The main goal of diabetes management is, as far as possible, to restore carbohydrate metabolism to a normal state. To achieve this goal, individuals with an absolute deficiency of insulin require insulin replacement therapy, which is given through injections or an insulin pump. Insulin resistance, in contrast, can be corrected by dietary modifications and exercise. Other goals of diabetes management are to prevent or treat the many complications that can result from the disease itself and from its treatment.
Practitioners agree that nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management, and that a range of nutrition intervention strategies can be used to meet the metabolic goals and individual preferences of the person with diabetes. However, there are significant differences in the approach and methodologies used by alternative and conventional practitioners to manage the disease. One difference is in terminology. When is remission really remission?
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, with about 90 percent to 95 percent having type 2 diabetes. Sugar, in the form of glucose, is the main source of fuel for body cells. The hormone insulin allows glucose in the blood to enter cells. In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn't produce enough insulin or cells are resistant to effects of insulin.
Exenatide (Byetta) was the first drug of the GLP-1 agonist group. It originated from an interesting source, the saliva of the Gila monster. Scientists observed that this small lizard could go a long time without eating. They discovered a substance in its saliva that slowed stomach emptying, thus making the lizard feel fuller for a longer time. This substance resembled the hormone GLP-1.
The researchers followed the participants after they had completed an eight-week low-calorie-milkshake diet and returned to normal eating. Six months later, those who had gone into remission immediately after the diet were still diabetes-free. Though most of those who reversed the disease had had it for less than four years, some had been diabetic for more than eight years.
Alternative medicine for diabetes is big business, because the public health burden of diabetes is massive, and growing. In 1985, the worldwide prevalence was 30 million people. In 2000, it was 150 million. By 2030, it could be 250 million. Why are more people being diagnosed with diabetes? Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and an aging population. At its core, diabetes is a disease of sugar (glucose) management. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, allows cells to use glucose. When the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, it’s called Type 1 diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that strikes early in life, and was a death sentence until insulin was discovered. When the pancreas can produce insulin, but the amount is insufficient, or when there’s a problem with the uptake of insulin into cells, it’s termed type 2 diabetes. 90% of all diabetes is type 2. Typically a disease of older adults, type 2 diabetes can potentially be treated without drugs of any kind, but success rates are low and medication is eventually advisable. There’s also gestational diabetes, a disease of pregnancy, and prediabetes, where blood sugars are elevated, and diabetes is an expected future diagnosis.
Recent advances and research in management of Diabetes with traditionally used natural therapies have resulted in development of products from that facilitate production and proper utilization of insulin in the body. These preparations (Biogetica) are natural and work in conjugation with conventional therapies as supportive treatment protocols, they are absolutely safe and the patients are never at risk of developing hypoglycemic attacks due to the therapies.
Momordica Charantia goes under a variety of names and is native to some areas of Asia, India, Africa and South America. Marketed as charantia, it is also known as karela or karolla and bitter melon. The herb may be prepared in a variety of different ways, and may be able to help diabetics with insulin secretion, glucose oxidation and other processes.
Research is constantly giving us more information on diabetes and the various factors that contribute to its steady rise in society over the last few decades. Since most theories on diabetes are just that- theories, research for yourself and figure out your best way or preventing or reversing diabetes. I’ve compiled the best of my own research above, but do your own, too! At the least, please consider making some positive changes to help keep yourself disease free (or become disease free).
Other research conducted at the same institute studied possible regeneration of the islets of langerhans in rats that were made diabetic for the study and then given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. The diabetic rats were able to double the number of their islets and beta cell numbers. Researchers felt that the herbal therapy was able to bring blood sugar stability by repairing the pancreas and increasing insulin secretion.
Benefits of control and reduced hospital admission have been reported. However, patients on oral medication who do not self-adjust their drug dosage will miss many of the benefits of self-testing, and so it is questionable in this group. This is particularly so for patients taking monotherapy with metformin who are not at risk of hypoglycaemia. Regular 6 monthly laboratory testing of HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) provides some assurance of long-term effective control and allows the adjustment of the patient's routine medication dosages in such cases. High frequency of self-testing in type 2 diabetes has not been shown to be associated with improved control. The argument is made, though, that type 2 patients with poor long term control despite home blood glucose monitoring, either have not had this integrated into their overall management, or are long overdue for tighter control by a switch from oral medication to injected insulin.
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).
Replacing humans with computers could make patients better control their sugar levels and suffer less complications in the long term. The French company Cellnovo has already shown that just a partially automated system, where blood sugar levels can be monitored wirelessly but patients still select insulin amounts, can reduce the chances of reaching life-threatening low sugar levels up to 39%. The company is now working towards developing a fully automated artificial pancreas in collaboration with Imperial College, the Diabeloop consortium and the Horizon2020 program.
Chromium plays a vital role in binding to and activating the insulin receptor on body cells, reducing insulin resistance. Supplemental chromium has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, lipids, A1C, and insulin in diabetic patients. It can also help decrease one’s appetite, particularly for sweets. A dosage from 200 mcg to 2,000 mcg a day is safe. Higher doses are unnecessary and can cause acute kidney failure.
Note that these medications used to treat type 2 diabetes are typically not used in pregnant or breastfeeding women. At present the only recommended way of controlling diabetes in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is by diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. You should speak with your health-care professional if you are taking these medications, are considering becoming pregnant, or if you have become pregnant while taking these medications.