Diabetes is the major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. The number of people affected by all types of diabetic disorders is now over four times higher than just 40 years ago. This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider diabetes an epidemic, predicting it will soon be the seventh biggest cause of death worldwide.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is necessary for the body’s overall health. Erratic blood sugar levels can affect the body’s ability to function normally and even lead to complications if left unchecked. Some herbs and spices found in nature do a tremendous job of naturally lowering blood sugar levels, making them a boon for diabetics and pre-diabetics. What’s more, being nature’s multi-taskers, herbs and spices also produce overall health benefits beyond just helping balance blood sugar.
It is a good idea to wear a MedicAlert bracelet or tag that says you have diabetes. This will make others aware of your condition in case you have a severe hypoglycemic attack and are not able to make yourself understood, or if you are in an accident and need emergency medical care. Identifying yourself as having diabetes is important because hypoglycemic attacks can be mistaken for drunkenness, and victims often aren't able to care for themselves. Without prompt treatment, hypoglycemia can result in a coma or seizures. And, because your body is under increased stress when you are ill or injured, your blood sugar levels will need to be checked by the medical personnel who give you emergency care.
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.
Levels which are significantly above or below this range are problematic and can in some cases be dangerous. A level of <3.8 mmol/L (<70 mg/dL) is usually described as a hypoglycemic attack (low blood sugar). Most diabetics know when they are going to "go hypo" and usually are able to eat some food or drink something sweet to raise levels. A patient who is hyperglycemic (high glucose) can also become temporarily hypoglycemic, under certain conditions (e.g. not eating regularly, or after strenuous exercise, followed by fatigue). Intensive efforts to achieve blood sugar levels close to normal have been shown to triple the risk of the most severe form of hypoglycemia, in which the patient requires assistance from by-standers in order to treat the episode. In the United States, there were annually 48,500 hospitalizations for diabetic hypoglycemia and 13,100 for diabetic hypoglycemia resulting in coma in the period 1989 to 1991, before intensive blood sugar control was as widely recommended as today. One study found that hospital admissions for diabetic hypoglycemia increased by 50% from 1990–1993 to 1997–2000, as strict blood sugar control efforts became more common. Among intensively controlled type 1 diabetics, 55% of episodes of severe hypoglycemia occur during sleep, and 6% of all deaths in diabetics under the age of 40 are from nocturnal hypoglycemia in the so-called 'dead-in-bed syndrome,' while National Institute of Health statistics show that 2% to 4% of all deaths in diabetics are from hypoglycemia. In children and adolescents following intensive blood sugar control, 21% of hypoglycemic episodes occurred without explanation. In addition to the deaths caused by diabetic hypoglycemia, periods of severe low blood sugar can also cause permanent brain damage. Although diabetic nerve disease is usually associated with hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia as well can initiate or worsen neuropathy in diabetics intensively struggling to reduce their hyperglycemia.
According to studies, cinnamon may have a positive effect on the glycemic control and the lipid profile in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. This is because it contains 18% polyphenol content in dry weight. This popular Indian spice can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. According to a study published in Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, “cinnamon lowered HbA1C by 0.83% compared with standard medication alone lowering HbA1C 0.37%. Taking cinnamon could be useful for lowering serum HbA1C in type 2 diabetics with HbA1C >7.0 in addition to usual care.”
Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have demonstrated that face-to-face training programs designed to help individuals with type 1 diabetes better anticipate, detect, and prevent extreme BG can reduce the occurrence of future hypoglycemia-related driving mishaps. An internet-version of this training has also been shown to have significant beneficial results. Additional NIH funded research to develop internet interventions specifically to help improve driving safety in drivers with type 1 diabetes is currently underway.
