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Diabetes: A Functional Medicine Approach

Diabetes is a life-alerting illness related to elevated blood sugar levels. If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have been told by your doctor that you just have to take your medication every day and "learn to live with it."

Fortunately, there is a better approach to your diabetes - functional medicine! Our approach is focused on helping you understand what's happening inside your body so you can be proactive in tackling the root cause of the problem.

The Two Types of Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone that is made by cells in the pancreas. It controls the amount of sugar in the blood. When your body does not produce or use insulin the way a healthy person's does, you will develop diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. If you have Type 1 Diabetes, your immune system has attacked and damaged the cells of the pancreas and as a result, your body cannot produce insulin correctly. Type 1 Diabetes is cannot be reversed, but your dependence on medication can be greatly reduced and quality of life drastically improved with care that addresses the underlying causes of autoimmunity.

Type 2 Diabetes is more common. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which means insulin is still released, but your body cannot respond appropriately. Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which means the insulin receptor sites have been burnt out and overused; eventually, the entire body will be negatively impacted.

Understanding Diabetes Underlying Triggers

There is rarely one trigger of diabetes; it is typically a combination of factors. The conventional approach will blame poor diet and lack of exercise. The doctor will tell you to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. These are major contributors, but there are other complex factors at play.

We often hear people say that Type 2 Diabetes is genetic. There can certainly be a genetic predisposition. But we often say that genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger. This means your Type 2 Diabetes is often greatly within your control!

Other factors that influence the development or worsening of diabetes includes:

  • Underlying hormonal issues (like elevated cortisol levels, a thyroid disorder or poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS))

  • Exposure to certain viruses or chemicals

  • Food sensitivities

  • High amounts of chronic stress

  • Long-term chronic inflammation

  • Certain pharmaceuticals can also trigger diabetes

At our clinic, we look at all these potential factors when helping a client understand why they have developed diabetes and how they can retake control of their health.

The Role of Nutrition

Research is increasingly clear - diet plays a huge role in maintaining health! The proper diet can reverse Type 2 Diabetes. But doctors in the conventional medical system only receive, on average, 19.6 hours of nutrition education across four years of medical school. There are many things to discuss in a jam-packed 15 minute doctor visit, and so nutrition often falls to the wayside.

Generally speaking, you should:

  • Emphasize foods that don’t spike your blood sugar, such as high-fiber, plant-based foods, proteins, nuts and other healthy fats.

  • Avoid refined grains, fried foods, and sugary sweets.

However, there’s no one diet for everyone. It’s also important to consider food sensitivities, which are very different than food allergies. Food sensitivities are more chronic, less acute, and often more difficult to diagnose. At our clinic, we utilize proper testing and a detox to customize a person’s diet and ensure they feel the best they can.

Diabetes and Gut Health

Gut health is another important factor to consider. Diabetes is associated with less diversity in the gut microbiome , the collection of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract that influences immunity, the ability to extract energy from food, metabolism, and more.

Signs of an unhealthy gut include:

  • Bloating

  • Weight gain

  • Brain fog/ trouble concentrating

  • Skin issues like rashes

  • And more

It’s important to address poor gut health through proper nutrition and supplementation, as this will not only help insulin resistance, but will improve your health overall.

To truly address someone’s diabetes, it’s important to consider them as a whole person. At our clinic, we take a multi-pronged approach to address the many underlying reasons why someone has developed diabetes. Contact us to get started!

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