DIABETES, A 21ST CENTURY EPIDEMIC
By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© February 2013, The Center for Development.
Diabetes is an epidemic of vast proportions around the world. It costs millions of lives each year, and it costs many of the world’s nations billions in medical care and disability. Most of this is totally preventable. A recent study indicated that one in every four Americans age 60 or above has diabetes. Many go undiagnosed for years, which only makes correction more difficult when the disease is discovered.
Definition. Diabetes is defined by the medical profession as elevated sugar in the blood, usually a fasting blood glucose level above 100 mg/dl.
In reality, however, diabetes is a type of derangement of the glucose metabolism system that goes far beyond just the level of glucose in the blood or in the urine. The blood glucose can even be normal, in some cases.
Classifications. Medical science divides diabetes into at least three types called type 1, type 2 and diabetes insipidus. All three can respond well to nutritional balancing science. These are discussed below.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes and diabetes insipidus, a common symptom is increased volume of urine and more frequent urination, including the need to get up to urinate during the night. This occurs because as the blood sugar rises, the kidneys try to lower it by excreting more sugar in the urine. The sugar draws water with it, increasing the volume of urine. One may also experience a lot of thirst, since there is a significant fluid loss.
Another common symptom is a craving for sugar or carbohydrates in some cases. This occurs because the cells are not receiving enough glucose, so one begins to crave it. Sometimes this symptom is referred to as hypoglycemia, although this word means low sugar in the blood, not the cells. Other signs of hypoglycemia are irritability before meals and an inability to skip meals.
Another common early symptom is tingling, often in the feet and legs. This is called peripheral neuropathy, and has to do with blockage of small capillaries, which reduce the blood supply in some areas of the body and leads to the neurological symptoms of tingling, and perhaps numbness.
Another common symptom is fatigue, while other symptoms may include weight loss and wasting, or weight gain and a watery appearance of the tissues. Other symptoms may include fainting spells, skin tags, or evidence of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, eye disease or other so-called complications of diabetes.
CAUSES OF TYPE 1 DIABETES
This condition is usually due to an infection of the pancreas that stops or reduces insulin production. This infection cannot be detected on standard blood tests, but the rapid onset often leads one to such a conclusion, and a hair analysis may show an infection pattern, though often it does not at first. Usually, this type of diabetes starts after a mild cold or flu, or some other innocuous infection, and it can develop suddenly. It occurs more often in children or younger adults. The infection may be triggered or related in some way to excessive iron, manganese or aluminum in the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes is less common, fortunately, because correcting it takes a few years, in most cases. The infection is quite stubborn. However, it will respond to a nutritional balancing program in almost all cases.
High-iron or bronze diabetes. This variant of type 1 diabetes is somewhat rare, and is more of a pure iron toxicity problem. Iron replaces zinc and other metals in the pancreas and the blood sugar starts to rise. It can easily become over 400 mg/dl and this type can be a so-called brittle diabetes, in that it can be hard to control.
This type is less common, and seen more in men and more in the African-American population. Those who have it are often slender, have a good build, and are often careful eaters. They often have cardiovascular disease as well. They usually have not overeaten on carbohydrates, although some have.
They may have eaten a lot of red meat or other sources of iron, although their problem is handling the iron they have, not necessarily eating too much iron. They are often diagnosed with diabetes because they start to lose weight.
Personality. Those with high-iron diabetes are often stubborn in nature, and strong, but really weak inside. This is a characteristic of biounavailable iron, as explained elsewhere on this site and in the textbook, Nutritional Balancing And Hair Mineral Analysis.
Most are rather likable types of people. High iron can make them rather sexual individuals, and they are attractive, generally. They can put up a good faćade for this reason.
This type of diabetes should respond well to a nutritional balancing program, although I have less experience with it.
CAUSES OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
This is the most common type. It is also sometimes called adult-onset diabetes because it usually occurs in adults, and often later in life. Lately, however, more children are developing it as well.
