Type 2 diabetes has long been known to progress despite glucose-lowering treatment, with 50% of individuals requiring insulin therapy within 10 years (1). This seemingly inexorable deterioration in control has been interpreted to mean that the condition is treatable but not curable. Clinical guidelines recognize this deterioration with algorithms of sequential addition of therapies. Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are known to be the major pathophysiologic factors driving type 2 diabetes; however, these factors come into play with very different time courses. Insulin resistance in muscle is the earliest detectable abnormality of type 2 diabetes (2). In contrast, changes in insulin secretion determine both the onset of hyperglycemia and the progression toward insulin therapy (3,4). The etiology of each of these two major factors appears to be distinct. Insulin resistance may be caused by an insulin signaling defect (5), glucose transporter defect (6), or lipotoxicity (7), and β-cell dysfunction is postulated to be caused by amyloid deposition in the islets (8), oxidative stress (9), excess fatty acid (10), or lack of incretin effect (11). The demonstration of reversibility of type 2 diabetes offers the opportunity to evaluate the time sequence of pathophysiologic events during return to normal glucose metabolism and, hence, to unraveling the etiology.
There are many promising studies suggesting chromium supplementation may be effective, but they are far from conclusive. For example, a small study published in the journal Diabetes Care compared the diabetes medication sulfonylurea taken with 1,000 mcg of chromium to sulfonylurea taken with a placebo. After 6 months, people who did not take chromium had a significant increase in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat, whereas people taking the chromium had significant improvements in insulin sensitivity.
One of the lesser known herbs that lower blood sugar, Marjoram, is high in polyphenols, which aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels. A 2012 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Marjoram reduced formation of Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. AGE is the smoking gun that researchers today say is responsible for a lot of the complications that diabetics face, like damage to arteries and eyes. Try sprinkling marjoram on your dinner every night to help add variety in flavor. It can often be used as a substitute for oregano in cooking and brings in a distinct flavor to dishes.
To prevent further diabetic complications as well as serious oral problems, diabetic persons must keep their blood sugar levels under control and have a proper oral hygiene. A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that poorly controlled type 2 diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than well-controlled diabetics are. At the same time, diabetic patients are recommended to have regular checkups with a dental care provider at least once in three to four months. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance at avoiding gum disease to help prevent tooth loss.
Physical activity is an important part of controlling diabetes and preventing complications such as heart disease and high blood pressure. "We know that exercise is a very effective way to help bring blood sugars under control for someone with type 2 diabetes," says Kenneth Snow, M.D., Acting Chief, Adult Diabetes, Joslin Clinic. Try for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, on most days. Joslin's Why WAIT? and Easy Start exercise programs are great resources for developing a safe weight loss program.
McInnes, N., Smith, A., Otto, R., Vandermey, J., Punthakee, Z., Sherifali, D., … Gerstein, H. C. (2017, March 15). Piloting a remission strategy in type 2 diabetes: Results of a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2016-3373. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/doi/10.1210/jc.2016-3373/3070517/Piloting-a-Remission-Strategy-in-Type-2-Diabetes?redirectedFrom=fulltext
These seeds, used in Indian cooking, have been found to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce high cholesterol, according to several animal and human studies. The effect may be partly due to the seeds’ high fiber content. The seeds also contain an amino acid that appears to boost the release of insulin. In one of the largest studies on fenugreek, 60 people who took 25 grams daily showed significant improvements in blood sugar control and post-meal spikes.
Although a close relationship exists among raised liver fat levels, insulin resistance, and raised liver enzyme levels (52), high levels of liver fat are not inevitably associated with hepatic insulin resistance. This is analogous to the discordance observed in the muscle of trained athletes in whom raised intramyocellular triacylglycerol is associated with high insulin sensitivity (53). This relationship is also seen in muscle of mice overexpressing the enzyme DGAT-1, which rapidly esterifies diacylglycerol to metabolically inert triacylglycerol (54). In both circumstances, raised intracellular triacylglycerol stores coexist with normal insulin sensitivity. When a variant of PNPLA3 was described as determining increased hepatic fat levels, it appeared that a major factor underlying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance was identified (55). However, this relatively rare genetic variant is not associated with hepatic insulin resistance (56). Because the responsible G allele of PNPLA3 is believed to code for a lipase that is ineffective in triacylglycerol hydrolysis, it appears that diacylglycerol and fatty acids are sequestered as inert triacylglycerol, preventing any inhibitory effect on insulin signaling.
It’s not just easy, but also tasty to add spices and herbs that lower blood sugar to your diet. Most of these can be used in everyday recipes. If you are looking for inspiration on how to start cooking with these, try out these recipes from our recipe section – Mushroom-stuffed Turkey, Stuffed Peppers, Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza, Courgette Carrot & Tomato Frittata, Moussaka, Vegetable Stir Fry, and Roasted Butternut Squash
Given the consequences of diabetes, self-management is something I want to encourage, not discourage. Without a commitment from the patient to take an active role in managing their diabetes, any treatment plan is doomed to fail. So is self-treatment with supplements a wise idea? There’s an array available, and patients regularly ask about the latest treatment “Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about”. That treatment used to be chromium. Ginseng was popular for a time, too. Fenugreek and bitter melon are used as well. The treatment that seems most popular now is cinnamon. Like any other herbal remedy, most sources will tell you that it’s been used for “thousands of years” as a medicinal herb. As a treatment for diabetes, I have my doubts. While reports of diabetes go back to 1552 BCE, the ability to effectively measure any diabetes treatment only goes back a few decades. Interest in cinnamon as a treatment seems to have started with in vitro tests but gained some plausibility in 2003, when a study from Alam Khan suggested several grams of cassia cinnamon per day could lower fasting blood glucose. Khan randomized Type 2 diabetes to 1g, 3g, or 6g of cinnamon for 40 days. All three groups improved their fasting blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, but there was no effect on A1C.
