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I've been a type 1 diabetic for 15 years; I’m one of 1.25 million U.S. citizens with this form of the condition. Just to clarify, type 1 and 2 diabetes are very different diseases. Type 2 typically occurs after the pancreas becomes exhausted, and slows down, sometimes from lifestyle habits. Type 1 can be genetic or triggered by a virus; victims often appear to be healthy before onset. Type 1 usually occurs in childhood, and requires daily insulin injections that the patient would die without. Type 2's typically manage their condition with diet, exercise and pills.
Throughout my life as a diabetic, I've struggled on and off to afford the medication that keeps me alive; insulin. Secondary medications like Symlin have helped me so much, but are also expensive; about $1900 a month before I reach my insurance premium.
I have no choice but to remain on insulin, I'll die without it. Many people have told me "just don't eat sugar." The human body cannot survive without sugar; insulin carries sugar into cells and without it, our bodies would begin to feed off of fat and muscle, creating an acidic byproduct, ketones, that poison the blood. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is the end result and can be lethal. Carbohydrates also break down into sugar, so I'm not saying diabetics have to consume pure sugar; healthy grains and starchy veggies will do too.
All of that being said, I've had to get creative with my care; improving insulin sensitivity through natural practices so I'll need less insulin. This allows me to conserve medication, which is a personal decision. You should always talk with your doctor before making changes with your own regimen.
Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV
ACV has shown to lower blood sugar by blocking carbohydrate absorption and improving the way our bodies use insulin, according to Diabetes Self Management. Three times a day, I mix two tablespoons of organic ACV with a glass of water. In addition to better blood sugar control, ACV suppresses my unhealthy cravings and eases stomach aches.
I drink Taka Turmeric tea on a regular basis, because it reduces inflammation, which is an underlying cause of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when cells stop responding to the hormone, then more is needed to control levels. Excess insulin means weight gain, which worsens insulin resistance.
According to the American Diabetes Association, muscles contract during exercise, allowing glucose to be used whether insulin is available or not. Before insulin was discovered, type 1 diabetics were put on a starvation diet and a vigorous exercise regimen. While this did not stop the inevitability of death, it helped individuals live a little longer.
Exercise increases circulation and strengthens the heart, which holds off nasty complications diabetes may bring. Getting moving through riding a bike or practicing yoga also lowers cortisol, which is another insulin resistance contributor. A relaxed diabetic is a healthier diabetic.
When blood sugar is high, the body uses its fluids to push sugar out through the urine. Drinking more water aids this process by providing the body more fluids to flush with, says Diabetes.co.uk. It's important to note that flushing large amounts of sugar through the kidneys may eventually result in damage, so do your best to prevent crazy high numbers. However, water is always a powerful health tool.
While it's appalling that people have to worry about affording life-saving treatment, we should be practicing good health no matter what. Even if we have access to all of the insulin in the world, we need to use the tools nature has given us to remain healthy.
Let's keep fighting for insulin affordability, you can sign T1International's charter to make insulin accessible all over the world. But accept nature’s healing gifts as well.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.