INTERVIEWEE - Dr. Faryal Luhar, ND, Naturopathic Doctor
Is it possible to reverse Diabetes?
A “Tsunami of Diabetes” is hitting the UAE, as studies show rising rates with nearly 1 million people already affected. Approximately 450,000 are undiagnosed cases, and a 2017 survey points out that 15% of expats and one-fifth of Emiratis in Dubai are diabetic.
What is particularly disturbing about these statistics is that many who develop diabetes are children as young as 13 years old! Diabetes no longer remains a disease of adults or the elderly, and gestational diabetes is also increasing in the UAE.
The combination of increasing obesity and insulin resistance has given rise to the term “Diabesity”, which is now becoming one of the leading causes of heart disease, dementia, cancer and premature death worldwide. The WHO estimates that diabetes will become the seventh major cause of death around the world by 2030.
So, what can be done to combat this disease, here in the UAE and globally?
Conventional approaches typically focus on medications to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin function, however it is important to identify and treat the underlying contributing factors. Diabetes is primarily caused by lifestyle and environmental factors, which if addressed properly, can actually prevent and reverse the course of disease.
Poor-quality diet and nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise or too much sitting, poor sleep, and of course stress, are some of the main culprits. Environmental toxins and genetic susceptibilities also play a big role, but as Dr. Mark Hyman (Institute of Functional Medicine) says, “while genes may load the gun, environment and lifestyle pull the trigger”.
What can people do right now; even advanced diabetics, to start improving their health?
Firstly, realizing that Food is Medicine and is the most powerful tool against disease will lay the foundation for great health. An emphasis on real, nutrient-dense foods such as meat, fish, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and some starchy foods like sweet potatoes will provide the body with the necessary nutrients to combat high blood sugar and balance metabolic problems. Processed foods create havoc with blood sugar balance and provide little to no nutritional value.
Examining one’s lifestyle to address areas that need attention such as exercise or sleep or digestion are equally important. Studies show that those who take more breaks, from sitting to stand or walk around, lower their waist circumference, body mass index, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar levels. Sleeping 7-8 hours per night has profound effects on hormone signaling and a single night of partial sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance even in healthy people with no prior metabolic disease!
Diabetes CAN be prevented and reversed with effective nutritional and lifestyle strategies. Even those with advanced disease can make a remarkable difference with natural medicines and therapies designed to restore the way cells and the body functions.
Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems. Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes — when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes — and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.
Dr. Faryal Luhar is a Naturopathic Doctor who has worked with several patients globally to correct metabolic imbalances and restore normal blood glucose regulation through education and treatment modalities such as botanicals, supplements, and dietary therapy. She focuses on gene-based therapy where individuals can glance at their genetic make-up to understand susceptibilities towards insulin resistance or heart disease, and take steps to modify these negative outcomes towards positive change and sustainable health. She currently practices at The Hundred Wellness Centre, Dubai.
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