Can somebody at Virta help us find the actual presentation at the 2017 world polyphenol conference on lectins and polyphenols and artery flexibility? I can only find the agenda where the title of the presentation and time is made. He described what he was going to say in an interview a few weeks earlier, more rigidity of arteries with re-introduction of lectins, but I cannot find the actual presentation. He had a publication in 2013 on the reversal of endothelial dysfunction, is why I think we should take this other publication seriously:
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.
Whenever this seasonal fruit is available in the market, try to include it in your diet as it can be very effective for the pancreas. Else you can make a powder of dried seeds of Jambul fruit and eat this powder with water twice a day. This fruit is native to India and its neighboring countries but you can find it at Asian markets and herbal shops.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
The accepted view has been that the β-cell dysfunction of established diabetes progresses inexorably (79,82,83), whereas insulin resistance can be modified at least to some extent. However, it is now clear that the β-cell defect, not solely hepatic insulin resistance, may be reversible by weight loss at least early in the course of type 2 diabetes (21,84). The low insulin sensitivity of muscle tissue does not change materially either during the onset of diabetes or during subsequent reversal. Overall, the information on the inhibitory effects of excess fat on β-cell function and apoptosis permits a new understanding of the etiology and time course of type 2 diabetes.
Relying on their own perceptions of symptoms of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia is usually unsatisfactory as mild to moderate hyperglycemia causes no obvious symptoms in nearly all patients. Other considerations include the fact that, while food takes several hours to be digested and absorbed, insulin administration can have glucose lowering effects for as little as 2 hours or 24 hours or more (depending on the nature of the insulin preparation used and individual patient reaction). In addition, the onset and duration of the effects of oral hypoglycemic agents vary from type to type and from patient to patient.
Eating a balanced diet is vital for people who have diabetes, so work with your doctor or dietitian to set up a menu plan. If you have type 1 diabetes, the timing of your insulin dosage is determined by activity and diet. When you eat and how much you eat are just as important as what you eat. Usually, doctors recommend three small meals and three to four snacks every day to maintain the proper balance between sugar and insulin in the blood.
Dr. Sarah Hallberg is a Medical Director at Virta Health. She also created the Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program at Indiana University Health Arnett and serves as its Medical Director. She is an adjunct Clinical Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Hallberg is an expert in diabetes care and is board certified in Internal Medicine, Obesity Medicine, and Clinical Lipidology and also a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist from the ACSM.
Taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate three times daily with meals can help improve insulin sensitivity. A review published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics evaluated 13 studies that reported significant improvement in glycemic control and substantial reductions in hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia after patients used chromium picolinate supplementation. Other positive outcomes from supplementing with chromium picolinate included reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for hypoglycemic medication. (14)
Poor glycemic control refers to persistently elevated blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, which may range from 200–500 mg/dl (11–28 mmol/L) and 9–15% or higher over months and years before severe complications occur. Meta-analysis of large studies done on the effects of tight vs. conventional, or more relaxed, glycemic control in type 2 diabetics have failed to demonstrate a difference in all-cause cardiovascular death, non-fatal stroke, or limb amputation, but decreased the risk of nonfatal heart attack by 15%. Additionally, tight glucose control decreased the risk of progression of retinopathy and nephropathy, and decreased the incidence peripheral neuropathy, but increased the risk of hypoglycemia 2.4 times.
If you'd like some proof that diabetes is a disease you can live well with, consider the accomplishments of these prolific people with diabetes: jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress Mary Tyler Moore, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Even before treatment was as sophisticated as it is today, author Ernest Hemingway and inventor Thomas Edison, both of whom had diabetes, managed to leave their marks on the world.
Another popular ingredient in the Indian spice rack, curry leaves help to stabilize blood glucose levels and impact carbohydrate metabolism. An Indian study published in International Journal of Development Research studied in detail the effects curry leaves have on diabetes type 2. According to the research data, curry leaves contain a phytochemical that can help control blood sugar level in patients with Diabetes type 2 by reducing fasting and postprandial blood sugar level. Diabetic rats given a dose of about 12gm /day for a month revealed that curry leaves may treat diabetes by influencing carbohydrate metabolism and improving liver and kidney function. Also, the amazing antioxidant properties of curry leaves can boost pancreatic cell production, thereby improving insulin function.
Alcohol: Alcohol can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity. Research published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was a 43 percent increased incidence of diabetes associated with heavy consumption of alcohol, which is defined as three or more drinks per day. (8) Beer and sweet liquors are especially high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
An insulin pump is composed of a reservoir similar to that of an insulin cartridge, a battery-operated pump, and a computer chip that allows the user to control the exact amount of insulin being delivered. The pump is attached to a thin plastic tube (an infusion set) that has a cannula (like a needle but soft) at the end through which insulin passes. This cannula is inserted under the skin, usually on the abdomen.. The pump continuously delivers insulin, 24 hours a day. The amount of insulin is programmed and is administered at a constant rate (basal rate). Often, the amount of insulin needed over the course of 24 hours varies, depending on factors like exercise, activity level, and sleep. The insulin pump allows the user to program many different basal rates to allow for variations in lifestyle. The user can also program the pump to deliver additional insulin during meals, covering the excess demands for insulin caused by eating carbohydrates.