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.
At his first visit, the naturopathic doctor told John he’d be “off medication and free of diabetes in three months.” John left the doctor’s office with instructions to eat a low-carb diet. He’d been on a low-fat diet for years because of heart problems, but while he’d cut the fat, his meals included many highly processed foods. His new diet included “a lot of salads and healthful, organic foods.” He was given several whole food supplements that he says were “simple to mix and tasted good.”
Insulin therapy creates risk because of the inability to continuously know a person's blood glucose level and adjust insulin infusion appropriately. New advances in technology have overcome much of this problem. Small, portable insulin infusion pumps are available from several manufacturers. They allow a continuous infusion of small amounts of insulin to be delivered through the skin around the clock, plus the ability to give bolus doses when a person eats or has elevated blood glucose levels. This is very similar to how the pancreas works, but these pumps lack a continuous "feed-back" mechanism. Thus, the user is still at risk of giving too much or too little insulin unless blood glucose measurements are made.
If you have type 2 diabetes and your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Blood sugar levels return to normal in 55 to 95 percent of people with diabetes, depending on the procedure performed. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than do other weight-loss surgeries.
However, the observation that normalization of glucose in type 2 diabetes occurred within days after bariatric surgery, before substantial weight loss (15), led to the widespread belief that surgery itself brought about specific changes mediated through incretin hormone secretion (16,17). This reasoning overlooked the major change that follows bariatric surgery: an acute, profound decrease in calorie intake. Typically, those undergoing bariatric surgery have a mean body weight of ∼150 kg (15) and would therefore require a daily calorie intake of ∼13.4 MJ/day (3,200 kcal/day) for weight maintenance (18). This intake decreases precipitously at the time of surgery. The sudden reversal of traffic into fat stores brings about a profound change in intracellular concentration of fat metabolites. It is known that under hypocaloric conditions, fat is mobilized first from the liver and other ectopic sites rather than from visceral or subcutaneous fat stores (19). This process has been studied in detail during more moderate calorie restriction in type 2 diabetes over 8 weeks (20). Fasting plasma glucose was shown to be improved because of an 81% decrease in liver fat content and normalization of hepatic insulin sensitivity with no change in the insulin resistance of muscle.
Refined sugar: Refined sugar rapidly spikes blood glucose, and soda, fruit juice and other sugary beverages are the worst culprits. These forms of sugar enter the bloodstream rapidly and can cause extreme elevations in blood glucose. (7) Even though natural sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup are better options, they can still affect blood sugar levels, so only use these foods on occasion. Your best option is to switch to stevia, a natural sweetener that won’t have as much of an impact.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into fuel for the body. It effectively improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as weakness, pain and numbness that’s caused by nerve damage. Although we make alpha lipoic acid and it can be found in some food sources, like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes, taking an ALA supplement will increase the amount that circulates in your body, which can be extremely beneficial when trying to reverse diabetes naturally. (17)
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).
If however, type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance and being overweight, there is excellent evidence that exercise, decreasing added sugars and saturated fats in the diet, choosing low glycaemic index foods and losing weight – particularly around the abdominal region, can improve blood glucose levels to the extent that it seems like diabetes has been reversed.
“In the realm of fatty liver disease, which is highly associated with either prediabetes or fully diagnosed type 2 diabetes, we do know that decreased fat and decreased weight are associated with far better glucose control,” says Galati, who is the author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes From Killing You and Your Family. “This research reinforces the idea that patients with type 2 diabetes who are obese — which is the vast majority — can improve their blood sugar control as well as their long-term outlook with weight loss.”
This modality can be contrasted with the emphasis of conventional medicine, which is to cure or mitigate disease, as reported by the American Holistic Health Association. For example, a conventional practitioner will follow an established algorithm for diabetes management that includes a medically established protocol centered on monitoring blood sugar and prescribing medications to balance it. An alternative medicine provider takes a personalized, whole-person approach that may include a prescription for changes in diet and exercise habits, stress reduction, and other lifestyle considerations. (The table below offers a comparison of alternative medicine with conventional medicine.)
Other medications such as metformin or the DPP4 drug class are weight neutral. While this won’t make things worse, they won’t make things better either. Since weight loss is the key to reversing type 2 diabetes, medications won’t make things better. Medications make blood sugars better, but not the diabetes. We can pretend the disease is better, but that doesn’t make it true.
