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Functional Medicine’s Approach to Diabetes
Welcome to Spire Health Pathways, where our functional medicine practice is dedicated to empowering individuals living with diabetes through comprehensive knowledge and personalized care. This webpage provides an extensive and detailed look at diabetes, its signs and symptoms, the impact on people’s lives, and what to expect from our practice when seeking care. Our aim is to help you make well-informed decisions about your health and the management of this condition.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels due to insufficient insulin production, reduced insulin sensitivity, or both. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This results in little or no insulin production, leading to high blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence but can occur at any age.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. It occurs when the body does not use insulin effectively (insulin resistance) and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to compensate. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity, physical inactivity, and genetic predisposition. It typically develops in adults but is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. It occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the increased demands of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes typically resolves after giving birth, but it can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
The primary symptoms of diabetes are related to high blood sugar levels. These can include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Increased hunger
- Unexplained weight loss (especially in Type 1 diabetes)
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds or frequent infections
Depending on the type and severity of diabetes, individuals may also experience other symptoms, such as:
- Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet (due to nerve damage)
- Skin problems, including dry skin and frequent skin infections
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Irregular periods or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women
Diagnosing diabetes involves a series of tests to determine blood sugar levels and assess the body’s ability to produce and utilize insulin. Some common tests used to diagnose diabetes include:
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
This test measures blood sugar levels after an overnight fast. A fasting blood sugar level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test
This test measures blood sugar levels at any time, regardless of when you last ate. A random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher, along with symptoms of diabetes, suggests a diagnosis.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
This test measures blood sugar levels before and after consuming a glucose-containing drink.A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher two hours after drinking the glucose solution indicates diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1C Test
This test measures the average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher on two separate tests suggests a diagnosis of diabetes.
Impact of Diabetes on People’s Lives
Diabetes can have a significant impact on individuals’ lives, affecting various aspects of daily living and long-term health. Some of the potential consequences include:
Managing diabetes often requires lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, monitoring blood sugar levels, and taking prescribed medications or insulin as needed.
Living with diabetes can take an emotional toll, as individuals may experience stress, anxiety, and depression related to managing their condition and dealing with potential complications.
Long-term Health Complications
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to severe health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, vision loss, and lower limb amputations.
Traditional Medicine Treatment Options
Spire Health Pathways’ Functional Medicine Approach
We begin by conducting a thorough evaluation of your medical history, lifestyle factors, and environmental influences to identify potential triggers and imbalances contributing to diabetes.
Personalized Treatment Plans
Based on our comprehensive assessment, we develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. This may include:
- Nutritional counseling and personalized meal planning
- Targeted supplementation to address nutritional deficiencies and support blood sugar regulation
- Lifestyle modification recommendations, such as stress reduction techniques, sleep optimization, and personalized exercise plans
- Integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, or hydrotherapy, to support overall health and well-being
We work closely with your primary healthcare team and any relevant specialists to ensure a coordinated and holistic approach to your care. Regular follow-ups and monitoring help us track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
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“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patients in care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison