Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc.

By Yam dela Cruz, Multimedia producer, Salamat Dok

Posted at Oct 14 2010 03:20 AM | Updated as of Oct 16 2010 02:39 AM

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 1We all love to eat and so does Sister Pilar! She is fond of chocolates, ice cream and cakes. Oh sweets!

But her fondness for sweet food stopped when she was diagnosed with high blood sugar level very close to borderline of diabetes. This condition is called pre-diabetes.


“We don’t have diabetic cases in our family but my glucose level can reach to 100/110 --  sometimes even 120 -- so I decided to choose what I eat, ” says Sister Pilar.

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 2To prevent herself from getting the disease, she consulted a doctor and tried alternative medicine through herbal food supplement to control her blood sugar.

“I didn’t like synthetic medicines because of the additives and I’m afraid of its side effects,” Sister Pilar adds.

Today, her blood sugar is controlled as she constantly monitors her food intake. She believes the common adage – “prevention is better than cure. “   

What is Diabetes?

It is a condition of having high blood sugar level that manifests some of these following symptoms:

•     frequent urination
•     increased thirst, and;
•     increased hunger

Who are prone to this condition?

If you have one of the following medically-accepted criteria, there’s a high possibility of getting the disease.

•    Obese and overweight
•    30 years old and up
•    Have difficulty with physical activities or engaged in a sedentary lifestyle
•    Unhealthy eater
•    Tagged with “it runs in the family”
•    Hypertensive
•    Experiences or have experienced high blood sugar levels during pregnancy

Who are diabetics?

Type 1 diabetics are those whose bodies are incapable of producing the hormone insulin in their body while Type 2 diabetics - have bodies that produce insulin but because of too much fat, the body metabolizes the sugar inefficiently.  This happens in the case of those who are overweight and obese. Meanwhile, pregnant women who experience surge in blood sugar are under a third type known as “gestational” diabetes.

Is diabetes curable?

Dr. Aurora Gatan-Macaballug, an endocrinologist, explains, “When you have [diabetes] there’s no turning back -- you have it for life. The importance of diagnosing pre-diabetes in its onset, like the case of Sister Pilar, is that this is the best time we give our full support in helping the patient not to reach the diabetes threshold. We aid them especially in lifestyle modification.”

Food for Diabetics

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 3Meanwhile according to Dr. Emil Aligui, Consultant of the Food and Nutrition Researcher Institute, and Salamat Dok’s very own Herb Expert, “We should always look at the benefits of eating natural foods. Filipinos nowadays prefer fast prepared food. Let’s go back to consuming fresh vegetables from the market in our daily meal preparation,” says.

Additionally, Dr. Aligui recommends these foods which are not only good for diabetics but also for people who maintain a healthy diet. Those who would like to start eating healthy way may find these foods interesting! Dr. Aligui adds, “Make sure the vegetables you buy are fresh to get their full benefits. If it’s over a week and not unrefrigerated, it’s not advisable to eat them.”


•    Ampalaya (also called Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd)  
•    Luyang dilaw or Turmeric (it’s actually orange)
•    Kangkong or River Spinach
•    Malunggay or Moringa
•    Banaba

•    Berries
•    Duhat or black plum
•    Aratilis or Jamaican Cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry (name depends on location maybe)
•    Bignay or Chinese laurel

For fiber requirements, Dr. Aligui suggests brown rice as replacement for the common white rice. 1 cup of cooked brown rice every meal reduces 30% risk from diabetes. Oatmeal, coconut meat, okra (Lady’s fingers), alugbati (Malabar Night Shade) and saluyot (Jute) are also good sources of fiber.

How credible and reliable?

Plants and vegetables are now in tablet form. One of the most popular is the Ampalaya supplement which is available over the counter in almost all drugstores nationwide.

Explains Dr. Aligui: “So far, [the health benefits of] ampalaya, -- endorsed by the Department of Health -- is backed up with some clinical studies. It was specifically mentioned in a study by the UP College of Medicine headed by Dr. Maramba. Luyang dilaw is included in some studies made in Japan. It has also been used by Filipinos and Indians for hundreds of years. So far, many of the clinical trials were used in laboratory animals. Clinical studies are still incomplete but its value as a component in our daily meals has been very beneficial. Banaba which has been used in the Philippines, South America and other countries, has been proven to lower blood sugar level.  It contains corosolic acid, a triterpenoid, which has weight reducing properties. It helps reduce weight by increasing glucose transport.”

How to prepare?

Eating raw food is gradually becoming accepted. So, please don’t be bitter about your usual ampalaya recipe! You can turn your bitter ampalaya into a mouth watering juice! 

1 cup sliced ampalaya
½ cup water
Pineapple or lemon

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 4

-    Put all the ingredients in the blender
-    Blend until all ingredients are crushed or until desired result
-    Use a strainer to get the juice or you can drink it as it is

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 5

Voila! Is it bitter? No, it’s not. Why? It is because the pineapple or lemon neutralizes and enhances the flavor. Just a reminder, make sure you use pineapple in moderate amount as it is too sweet and it’s bad for diabetics.



Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 6Glyburide is a prescription medicine in tablet form intended for those who have Type 2 diabetes. Taken once or twice a day, it assists in lowering the blood sugar level by producing insulin in the body and aids the cells in responding to insulin efficiently.

Doctors remind the patients on its side effects including allergic reactions to its content, skin reactions and sensitivity to the sun. Make sure to consult your physician if you encounter such problems.

Thinning of hair

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 7

Interestingly, diabetes can also lead to hair loss. This disease is due to hormonal imbalance which results in the body’s inability to metabolize carbohydrates properly. In turn, this results to some scalp problems leading to hair loss.

Diabetics have abnormal re-growth cycle which makes them vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infection of the skin particularly the scalp. Auto-immune problem, medical stress and side effects are also linked to alopecia and severe hair fall.

Doctors advised diabetics to increase physical activity to enhance the body’s blood circulation and to take care of their body on the harms of diabetes. So, when your hair begins to fall, don’t think about hair transplant -- go to the nearest endocrinologist! 


Mouth Odor

Salamat Dok: Diabetes, alternatives, etc. 8

Did you know that diabetes causes mouth odor? This is not as bad as halitosis but can be compared to ketoacidosis, a condition of high acid in the blood. This acid goes through our breath and urine. High blood glucose level causes this mouth odor. 

Also, diabetics usually have dry mouth that may cause bad breath. What you need to do when this happens is to constantly clean your mouth, drink plenty of water, avoid using mouthwash with alcohol content and most importantly maintain a healthy lifestyle to control glucose level. October 3, 2010