How long will diabetes stay away after weight loss? Long-term normal blood glucose control in previously diabetic individuals after bariatric surgery demonstrates that diabetes does not recur for up to 10 years, unless substantial weight gain occurs (86). These observations are consistent with the twin cycle hypothesis and the existence of a trigger level for adverse metabolic effects of fat in the pancreas. Hence, for a given individual with type 2 diabetes, reducing the liver and pancreas fat content below his or her personal trigger levels would be expected to result in a release from the fatty acid–mediated dysfunction. Individual tolerance of different degrees of fat exposure vary, and understanding this liposusceptibility will underpin the future understanding of genetically determined risk in any given environment. However, this should not obscure the central point: If a person has type 2 diabetes, there is more fat in the liver and pancreas than he or she can cope with.
In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. It was a popular component of over-the-counter weight loss drugs. Ephedrine had some benefits, but it could cause far more harm, especially in high doses: insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.
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The new research ties in with recent thinking among experts about what happens when type 2 diabetes develops, says Domenico Accili, MD, chief of endocrinology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We have been talking for some time, that in diabetes, primarily type 2, the insulin-producing [beta] cell is not dead but simply inactive," he says. "If you put patients with diabetes on a diet, you can do marvels with their beta cells."
Even if you don’t have any underlying glucose issues, testing your blood sugar occasionally will help you pin point which carbohydrates you tolerate well and which you don’t. It can help you have a better understanding of your body’s reaction to foods and take control of your health. It is also an accurate alternative to the pregnancy test for gestational diabetes, so talk to your doctor if you’d prefer to test yourself, though you may have to explain your reasons!
Thank you Dr. Hallberg!! I am a Family Nurse Practitioner who did tele-medicine for 5 years before retiring. At 66 years of age my doctor diagnosed me with Type II Diabetes. I refused to take the medication and instead opted for a 6 month trial to lose enough weight to make the difference. After 4 months I’d lost 8 pounds and still had high blood sugars. Then my husband’s PCP recommended watching your TedTalk. That was the beginning and we both jumped into LCHF/Keto with both feet using Diet Doctor and you as our main resources. My husband has lost 38 pounds and I have lost 42 pounds since November 2017. More importantly my lab results today were a HgbA1c of 5.3 with average blood glucose of 105. I have about 50 more pounds to go to be at a healthier weight BUT I owe you a big thank you!! Now I’m working to encourage others of my friends, family and coaching clients to give LCHF/Keto a try! Thanks!!!!
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.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), which commonly affects the legs, is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that can result from a build-up of plaque or fatty deposits in blood vessels outside the heart or brain. Because diabetics sometimes have reduced feeling in their feet and legs, they often do not feel symptoms of PAD and it goes undiagnosed and untreated. The Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital take a proactive approach to PAD and provides free Ankle Brachial Index screenings for patients.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by the spice turmeric, among other plants. Curcumin seems to have multiple benefits for diabetes symptoms. It has been shown to be a marked inhibitor of reactive oxygen species that promote oxidation damage in cells. Curcumin lowers inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and that’s good because TNF-a causes insulin resistance and irritates fatty livers. Curcumin can reduce another pro-inflammatory chemical called NF-KB. The above-mentioned actions provide a benefit in diabetes protection and reduce the risk of developing diabetes symptoms and complications. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance pancreatic beta cell functioning and reduce fatty liver deposition. It reduces high blood sugar, A1C, and insulin resistance. It was also shown to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and that is a higher risk in diabetic patients than in nondiabetic patients. A good dose is 200 to 3,000 mg a day.
Type 2 diabetes is usually first treated by increasing physical activity, and eliminating saturated fat and reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake with a goal of losing weight. These can restore insulin sensitivity even when the weight loss is modest, for example around 5 kg (10 to 15 lb), most especially when it is in abdominal fat deposits. Diets that are very low in saturated fats have been claimed to reverse insulin resistance.
Carbohydrates break down into glucose in the small intestine which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Spices like Cayenne pepper stimulate glucose absorption from the small intestine, according to a Hungarian study published in the March 18, 2006 issue of the “European Journal of Pharmacology”. Add a bit to cayenne pepper to your home-cooked meals to stabilize your blood sugar levels naturally. The entire pepper family – including bell peppers, chilli peppers, and cayenne are known to help fight inflammation. That is why they are prized in several Asian culinary traditions. Use Cayenne wisely to get its anti-inflammatory benefits as well.