April 7, 2016 is World Health Day and this year the theme is “Beat Diabetes”.
Insulin is the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. When your body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas the result is Type 2 Diabetes.
The number of Australians who self-reported having diabetes more than doubled from 1.5% in 1989–90 to 4.2% in 2011–12. That is approximately 1 million Australians currently suffering with Diabetes.
The classic symptoms that tend to indicate you have too much sugar in your blood are known as the three excesses – excess urination, excess thirst, and excess hunger. These occur because when your blood sugar levels are high your body attempts to dilute your blood with fluid from your cells. Since your cells become dehydrated and your kidneys can’t reabsorb this extra fluid you urinate more often and end up feeling thirstier than usual. Also since your body is resistant to insulin the sugar in your blood can’t be moved into the cells which need the energy to operate properly so your body starts to believe it is hungry.
If your blood sugar levels are too high for too long a period of time a number of complications can occur including nerve damage and damage to the blood vessels because essentially your body is dehydrated and starving. If your nerves are not sending the appropriate signals within your body and your blood is not circulating properly all sorts of further problems can arise such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb damage, depression, anxiety and blindness. Essentially your body will struggle to heal itself.
Doctors believe diabetes arises due to a combination of genetic issues, viral activity (particularly herpes type viruses) and diet. As the study of epigenetics now shows that we are no longer a victim of our genes we can in fact address each of these issues and avoid becoming a diabetes statistic.
Studies show that weight loss plus increased physical activity is more effective than drug therapy for preventing or delaying the development of type 2 diabetes. Studies also indicate that acupuncture is showing promise in the fight against obesity by reducing the appetite, enhancing gastrointestinal function, increasing the metabolic rate and improving emotional well-being. So if acupuncture can help you loose weight then it will help you avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Weight management is a complex issue and there is no quick fix that is healthy long term. Weight loss is about lifestyle not diet (to find out more watch Optimal Body, Optimal Health). It is about being committed to creating a new, healthy, sustainable lifestyle to include self-care (healthy eating, regular exercise, stress reduction and sufficient sleep). Acupuncture can help make it easier to lose weight and keep it off as it releases endorphins that calm and relax your nervous system which then allows your digestive system to switch on and rebalance your metabolism. It also makes it easier to deal with stress, frustration and anxieties so avoiding the need to comfort eat and improving your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Since stress hormones such as cortisol can cause blood glucose to rise and promote insulin resistance you get even more support avoiding diabetes by including acupuncture in your self care plan. Chinese medicine sees the body, mind and emotions as an integrated whole. Your thoughts and feelings interact directly on your body and the state of your body directly affects your thoughts and feelings. So by receiving acupuncture you can release your stress and prevent many of its consequences.
Chinese medicine can also build up your resistance to disease by strengthening your immunity and as there is a possible link between viral activity and diabetes supporting your immune system would be a good idea.
The World Health Organisation recognises Acupuncture as being of benefit to patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Its efficacy has been shown to be superior to that of placebos and comparable with that of tolbutamide (a drug used in the management of type 2 diabetes).
So if you believe you are at risk of developing Diabetes Type 2 it is now time for you to call your local acupuncturist to help you support your immunity, loose weight, as well as to guide you in your change of diet and become part of your cheer squad encouraging you to include more physical activity in your life.
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, and Wholefood counselling). Tania is an AHPRA registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine located in Botany and Katoomba, NSW and is a lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.