The first approach to managing diabetes usually means practicing healthier lifestyle habits. This is often centered on eating a better diet, getting exercise, and losing weight if necessary. If your doctor says that you need to make these changes, it’s smart to tailor them to your personal preferences so that you'll be more likely to stick with them.
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.
After two months under the care of the naturopath, John returned to his primary care doctor to discover that his hemoglobin A1c had dropped from 8.9% to 4.9%—a nondiabetic range. For eight months and counting, he’s been off all his diabetes medication. His last A1c reading was 5.1%. With the help of his naturopath, John seems to have reversed his diabetes.
The physician can also make referrals to a wide variety of professionals for additional health care support. In the UK a patient training course is available for newly diagnosed diabetics (see DESMOND). In big cities, there may be diabetes centers where several specialists, such as diabetes educators and dietitians, work together as a team. In smaller towns, the health care team may come together a little differently depending on the types of practitioners in the area. By working together, doctors and patients can optimize the healthcare team to successfully manage diabetes over the long term.
The earliest predictor of the development of type 2 diabetes is low insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, but it is important to recognize that this is not a distinct abnormality but rather part of the wide range expressed in the population. Those people in whom diabetes will develop simply have insulin sensitivity, mainly in the lowest population quartile (29). In prediabetic individuals, raised plasma insulin levels compensate and allow normal plasma glucose control. However, because the process of de novo lipogenesis is stimulated by higher insulin levels (38), the scene is set for hepatic fat accumulation. Excess fat deposition in the liver is present before the onset of classical type 2 diabetes (43,74–76), and in established type 2 diabetes, liver fat is supranormal (20). When ultrasound rather than magnetic resonance imaging is used, only more-severe degrees of steatosis are detected, and the prevalence of fatty liver is underestimated, with estimates of 70% of people with type 2 diabetes as having a fatty liver (76). Nonetheless, the prognostic power of merely the presence of a fatty liver is impressive of predicting the onset of type 2 diabetes. A large study of individuals with normal glucose tolerance at baseline showed a very low 8-year incidence of type 2 diabetes if fatty liver had been excluded at baseline, whereas if present, the hazard ratio for diabetes was 5.5 (range 3.6–8.5) (74). In support of this finding, a temporal progression from weight gain to raised liver enzyme levels and onward to hypertriglyceridemia and then glucose intolerance has been demonstrated (77).
The essential feature of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes is that our bodies are completely filled with sugar. It’s not just too much sugar in the blood. That’s only part of the problem. There’s too much sugar in our entire body. Imagine our bodies to be a sugar bowl. A bowl of sugar. When we are young, our sugar bowl is empty. Over decades, we eat too much of the wrong things — sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The sugar bowl gradually fills up with sugar until completely full. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.
“Patients should empower themselves by checking their blood sugars daily, knowing what their target blood sugar levels should be, and having regular appointments with their doctor,” Arguello added. “If patients are having blood sugars above their target blood sugar levels then this may be a warning sign that they need to talk with their physician on how to take a different approach in managing their diabetes.”
Poor glycemic control refers to persistently elevated blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, which may range from 200–500 mg/dl (11–28 mmol/L) and 9–15% or higher over months and years before severe complications occur. Meta-analysis of large studies done on the effects of tight vs. conventional, or more relaxed, glycemic control in type 2 diabetics have failed to demonstrate a difference in all-cause cardiovascular death, non-fatal stroke, or limb amputation, but decreased the risk of nonfatal heart attack by 15%. Additionally, tight glucose control decreased the risk of progression of retinopathy and nephropathy, and decreased the incidence peripheral neuropathy, but increased the risk of hypoglycemia 2.4 times.
You also might hear about alternative treatments for diabetes, such as herbal remedies and vitamin or mineral supplements. These practices can be risky, especially when people stop following the treatment plan their doctor has given them. So get the facts by talking to your diabetes health care team. They keep track of the latest research developments, and will introduce new products as they become available.
Does acupuncture for diabetes work? Acupuncture has many uses, and some research has suggested that it may work for diabetes, although how it would help has not yet been explained. Find out about the types of acupuncture that might help, the risks, and some evidence of its benefits. Anyone considering acupuncture should first check with their doctor. Read now
Magnesium deficiency is common in diabetic patients, as magnesium can be lost in the urine with hyperglycemia. A study in Diabetes Care reported that low magnesium status is common in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and showed that when low-magnesium Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients were given an oral dose of magnesium daily for sixteen weeks, the mineral reduced insulin resistance, fasting glucose, and A1C levels.
Recent research shows that the first step in Diabetes management should be for patients to be put on a low carb diet. Patients that are put on a high carb diet find it very difficult to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Patients that are put on a low carb or restricted carbohydrate diet, manage to maintain near normal blood glucose levels and A1cs.
Implementing integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, I helped the patient understand that she could reverse the trajectory she was on by making lifestyle changes—and that’s what she did. We engaged in shared decision making in our ongoing nutrition consultations. Over the course of one year, her physiology and health status changed for the better. Her A1c dropped from 7.2% to 5.6%, and she no longer required medications. She continues to adhere to her new lifestyle program and is confident she’ll remain free of a diabetes diagnosis.
An unbalanced microbiome composition, known as dysbiosis, has been found in patients with diabetes, for whom the diversity of the gut microbiome is often reduced as compared to healthy people. Researchers from the University of Amsterdam recently showed that fecal transplants, used to transfer the microbiome of a healthy person to the gut of one with diabetes, can result in a short-term improvement of the insulin resistance found in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
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.
