Type II diabetes is much more prevalent today than it was fifty years ago. Lifestyle changes, availability and ease of pre-packaged foods, as well as advances in technology have all, in one way or another, helped predicate this disease. But Type II diabetes is a much different disease than Type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease; your body, for whatever reason, attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The cause of this type of diabetes is unknown, but it is generally believed to be a genetic disease.
People with Type II diabetes produce insulin, but the insulin the pancreas produces is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize and use the insulin properly (insulin resistance). When this happens, glucose (sugar) cannot get into the body’s cells and builds up in the bloodstream instead. Complications of Type II diabetes may include neuropathy (numbness in the feet), increased risk of stroke, skin infections, and eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts. The good news is that this disease is preventable, and may even be reversible. Commonsense approaches such as losing weight, eating fresh foods, and daily exercise are well known ways to keep Type II diabetes at bay. However, there are other lesser-known ways to increase your protection against this disease.
Chromium is a trace chemical found in foods such as liver, brewer’s yeast and fish. While a deficiency in chromium is rare, a predisposition to high insulin levels may respond well to chromium supplements. These supplements may improve the ability of cell receptors to respond to insulin and help with the transportation of glucose into your fat cells. However, it is best to consult with your health care professional before taking chromium supplements.
Dietary fiber is another natural way to help prevent diabetes because it is associated with improved insulin sensitivity. The more insulin sensitive you are the less likely you are to develop diabetes. Eating foods with plenty of naturally occurring fiber will fill you up and keep your insulin levels steady. Good quality sleep is also a factor in prevention. Sleep deprivation can lead to a significant drop in insulin sensitivity, so aim for 6 – 8 solid hours of sleep each night.
There are many herbs and plant foods which may fight inflammation and help insulin levels, such as cinnamon, cloves, and coffee. Recent studies indicate that a compound in coffee (either regular or decaffeinated, and unsweetened), may also enhance insulin sensitivity.