Diabetes is a costly disease, placing a high financial burden on the patient and the healthcare system. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can cause blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that require the amputation of digits or limbs. The CDC reports that it’s also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Diabetics often find their bodies swinging wildly out of equilibrium. In Type 1 Diabetes, the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. In Type 2 Diabetes there is insufficient insulin produced in the pancreas, which slows the metabolism and elevates blood sugar levels. Both conditions, if not treated correctly, can cause a host of unpleasant side effects including high blood pressure, neuropathy, kidney damage, and in extreme cases amputation and even death.
The problem, of course, has not been solved – the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take metformin to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of metformin cannot force any more sugar into the body.
If however, type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance and being overweight, there is excellent evidence that exercise, decreasing added sugars and saturated fats in the diet, choosing low glycaemic index foods and losing weight – particularly around the abdominal region, can improve blood glucose levels to the extent that it seems like diabetes has been reversed.
Unfortunately, most people are not given the benefit of this approach. When diagnosed with diabetes, most people are told to avoid sugar (good step, not the solution). If the problem is bad enough, they are told to take medication to give the body insulin. The problem is, as we saw above, diabetes is a problem with the body’s regulation of insulin, caused by a resistance to insulin and an overproduction to remove toxic amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin is also dangerous if it is left circulating the the blood. Somehow, treating too much circulating glucose and insulin with more insulin doesn’t seem like the right approach…
Most lifestyle interventions focus on eating less and exercising more. But many patients have tried this and have seen minimal results, while also fighting unsustainable hunger and cravings. The problem with these programs is that they tend to be high in carbs, even if they are cutting back on calories. When you eat a high-carb diet, the resulting increase in your blood sugar triggers an insulin response in your body, and insulin blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Insulin actively blocks the breakdown of stored body fat, meaning that as long as insulin is high, it will be very difficult to lose weight—even if you are eating very little.
“A major difference from other studies is that we advised a period of dietary weight loss with no increase in physical activity, but during the long-term follow up increased daily activity is important. Bariatric surgery can achieve remission of diabetes in about three-quarters of people, but it is more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients.”
Because blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day and glucose records are imperfect indicators of these changes, the percentage of hemoglobin which is glycosylated is used as a proxy measure of long-term glycemic control in research trials and clinical care of people with diabetes. This test, the hemoglobin A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin reflects average glucoses over the preceding 2–3 months. In nondiabetic persons with normal glucose metabolism the glycosylated hemoglobin is usually 4–6% by the most common methods (normal ranges may vary by method).
Well, I don’t know much about VCRs, but I do know about type 2 diabetes. I could write an entire book about obesity (oh, wait, I did that already), or fasting (oh, wait, done too) or type 2 diabetes (next up for 2018). But many of you will not want to go through the entire instruction manual. So this is your quick start guide for reversing your type 2 diabetes.
Many manufacturers offer pen delivery systems. Such systems resemble the ink cartridge in a fountain pen. A small, pen-sized device holds an insulin cartridge (usually containing 300 units). Cartridges are available for the most widely used insulin formulations. The amount of insulin to be injected is dialed in, by turning the bottom of the pen until the required number of units is seen in the dose-viewing window. The tip of the pen consists of a needle that is replaced with each injection. A release mechanism allows the needle to penetrate just under the skin and deliver the required amount of insulin.
Tooth decay and cavities are some of the first oral problems that individuals with diabetes are at risk for. Increased blood sugar levels translate into greater sugars and acids that attack the teeth and lead to gum diseases. Gingivitis can also occur as a result of increased blood sugar levels along with an inappropriate oral hygiene. Periodontitis is an oral disease caused by untreated gingivitis and which destroys the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. This disease may cause the gums to pull away from the teeth which may eventually loosen and fall out. Diabetic people tend to experience more severe periodontitis because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and also slows healing. At the same time, an oral infection such as periodontitis can make diabetes more difficult to control because it causes the blood sugar levels to rise.
Low glycemic index foods also may be helpful. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar quickly. Low glycemic index foods may help you achieve a more stable blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index typically are foods that are higher in fiber.
Diet management allows control and awareness of the types of nutrients entering the digestive system, and hence allows indirectly, significant control over changes in blood glucose levels. Blood glucose monitoring allows verification of these, and closer control, especially important since some symptoms of diabetes are not easy for the patient to notice without actual measurement.
The main goal of diabetes management is, as far as possible, to restore carbohydrate metabolism to a normal state. To achieve this goal, individuals with an absolute deficiency of insulin require insulin replacement therapy, which is given through injections or an insulin pump. Insulin resistance, in contrast, can be corrected by dietary modifications and exercise. Other goals of diabetes management are to prevent or treat the many complications that can result from the disease itself and from its treatment.
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.
Since type 2 diabetes is merely excessive glucose in the body, burning it off will reverse the disease. While it may sound severe, fasting has been practiced for at least 2000 years. It is the oldest dietary therapy known. Literally millions of people throughout human history have fasted without problems. If you are taking prescription medications, you should seek the advice of a physician. But the bottom line comes to this.
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There have been some small, limited studies as well as anecdotal reports that certain alternative or “natural” treatments can help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes or otherwise prevent the condition or prevent its complications. These can include herbs or dietary supplements. Examples include garlic, cinnamon, alpha-lipoic acid, aloe vera, chromium, ginseng, and magnesium.