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.
Carbs and fats provide energy for the body. When carbs are limited in the diet, fat becomes the preferred and efficient fuel source. When you reduce your intake of one macronutrient, you have to increase your intake of at least one other macronutrient—otherwise you’ll feel hungry and not have enough energy. The low-fat craze started with flawed science that incorrectly stated that fat was dangerous. In a low carb, high-fat diet, fat provides you with the energy your body needs, and also helps knock out hunger and cravings.
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O-3 oils, with both EPA and DHA, can help patients by lowering lipid panels (reduce triglycerides and cholesterol); reducing insulin resistance; reducing pain and inflammation so exercise and sleep are easier; reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure; reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; preventing and treating anxiety and depression; and promoting antioxidant actions in the body and brain to help reduce developing diabetic complications.
Given the prevalence of diabetes and the chronic nature of the disease, it’s no surprise that CAM is a popular treatment option. I don’t see a lot of CAM use in Type 1 diabetics. Insulin is the primary treatment, it works well, and patients can objectively measure their own blood sugar. Type 1 diabetics don’t seem to experiment with supplements that might alter their blood sugars. Those patients end up hospitalized or dead.
The only way to effectively reverse type 2 diabetes (or even pre-diabetes) is to deal with the underlying cause – Insulin Resistance. Trying to address the blood sugar levels (with medication) without addressing the insulin levels is treating the symptoms, not treating the root cause. It is similar to using a bucket to remove water from an overflowing sink rather than actually turning off the tap!
As the fats decreased inside the liver and the pancreas, some individuals also experienced improved functioning of their pancreatic beta cells, which store and release insulin, a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels. The likelihood of regaining normal glucose control depends on the ability of the beta cells to recover, the study authors say.
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.
Rosanna Keyes is a writer, editor, yoga teacher, and office manager extraordinaire living in the Asheville, NC area. She has a B.S.S. from Ohio University with concentrations in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Geography. She has been practicing yoga for over ten years and received her 200-hour teaching certification in 2013. Over the years yoga and writing have been important mainstays in her life. She is continually amazed and humbled at the deep healing, balance, and peace that comes from these practices, and she is grateful to be able to share those experiences with others.
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When the weight loss lessens the liver and pancreas fat, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas come to life again. "Almost everyone will return to normal if they lose a substantial amount of weight," Taylor says. "This is a simple disease." What's yet to be figured out, he says, is why the weight loss doesn't lead to a reversal in everyone.
Cinnamon’s effectiveness as a treatment for diabetes has not been established. A prescription drug as ineffective as cinnamon likely wouldn’t pass FDA muster. Existing drug treatments for diabetes, on the other hand, are cheap, effective, and generally well tolerated. Compared to drug therapy, we don’t know if cinnamon can reduce the risk of mortality due to diabetes, or the progression to any of the other serious outcomes of diabetes. For my patients that insist on trying cinnamon, I’d caution them of the risks, and reinforce that cinnamon is no alternative for lifestyle changes and medication if necessary. It may be natural, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s either safe or effective.
All of the above contributing factors don’t usually happen by themselves. Since the body functions as a whole, a problem in one area will usually correlate to problems in others. A combination of the factors above can be the catalyst for a full blown case of diabetes (or a lot of other diseases). While researchers often look at a single variable when trying to discover a cure for a disease, often the best approach is one that addresses the body as a whole. As with all diseases, the best cure is good prevention, but certain measures can help reverse disease once it has occurred.
1. Refined sugar - We all know that sugar, until it is in its most natural form, is bad for people suffering from diabetes. When consumed, refined sugar spikes the blood sugar rapidly. Sometimes even the natural form like honey can cause a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. So, it’s better to avoid refined sugar by all means if you are a diabetic.
Diabetic patients must get professional dental cleanings every six months. In cases when dental surgery is needed, it is necessary to take some special precautions such as adjusting diabetes medication or taking antibiotics to prevent infection. Looking for early signs of gum disease (redness, swelling, bleeding gums) and informing the dentist about them is also helpful in preventing further complications. Quitting smoking is recommended to avoid serious diabetes complications and oral diseases.
Implementing integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, I helped the patient understand that she could reverse the trajectory she was on by making lifestyle changes—and that’s what she did. We engaged in shared decision making in our ongoing nutrition consultations. Over the course of one year, her physiology and health status changed for the better. Her A1c dropped from 7.2% to 5.6%, and she no longer required medications. She continues to adhere to her new lifestyle program and is confident she’ll remain free of a diabetes diagnosis.
The vast majority of people with diabetes, on the other hand, have the type 2 form, which is sometimes referred to as adult-onset diabetes, even though more and more children these days are developing this type. Lifestyle changes can play a vital role in controlling type 2; they are generally the initial and preferred method for regulating blood sugar levels, although oral medication and even insulin may eventually need to be added to the treatment regimen.
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.