Some studies show that certain plant foods may help your body fight inflammation and use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also boosts cholesterol metabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to help insulin work and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. An unidentified compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
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.
During this 8-week study, β-cell function was tested by a gold standard method that used a stepped glucose infusion with subsequent arginine bolus (21). In type 2 diabetes, the glucose-induced initial rapid peak of insulin secretion (the first phase insulin response) typically is absent. This was confirmed at baseline in the study, but the first phase response increased gradually over 8 weeks of a very-low-calorie diet to become indistinguishable from that of age- and weight-matched nondiabetic control subjects. The maximum insulin response, as elicited by arginine bolus during hyperglycemia, also normalized. Pancreas fat content decreased gradually during the study period to become the same as that in the control group, a time course matching that of the increase in both first phase and total insulin secretion (Fig. 3). Fat content in the islets was not directly measured, although it is known that islets take up fat avidly (24) and that islet fat content closely reflects total pancreatic fat content in animal models (25). Although a cause-and-effect relationship between raised intraorgan fat levels and metabolic effect has not yet been proven, the time course data following the dietary intervention study are highly suggestive of a causal link (21).
Late in the 19th century, sugar in the urine (glycosuria) was associated with diabetes. Various doctors studied the connection. Frederick Madison Allen studied diabetes in 1909–12, then published a large volume, Studies Concerning Glycosuria and Diabetes, (Boston, 1913). He invented a fasting treatment for diabetes called the Allen treatment for diabetes. His diet was an early attempt at managing diabetes.
If a drug treatment’s efficacy is questionable, the adverse event and safety profile is even more important. As a popular food additive, cinnamon seems safe when consumed at doses of a few grams per day. (1 teaspoon of the powder is about 4.75 grams). While the trials have been small and short in duration, no significant adverse events have been reported. It is Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS), as a seasoning and flavoring. However, reversible liver damage has been reported with therapeutic use, due to coumarin, a chemical also present in Cassia cinnamon. Those with liver impairment or dysfunction may be at greater risk of harm. There are no published long-term studies with cinnamon that inform us whether chronic consumption of high doses is safe.
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."
Alcohol: Alcohol can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity. Research published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was a 43 percent increased incidence of diabetes associated with heavy consumption of alcohol, which is defined as three or more drinks per day. (8) Beer and sweet liquors are especially high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20–65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.
Dr. Mona Morstein is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice focused in integrative diabetes treatment. Her clinic, Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions, is located in Tempe, Arizona, where she sees patients of all ages and genders for acute and chronic conditions. An expert on prediabetes and diabetes, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and webinars, and is the founder and executive director of The Low Carb Diabetes Association. Dr. Morstein is also a member of the Arizona Diabetes Coalition. Visit her website lowcarbdiabetes.org
One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.
It isn’t just keeping blood sugar levels down through insulin control that helps diabetes, but fixing the actual problem causing the diabetes. Addressing just one aspect of the problem (blood sugar or insulin) ignores all the other factors like poor diet, toxins, stress, gut problems, immune issues etc. Instead, this single focuses approach can contribute to the problem, making insulin resistance worse and eventually leading to insulin dependent diabetes when the pancreas shuts down completely. Many doctors and nutrition experts recommend the typical 6-11 servings of complex carbs from whole grain sources daily, suggesting that the fiber helps mitigate insulin response. As I have shown before, 6-11 servings of carbohydrates a day is bad for anyone, but is gasoline on a fire to anyone with an impaired insulin response.
Jump up ^ Tuomilehto, J; Lindström, J; Eriksson, JG; Valle, TT; Hämäläinen, H; Ilanne-Parikka, P; Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, S; Laakso, M; et al. (2001). "Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance". The New England Journal of Medicine. 344 (18): 1343–50. doi:10.1056/NEJM200105033441801. PMID 11333990.
Testosterone replacement therapy may improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in diabetic hypogonadal men. The mechanisms by which testosterone decreases insulin resistance is under study. Moreover, testosterone may have a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells, which is possibly exerted by androgen-receptor-mediated mechanisms and influence of inflammatory cytokines.
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.
“Decreasing caloric intake for any reason brings with it a rapid improvement in glucose control,” said Dr. Robert Lash, the chairman of the Endocrine Society’s clinical affairs committee and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. “What’s exciting here is that the improvements in glucose control persisted when the participants went back to eating a diet with a normal number of calories.”
Anyone with diagnosed Diabetes should consult a physician before making any changes to a diabetes regimen, and especially before changing medication dosages. That being said, improving your diet and eating the foods to help your body heal is your prerogative and your right. For the 65% of America that is overweight, including the 37% that are clinically obese, there is a good chance that many are operating in a pre-diabetic state, or may even have undiagnosed diabetes. Even those without any signs of disease can figure out their insulin levels by at home glucose testing.