This type of diabetes is very related to metabolic syndrome. This is a set of risk factors that often results in diabetes sooner or later. For much more on this extremely common dietary and lifestyle condition, read Metabolic Syndrome on this website.
This type of diabetes is not due to an insulin deficiency. Instead, there is often too much insulin present, at least early on, but the insulin is unable to do its job of lowering the blood sugar in the body. In other words, the body exhibits insulin resistance or resistance to insulin. The reason, I find, is that reducing the sugar in the blood would dehydrate the person to a dangerous degree. So, in this case, the high blood sugar is actually a compensation for a dehydrated state.
Correcting the dehydration, the diet and the lifestyle are keys to correcting type 2 diabetes. It is often an easy condition to handle naturally when this is done properly. Drugs should not be needed.
CAUSES OF DIABETES INSIPIDUS
This rather rare type of diabetes caused by a deficiency of anti-diuretic hormone or ADH. This may be due to a pituitary tumor or some other cause. It may or may not respond to a nutritional balancing approach to healing, although so far a few cases are responding well. It is associated with toxic metals in the pituitary gland, interfering with its proper functioning.
Early detection is not always easy. Fasting blood serum glucose tests are used most often. However, they are not always that accurate, and the same is true of random urine tests or fasting urine tests.
The definitive medical test is the 5-hour glucose tolerance test. However, this test is somewhat cumbersome, so it is not always used. Also, even this test can give confusing results. Some doctors also measure insulin levels during this test, and this will make the test more accurate, although doctors still may disagree on the criteria to diagnose diabetes.
I do not use these tests much. Instead, I use the hair mineral test to indicate a diabetic trend and correct it. Also, in accordance with the statistics, and the work of Robert Atkins, MD and others, I must assume that most people are headed for diabetes these days.
HAIR ANALYSIS INDICATORS OF DIABETES
Dr. Paul Eck, with whom I studied for 14 years, found that certain hair mineral ratios are associated with an increased tendency for diabetes. This is not a diagnosis, but it is equally useful in most cases. Hair must not be washed at the laboratory for accurate readings. Here are some of the useful trends or indicators:
1. A sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5:1. A low ratio is associated with chronic stress on the liver, pancreas, kidney and cardiovascular system. A ratio less than 1:1 is even more indicative of a diabetic trend.
2. Imbalanced oxidation rate. Type 2 diabetics are often fast oxidizers, but not necessarily. Type 1 diabetics are usually slow oxidizers. High-iron diabetics may be fast or slow oxidizers, and often their tests reveal elevated tissue iron (above 2 mg%) or hidden iron toxicity. For more on this, read Acquired Iron Toxicity on this website.
3. The presence of toxic metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, arsenic, aluminum or iron. All can interfere with the vital minerals such as zinc, chromium, selenium and others.
4. Possibly a hair calcium/magnesium ratio greater than 9.5 to 10, or so. Dr. Eck believed that a calcium/magnesium ratio greater than 12:1 or less than 3:1 were diabetic indicators. However, I have not been able to confirm these latter indicators, so I do not use them.
I have found that a calcium/magnesium ratio greater than about 9.5 often indicates overeating on carbohydrate foods. This does not necessarily produce diabetes, but it could. It is not so much a diabetic indicator, but rather a dietary indicator related to how much carbohydrate one eats.
5. A zinc level less than about 12 mg%. Zinc is needed to manufacture insulin, secrete insulin and extend the action of insulin. Low zinc can predispose one to iron, copper and other toxic metal poisoning that can affect the pancreas and other organs.
6. Low levels of chromium, manganese and/or selenium. These occasionally show up. These minerals are essential for proper glucose metabolism.
These indicators are trends only. It may take years for a trend to develop into the full blown illness. Also, in some individuals the trend may be masked by other factors so that it is not revealed on the first hair analysis.
