Diabetes: A disease among adults, and unfortunately, children and adolescents, that is growing at frightening rates… Most diabetic children and adolescents feel it is impossible to bring their blood sugar levels back to a healthy balance. And prescribed diabetes medication and insulin is known to never correct or cure this imbalance. These only mask the problem and symptoms, bringing on negative side effects. But some parents and children have figured out a way to better their health, achieve and maintain normal blood sugar levels, and control diabetes naturally by following specific steps.
First, my belief is that Health is too important to ‘beat around the bush’. And so I will be Blunt, Direct, and Raw about the information I will share here. With that said, let’s begin…
According to the American Diabetes Association, “…by the year 2050, one in three people will have diabetes. Children from certain racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk, including African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American children.” Something must be done. And it begins with adults AND children/adolescents becoming aware of the risk factors associated with diabetes, learning alternatives to controlling it, and using preventive measures. It is time adults AND children/adolescents took matters into their own hands. Of course, there are some cases where parents have tried to teach the child to eat properly from birth, purchase healthy foods for the home, and instead the child was going behind the parents’ backs eating the worse junk food they could get their hands on… Alternatively, there are also many cases in which parents were buying unhealthy foods, and maybe even, because of cultural norms, threatened children to ‘eat what we have or else’. And yet, for the youth reading this article, it’s time to learn to take Your health seriously and into your own hands, and not just become dependent on mother or father to know what to feed you, or dependent on your conventional doctor to just prescribe medications you’re told you must take ‘for life’ when there are other ways to help the body heal, control and prevent this disease.
Type 2 Diabetes, a vicious cycle disease, is considered so because it is a behavioral disease. It is associated with ‘the behavior’ of a eating a diet overloaded with sugar, highly processed foods, and very little or no fiber. In other words, unhealthy foods. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are at the highest risk for being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, especially since most likely they do very little or no exercise, and many times live on mainly fast foods on a daily basis. Obesity in those suffering sugar imbalances comes about from poor sugar and fat metabolism. This is what leads to diabetes. And the cycle then viciously continues. Diabetes makes those crave more fatty foods, more sugar, more junk food, more caffeine, etc. In turn, more symptoms are experienced. The pancreas can only take but so much, and when overloaded and damaged, the body loses its ability to use or produce insulin correctly. Diabetics suffer fatigue often because insulin is the hormone that helps convert food into energy. If there is improper insulin use and production, lethargy and fatigue set in. A child or adolescent with diabetes may lose the ‘oomph’ to want to go out and play with friends, or may lose interest in a social activities because, as one adolescent diabetic patient once said to me, ‘I feel like I’m dragging my body…’
When carbs and sugars are not metabolized, they accumulate as fat in the body. Unfortunately, today’s youth (and yes, we know adults as well) is much more sedentary due to television, video games, computers, cell phone usage, etc. Lack of exercise and an excess of body fat causes insulin resistance, and the cells of the body receive less energy. The difference between a Type 2 and Type 1 Diabetic is: Type 2 diabetics produce insulin, but do not use it properly. This is insulin resistance. Juvenile onset diabetes, or Type 1 diabetes, is much more serious, and the person is dependent on insulin to maintain life. The body in this case is attacking its own insulin-creating cells in the pancreas categorizing Type 1 diabetes as an auto-immune disease or disorder.
What are signs of diabetes?
Type 1 Juvenile onset diabetes
-Usually Insulin Dependent
-Is the child urinating often?
-Is the child excessively thirsty?
-Is the child unusually hungry? Even after eating a meal?
-Is the child excessively angry, irritable, drowsy, fatigued?
-Is the child dealing with unusual grief?
-Has the child lost weight for no apparent reason?
-Is the child dealing with slow learning lately?
-Do injuries, bruises, cuts take a long time to heal?
Type 2 diabetes
-Many times Non-Insulin Dependent
-Is the child urinating often?
-Is the child always thirsty?
-Do injuries, bruises, cuts take a long time to heal?
-Does the child get frequent infections?
-Is the child constantly angry? Drowsy, fatigued?
-Has the child lost weight without trying?
-Is the child mentally alert?
-Is the child experiencing blurry vision?
-Is the child feeling ‘pins and needles’ in toes and/or fingers?
-Is the child feeling leg cramps?
Pay attention to these signs to take immediate action to help the body heal. Please note, in Naturopathy, Natural Medicine, and Holistic Medicine, we maintain the view that there is no worse disease than Diabetes. Why? Because it is a disease that destroys ALL body systems; from the circulatory system, to the urinary system, etc. And yet, there is a way to control this disease and support a body to help it begin to heal. Prescribed drugs and insulin are used by some diabetics to regulate their blood sugar. But you will also find there are other diabetics that can balance their blood sugar and control their diabetes without drugs, by making diet improvements, adhering to a healthy diet consisting of smaller portions, exercise, and combining alternative medicine natural therapies to reverse Diabetes.
