Natural Remedies for Type 1 Diabetes

( — Also known as childhood-onset diabetes,
type 1 diabetes requires regular blood sugar tests and medical intervention.
According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be

What You Need To Know:

  • Go for the chromium
    Under the supervision of a doctor,
    take 200 mcg a day of this essential trace mineral to improve glucose tolerance
  • Fight back with fiber
    Under a doctor’s supervision,
    stabilize your blood sugar by eating fiber from whole grains, beans (legumes),
    vegetables, and fruit, and consider using a fiber supplement such as psyllium or
    guar gum
  • Protect with alpha lipoic acid
    Protect against diabetic
    complications, such as nerve and kidney damage, by taking 600 to 1,200 mg of
    this supplement per day
  •  Discover EPO
    Help relieve pain from diabetic
    neuropathy by taking 4 grams of evening primrose oil supplements per day
  • Get to know niacinamide
    Talk to a knowledgeable
    healthcare provider to determine if taking large amounts of the supplement
    niacinamide might prevent or limit the severity of type 1 diabetes in your

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace
the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full diabetes
article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins,
herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.

Dietary changes that may be
Eating carbohydrate-containing foods, whether high in
sugar or high in starch (such as bread, potatoes, processed breakfast cereals,
and rice), temporarily raises blood sugar and insulin levels. The blood
sugar–raising effect of a food, called its “glycemic index,” depends on how
rapidly its carbohydrate is absorbed. Many starchy foods have a glycemic index
similar to table sugar (sucrose). Beans, peas, fruit, and oats have low glycemic
indexes, despite their high carbohydrate content, due mostly to the
health-promoting effects of soluble fiber. Controlled studies have found that
people with type 1 diabetes who follow a low-glycemic-index diet have better
long-term control over their blood sugar levels compared with those following a
high-glycemic-index diet. However, other studies find similar benefits from
training patients to adjust their insulin doses according to the total
carbohydrate content of each meal or snack (“carbohydrate counting”). People
with type 1 diabetes should always discuss changes in their diet with their
treating physician.

Diabetes disrupts the mechanisms by which the body controls blood sugar.
Until recently, health professionals have recommended sugar restriction to
people with diabetes, even though short-term high-sugar diets have been shown,
in some studies, not to cause blood sugar problems in people with diabetes.
Currently, the American Diabetic Association (ADA) guidelines do not prohibit
the use of moderate amounts of sugar, as long as blood levels of glucose,
triglycerides, and cholesterol are maintained within normal levels.

Most doctors recommend that people with diabetes cut intake of sugar from
snacks and processed foods, and replace these foods with high-fiber, whole
foods. This tends to lower the glycemic index of the overall diet and has the
additional benefit of increasing vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake. Other
authorities also recommend lowering the glycemic index of the diet to improve
the control of diabetes.

Older studies suggested that including 30 grams per day or more of fiber
helps control blood sugar in type 1 diabetes. However, a more recent controlled
study of people with well-controlled type 1 diabetes on intensive insulin
regimens found no important benefits from consuming a high-fiber diet. In
another trial, a low-glycemic-index diet containing 50 grams per day of fiber
improved blood sugar control and helped prevent hypoglycemic episodes in a group
of people with type 1 diabetes taking two or more insulin injections per day.
Consuming more fiber may not be as helpful in type 1 diabetes when modern
intensive insulin regimens are used, but eating high-fiber foods is recommended
for its many other health benefits.

When taken with meals, high-fiber supplements such as guar gum reduced the
rise in blood sugar following meals in people with type 1 diabetes. More
research is needed to determine if regular use of fiber supplements benefits
long-term blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes.

When people with diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy) switch to a vegan diet
(no meat, dairy, or eggs), improvements have been reported after several days.
In one trial, pain completely disappeared in 17 of 21 people. Fats from meat and
dairy may also contribute to heart disease, the leading killer of people with
diabetes. Vegetarians also eat less protein than do meat eaters. Reducing
protein in the diet has lowered kidney damage caused by diabetes and may also
improve glucose tolerance in type 1 diabetes. Switching to either a high- or
low-protein diet should be discussed with a doctor.

Changing the overall percentage of calories from fat and carbohydrates in the
diets of people with type 1 diabetes is often difficult. However, it is possible
to modify the quality of the dietary fat. In adolescents with type 1 diabetes,
increasing monounsaturated fats relative to other dietary fats is associated
with better control over blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The best way to
incorporate monounsaturates into the diet is to use olive oil, especially extra
virgin olive oil, which has the highest antioxidant values.