Metabolic Syndrome is the name given to a set of risk factors for diabetes. They include abdominal obesity, elevated cholesterol and/or triglycerides, other lipid abnormalities, high blood pressure, and perhaps other serum abnormalities such as a high C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation. Metabolic syndrome is very common, and usually due simply to overeating on carbohydrates, and especially simple carbohydrates and sugars. It is discussed in a separate article entitled Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.
Hypoglycemia. This is usually taken to mean low sugar in the blood. In fact, it is much more complex and can be of different types. To read about it, see the article entitled Hypoglycemia on this website.
THE MEDICAL APPROACH AND ITS SHORTCOMINGS
The standard medical approach to diabetes is the use of insulin shots or glucose-lowering oral medications. Diet is also part of the program, but usually it not nearly strictly enough.
Weight loss is also part of the treatment, but again the recommended diets will not reduce weight by enough to make a difference in most cases. Stress reduction and rest are usually not even mentioned, but they should be. Nutritional supplements are usually not recommended, and this is a crime, in my view. Let us discuss these methods in more detail.
Oral anti-diabetic drugs. This class of drugs I do not think ever need to be used. They include drugs such as Glucophage or Metformin, Precose or acarbose, Glycoset or miglitol, Avandia, Actos or thiazolidinediones, and an older class of drugs that are sulfonylureas with names like Diabinase, Tlinase, Tolamide, Glucotrol, Glucamide, Micronase and many others.
In my view, these are dangerous drugs. Some are associated with heart attacks and other fatal ‘side effects’. They are also purely temporary fixes and do not address the cause of diabetes at all.
Some may stimulate the insulin-producing cells until the cells ‘burnout’ nutritionally. Then the drugs stop working and one must take insulin. This does not heal the person’s health at all.
For example, Metformin or glucophage, a common anti-diabetic drug, inhibits gluconeogenesis. This is the process whereby the body converts some protein, starch or fats to glucose in the liver. It is a normal process of the body. By reducing it, the sugar level of a Type 2 diabetic may drop somewhat. However, the drug does nothing for one’s underlying health condition. Meanwhile, most drugs upset the digestion and may deplete other minerals such as zinc, effectively making the underlying health of the patient worse.
Insulin. Insulin replacement therapy will lower blood sugar, and can save one’s life. However, it is not natural to take insulin from outside the body. It slowly damages the body and does not prevent the complications of diabetes in many cases. In contrast, if a person works with a nutritional balancing program, I have seen diabetic complications reverse themselves quite easily.
The standard diabetic diet. This diet, in my view, is so poor it is shocking. It is much too low in cooked vegetables and other high-quality foods such as raw cheese and raw milk yogurt. Meanwhile, it allows fruit, coffee, and too much and poor-quality carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice. It also allows some chemicalized foods or junk food.
The medical treatment of diabetics is therefore of very poor quality in my view, and we can do much better at very low cost and with almost no inconvenience to the client.
NUTRITIONAL BALANCING FOR DIABETES
Many cases of diabetes can be staved off with diet alone. The diet must be extremely healthful to restore many nutrients to the body. It should consist of mainly cooked vegetables, with some animal protein daily, especially raw dairy products, lamb, chicken, turkey and eggs. Some natural beef is fine. Pork and all pig products should be avoided, as many contain hidden trichina worm ova or eggs.
Avoid or eliminate completely all wheat products, all soy products, and most gluten-containing products (wheat, oats, barley and rye). A little brown rice, millet or quinoa seem to be okay, but not more than two or three times weekly. Blue corn chips once in a while are fine. Also, eliminate all fruits, fruit juices and natural and refined sugars.
Supplements. Diabetics all need food supplements! This is best determined by a properly performed and correctly interpreted hair mineral analysis, in my view.
The most common supplements I use are some B-complex vitamins, vitamins A and D (5000 iu daily), and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or other sources (about 1000 mg daily). All need some extra calcium and magnesium, kelp, and a digestive enzyme. All need extra zinc and chromium, and often selenium.
