To Your Health
June, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 06)
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The risk of ignoring this dangerous disease is that years of poor glucose control can lead to major health complications including kidney disease, visual impairment (even blindness) and nerve damage. For children and teens with this disease, the risks are even greater.

There is rising evidence that when type 2 diabetes is acquired at an early age, it progresses aggressively, leading to early complications. Public health experts warn that children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their early teens may suffer from severe diabetes-related health problems such as renal failure and cardiovascular disease by the time they reach the age of 30.

The Causes

The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity, which has been directly linked to a sedentary lifestyle. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "An estimated one-quarter of all cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented with 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity alone." Regular exercise helps control weight, stabilizes blood-sugar levels and decreases insulin resistance.

However, lack of exercise is not the only contributing factor to obesity. Diet plays a major role as well. Michael Murray, ND, and Joseph Pizerno, ND, noted in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine that even in healthy individuals, sudden significant weight gain will result in "carbohydrate intolerance, higher insulin levels and insulin insensitivity in fat and muscle tissue." They further note that progressive development of insulin resistance is believed to be the underlying factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. "Weight loss alone can correct all of these abnormalities and either significantly improves diabetes or totally resolves it."

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies also have proven to be contributing factors to type 2 diabetes. The most well-known, popular and effective mineral in controlling diabetes is chromium. Clinical case studies have shown that supplementing the diet with GTF (glucose tolerant factor) chromium decreases total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels and lean body mass, and lowering body weight.

Magnesium is an important mineral for enzyme systems and pH balance; magnesium deficiency is very common in diabetics. As a dietary supplement, magnesium may prevent some of the common complications of diabetes. Of course, this mineral should be taken with vitamin B6. Levels of vitamin B6 inside the cells of the body appear to be directly linked to the magnesium content of the cell. Basically, without vitamin B6, magnesium will not get inside the cell.

Common Treatments

A pediatrician typically will want to treat type 2 diabetes with a pharmaceutical. There are currently five types of drugs being used to control glucose levels, including biguanides, sulfonylureas, meglitinide, glucosidase inhibitors and thiazolidenediones.