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Herbal medicine and diabetes mellitus – Part 5

Herbal medicine. PHOTO: mexperience.com

Management of diabetes mellitus
In last week Thursday’s edition of the Guardian Newspaper, I considered water and diet in the management of diabetes mellitus. I promised to continue this week with the types of food diabetics should avoid and other management methods.

Types of foods diabetics should avoid
To begin with, diabetics should avoid foods that have high glycaemic indices. Just as I mentioned in an earlier article, our foods in this part of the world are mainly carbohydrate based. Not only that, the fiber which should have helped in the regulation of absorption of the glucose in these foods have been eliminated in the process of refining them. I am referring to items such as flour, rice, yam, cassava etc. Diabetics are therefore adviced to avoid refined things like white flour and its products (cakes, cookies, pasta, doughnut, chin chin, pastries as in meat pies and sausage rolls), polished white rice and white sugar. Other things you should avoid are red meat (if you have to eat red meat, make sure it is the leanest portion), dairy products, trans fat and hydrogenated fats (margerine, shortening etc) and alcohol.

The diabetic should aim at eating low glycaemic carbohydrates (from lentils, beans, cauliflower, avocado pear, paw paw (papaya), apples etc), whole grains and whole oats, nuts, especially walnuts and seeds, eg. hemp seed and freshly ground flaxseed. Soy foods are also good for the diabetic. Examples are soy nuts, soy milk, tofu and tempeh. Other sources of protein for the diabetic are natural cheeses, low fat dairy, chicken and turkey without the skin and very lean portion of meat. Included in the list are fish and seafoods such as salmon, black cod, sardine, shrimps etc. These fish are also good sources of healthy fats. Plant sources of healthy fats are cold pressed extra virgin oil, canola oil and flaxseed oil. The mainstay of the diabetic diet has to be vegetables and fruits. These vegetables and fruits should come from all colour types of the spectrum and have to be eaten raw. Your target for fruits should be fresh organic fruits in season. These should be consumed 3 to 5 times daily.

Supplementation in the management of diabetes
Supplements used in diabetes include chromium, vanadium, magnesium, Vitamins B1 and Vitamin D. These are all from plant sources and have been tested and found to be useful in the management of diabetes. Research has shown that a lot more of the vitamins and minerals are deficient in people with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Other supplements used in the management of diabetes are ginseng, cinnamon, Green Tea or the extract and resveratrol. All these supplements have their dosages written on the bottle.

There is a supplement, discovered by a Nigerian, Professor Ernest Izevbegie, from bitter leaf, known as Vernonia armygdalina, which has been found to be effective in the control of blood sugar. Testimonies to this abound and I have found it to be effective in my practice. In fact, one of my leaders in the church, in addition, drinks a glass of bitter leaf juice daily. His blood sugar has remained normal for more than four years.

Exercise
Exercise is one of the lifestyle changes that any one with diabetes mellitus must embark upon. Two very important benefits of exercise to the diabetic are increased utilization of the glucose by the cells and increased sensitivity of the cells to insulin. As more glucose is utilized during exercise, the amount of glucose that should accumulate in the blood circulation reduces. Furthermore, the increased sensitivity of the cells to insulin brought about by exercise renders the cells more receptive to the effect of insulin and more glucose is driven into the cells. Exercise can therefore be said to directly suppress the development of insulin resistance.

The type of exercise recommended is both aerobic and muscle building types of exercise. Brisk walking for 30 minutes for about 4 times a week should burn sufficient glucose to prevent a build up and an insulin spike.
You need to realise that it is important to check your blood sugar levels and the haemoglobin A1C regularly. Doing so will help to prevent a state of hypoglycaemia.

Herbal products in the management of diabetes
For centuries herbal medicine has been employed in the Indian Ayurvedic Medicine and the Chinese Traditional Medicine for the treatment of diabetes. This practice has become increasingly used in this part of the world. We have been applying herbal medicine in our practice and next week, I will be sharing our experience.

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