The above is a basic nutrition program. A much better idea is to embark on a complete nutritional balancing program. This means having a hair mineral analysis that is properly interpreted by the method pioneered by Dr. Paul Eck. Read the articles on this website, however, because just following a program of recommendations from the laboratory is not enough in most cases, as newer research has shown us how to improve the programs. I can only recommend the Approved Practitioners that I train who are listed on this website at the following link: Approved Practitioners.
The hair test will assess the oxidation rate, toxic metal levels, tendencies for over 50 conditions, and much more. Based upon it, a simple but very powerful program of supplementation, detoxification, rest and more can be set up that will significantly enhance one’s progress.
IMPORTANT LIFESTYLE FACETS OF NATURAL THERAPY
Hydration. Dehydration at the level of the blood plays a major role in this type of diabetes. Dehydration may not be revealed on a physical exam.
Dehydration of the blood is very dangerous, since it is associated with sludgy blood, blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. Meanwhile, sugar or glucose tends to attract water to it, so holding on to sugar in the blood is a way to correct the dehydration, though it is certainly not ideal. The following sequence of events seems to occur with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome:
1. There is a reduction of the normal elimination of sugar from the blood through the kidneys. This is one way to increase the sugar in the blood to avoid or reduce dehydration of the blood. This can be one cause for high blood sugar.
2. The body responds by raising the insulin level. This is an attempt to lower the blood sugar by sending it to the cells. However, it does not work well because once again the body holds on to sugar in the blood to prevent further dehydration of the blood. Doctors call this peculiar situation insulin resistance.
Dehydration is due to:
1. Drinking coffee, which diabetics love, for some reason.
2. Drinking other caffeinated beverages such as soda pop, too much tea or other foods and beverages containing caffeine.
3. Not drinking enough water. Adults need about 3 quarts daily of spring water or carbon-only filtered tap water and NOT other beverages.
4. Drinking water that does not hydrate the body. The worst culprit is reverse osmosis water, also often called “purified water” or “drinking water”. Sometimes other types of drinking water do not hydrate well, either.
5. Consuming any alcohol at all, or any sugars at all, including fruits and fruit juices. Alcohol, caffeine and sugars all contribute to dehydration.
Mineral deficiencies and diabetes.
1. Chromium deficiency may play a role in insulin resistance. Bioavailable chromium seems to be required for the effectiveness of insulin.
2. Zinc deficiency may give rise to poorer quality insulin, since zinc is required for insulin production, release and to extend the duration of action of insulin.
3. Manganese and mitochondrial problems. Manganese is required for thyroid activity and for mitochondrial function, as well. Manganese deficiency can contribute to low energy and sweet cravings.
Diet and mineral deficiencies. Not moving enough sugar into the cells from the blood can contribute to cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. However, eating them tends to further deplete zinc, manganese and chromium.
Eating fat may raise the blood sugar in some cases. Oddly, this occurs because it temporarily decreases insulin secretion, which then causes an increase in blood sugar temporarily.
Rest and Sleep. Lots of rest and sleep are a key for healing diabetes. One should get at least 10 hours of rest each and every evening. If this is not possible, then get as close to this as you can. Also, going to bed early, ideally before 9 PM, is most helpful to get the most rest from your sleep.
Detoxification. This often is essential for full recovery from diabetes. We find the most powerful, safest and least costly methods are the daily coffee enema or even two daily, and the daily or twice daily use of a near infrared lamp sauna. If this is not possible, less effective alternatives are the use of a far infrared or conventional sauna each day for at least 30 minutes.
Begin with a shorter time such as 15 to 20 minutes, and check blood sugar and other parameters if needed until they are sure they tolerate the sauna well.
COMPLICATIONS WITH DIABETES
The worst aspect of diabetes is that many people end up losing toes, feet, legs or even a whole extremity. Blindness is common later on, as are diabetic neuropathy, kidney failure, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and other problems.