Within the hepatocyte, fatty acids can only be derived from de novo lipogenesis, uptake of nonesterified fatty acid and LDL, or lipolysis of intracellular triacylglycerol. The fatty acid pool may be oxidized for energy or may be combined with glycerol to form mono-, di-, and then triacylglycerols. It is possible that a lower ability to oxidize fat within the hepatocyte could be one of several susceptibility factors for the accumulation of liver fat (45). Excess diacylglycerol has a profound effect on activating protein kinase C epsilon type (PKCε), which inhibits the signaling pathway from the insulin receptor to insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1), the first postreceptor step in intracellular insulin action (46). Thus, under circumstances of chronic energy excess, a raised level of intracellular diacylglycerol specifically prevents normal insulin action, and hepatic glucose production fails to be controlled (Fig. 4). High-fat feeding of rodents brings about raised levels of diacylglycerol, PKCε activation, and insulin resistance. However, if fatty acids are preferentially oxidized rather than esterified to diacylglycerol, then PKCε activation is prevented, and hepatic insulin sensitivity is maintained. The molecular specificity of this mechanism has been confirmed by use of antisense oligonucleotide to PKCε, which prevents hepatic insulin resistance despite raised diacylglycerol levels during high-fat feeding (47). In obese humans, intrahepatic diacylglycerol concentration has been shown to correlate with hepatic insulin sensitivity (48,49). Additionally, the presence of excess fatty acids promotes ceramide synthesis by esterification with sphingosine. Ceramides cause sequestration of Akt2 and activation of gluconeogenic enzymes (Fig. 4), although no relationship with in vivo insulin resistance could be demonstrated in humans (49). However, the described intracellular regulatory roles of diacylglycerol and ceramide are consistent with the in vivo observations of hepatic steatosis and control of hepatic glucose production (20,21).
Since the body functions as a whole, it is logical that when one hormone or part of the endocrine system is suffering, the other would be affected as well. This is the reason behind the recent research linking high stress levels to diabetes and other health problems. Most people think of stress only in the mental context (as in, “I’ve got a million things to do, I’m running late and I don’t have time to get anything done… I’m so stressed”) but stress can be physical, psychological, emotional, or mental and can be triggered by many factors including:
I made a mistake in an earlier comment that I need to correct. I thought the VLDL represented the very small particles, and that is totally wrong. Here are the actual test results of the very small particles from a Quest Diagnostics after about 18 months on a ketogenic diet, with abundant use of MCT oil as caprylic acid. If the administrator deletes that comment, to avoid confusion, that would be fine with me. I can also provide much more data, as that test is pretty comprehensive.
If the rapid changes in metabolism following bariatric surgery are a consequence of the sudden change in calorie balance, the defects in both insulin secretion and hepatic insulin sensitivity of type 2 diabetes should be correctable by change in diet alone. To test this hypothesis, a group of people with type 2 diabetes were studied before and during a 600 kcal/day diet (21). Within 7 days, liver fat decreased by 30%, becoming similar to that of the control group, and hepatic insulin sensitivity normalized (Fig. 2). The close association between liver fat content and hepatic glucose production had previously been established (20,22,23). Plasma glucose normalized by day 7 of the diet.
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.
FEED YOUR GUT BUGS, not just yourself. There are trillions of bugs that live in your gut – their health is critical in determining your health. Many studiesshow links between the state of your gut bugs (your microbiota) and type 2 diabetes. Start improving the health of your gut immediately by eating five servings of different coloured vegetables each day. The non digestible fibre in vegetables is the preferred food for your gut bacteria and when your gut bugs are happy, you will be happy. The wider the variety of colours, the more phytonutrients you will be getting.
We live in a world where prescription medicine is getting more and more expensive as well as controversial. Alternative medicine is gaining momentum and with good reason! The same is true for treatments for diabetes type 2. You have therapies that can reverse diabetes through lifestyle and diet changes, natural supplements that can help stabilize blood sugar levels, and also herbs that lower blood sugar. Not only are these alternative therapies safer, but they are also easier on your pocket, on your body and mind.
Dental care is therefore even more important for diabetic patients than for healthy individuals. Maintaining the teeth and gum healthy is done by taking some preventing measures such as regular appointments at a dentist and a very good oral hygiene. Also, oral health problems can be avoided by closely monitoring the blood sugar levels. Patients who keep better under control their blood sugar levels and diabetes are less likely to develop oral health problems when compared to diabetic patients who control their disease moderately or poorly.
8. Get your protein from vegetable sources, fish, and dairy: Plant-based proteins have a balanced nutritional profile (providing fiber, fat, and protein) and are low in saturated fats. Some saturated fats, like those that are heavily processed or from unhealthy animals, can be dangerous, as they raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Dairy from pastured animals (such as yogurt) that is low in sugar provides protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial probiotics, and non-mercury contaminated, wild caught fish is a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and high in amino acids and fatty acids like Omega-3.
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.
