
Dietary Recommendations for people with Diabetes. An Update for the 1990s compiled by the nutritional sub committee of the professional advisory committee. British Diabetic Association. B.D.A 10 Queen Anne Street, London.WI MOBD.
Optimal Wellness. Ralph Golan MD. Ballantyne Books. ISBN 0-345-358740,1995.
Diabetes. A Guide to Living Well. Ernest Lowe and Gary Arsham MD PhD.
Chronimed Publishers. ISBN 0-937721-51-4,1992.
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Michael Murray MD and Joseph Pizzorno ND BPCC Hazel Books Ltd. ISBN 0-356-17218X, 1990.
Healing into Life and Death. Stephen Levine. Gateway Books. 1993.

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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;  junebutlin@btinternet.com

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