In my limited experience with diabetics, these complications will never occur if the disease is handled with a nutritional approach.
GLYCATION AND CELL MEMBRANES
Late-stage diabetics may have problems with their cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, and perhaps chromium and manganese supplements, can help prevent and correct this. Balancing the oxidation rate and eliminating what is called metastatic or biounavailable calcium is also extremely helpful for the cell membranes.
Restoring the cell membranes is a tricky process that I do not think can be done easily by means other than a properly designed nutritional balancing program. For example, chelation could make the cell membrane problem worse by depleting some vital nutrients.
Glycation. To add to the cell membrane problem, high levels of glucose in the blood hardens the cell membranes. The technical name for this is glycation. It is a slow process of sclerosis that occurs in the bodies of almost everyone who lives on sweets and sugars of all kinds, even including too many complex carbohydrates such as bread, (usually sweetened), rice, potatoes and other starches.
This is not only a subtle cause of diabetes. It also slows or eventually can prevent the correction process because regenerating the cell membranes takes months to a few years.
DIABETES AND THE ENERGY PATHWAY
One reason for success with diabetes with nutritional balancing, as compared with other nutrient regimens, is that a goal of nutritional balancing is to restore the body’s entire energy producing system. This means restoring every step in the production of adaptive or cellular energy from digestion of food to nutrient transport into the cells, and final energy production inside each cell. (For example, see the article entitled The Electron Transport System and the work of WF Koch.)
The body’s energy-producing system requires hundreds of nutrients. Fixing it also requires removing many metal and chemical toxins that can inhibit normal enzymatic activity.
No herb or vitamin can do this by itself, although many can help. The process takes a few years in every case. This does not mean that symptomatic improvement is always slow, however. Restoring the entire energy-producing system of the body is a wonderful aspect of nutritional balancing that goes far beyond the use of remedies such as minerals, vitamins, homeopathy, herbs and other natural or medical methods.
For more on this topic, read How To Increase Your Energy.
If you hope to avoid diabetes, here are simple steps you can take today:
Stop eating sweets of all kinds. Do not argue about it, and do not discuss which sweets are better than others. None are helpful in the slightest. This includes natural dark chocolate, Rice Dream, real maple syrup, raw honey and many other so-called health food products.
I would go one step further an stop eating all fruit and fruit juices. This is not only due to their sugar content. For all the reasons to avoid fruit today, read Fruit-Eating on this website.
Strictly avoid refined starches such as white flour products, and strictly limit all starches to a moderate or small portion of one type per meal and absolutely no more. The best starches are often those found in cooked vegetables such as carrots, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips and other starchy roots.
Eat a large portion of cooked, not raw vegetables three times daily, except do not eat the nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and all peppers).
This means eating a lot of cooked vegetables, which provide hundreds of phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and much more.
Limit coffee to one cup or less daily of regular coffee, not cappuccinos or lattes. Instead, drink 3 quarts of spring water or carbon-filtered tap water daily. Juices, coffee, and even teas are not a substitute for pure water.
Go to bed early and get at least 9 or 10 hours of sleep each night.
Take some basic supplements of kelp (3 capsules daily), vitamin D 5000 iu daily, calcium/magnesium 750/450 mg daily, a powerful digestive aid and some extra zinc, manganese, chromium and selenium.
These simple steps will enable most people to prevent the scourge of diabetes.
OTHER ISSUES RELATED TO DIABETES
Is the problem of diabetes just low insulin? Some health authorities still cling to the notion that diabetes is just due to low insulin. In fact, insulin deficiency is a much too simplistic explanation for any case of diabetes. If the problem were just a lack of insulin, then insulin replacement therapy, which is a standard medical treatment, would entirely cure the condition. However, it does no such thing.
People who take insulin are still prone to a serious complications of diabetes such as peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, ulcers that won’t heal, blindness, artery disease and more. I would not call these pathologies complications. They are part of the deeper pathology of diabetes that simple insulin therapy will not entirely stop.