So, let’s talk Diet. The diabetic’s diet is of utmost importance. Improving a diabetic child or adolescent’s diet is imperative to overcome diabetes. I will say this: it is difficult for some children to perceive junk food as ‘bad’ when they have been inundated with commercials and ads featuring brilliant advertising and bright color additives in food that make these ‘poisons’ look so delicious. What makes it easy for a diabetic to finally ‘get it’ and finally understand that the soda and fast food meal before them is poison, is when they think about another insulin injection, the pain associated with this, taking another diabetes pill with side effects that cause even more symptom discomfort, and how sick they feel in general being a diabetic… These reasons, and so many more, are enough to encourage anyone to make the proper changes to control this disease.
Here are some food ideas to help with balancing blood sugar levels and in achieving/maintaining a healthy weight. (Please understand I must advocate Vegetarianism / Veganism given this is proven in countless research studies to the best diet choice in preventing and overcoming diseases overall. I do understand for some it may take time to transition from a diet consisting of animal meats and animal products on a journey towards complete Vegetarianism / Veganism, and so the recommendations below are for those transitioning to a healthy Vegetarian / Vegan diet. If you are already partaking in a Vegetarian / Vegan lifestyle journey, as I began many, many years ago, then Bravo! Your are on a path towards disease prevention and true optimum health! For you Vegetarians / Vegans, substitute the animal products below with the vegetarian / vegan options that resonate with you. I use and recommend mock meat and veggie meat options;) :
Breakfast: Plain yogurt with added frozen berries; oat bran; whole grain cereal or granola with almond milk, rice milk, apple juice, and for those that like it and prefer it, soy milk (all organic please); whole grain, spelt, or buckwheat pancakes made with water or organic apple juice.
Lunch: Tofu (seasoned or marinated) in a green, leafy salad (organic vegetables: romaine lettuce, arugula, etc. all green veggies are wonderful and encourage good blood flow); veggie and/or tofu burgers; steamed broccoli with melted veggie cheese on top; veggie grilled cheese sandwich with whole grain, or spelt bread; tuna sandwich with olive oil on whole grain bread with romaine lettuce and/or watercress.
Dinner: Eat light at night. Broiled or baked fish (eat salmon at least twice a week, preferably wild fish occasionally, instead of farm-raised) with brown rice. (The prior recommendation is best substituted with a mock fish meat for those who have decided to partake in a healthier lifestyle refraining from animal meats overall;) Note: Eating a minimum of 1-2 cups of brown rice every week lowers diabetes risk by 11%! Veggie or whole grain pasta salad with tuna (again, please note I recommend All animal meats be replaced with vegetarian / vegan mock meats instead for optimum results); vegetable Quiche, organic chicken, organic turkey (hormones in non-organic meats full of injected hormones disrupt body chemical balance, can cause obesity, and can cause blood sugar imbalances; yet again, do all in your power to help the child transition from animal meats to a vegetarian / vegan diet with veggie meats or mock meats) with steamed veggies.
Snacks: The best fruits are frozen berries, grapefruits, lemons and limes (squeeze juice from these onto food). Other great snacks are: baked potatoes, raw veggies with veggie dip, and drink green or white tea.
Drink plenty of water!
Chromium stabilizes blood sugar. Eat chromium-rich foods (preferably organic) such as: eggs ( or a veggie egg substitute is best), string beans, cucumbers, onions, whole grains.
Fresh vegetables, raw or simply steam cooked, are metabolized by the body easiest to prevent blood sugar spikes. My favorite vegetable for diabetics? Artichokes! Start loving this unique veggie to significantly lower blood sugar.
Increase healthy fats in your diet. Use extra virgin olive oil drizzled on food after preparation. Eat avocados and un-roasted nuts.
Eliminate foods that are fried, fatty, and high in cholesterol, caffeine or caffeinated foods, foods with food coloring, and sodas. Yes, I said it. Eliminate soda, even diet soda, which unfortunately many diabetic children believe is alright to drink. Sodas and diet sodas have phenylalanine that affects blood sugar levels. Avoid fatty dairy foods like milk, fatty cheeses, ice cream, etc.
Fruits should be eaten in moderation and it is best to focus on the ones previously mentioned above. Avoid bananas as they have the highest glycemic index.
Use natural alternative sweeteners such as stevia herb, or my favorite for diabetics, Xylitol. This helps to reduce food cravings.
Increase fiber. Constipation contributes to uncontrolled glucose metabolism. In some diabetic cases, changing a combination of negative dietary habits and incorporating high fiber foods, herbs, and supplements, have been key to a discontinuation of insulin therapy.
The natural therapies I have recommended to patients (children and adolescents) help balance sugar levels, boost energy, prevent nerve damage, provide fiber to assist in blood sugar balance, normalize insulin and pancreas activity.
Yes. It is possible for a diabetic to live a ‘normal’ life again. Taking advantage early of a young body, a diabetic child or adolescent still in the process of maturing and developing to adulthood is the ideal time to alter an imbalanced body chemistry dealing with this disease by feeding the body everything it needs to heal itself. Make the changes.
My motto about our health, ‘You should not have to be convinced to be well. Decide to be well.’ TM