Diabetes: The Functional Medicine Approach to the Epidemic
by Dr. Bahl

Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association announced that diabetes accounts for more than 178,000 deaths annually. Its many complications, such as amputation, kidney failure and/or blindness, have a devastating impact on quality of life. Currently more than 24 million children and adults in the US have diabetes, and an estimated additional 5.5 million have undiagnosed diabetes. The worst part is that the numbers are rising! It is proposed that soon diabetes will exceed both heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death. 

Diabetes is characterized by a disturbance in the body’s glucose (sugar) metabolism. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow glucose to enter cells in order for them to produce energy. In Type I diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin. In Type II diabetes the body overproduces insulin. Chronically elevated levels of insulin raise the risk of degenerative diseases (cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s…). To maintain quality of life and prevent many of the potential devastating complications, it is crucial for patients to monitor and maintain balanced levels of blood sugar. 

EVEN IF BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS ARE KEPT IN CHECK WITH MEDICATION, JUST RELYING ON MEDICATION AS THE SOLE TREATMENT FOR DIABETES IS WORRISOME!! 

When it comes to diabetes management, blood sugar control is often the central theme and the common mistake is to solely rely on medication. In some cases overuse of certain medications appear to control blood sugar, but in fact they can actually speed up the progression of the disease. Another reason why sole reliance on medication is a mistake is because diet and lifestyle play a major role in the cause, management and rate of progression of this disease. This fact cannot be emphasized enough! A therapeutic lifestyle, one that includes a personalized food plan as well as an exercise program, should always be the first line of therapy. In many cases with the right lifestyle program, the use of medication can either be reduced or totally eliminated! 

A functional medicine approach to managing and/or reversing diabetes focuses on a patient-centered, individualized, multi-faceted approach including: diet, specifically targeted nutraceuticals, exercise, bio-identical hormones (if indicated), weight loss (if indicated), as well as medication management. Join me in my New Year’s resolution to reduce the incidence of diabetes in 2013. Happy New Year!!
 

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