Mr. Tutty said he jumped at the chance, becoming one of 30 men and women ages 25 to 80 to sign up. Mr. Tutty was one of 13 participants whose fasting plasma glucose dropped, and during the six-month follow-up remained below the seven millimole per liter (or 126 milligrams per deciliter) that defines diabetes. Although Mr. Tutty completed the study nearly three years ago, his fasting blood sugars continue to range from 5.2 to 5.6 mmol/L, he said.
Clearly separate from the characteristic lack of acute insulin secretion in response to increase in glucose supply is the matter of total mass of β-cells. The former determines the immediate metabolic response to eating, whereas the latter places a long-term limitation on total possible insulin response. Histological studies of the pancreas in type 2 diabetes consistently show an ∼50% reduction in number of β-cells compared with normal subjects (66). β-Cell loss appears to increase as duration of diabetes increases (67). The process is likely to be regulated by apoptosis, a mechanism known to be increased by chronic exposure to increased fatty acid metabolites (68). Ceramides, which are synthesized directly from fatty acids, are likely mediators of the lipid effects on apoptosis (10,69). In light of new knowledge about β-cell apoptosis and rates of turnover during adult life, it is conceivable that removal of adverse factors could result in restoration of normal β-cell number, even late in the disease (66,70). Plasticity of lineage and transdifferentiation of human adult β-cells could also be relevant, and the evidence for this has recently been reviewed (71). β-Cell number following reversal of type 2 diabetes remains to be examined, but overall, it is clear that at least a critical mass of β-cells is not permanently damaged but merely metabolically inhibited.
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.
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
Each day in the United States, some 18 million people with diabetes walk a tightrope between too little sugar in the bloodstream and too much. Too little, which may come from a complication of medication, and they may quickly be overcome by dizziness, fatigue, headache, sweating, trembling, and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness and coma. Too much, which can happen after eating too much, especially if the person is older and overweight, and the person may experience weakness, fatigue, excessive thirst, labored breathing, and loss of consciousness.
One of the most advanced alternatives comes from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) in the US, which is developing a bioengineered mini-organ where insulin-producing cells are encapsulated within a protective barrier. Two years ago, the DRI announced that the first patient treated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial no longer requires insulin therapy.
“The degree of carbohydrate restriction that we recommend to establish and then maintain nutritional ketosis depends upon individual factors such degree of insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes?) and physical activity. These starting levels of carb restriction typically vary between 30 and 60 grams per day of total carbs. The best way to determine one’s carbohydrate tolerance is to directly measure blood ketones with a finger-stick glucometer that also accommodates ketone testing.
In obese young people, decreased β-cell function has recently been shown to predict deterioration of glucose tolerance (4,78). Additionally, the rate of decline in glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic individuals is strongly related to the loss of β-cell function, whereas insulin sensitivity changes little (79). This observation mirrors those in populations with a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in which transition from hyperinsulinemic normal glucose tolerance to overt diabetes involves a large, rapid rise in glucose levels as a result of a relatively small further loss of acute β-cell competence (3). The Whitehall II study showed in a large population followed prospectively that people with diabetes exhibit a sudden rise in fasting glucose as β-cell function deteriorates (Fig. 5) (80). Hence, the ability of the pancreas to mount a normal, brisk insulin response to an increasing plasma glucose level is lost in the 2 years before the detection of diabetes, although fasting plasma glucose levels may have been at the upper limit of normal for several years. This was very different from the widely assumed linear rise in fasting plasma glucose level and gradual β-cell decompensation but is consistent with the time course of markers of increased liver fat before the onset of type 2 diabetes observed in other studies (81). Data from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study demonstrated that plasma triacylglycerol and ALT levels were modestly elevated 2 years before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and that there was a steady rise in the level of this liver enzyme in the run-up to the time of diagnosis (75).
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.
Gene therapy can be used to manufacture insulin directly: an oral medication, consisting of viral vectors containing the insulin sequence, is digested and delivers its genes to the upper intestines. Those intestinal cells will then behave like any viral infected cell, and will reproduce the insulin protein. The virus can be controlled to infect only the cells which respond to the presence of glucose, such that insulin is produced only in the presence of high glucose levels. Due to the limited numbers of vectors delivered, very few intestinal cells would actually be impacted and would die off naturally in a few days. Therefore, by varying the amount of oral medication used, the amount of insulin created by gene therapy can be increased or decreased as needed. As the insulin-producing intestinal cells die off, they are boosted by additional oral medications.
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 your carb consumption is on the high side (once you add sugar into the mix, you’re most certainly on the high side), it’s stored as fat and you end up with insulin resistance or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reason behind it is that carbs metabolize into glucose, and limiting carbs helps your body control blood sugar more efficiently. It improves overall blood sugar profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c, which is a diabetes marker. Going low-carb is especially effective if you’re in the early stages when you do not yet need to administer insulin.
Drugs of this class decrease the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine. Before being absorbed into the bloodstream, enzymes in the small intestine must break down carbohydrates into smaller sugar particles, such as glucose. One of the enzymes involved in breaking down carbohydrates is called alpha-glucosidase. By inhibiting this enzyme, carbohydrates are not broken down as efficiently, and glucose absorption is delayed.