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.
Diabetes has grown to “epidemic” proportions, and the latest statistics revealed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, including the 7.2 million people who weren’t even aware of it. Diabetes is affecting people of all ages, including 132,000 children and adolescents younger than 18 years old. (2)
When this happens for a period of time, the cells start to become resistant to the presence of insulin, causing a vicious cycle. The body then releases even more insulin, trying desperately to get the cells to uptake the toxic glucose. The presence of excess insulin in the bloodstream is also toxic and further damages the receptors on these cells. Eventually, the insulin allows the glucose access to your fat cells to get it out of the bloodstream. In other words- Fat isn’t stored as fat in the body- Sugar (from carbohydrates) is stored as fat!
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.
Most lifestyle interventions focus on eating less and exercising more. But many patients have tried this and have seen minimal results, while also fighting unsustainable hunger and cravings. The problem with these programs is that they tend to be high in carbs, even if they are cutting back on calories. When you eat a high-carb diet, the resulting increase in your blood sugar triggers an insulin response in your body, and insulin blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Insulin actively blocks the breakdown of stored body fat, meaning that as long as insulin is high, it will be very difficult to lose weight—even if you are eating very little.
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.
Regular blood testing, especially in type 1 diabetics, is helpful to keep adequate control of glucose levels and to reduce the chance of long term side effects of the disease. There are many (at least 20+) different types of blood monitoring devices available on the market today; not every meter suits all patients and it is a specific matter of choice for the patient, in consultation with a physician or other experienced professional, to find a meter that they personally find comfortable to use. The principle of the devices is virtually the same: a small blood sample is collected and measured. In one type of meter, the electrochemical, a small blood sample is produced by the patient using a lancet (a sterile pointed needle). The blood droplet is usually collected at the bottom of a test strip, while the other end is inserted in the glucose meter. This test strip contains various chemicals so that when the blood is applied, a small electrical charge is created between two contacts. This charge will vary depending on the glucose levels within the blood. In older glucose meters, the drop of blood is placed on top of a strip. A chemical reaction occurs and the strip changes color. The meter then measures the color of the strip optically.
A 2012 review of ginseng in animals and human beings found that not only does ginseng reduce insulin resistance, it also lowers HbA1C levels. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control. Indian ginseng, also called Ashwagandha, offers fantastic all round benefits. Scientists are also researching the connection between diabetes and Alzhiemer’s. Panax Ginseng is a type of ginseng that is able to help with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
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.
Imagine that you hide your kitchen garbage under the rug instead throwing it outside in the trash. You can’t see it, so you can pretend your house is clean. When there’s no more room underneath the rug, you throw the garbage into your bedroom, and bathroom, too. Anywhere where you don’t have to see it. Eventually, it begins to smell. Really, really bad.
Testosterone replacement therapy may improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in diabetic hypogonadal men. The mechanisms by which testosterone decreases insulin resistance is under study. Moreover, testosterone may have a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells, which is possibly exerted by androgen-receptor-mediated mechanisms and influence of inflammatory cytokines.
Although chromium does have an effect on insulin and on glucose metabolism, there is no evidence that taking chromium supplements can help in the treatment of diabetes. But chromium is found in many healthy foods, such as green vegetables, nuts, and grains. Studies have suggested that biotin, also called vitamin H, when used with chromium, may improve glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. But no studies have shown that biotin by itself is helpful.
Alternative: “The reason I use food-based supplements is because they most closely help correct what I see as the problem: The food we’re eating is lacking in nutrients,” DeLaney says. “If their vitamin D is low, it tells me all their fat-soluble vitamins are low.” She uses cod liver oil along with high-vitamin butter oil to restore these deficiencies.
The diabetes market is expected to reach a massively big €86Bn by 2025 combining both type 1 (€32Bn) and type 2 (€54Bn) treatments, and we can expect all sort of revolutionary technologies to come forward and claim their market share. Researchers are already speculating about microchips that can diagnose diabetes type 1 before the symptoms appear or nanorobots traveling in the bloodstream while they measure glucose and deliver insulin.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
In discussing self management with the person with diabetes I focus on how healthy lifestyle behaviors can change the treatment plan. Introducing healthy lifestyle behaviors by providing consistent and predictable meals, daily activity, healthy coping and consistent medication management can improve overall glucose control and may change the overall treatment plan for managing diabetes.
The diagnosis of diabetes, and the effectiveness of treatments can be objectively measured. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) measurements and then the oral glucose tolerance test accurately measure insulin function, and guide diagnosis. While routine blood sugar monitoring (with test strips) is generally unnecessary in Type 2 diabetes, measurement gives a point estimate of blood sugar levels. Glyclated hemoglobin (A1C) levels reflect overall blood sugar trends, with higher levels associated with more complications of the disease. Interestingly, super-intensive blood glucose lowering isn’t associated with additional risk reduction, and it increases the risk of side effects due to too-low blood sugar. Treatment goals are individualized (hey, it’s “holistic”), balancing a number of factors including risks as well as a patient’s ability to manage complex treatment plans.
Data from the Swedish randomized study of gastric banding showed that a loss of 20% body weight was associated with long-term remission in 73% of a bariatric surgery group, with weight change itself being the principal determinant of glucose control (13). Dietary weight loss of 15 kg allowed for reversal of diabetes in a small group of individuals recently receiving a diagnosis (21). In individuals strongly motivated to regain normal health, substantial weight loss is entirely possible by decreasing food consumption (88). This information should be made available to all people with type 2 diabetes, even though with present methods of changing eating habits, it is unlikely that weight loss can be achieved in those not strongly motivated to escape from diabetes. Some genetic predictors, especially the Ala12 allele at PPARG, of successful long-term weight loss have been identified (89), and use of such markers could guide future therapy. It must be noted that involuntary food shortage, such as a result of war, results in a sharp fall in type 2 diabetes prevalence (90,91).
Anti-diabetic medications are used to control type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this case, body cells are resistant to insulin (injections), therefore medications are given orally to lower the blood glucose levels. In most of the cases, oral hypoglycemic agents are highly effective. One just needs to ascertain which suits him/her the best. There are several classes of anti-diabetic drugs. Largely, their selection depends on the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person, as well as other factors.
On a personal note, I always encourage full disclosure of a history of diabetes, even if currently diet controlled. Although a glucose level may now be within normal range, certain medical treatments/medications/illnesses may trigger a hyperglycemic (high blood glucose) level. The fully informed medical provider will closely monitor these patients and prevent uncontrolled glucose spikes from occurring.
Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.