by Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., F.A.C.S.
As a practicing physician and neurosurgeon, I often witness firsthand the serious complications of diabetes: heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, inflammation and burning painful extremities. And what I've learned is that caring for diabetes involves a multi-faceted approach.
If you have diabetes, limiting sugar and fat intake is, of course, a good place to start. Try eating on a regular schedule to allow medications to work best.
Research shows that high blood sugar activates the body’s immune response, causing inflammation that affects nearly every body part and function. This can help explain why blood vessel diseases (like coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes) are the leading killers of diabetics: Inflammation increases plaque formation in the arteries, often leading blood vessel diseases to worsen.
Sugars can also attach to proteins circulating in the blood, forming larger molecules that can get stuck in the tiny blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys and feet – causing mini-strokes, disease and even death of these vital organs.
Exercise has always been a mainstay in controlling blood sugar: During exercise, cells demand more glucose, lessening the amount of sugar in the blood. This means less medication is generally needed to treat your condition. Exercise will also support your cardiovascular system and improve your heart function.
Medications for diabetes are rapidly evolving, but each must be reviewed for potential side effects and complications. You should consult with your healthcare doctor about the medications you’re taking.
My main point is this: Diabetes is a complex disease that cannot be handled by drugs alone. It requires a more multi-faceted approach. Talk to your doctor about a comprehensive strategy that incorporates a low-fat, low-sugar diet, frequent exercise, medication and insulin as necessary, blood sugar monitors, and the use of dietary supplements and vitamins for nutritional support.
Consider a good multivitamin – to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy – as well as the Diabetic Nutrition Plan from GNC Preventive Nutrition. The Diabetic Nutrition Plan is a comprehensive kit featuring fenugreek seed powder and chromium, an important mineral involved in glucose control. It’s enhanced with lutein, a cartenoid present in the central area of the retina, to promote eye health. It also features fish body oil with EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. A natural anti-inflammatory important for heart health, fish oil also supports brain health, joint health, skin health, eye health and more.