Like trials with any other supplement or herbal product, the primary question we must answer is “What exactly was studied?”. The cinnamon you have in your kitchen may be a single species of plant or a mix of different cultivars. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamommum verum) is more commonly found in the West. Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum) is the version of cinnamon that’s been studied in trials. The chemical hydroxychalcone has been identified as a potential active ingredient, which is believed to modify the sensitivity of cells to insulin, enhancing their uptake. If that’s the true mechanism of action, then it would work in a manner similar to that of the drugs Avandia, Actos, and metformin (Glucophage). Given the active ingredient (or ingredients) have not yet been definitively isolated, the issue of studying cinnamon is problematic. There’s no way to assess the potency of any batch, which complicates any evaluation. And that may be a reason why the research with cinnamon is inconsistent and largely disappointing.
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!
However, the alternate term “reversed” often being used, may confuse people and mistake the good control of diabetes (remission) as a complete cure. Unfortunately, there is no current long term cure yet, and if one had gained back the weight they had lost or went back to old lifestyle habits, Type 2 diabetes would come back and sign and symptoms would present.
Although there are several different types of ginseng, most of the promising studies on ginseng and diabetes have used North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Those studies have shown that North American ginseng may improve blood sugar control and glycosylated hemoglobin (a form of hemoglobin in the blood used to monitor blood glucose levels over time) levels.
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.
O-3 oils, with both EPA and DHA, can help patients by lowering lipid panels (reduce triglycerides and cholesterol); reducing insulin resistance; reducing pain and inflammation so exercise and sleep are easier; reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure; reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; preventing and treating anxiety and depression; and promoting antioxidant actions in the body and brain to help reduce developing diabetic complications.
Given the consequences of diabetes, self-management is something I want to encourage, not discourage. Without a commitment from the patient to take an active role in managing their diabetes, any treatment plan is doomed to fail. So is self-treatment with supplements a wise idea? There’s an array available, and patients regularly ask about the latest treatment “Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about”. That treatment used to be chromium. Ginseng was popular for a time, too. Fenugreek and bitter melon are used as well. The treatment that seems most popular now is cinnamon. Like any other herbal remedy, most sources will tell you that it’s been used for “thousands of years” as a medicinal herb. As a treatment for diabetes, I have my doubts. While reports of diabetes go back to 1552 BCE, the ability to effectively measure any diabetes treatment only goes back a few decades. Interest in cinnamon as a treatment seems to have started with in vitro tests but gained some plausibility in 2003, when a study from Alam Khan suggested several grams of cassia cinnamon per day could lower fasting blood glucose. Khan randomized Type 2 diabetes to 1g, 3g, or 6g of cinnamon for 40 days. All three groups improved their fasting blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, but there was no effect on A1C.
One benefit of these foods is that they generally promote weight loss, which is a major factor in reversing diabetes. A study following 306 diabetic individuals found that losing weight under a structured program (with the supervision of a primary care physician) resulted in almost half of the participants going into total diabetes remission. This means they were able to stay off their medications permanently (assuming they stayed on a healthy diet). Quality of life also improved by over seven points on average for the patients on the dietary regimen, while it decreased by about three points for the control group. (13)
The extent of weight loss required to reverse type 2 diabetes is much greater than conventionally advised. A clear distinction must be made between weight loss that improves glucose control but leaves blood glucose levels abnormal and weight loss of sufficient degree to normalize pancreatic function. The Belfast diet study provides an example of moderate weight loss leading to reasonably controlled, yet persistent diabetes. This study showed that a mean weight loss of 11 kg decreased fasting blood glucose levels from 10.4 to 7.0 mmol/L but that this abnormal level presaged the all-too-familiar deterioration of control (87).
Diet management allows control and awareness of the types of nutrients entering the digestive system, and hence allows indirectly, significant control over changes in blood glucose levels. Blood glucose monitoring allows verification of these, and closer control, especially important since some symptoms of diabetes are not easy for the patient to notice without actual measurement.
Jump up ^ Qaseem A, Vijan S, Snow V, Cross JT, Weiss KB, Owens DK; Vijan; Snow; Cross; Weiss; Owens; Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians (September 2007). "Glycemic control and type 2 diabetes mellitus: the optimal hemoglobin A1c targets. A guidance statement from the American College of Physicians". Annals of Internal Medicine. 147 (6): 417–22. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-147-6-200709180-00012. PMID 17876024. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas no longer makes the insulin your body needs to use blood sugar for energy. You will need insulin in the form of injections or through use of a continuous pump. Learning to give injections to yourself or to your infant or child may at first seem the most daunting part of managing diabetes, but it is much easier that you think.