Should children avoid milk to prevent type 1 diabetes? The relationship
between cows’ milk and type 1 diabetes remains unclear, although there is some
evidence that milk consumption might increase the risk of developing type 1
diabetes. Worldwide, children whose dietary energy comes primarily from dairy or
meat products have a significantly higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes
than do children whose dietary energy comes primarily from vegetable sources.
Countries with high milk consumption have a high risk of type 1 diabetes. Animal
research also indicates that avoiding milk affords protection from type 1
diabetes. Milk contains a protein related to a protein in the pancreas, the
organ that produces insulin. Some researchers believe that drinking milk may
cause children who are allergic to milk to make antibodies that attack the
pancreas, causing type 1 diabetes. Several studies have linked cows’ milk
consumption to the occurrence of type 1 diabetes in children. However, other
studies have failed to find such a link. One study even reported a protective
effect of higher intake of dairy products on diabetes risk in children. One
reason for the conflicting results of the research may be that different genetic
strains of cows’ milk protein (casein) are associated with different levels of

Immune-system problems in people with type 1 diabetes have been tied to other
allergies as well, and the importance of focusing only on the avoidance of dairy
products remains unclear. Preliminary studies have found that early introduction
of cows’ milk formula feeding increases the risk of developing type 1 diabetes,
although contradictory results have also been published. A study of Finnish
children (including children with diabetes) showed that early introduction of
cows’ milk formula feeding (before three months of age vs. after three months of
age) was associated with increased risk of type 1 diabetes. This research
supports abstaining from dairy products in infancy

AOA Information for African American Elders


African American senior couple walking on the beachAdministration on Aging (AoA) programs and services
assist many African American elders to live independently and enjoy an improved
quality of life as well as to provide assistance to their families and
caregivers.  AoA is committed to
increasing and improving service delivery to all minority older adults,
including African American elders.

Health and Chronic Illnesses

The leading disease-related causes of death among
African Americans include heart disease, cancer, HIV infection, cerebrovascular
diseases, diabetes, pneumonia, influenza, and pulmonary diseases. While the
Medicare program covers the cost of vaccinations to prevent influenza and
pneumonia, only 14 percent of all African Americans ages 65 or older have
received annual vaccinations.

AoA is working to end health disparities among
older members of racial and ethnic minority populations as part of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services initiative, “Racial and Ethnic
Approaches to Community Health 2010.” In 2000, AoA awarded a grant to the Boston
Public Health Commission to develop culturally sensitive, community-based health
promotion and disease prevention programs and to educate older African Americans
in the Boston area about the impact and prevention of cardiovascular disease and
diabetes. The Boston Public Health Commission will:

  • Identify
    culturally appropriate prevention activities;

  • Encourage the
    adoption of healthy lifestyles that acknowledge and integrate appropriate
    cultural practices and diets; and

  • Increase access
    to medical and health interventions.

Life Expectancy 

While demographers estimate that the number of
African American elders will increase by 102 percent between 1990 and 2020,
African Americans continue to have a lower life expectancy rate than the overall
population. According to the National Vital Statistics Reports (Vol. 47, No.
28), African American life expectancy is 70.2 years, compared to an average of
76.5 years for all population groups.
The difference in life expectancy is even more striking among African
American men, who have a life expectancy of only 66.1 years, compared to the
national average of 73.6 years for all men.

African Americans and Family Caregiving

More than 10 percent of the nation’s 22.4 million
caregiving households are African American. More than half of African American
caregivers find themselves “sandwiched” between caring for an older person and a
younger person, and caring for more than one older person. African American
caregivers are also more likely to live with the care recipient and spend an
average of 20.6 hours per week providing care. In addition, 66 percent of
African American caregivers are employed full or part-time.

Older African Americans and Poverty

More than 68 percent of African American elders are
poor, marginally poor, or economically vulnerable. African American elders are
more than one and a half times as likely as white elders to live below the
poverty line. More than one in four African American elders have incomes that
fall below the poverty line. 

Living Arrangements

Many older African American women are vulnerable to
social isolation and economic hardship. Nearly 40 percent of African American
women ages 65 and older live alone compared to 19 percent of African American
males ages 65 and older. African Americans elders are also less likely to be
married compared to white elders. For older African American men, 55 percent are
married compared to 75 percent of older white men, and 22 percent of older
African American women are married, compared to 42 percent of older white

AoA Encourages African American Communities to Get

African American communities are encouraged to take
an active role in developing state and local plans that affect African American
elders, including those related to the distribution of Older Americans Act
funds. Groups that represent African American elders, their families, and their
service providers are invited to voice concerns and needs during the public
hearing process.

Under Section 297(8) of the Older Americans Act,
state agencies must demonstrate effectiveness in reaching older individuals with
the greatest economic and social need, paying particular attention to low-income
minority individuals. State agencies invite people and organizations that know
about the needs and concerns of low-income minority older individuals to
participate in public hearings that are part of the process of developing state
aging plans.