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…
Diabetes is a well-established problem and a multi-billion dollar industry. It is medically characterized by Fasting Blood Glucose higher than 126 mg/dL , which ranges between 100-125 mg/dL are considered pre-diabetic and ranges below 99 mg/dL are considered normal. Studies are finding that a fasting blood glucose below 83 mg/dL is actually a better benchmark, as risk of heart disease begins to increase at anything above that.
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These seeds, used in Indian cooking, have been found to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce high cholesterol, according to several animal and human studies. The effect may be partly due to the seeds’ high fiber content. The seeds also contain an amino acid that appears to boost the release of insulin. In one of the largest studies on fenugreek, 60 people who took 25 grams daily showed significant improvements in blood sugar control and post-meal spikes.
Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by elevated blood glucose levels due to defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. For those people whose bodies resist insulin, the pancreas secretes extra insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. As the condition progresses, insulin production gradually decreases and eventually reaches a level of deficiency that can no longer maintain blood glucose in the normal range. But how type 2 diabetes presents and progresses can vary considerably, as noted by the ADA, and methods of treatment can vary from patient to patient.
He emphasizes lifestyle changes and weight loss as a first step. "We give them a 3-month trial of diet and lifestyle [modification] before starting medications," he says. "A lot of times, for many patients newly diagnosed, we will see the sugars melt back into the normal range" after the weight loss and other changes. He has seen it happen after a weight loss of 7% to 10% of their starting weight.
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.
Poor glycemic control refers to persistently elevated blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, which may range from 200–500 mg/dl (11–28 mmol/L) and 9–15% or higher over months and years before severe complications occur. Meta-analysis of large studies done on the effects of tight vs. conventional, or more relaxed, glycemic control in type 2 diabetics have failed to demonstrate a difference in all-cause cardiovascular death, non-fatal stroke, or limb amputation, but decreased the risk of nonfatal heart attack by 15%. Additionally, tight glucose control decreased the risk of progression of retinopathy and nephropathy, and decreased the incidence peripheral neuropathy, but increased the risk of hypoglycemia 2.4 times.
Pancreatic islet transplantation is an experimental treatment for poorly controlled type 1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that make the hormone insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks these cells. A pancreatic islet transplant replaces destroyed islets with new ones that make and release insulin. This procedure takes islets from the pancreas of an organ donor and transfers them to a person with type 1 diabetes. Because researchers are still studying pancreatic islet transplantation, the procedure is only available to people enrolled in research studies. Learn more about islet transplantation studies.
Pramlintide (Symlin) was the first in a class of injectable, anti-hyperglycemic medications for use in addition to insulin for type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Pramlintide is a synthetic analog of human amylin, a naturally occurring hormone made by the pancreas to help control glucose after meals. Similar to insulin, amylin is absent or deficient in person with diabetes.