The new research ties in with recent thinking among experts about what happens when type 2 diabetes develops, says Domenico Accili, MD, chief of endocrinology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We have been talking for some time, that in diabetes, primarily type 2, the insulin-producing [beta] cell is not dead but simply inactive," he says. "If you put patients with diabetes on a diet, you can do marvels with their beta cells."
Insulin therapy creates risk because of the inability to continuously know a person's blood glucose level and adjust insulin infusion appropriately. New advances in technology have overcome much of this problem. Small, portable insulin infusion pumps are available from several manufacturers. They allow a continuous infusion of small amounts of insulin to be delivered through the skin around the clock, plus the ability to give bolus doses when a person eats or has elevated blood glucose levels. This is very similar to how the pancreas works, but these pumps lack a continuous "feed-back" mechanism. Thus, the user is still at risk of giving too much or too little insulin unless blood glucose measurements are made.
When a patient is ready to make a big commitment to get their blood sugar under control, Simos works with them to help tease apart what may be causing their blood sugar to spiral. Sometimes it’s what they're eating, sometimes it’s stress at home and at work and sometimes it’s a day full of sitting versus moving. Often, it’s a mix of these things. Other factors may contribute to diabetes risk, including a family history of the disease.
Fasting plasma glucose concentration depends entirely on the fasting rate of hepatic glucose production and, hence, on its sensitivity to suppression by insulin. Hepatic insulin sensitivity cannot be inferred from observed postprandial change in hepatic glycogen concentration because glucose transport into the hepatocyte is not rate limiting, unlike in muscle, and hyperglycemia itself drives the process of glycogen synthesis irrespective of insulin action. Indeed, postprandial glycogen storage in liver has been shown to be moderately impaired in type 2 diabetes (50) compared with the marked impairment in skeletal muscle (51).
Carbs and fats provide energy for the body. When carbs are limited in the diet, fat becomes the preferred and efficient fuel source. When you reduce your intake of one macronutrient, you have to increase your intake of at least one other macronutrient—otherwise you’ll feel hungry and not have enough energy. The low-fat craze started with flawed science that incorrectly stated that fat was dangerous. In a low carb, high-fat diet, fat provides you with the energy your body needs, and also helps knock out hunger and cravings.
All of the above contributing factors don’t usually happen by themselves. Since the body functions as a whole, a problem in one area will usually correlate to problems in others. A combination of the factors above can be the catalyst for a full blown case of diabetes (or a lot of other diseases). While researchers often look at a single variable when trying to discover a cure for a disease, often the best approach is one that addresses the body as a whole. As with all diseases, the best cure is good prevention, but certain measures can help reverse disease once it has occurred.
Note that these medications used to treat type 2 diabetes are typically not used in pregnant or breastfeeding women. At present the only recommended way of controlling diabetes in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is by diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. You should speak with your health-care professional if you are taking these medications, are considering becoming pregnant, or if you have become pregnant while taking these medications.