Natural Home Remedies for Diabetes
Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting many parts of the body. Some of the problems of the disease can be relieved with simple things right from the kitchen, though. And for a person with diabetes, a little relief never hurts.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Olive oil. Studies indicate this may reduce blood-sugar levels. Use it in salad dressing or wherever cooking oils are indicated. For an inexpensive and easy no-stick olive oil spray-on coating, buy an oil mister in any department store kitchen supply area and use it to spray your pans before cooking. Remember: As with all oils, olive oil is high in calories, and being overweight places you at risk for diabetes. Limiting the amount of olive oil by using the oil mister is a good way to control the calories.
Peanut butter. After you've experienced an episode of low blood sugar and corrected it, follow up with a protein and carbohydrate snack. Peanut butter on a couple of crackers supplies both, and it's easy to fix when you may still feel a little jittery. Just avoid brands that contain added sugar, glucose, or jelly.
Plastic container. If you're on insulin, keep your extra vials in the refrigerator. Designate a spot where your insulin bottle won't freeze, yet is away from the food. Then keep the vial in a plastic container, preferably one that shields it from light, in that spot to keep it from rolling around or getting knocked aside or misplaced. If the insulin bottle is frosted or the insulin clumps, do not use it. Consult your pharmacist and the package insert for information about proper storage.
Salt. Dry, itchy skin is a side effect of diabetes, and soaking in a tub of salt water can be a great itchy skin reliever. Just add 1 cup table salt or sea salt to your bathwater. This solution will also soften skin and relax you. To exfoliate, after you take a shower or bath and while your skin is still wet, sprinkle salt onto your hands and rub it all over your skin. This salt massage will remove dry skin and make your skin smoother to the touch. It will also invigorate your skin and get your circulation moving. Try it first thing in the morning to help wake up or after a period of physical exertion.
Salt shaker. Set it aside, put it back in the cupboard, hide it. High blood pressure is a side effect of diabetes, and that salt's a no-no. So don't cook with it, and don't make it handy to grab when you eat a meal or snack. If it's out of sight, or inconvenient to get, you might just skip it. Instead, reach for a nice herb or spice blend that's sodium free. Make one yourself with your favorite spices or buy one at the store.
Sugar. Yes, even people with diabetes need it occasionally, when their blood sugar goes too low. A spoonful of straight sugar will work, as will a piece of hard candy. Just be sure it's not sugarless. And only use it when necessary -- your doctor can help you know when that would be.
Vinegar. Muscle cramps, especially in the legs, can affect people with diabetes. For relief from the ache, add 8 ounces apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of warm water. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
Home Remedies from the Drawer
Fork. This is how you should apply salad dressing and sauces to limit your intake of sugar, as well as fat and cholesterol. Instead of dumping the dressing or sauce all over your food, have it served "on the side" and dip your fork into it, then pick up your food. You'll get the flavor without all the extra goop.
Notebook. Use this to keep track of glucose readings, medication schedules, and symptoms.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
Asparagus. This vegetable is a mild diuretic that's said to be beneficial in the control of diabetes. Eat it steamed and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.
Lemon. A tasty substitute for salt. It's great squeezed into a diet cola, too. It cuts the aftertaste.
Parsley. Steep into a tea and drink. This may act as a diuretic as well as lower blood sugar.
Watercress. This is said to strengthen the natural defense systems of people who have diabetes. It's also a mild diuretic. Wash the leaves thoroughly, and add them to a salad. Or smear a little cream cheese on a slice of bread, then top with watercress for a delicious open-faced sandwich.
Home Remedies from Your Dietary Strategy
Know your carbohydrates. The traditional dogma for people with diabetes was this: Avoid simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars (such as table sugar), because they raise blood glucose quickly, and choose complex carbohydrates (such as the starches and fiber found in grains, potatoes, beans, and peas), because they raise blood sugar more slowly. But researchers have discovered that this is not quite the case. Simple sugars and the digestible complex carbohydrates known as starches raise blood glucose levels at about the same rate (although fiber is classified as a complex carbohydrate, it is not digested by the body, so it does not raise blood glucose).
What is more important is how the food is cooked and what those carbohydrates are eaten with. Fat, for example, slows digestion of carbohydrates and slows the release of glucose into the blood. This new dogma has given way to newer rules, which really aren't rules at all in the strictest sense.
Complex carbohydrates that haven't been highly refined or processed are still better dietary choices because of the valuable nutrients they provide (refining and processing often removes nutrients and fiber), but evidence suggests that sucrose (table sugar) may not need to be "off-limits" for people with type 2 diabetes. As long as you account for the carbohydrates and calories from the sugar and don't go overboard, an occasional sweet treat can fit just fine in a healthy diabetic meal plan.
Get fond of fiber. One of the reasons that unrefined complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads and beans, are so beneficial is that they are high in fiber. Fiber actually slows the rise in blood glucose after a meal.
Graze. Many experts believe that people with type 2 may more easily achieve normal blood sugar levels by not overloading with too much food at one time. Try eating three smaller meals plus two snacks each day, without increasing your total calorie intake, to see if it helps improve your control.
Now that you understand the ways you can affect your diabetes by controlling your diet at home, go to the next page to learn home remedies for keeping diabetic's feet and legs healthy.
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