To help patients learn to manage their diabetes successfully, the Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital offers educational classes, as well as individualized appointments, (in both English and Spanish) on topics such as behavior change, goal setting, healthy eating concepts, carbohydrate counting, dining out, label reading, lipid, medication, stress and sick day management, benefits of exercise, prevention of complications and foot care. Special Gestational Diabetes Education classes are also available for women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy. Learn more about the Diabetes Care Education Series >
Focus on low glycemic index foods: While reducing fat and increasing fiber can significantly improve insulin sensitivity, low glycemic index (GI) foods reduce after-meal blood glucose levels. Low GI foods include pumpernickel or rye bread, oats, beans, bran cereals, most fruit, and sweet potatoes, compared to higher GI foods such as white potatoes, processed foods, and cold cereals.
One of the lesser known herbs that lower blood sugar, Marjoram, is high in polyphenols, which aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels. A 2012 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Marjoram reduced formation of Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. AGE is the smoking gun that researchers today say is responsible for a lot of the complications that diabetics face, like damage to arteries and eyes. Try sprinkling marjoram on your dinner every night to help add variety in flavor. It can often be used as a substitute for oregano in cooking and brings in a distinct flavor to dishes.
These dietary recommendations have made high carb, low-fat foods a staple of the American diet. “Healthy” foods like fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, sugary protein shakes and low-fat processed grains flooded the market. The standard American diet began to include more sugary drinks and sodas, as well as more processed grains. Since all carbohydrates (even complex carbs) are broken down into sugar in the body, these dietary recommendations meant that the average blood sugar of Americans began to rise – and the diabetes epidemic began to grow.
Eating right and exercising more often is good for everyone. But it's especially important for people with type 2 diabetes. When people put on too much body fat, it's because they're eating more calories than they use each day. The body stores that extra energy in fat cells. Over time, gaining pounds of extra fat can lead to obesity and diseases related to obesity, like type 2 diabetes.
Fix your Gut– Not the beer gut, your intestines. Grains and toxins cause damage to the intestinal lining and facilitate leaky gut syndrome. Depleted beneficial bacteria in the gut caused by poor diet, antibiotic use or being bottle fed as a baby can make the problem worse. Remove the grains, avoid toxins whenever possible and take a high quality probiotic to help the intestines heal. As a note: some people will have continued damage to the gut with exposure to grains, especially gluten, as little as only every 10 days or even every 6 months.
“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.”
Khodneva, Y., Shalev, A., Frank, S. J., Carson, A. P., & Safford, M. M. (2016, May). Calcium channel blocker use is associated with lower fasting serum glucose among adults with diabetes from the REGARDS study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 115, 115-121. Retrieved from http://www.diabetesresearchclinicalpractice.com/article/S0168-8227(16)00070-X/abstract
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy because hormones interfere with how the body uses insulin. When the pancreas can’t keep up with the insulin demand and blood glucose levels get too high, the result is gestational diabetes. About 2-7 percent of expectant mothers develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Learn more about diabetes and pregnancy.
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.
When you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to be very aware of not only what you eat, but also when and how much you eat. A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at Joslin can work with you to develop a healthy meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Following a meal plan can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing complications.
The term diabetes includes several different metabolic disorders that all, if left untreated, result in abnormally high concentration of a sugar called glucose in the blood. Diabetes mellitus type 1 results when the pancreas no longer produces significant amounts of the hormone insulin, usually owing to the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Diabetes mellitus type 2, in contrast, is now thought to result from autoimmune attacks on the pancreas and/or insulin resistance. The pancreas of a person with type 2 diabetes may be producing normal or even abnormally large amounts of insulin. Other forms of diabetes mellitus, such as the various forms of maturity onset diabetes of the young, may represent some combination of insufficient insulin production and insulin resistance. Some degree of insulin resistance may also be present in a person with type 1 diabetes.
Known as gurmar, or “sugar destroyer,” in Aryuvedic medicine, Gymnema has consistently shown benefits in patients with diabetes. The most active part of Gymnema seems to be gymnemic acids, and many products list the percentage each capsule contains. Analyses of the herb for diabetes have shown it may be helpful in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can delay glucose absorption from the intestine. It was shown to regenerate pancreatic tissues, allowing more insulin to be produced, and help regulate insulin secretion. It also increases the utilization of glucose by the cell, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing appetite, especially for sweets. I usually use it in capsules, or in liquid form in some patients. Due to Gymnema having a very similar shape to glucose, it can fit into the taste bud receptors for sugar; it thus has unbelievable power to actually prevent the taste of sweets in the mouth for up to 1.5 hours. When I have a patient who is still struggling to not eat cake and cookies and so forth at parties or celebrations (or just in general), I will give her a tincture of Gymnema sylvestre. This is one of my favorite herbs for diabetes. In capsule form doses of 400 to 2,400 mg a day are recommended.