Every single part of the body just starts to rot. This is precisely why type 2 diabetes, unlike virtually any other disease, affects every part of our body. Every organ suffers the long term effects of the excessive sugar load. Your eyes rot — and you go blind. Your kidneys rot — and you need dialysis. You heart rots — and you get heart attacks and heart failure. Your brain rots — and you get Alzheimers disease. Your liver rots — and you get fatty liver disease. Your legs rot — and you get diabetic foot ulcers. Your nerves rot — and you get diabetic neuropathy. No part of your body is spared.
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.
Some studies show that certain plant foods may help your body fight inflammation and use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also boosts cholesterol metabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to help insulin work and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. An unidentified compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Control and outcomes of both types 1 and 2 diabetes may be improved by patients using home glucose meters to regularly measure their glucose levels. Glucose monitoring is both expensive (largely due to the cost of the consumable test strips) and requires significant commitment on the part of the patient. The effort and expense may be worthwhile for patients when they use the values to sensibly adjust food, exercise, and oral medications or insulin. These adjustments are generally made by the patients themselves following training by a clinician.
This essentially means that the type 2 diabetes is being managed at a level that seems as if the diabetes isn’t there at all. Choosing a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight is the key. Eventually, what will likely happen is that blood glucose levels will increase again at a later time, as the person gets older, or if the person returns to an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle and regains weight because the beta cells of the pancreas have already been stressed.
This healthy lifestyle we refer to is being active 150 minutes or more each week and eating a meal plan low in fat and processed sugar with 3-5 vegetables and 2-3 fruits a day most days. It does not require low or no carbohydrate diet like Atkins or counting carbohydrates every meal. Most folks do better when they spread the carbohydrates out evenly over the day.
“In the realm of fatty liver disease, which is highly associated with either prediabetes or fully diagnosed type 2 diabetes, we do know that decreased fat and decreased weight are associated with far better glucose control,” says Galati, who is the author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes From Killing You and Your Family. “This research reinforces the idea that patients with type 2 diabetes who are obese — which is the vast majority — can improve their blood sugar control as well as their long-term outlook with weight loss.”
One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.
Recently[when?] it has been suggested that a type of gastric bypass surgery may normalize blood glucose levels in 80–100% of severely obese patients with diabetes. The precise causal mechanisms are being intensively researched; its results may not simply be attributable to weight loss, as the improvement in blood sugars seems to precede any change in body mass. This approach may become a treatment for some people with type 2 diabetes, but has not yet been studied in prospective clinical trials. This surgery may have the additional benefit of reducing the death rate from all causes by up to 40% in severely obese people. A small number of normal to moderately obese patients with type 2 diabetes have successfully undergone similar operations.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.