Blood Sugar Disorders
(Diabetes and Hypoglycemia)
Diabetes is also known as hyperglycemia. "Hyper" means "over" or "excessive," as in "hyperactive," and "glycemia" refers to glucose, or blood sugar. Diabetes afflicts millions of Americans. A surprisingly large percentage of people, particularly women, are affected by hypoglycemia as well. "Hypo" means "under," as in hypodermic (under-
Ordinarily, a person with a normal blood sugar response consumes a meal, digests it, and releases the transformed proteins, fats and sugars into the bloodstream. The pancreas produces insulin, which transports the sugars across the cell walls. Any glucose that cannot be used immediately is transported to the liver; and what the liver cannot transform or store is brought to the fat cells for storage.
In persons with diabetes, the level of glucose in the blood is too high. Sometimes this is because the pancreas (due to exhaustion, infection or a tumor) does not produce enough insulin to transport blood glucose into the cells. Sometimes, the cells lack enough receptor sites to accommodate the insulin, even if it is being produced in ample amounts by the pancreas. Because the sugar in the blood cannot get inside the cells, which need it for energy, people with diabetes are malnourished and literally starving. Besides hunger, diabetics can experience other symptoms such as excessive thirst, fatigue, swelling of the legs and feet, high levels of infections, deterioration of vision, mental confusion and depression.
In persons with hypoglycemia, the level of glucose in the blood tends to be too low. After the person ingests carbohydrates and sweets, the pancreas overreacts to the excessive amount (for it) of immediately available sugars by flooding the bloodstream with insulin in an attempt to force the glucose into the bodily cells. If there is more glucose in the bloodstream than the cells can absorb, the glucose gravitates into the liver; but once the liver is saturated, the glucose then gets stored in the body as fat. Many hypoglycemics experience wildly variable physical and emotional symptoms as the bloodstream alternately contains too much and not enough insulin. Some symptoms include. headaches, tremor, muscle and joint pains and twitching, numbness, blurred vision, fainting or blackouts, exhaustion, sweating, tachycardia (unprovoked rapid beating of the heart), chronic indigestion, cold hands or feet, depression, anxiety, irritability, phobias, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and even suicidal tendencies.
Some people are surprised at the variety of symptoms that comprise blood sugar disorders. However, the symptoms make sense when you realize that the body requires a fairly consistent amount of glucose in the bloodstream at all times. When the cells are deprived of energy, the person not only becomes hungry, fatigued and faint, but the water balance in the body becomes skewed, which can cause water retention, thirst, and various aches and pains. The range of emotional, perceptual and cognition problems, as well as sensory and motor malfunctions also make sense. The brain is the only part of the body that cannot seize or manufacture for itself a supply of glucose in an emergency. If the precise ratio of glucose to blood is just the slightest bit off, the brain becomes unbalanced. Since the brain is the seat of every function in the body, a lack of proper nourishment can cause problems in all the abovementioned realms. Finally, the infections that characterize severe cases of diabetes develop and spread so easily because pathogenic microbes thrive on sugar.
When blood sugar levels are unbalanced, the person experiences hunger because the body’s cells are deprived of much needed energy. Most hypoglycemics, and a fair number of diabetics, crave sweets because they instinctively are trying to ingest immediately absorbable sugar to provide their body with the energy they crave. However, rapidly-
Specific Related Health Condition
Low Thyroid Function (Hypothyroidism) and Disorders of other Endocrine Glands. When one endocrine gland in the body is malfunctioning, often others are not working properly either.
Restorative Strategies: Get a complete set of hormone function tests, for the thyroid and perhaps also the pituitary, liver and adrenal glands. A holistic practitioner may offer some therapies that your allopathic doctor doesn’t know about. For the thyroid, eat ocean fish and kelp. Also see "Dietary Support" and "Balancing Blood Sugar Levels."
Candida Albicans and other Fungal/Yeast Infections. When a blood sugar imbalance causes too high a level of glucose in the blood—even if for only a short period of time—this can be enough to encourage an overgrowth of yeast and fungal, which thrive on sugar. When yeast proliferates in the body, it reduces the amount of beneficial intestinal flora, further interfering with digestion. When the digestion is compromised, blood sugar disorders become even more unmanageable.
Restorative Strategies: Take a supplement of acidophilus, bulgaricus and other friendly intestinal flora, available from the health food store. They will help keep the fungus in check. Go on a high protein diet. A naturopath or herbalist can suggest herbs to combat the fungal overgrowth. Allopathic drugs should be used only as a last resort.
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