Metformin is a biguanide drug that increases the sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin. It also decreases the amount of glucose produced by the liver.. In 1994, the FDA approved the use of the biguanide called metformin (Glucophage) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Today, this is still typically the first drug prescribed for type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes plagues the United States, but is even more rampant in many developing countries, triggered in large part by a shift to less healthy nutritional habits and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, all fueled by the drive of rapid urbanization and economic growth. Asia is one of the largest epicenters of this disease, with an estimated 60 percent of the world’s diabetes patients living in that region.
With diabetes, however, either the pancreas doesn’t produce the correct amount of insulin (Type 1) or the body’s cells are unable to process and utilize the insulin (Type 2). In both cases, this causes a buildup of glucose in the blood, which results in inadequate energy supply for the body and can cause dehydration, kidney and nerve damage, blindness, an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and more.
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.
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.