The first step is to eliminate all sugar and refined starches from your diet. Sugar has no nutritional value and can therefore be eliminated. Starches are simply long chains of sugars. Highly refined starches such as flour or white rice are quickly broken down by digestion into glucose. This is quickly absorbed into the blood and raises blood sugar. For example, eating white bread increases blood sugars very quickly. Doesn’t it seem self-evident that we should avoid foods that raise blood sugars because they will eventually be absorbed into the body? The optimum strategy is to eat little or no refined carbohydrates.
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!
If you have type 2 diabetes, sometimes eating healthy and engaging in physical activity is not enough. Your doctor may give you oral medication to help control your blood glucose levels. For people with type 1 diabetes (and some people with type 2 diabetes) this means taking insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control diabetes--and this can only be done through multiple injections or by an insulin pump, a small device that delivers insulin continuously throughout the day. For more on medications and diabetes, click here.
Known for its immune-boosting and disease-fighting benefits, this Chinese herb has several positive diabetes studies behind it. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption; increases cells’ ability to use glucose; and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas. A team from the University of Toronto has repeatedly demonstrated that ginseng capsules lower blood glucose 15 to 20 percent compared to placebo pills. These are the best superfoods for people with diabetes.
The benefits of T1D medications far outweigh their associated side effects. The most common side effects of insulin are injection site reactions, which includes redness, soreness or irritation around the area. People can also experience lowered potassium levels and a risk of hypoglycemia. While these side effects can sound daunting, keep in mind that many people using these medications don’t experience serious side effects at all.
If you'd like some proof that diabetes is a disease you can live well with, consider the accomplishments of these prolific people with diabetes: jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress Mary Tyler Moore, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Even before treatment was as sophisticated as it is today, author Ernest Hemingway and inventor Thomas Edison, both of whom had diabetes, managed to leave their marks on the world.
“The problem is we don’t treat diabetes as a dietary problem; we treat it with a lot of drugs, and that never addresses the root problem of the diabetes,” says principal investigator Jason Fung, MD, a kidney specialist at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and author of The Complete Guide to Fasting,and The Obesity Code, a 2016 book thought to help popularize intermittent fasting.
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.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. Normal levels are below 5.7 percent.
Vitamin C may make up for low blood levels of insulin, which normally works to help cells absorb the vitamin. Proper amounts of vitamin C may help the body maintain a good cholesterol level and keep blood sugar levels under control. But too much can cause kidney stones and other problems. Check with your doctor to see if a vitamin C supplement is right for you.
In addition, a strong partnership between the patient and the primary healthcare provider – general practitioner or internist – is an essential tool in the successful management of diabetes. Often the primary care doctor makes the initial diagnosis of diabetes and provides the basic tools to get the patient started on a management program. Regular appointments with the primary care physician and a certified diabetes educator are some of the best things a patient can do in the early weeks after a diagnosis of diabetes. Upon the diagnosis of diabetes, the primary care physician, specialist, or endocrinologist will conduct a full physical and medical examination. A thorough assessment covers topics such as:
Keeping close tabs on your diet is a major way to help manage type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet for people with type 2 diabetes includes fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Focus on eating fruit and non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, and lettuce, and having smaller portions of starchy foods, meats, and dairy products. Be especially careful about loading up on foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and especially the glycemic load (GL), systems that rank foods according to how they affect glucose levels.
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.”
Elevated homocysteine levels in the blood called hyperhomocysteinemia, is a sign that the body isn't producing enough of the amino acid homocysteine. is a rare and serious condition that may be inherited (genetic). People with homocystinuria die at an early age. Symptoms of hyperhomocysteinemia include developmental delays, osteoporosis, blood clots, heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and visual abnormalities.
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.
Enriched with phytosterols, aloe vera can have an anti-hyperglycemic effect on the people with type 2 diabetics. Nutritionists suggest that it is a safe and natural source to alleviate fasting sugar levels in your blood. Also, you can prepare a mixture of turmeric, bay leaves, and aloe vera, this herbal medicine is said to control glucose in the blood.
Cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve your sensitivity to insulin. A study conducted at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. found that the consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in plasma glucose levels, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cinnamon consumption also helped increase HDL cholesterol levels. (15)
Every single part of the body just starts to rot. This is precisely why type 2 diabetes, unlike virtually any other disease, affects every part of our body. Every organ suffers the long term effects of the excessive sugar load. Your eyes rot – and you go blind. Your kidneys rot – and you need dialysis. You heart rots – and you get heart attacks and heart failure. Your brain rots – and you get Alzheimers disease. Your liver rots – and you get fatty liver disease. Your legs rot – and you get diabetic foot ulcers. Your nerves rot – and you get diabetic neuropathy. No part of your body is spared.
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.
Exercise naturally supports your metabolism by burning fat and building lean muscle. To prevent and reverse diabetes, make exercise a part of your daily routine. This doesn’t necessary mean that you have to spend time at the gym. Simple forms of physical activity, like getting outside and walking for 20 to 30 minute every day, can be extremely beneficial, especially after meals. Practicing yoga or stretching at home or in a studio is another great option.
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).
When the insulin levels are unable to keep up with the increasing resistance, blood sugars rise and your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and starts you on a pill, such as metformin. But metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs – the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart. Much of this extra sugar will also just get turned into fat.
Capsaicin cream, a topical ointment made with cayenne, has been reported by some patients to help lower pain in the hands and feet from diabetic neuropathy. But people with loss of sensation in the hands or feet should use caution when using capsaicin, as they may not be able to fully feel any burning sensation. Check with your doctor if you are thinking of trying this product.
Knowing your blood-sugar levels and acting accordingly are among the most important ways to treat T1D. Monitoring lets a person know when insulin may be needed to correct high blood sugar or when carbohydrates may be needed to correct low blood sugar. Monitoring blood sugar can be done using traditional blood-sugar meters or continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
Foods high in fiber: Research shows that 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t consume enough fiber on a daily basis. High-fiber foods help slow down glucose absorption, regulate your blood sugar levels and support detoxification. Aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day, which can come from vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, peas and artichokes), avocados, berries, nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds. (9)
Chronic exposure of β-cells to triacylglycerol or fatty acids either in vitro or in vivo decreases β-cell capacity to respond to an acute increase in glucose levels (57,58). This concept is far from new (59,60), but the observations of what happens during reversal of diabetes provide a new perspective. β-Cells avidly import fatty acids through the CD36 transporter (24,61) and respond to increased fatty acid supply by storing the excess as triacylglycerol (62). The cellular process of insulin secretion in response to an increase in glucose supply depends on ATP generation by glucose oxidation. However, in the context of an oversupply of fatty acids, such chronic nutrient surfeit prevents further increases in ATP production. Increased fatty acid availability inhibits both pyruvate cycling, which is normally increased during an acute increase in glucose availability, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, the major rate-limiting enzyme of glucose oxidation (63). Fatty acids have been shown to inhibit β-cell proliferation in vitro by induction of the cell cycle inhibitors p16 and p18, and this effect is magnified by increased glucose concentration (64). This antiproliferative effect is specifically prevented by small interfering RNA knockdown of the inhibitors. In the Zucker diabetic fatty rat, a genetic model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, the onset of hyperglycemia is preceded by a rapid increase in pancreatic fat (58). It is particularly noteworthy that the onset of diabetes in this genetic model is completely preventable by restriction of food intake (65), illustrating the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.