Cyrus Khambatta earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his senior year of college at Stanford University in 2002. He is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach for people living with type 1, type 1.5, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and has helped hundreds of people around the world achieve exceptional insulin sensitivity by adopting low-fat, plant-based whole foods nutrition.
The NIDDK has played an important role in developing “artificial pancreas” technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and a second hormone, glucagon, automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
In addition to walking and stretching exercises, try interval training cardio, like burst training, or weight training three to five days a week for 20–40 minutes. Burst training can help you burn up to three times more body fat than traditional cardio and can naturally increase insulin sensitivity. You can do this on a spin bike with intervals, or you can try burst training at home.
Insulin therapy requires close monitoring and a great deal of patient education, as improper administration is quite dangerous. For example, when food intake is reduced, less insulin is required. A previously satisfactory dosing may be too much if less food is consumed causing a hypoglycemic reaction if not intelligently adjusted. Exercise decreases insulin requirements as exercise increases glucose uptake by body cells whose glucose uptake is controlled by insulin, and vice versa. In addition, there are several types of insulin with varying times of onset and duration of action.
Milk thistle is an herb that has been used since ancient times for many different ailments and is considered a tonic for the liver. The most studied extract from milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these properties that may make milk thistle a great herb for people with diabetes.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and started with a nutritionist two years ago. I was losing weight (20 lbs) and doing well on her prescribes diet. She reviewed my food log and comment that I was cutting down too low on my carbs. She said that it would damage my kidneys. I was concerned and slightly increased my carbs — which led to cravings and weight gain. Why was that the advice given? It failed.
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.
Known as gurmar, or “sugar destroyer,” in Aryuvedic medicine, Gymnema has consistently shown benefits in patients with diabetes. The most active part of Gymnema seems to be gymnemic acids, and many products list the percentage each capsule contains. Analyses of the herb for diabetes have shown it may be helpful in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can delay glucose absorption from the intestine. It was shown to regenerate pancreatic tissues, allowing more insulin to be produced, and help regulate insulin secretion. It also increases the utilization of glucose by the cell, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing appetite, especially for sweets. I usually use it in capsules, or in liquid form in some patients. Due to Gymnema having a very similar shape to glucose, it can fit into the taste bud receptors for sugar; it thus has unbelievable power to actually prevent the taste of sweets in the mouth for up to 1.5 hours. When I have a patient who is still struggling to not eat cake and cookies and so forth at parties or celebrations (or just in general), I will give her a tincture of Gymnema sylvestre. This is one of my favorite herbs for diabetes. In capsule form doses of 400 to 2,400 mg a day are recommended.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." Complementary medicine is used with conventional treatments, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
8. Get your protein from vegetable sources, fish, and dairy: Plant-based proteins have a balanced nutritional profile (providing fiber, fat, and protein) and are low in saturated fats. Some saturated fats, like those that are heavily processed or from unhealthy animals, can be dangerous, as they raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Dairy from pastured animals (such as yogurt) that is low in sugar provides protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial probiotics, and non-mercury contaminated, wild caught fish is a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and high in amino acids and fatty acids like Omega-3.
As of now, diabetes is classified as either Type I or Type II. New research suggests there are several more types of diabetes, which all require different treatment approaches, but that’s a developing area of knowledge. On an episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dr. Steven Masley explains why doctors are starting to view Altzheimer’s disease as “type III diabetes” and picks apart the relationship between insulin and brain degeneration. Listen to it on iTunes.
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.