The deeper pathology of diabetes always includes low levels of chromium, manganese, zinc, and perhaps vanadium. It may also include the accumulation of toxic metals in the pancreas and elsewhere, and possibly other imbalances and infections.
Avoid the standard diabetic diet. Diabetics are told they may drink some coffee or tea, and eat some fruit. The standard ADA diet also allows some chemically processed foods including soft drinks, and other questionable “foods”, especially if made with caffeine and artificial sweeteners. These chemical sugar substitutes such as aspartame or EqualŮ are worse, in some cases, than consuming sugar.
The standard diabetic diet also includes other terrible products such as refined carbohydrates in the form of cake, cookies and ice cream as long as they do not contain sugar. This is inexcusable, in my opinion. The diabetic needs the highest quality and most nutrient-dense foods to rebuild and replenish a depleted body.
A Better Diabetic Diet. The proper diet should be built around cooked vegetables in large quantities, especially steamed ones to get the most minerals from them. Salads are too hard to digest and should be eaten only minimally. Also, eat free range meats, wild game and other meats that are not fed corn, if possible.
Water filter problems. I have found that many under-the-sink and other water filters damage the water and make it less suitable for hydrating the body. Activated carbon or a carbon block is fine.
However, KDF filters, fluoride filters and other types are not good at all and should not be used. Read more bout this in the article called Water For Drinking on this site.
Anger and iron. People who are angry appear to retain more iron. This is a common finding in some cancer patients and in diabetics.
Temperament and stress. Many diabetics push themselves and love to live in the fast lane. This might be called a diabetic personality type. This lifestyle adds a lot of stress. This personality type also does not like to care for themselves in many cases. This is a deadly combination, as follows.
When under more stress, the adrenal glands secrete more sugar into the blood and this requires more insulin to move it out of the blood and into the body cells. This pattern of “flooring the accelerator” day in and day out, particularly with the addition of heavy coffee usage to further stimulate the adrenals, eventually weakens the pancreas and depletes it of vital nutrients required for insulin production and secretion. This is often the chain of events for Type 2 diabetics.
Genetic and congenital factors. Doctors often discuss the genetic factor in diabetes. However, this cannot account for the epidemic rise of diabetes this century.
However, if one’s mother is deficient in specific trace minerals such as zinc or chromium, her children are often born deficient in those nutrients. This will make them more prone to illnesses such as diabetes. This situation is not genetic, however, but instead is called congenital. This word means present at birth, but not inherited in the genes. In other words, it is something that is passed on from the mother during pregnancy due to nutritional imbalances in the mother.
The evidence from the current diabetes epidemic around the world basically argues against the genetic argument and in favor of a congenital or environmental and nutritional causes for diabetes.
Also, if you grew up in a family that ate a lot of sugar, you are more likely to do so as well. Once again, this is not genetic, but related to one’s cultural influences, such as lifestyle and diet.
The role of osteocalcin. This is newer research. A recent article in the jounal Cell by lead author Dr. Gerard Karsenty indicates that this hormone regulates blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production. This is important because it points to a link between calcium, bone remodeling, and diabetes. It is one reason that in all nutritional balancing programs, calcium is supplemented and we strongly recommend excellent sources of calcium such as raw dairy products, eating bones such as those in sardines or bone soup, and perhaps other good food sources such as some carrot juice and some toasted.
Why is age a factor in diabetes? Many people develop diabetes as they age. However, I do not think it is fair to say that aging alone is a cause of diabetes. What occurs is that as one ages, in almost all cases digestive fire and digestive enzyme secretion decreases, chewing is worse, and often dietary habits worsen. This leads to more nutritional deficiencies and more toxic metal accumulation.
Today, people are developing diabetes at younger ages. This is probably due to more severe mineral deficiencies developing at an earlier age, and perhaps it is due to even worse diets than in the past.