By Dr. Michael T. Murray
The increasing age of our population puts more people at risk of diabetes, but poor diet and lack of exercise are also contributing factors. Greater understanding of the risk factors for this disease can prevent a diabetes diagnosis.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for 5,500 deaths each year and possibly contributing to 25,000 deaths. The incidence of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease increases in people with diabetes, as do complications of vision impairment and blindness, the need for dialysis, and lower limb amputation. All relate to the body’s ability or inability to handle, process, and use sugar from food-the basic source of energy for the entire body. The risk for early death from these complications, among people with diabetes, is about four times that of people without diabetes.
Conditions such as hypoglycemia, pre-diabetes (also called impaired glucose tolerance), and syndrome X (also called metabolic disease) occur when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal. About one million Canadians have these symptoms, and many will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. But there are ways to both mediate and prevent diabetes and its symptoms naturally.
Increased Fibre Lowers Blood Sugar
Increased intake of dietary fibre is not news, but modern
scientific research has developed a new form of high viscosity soluble fibre that is making headlines. Clinical studies, including those recently conducted by the Canadian Centre for Functional Medicine at the University of Toronto, have shown that after-meal blood sugar levels decrease as soluble fibre viscosity increases.
Fibre has a “mechanical” effect, increasing a sense of fullness and slowing digestion and carbohydrate absorption. This helps reduce hunger, increase weight loss, and improve elimination. Consequential metabolic and hormonal effects help to balance glucose and insulin levels.
Benefits of a Highly Viscous Soluble Fibre Blend
The right kind of fibre, in the right quantity, can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease serum cholesterol. Research has shown success with a newly developed proprietary blend of highly viscous fibre composed of glucomannan fibre from the Japanese konnyaku or konjac root, xanthum gum, and alginate. Clinical studies with this natural fibre blend and patients with type 2 diabetes who had high blood pressure and high blood lipids have demonstrated exceptional results. In one study, ingesting an average of 9 grams of the soluble fibre blend with meals lowered after-meal blood glucose by 20 percent or more and reduced insulin secretion by approximately 40 percent, for a 50 percent improvement in overall insulin sensitivity.
While a traditional high-fibre diet is a great start at preventing diabetes, the future looks a lot brighter for anyone with diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition, thanks to a new generation of fibre supplements.
About the Author
Dr. Michael T. Murray is a naturopathic physician and author. His latest book is How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine (Riverhead Trade, reprinted 2004).