The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, as it’s estimated that almost 34 million U.S. adults were prediabetic in 2015. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are above normal but below the defined threshold of diabetes. Without proper intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.
However, the alternate term “reversed” often being used, may confuse people and mistake the good control of diabetes (remission) as a complete cure. Unfortunately, there is no current long term cure yet, and if one had gained back the weight they had lost or went back to old lifestyle habits, Type 2 diabetes would come back and sign and symptoms would present.
Could restricting your diet for a couple of days a week put type 2 diabetes in remission? That’s the controversial claim scientists of a small new study are making as they fan the fire around a diet fad known as intermittent fasting. But many health professionals, including those at the American Diabetes Association, argue that the approach can be dangerous for people with diabetes, whose bodies cannot control their blood sugar without careful diet, medication, and sometimes insulin management.
As diabetes is a prime risk factor for cardiovascular disease, controlling other risk factors which may give rise to secondary conditions, as well as the diabetes itself, is one of the facets of diabetes management. Checking cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels may indicate hyperlipoproteinemia, which may warrant treatment with hypolipidemic drugs. Checking the blood pressure and keeping it within strict limits (using diet and antihypertensive treatment) protects against the retinal, renal and cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Regular follow-up by a podiatrist or other foot health specialists is encouraged to prevent the development of diabetic foot. Annual eye exams are suggested to monitor for progression of diabetic retinopathy.
If you have gestational diabetes, you should first try to control your blood glucose level by making healthy food choices and getting regular physical activity. If you can’t reach your blood glucose target, your health care team will talk with you about diabetes medicines, such as insulin or the diabetes pill metformin, that may be safe for you to take during pregnancy. Your health care team may start you on diabetes medicines right away if your blood glucose is very high.
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).
If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas no longer makes the insulin your body needs to use blood sugar for energy. You will need insulin in the form of injections or through use of a continuous pump. Learning to give injections to yourself or to your infant or child may at first seem the most daunting part of managing diabetes, but it is much easier that you think.
While Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that seems to affect people with certain gene types, Type 2 Diabetes is triggered by lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and obesity. Eating sugary and processed foods contributes to weight gain, and that extra body fat can be released into the bloodstream, impeding the absorption of insulin and other chemicals related to metabolism. When metabolism is slowed, weight gain is more likely, and the cycle repeats itself. Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is multifaceted, often including insulin injections, a host of medications, and lifestyle modifications such as diet changes and exercise regimens.
It was once assumed that environmental factors took generations to affect a gene change, but research is now finding that a bad enough toxin or environmental stress can alter genes in a single generation. While genes can pre-dispose us to disease, the disease will only present itself in the presence of factors like toxins, poor diet or stress. A predisposition to diabetes, for instance, might be activated from toxins in foods, pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, or from a poor diet, especially when any of the above factors are also present.
An insulin pump is a small machine that gives you small, steady doses of insulin throughout the day. You wear one type of pump outside your body on a belt or in a pocket or pouch. The insulin pump connects to a small plastic tube and a very small needle. You insert the needle under your skin and it stays in place for several days. Insulin then pumps from the machine through the tube into your body 24 hours a day. You also can give yourself doses of insulin through the pump at mealtimes. Another type of pump has no tubes and attaches directly to your skin, such as a self-adhesive pod.
By checking your own blood sugar levels, you can track your body's changing needs for insulin and work with your doctor to figure out the best insulin dosage. People with diabetes check their blood sugar up to several times a day with an instrument called a glucometer. The glucometer measures glucose levels in a sample of your blood dabbed on a strip of treated paper. Also, there are now devices, called continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), that can be attached to your body to measure your blood sugars every few minutes for up to a week at a time. But these machines check glucose levels from skin rather than blood, and they are less accurate than a traditional glucometer.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how treatment intensification might directly improve blood sugar. Researchers also lacked data to explain why doctors or patients might have decided against a change in therapy. And the study didn’t show whether failure to switch treatment regimens resulted in diabetes complications.
Whole-body insulin resistance is the earliest predictor of type 2 diabetes onset, and this mainly reflects muscle insulin resistance (26). However, careful separation of the contributions of muscle and liver have shown that early improvement in control of fasting plasma glucose level is associated only with improvement in liver insulin sensitivity (20,21). It is clear that the resumption of normal or near-normal diurnal blood glucose control does not require improvement in muscle insulin sensitivity. Although this finding may at first appear surprising, it is supported by a wide range of earlier observations. Mice totally lacking in skeletal muscle insulin receptors do not develop diabetes (27). Humans who have the PPP1R3A genetic variant of muscle glycogen synthase cannot store glycogen in muscle after meals but are not necessarily hyperglycemic (28). Many normoglycemic individuals maintain normal blood glucose levels with a degree of muscle insulin resistance identical to those with type 2 diabetes (29).
Even if you aim to lose 5% of your body weight, if overweight, you are likely to see a fall in your blood glucose levels back into the normal range but even then we can’t say diabetes has been reversed or gone away. These actions build-up the body’s ability to respond to rising levels but if you get sick, eat more carbohydrate or gain some weight, more than likely your blood glucose levels will be on the rise again into the diabetes range.
Capsaicin cream, a topical ointment made with cayenne, has been reported by some patients to help lower pain in the hands and feet from diabetic neuropathy. But people with loss of sensation in the hands or feet should use caution when using capsaicin, as they may not be able to fully feel any burning sensation. Check with your doctor if you are thinking of trying this product.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." Complementary medicine is used with conventional treatments, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
Benefits of control and reduced hospital admission have been reported. However, patients on oral medication who do not self-adjust their drug dosage will miss many of the benefits of self-testing, and so it is questionable in this group. This is particularly so for patients taking monotherapy with metformin who are not at risk of hypoglycaemia. Regular 6 monthly laboratory testing of HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) provides some assurance of long-term effective control and allows the adjustment of the patient's routine medication dosages in such cases. High frequency of self-testing in type 2 diabetes has not been shown to be associated with improved control. The argument is made, though, that type 2 patients with poor long term control despite home blood glucose monitoring, either have not had this integrated into their overall management, or are long overdue for tighter control by a switch from oral medication to injected insulin.
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“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
As time goes on, however, blood sugar levels can begin to rise again. Diabetes is a progressive disease which means that what is done today to care for it, may not work as well a year or two from now. A key to keeping blood sugar levels under control is to be active, watch portions of all foods, include all food groups and visit your doctor to make sure the blood sugar levels are staying at a safe level.
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Although the promises are big, these technologies are still far from the market. First, clinical trials will have to show they do work. Then, the price could be steep, as cell therapy precedents for other applications, such as oncology, come with price tags that reach the six figures and are finding difficulties to get reimbursed. Considering that compared to cancer, diabetes is not an immediately life-threatening disease, health insurers in some countries might be reluctant to cover the treatment.
Dr. Mona Morstein is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice focused in integrative diabetes treatment. Her clinic, Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions, is located in Tempe, Arizona, where she sees patients of all ages and genders for acute and chronic conditions. An expert on prediabetes and diabetes, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and webinars, and is the founder and executive director of The Low Carb Diabetes Association. Dr. Morstein is also a member of the Arizona Diabetes Coalition. Visit her website lowcarbdiabetes.org
Pramlintide is administered by injection just prior to meals (three times each day) for type 1 diabetes as an additional treatment to mealtime insulin therapy for those failing to achieve desired glucose control despite optimal insulin therapy and type 2 diabetes as an additional treatment to mealtime insulin therapy for those failing to achieve desired glucose control with optimal insulin therapy.