A: Fasting plasma glucose and weight change 2 years after randomization either to gastric banding or to intensive medical therapy for weight loss and glucose control. Data plotted with permission from Dixon et al. (13). B: Early changes in fasting plasma glucose level following pancreatoduodenal bypass surgery. A decrease into the normal range was seen within 7 days. Reproduced with permission from Taylor (98).
There has been a good amount of attention and time spent on discussing the “reversal” of diabetes, but there’s not been a lot of good facts to explain what this means. First, type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease) cannot be reversed, cured or avoided – period. It can be managed with insulin and made easier with good lifestyle choices like staying active and eating a healthy diet.
The medications only hide the blood sugar by cramming it into the engorged body. The diabetes looks better, since you can only see the blood sugars. Doctors can congratulate themselves on a illusion of a job well done, even as the patient gets continually sicker. Patients require ever increasing doses of medications and yet still suffer with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. “Oh well” the doctor tells himself, “It’s a chronic, progressive disease”.
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."
If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.
As of 2015 the guidelines called for an HbA1c of around 7% or a fasting glucose of less than 7.2 mmol/L (130 mg/dL); however these goals may be changed after professional clinical consultation, taking into account particular risks of hypoglycemia and life expectancy. Despite guidelines recommending that intensive blood sugar control be based on balancing immediate harms and long-term benefits, many people – for example people with a life expectancy of less than nine years – who will not benefit are over-treated and do not experience clinically meaningful benefits.
I bring this up because sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Also, sleep-disordered breathing is also related to proper nutrition throughout life. And perhaps most importantly, the first line of defense in catching sleep-disordered breathing in patients early, are dentists. This is another area where dentists must get involved if we want to tackle the issue of pervasive type 2 diabetes with any success.
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
Genetic factors do play a role in any disease, but I put this factor last for a reason. Genetic predisposition to a given disease will increase the chances of getting the disease, but not in a vacuum. People with a strong predisposition to liver disease manage to avoid it, and some with a family history of heart disease remain heart-attack free. Even studies among identical twins show that in most cases, twins will get the same diseases, even in different environments, but sometimes they don’t. This means there are other factors involved (see above).
An aromatic herb that is used commonly to add flavor and aroma to meats and soups, Rosemary also helps normalize blood sugar levels naturally. It promotes weight loss as well, which is a double boon for many diabetics who struggle with weight issues. A research conducted in Jordan to study the effects of rosemary on lipid profile in diabetic rats proved that rosemary has no significant influence on serum glucose level and lipid profile of normal rats. But when rosemary extract was administered to diabetic rats for 4 weeks, their blood sugar levels reduced by 20%, cholesterol levels by 22%, triglyceride levels by 24%, and LDL by 27% while HDL increased by 18% respectively. The study was published in African Journal of Plant Science Vol. 6 in 2012.
"Perfect glycemic control" would mean that glucose levels were always normal (70–130 mg/dl, or 3.9–7.2 mmol/L) and indistinguishable from a person without diabetes. In reality, because of the imperfections of treatment measures, even "good glycemic control" describes blood glucose levels that average somewhat higher than normal much of the time. In addition, one survey of type 2 diabetics found that they rated the harm to their quality of life from intensive interventions to control their blood sugar to be just as severe as the harm resulting from intermediate levels of diabetic complications.
On a personal note, I always encourage full disclosure of a history of diabetes, even if currently diet controlled. Although a glucose level may now be within normal range, certain medical treatments/medications/illnesses may trigger a hyperglycemic (high blood glucose) level. The fully informed medical provider will closely monitor these patients and prevent uncontrolled glucose spikes from occurring.
Sometimes pills for diabetes — even when combined with diet and exercise — aren't enough to keep blood sugar levels under control. Some people with type 2 diabetes also have to take insulin. The only way to get insulin into the body now is by injection with a needle or with an insulin pump. If someone tried to take insulin as a pill, the acids and digestive juices in the stomach and intestines would break down the medicine, and it wouldn't work.
In a person with carbohydrate intolerance, type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, this system breaks down. The body loses its insulin sensitivity and more and more insulin is required to remove the excess blood sugar. As a result, blood sugar levels remain high and insulin levels are high as well, and these high insulin levels can make your body even less sensitive to insulin.
Medications and insulin do nothing to slow down the progression of this organ damage, because they do not eliminate the toxic sugar load from our body. We’ve known this inconvenient fact since 2008. No less than 7 multinational, multi-centre, randomized controlled trials of tight blood glucose control with medications (ACCORD, ADVANCE, VADT, ORIGIN, TECOS, ELIXA, SAVOR) failed to demonstrate reductions in heart disease, the major killer of diabetic patients. We pretended that using medications to lower blood sugar makes people healthier. But it’s only been a lie. You can’t use drugs to cure a dietary disease.
A healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet will help keep your blood glucose on target. How much of each will depend on many factors, including your weight and your personal preferences. Watching your carbohydrates -- knowing how much you need and how many you are eating -- is key to blood sugar control. If you are overweight, either a low-carbohydrate, low-fat/low calorie, or Mediterranean diet may help you get your weight to goal. No more than 7% of your diet should come from saturated fat, and you should try to avoid trans fats altogether.
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Dental care is therefore even more important for diabetic patients than for healthy individuals. Maintaining the teeth and gum healthy is done by taking some preventing measures such as regular appointments at a dentist and a very good oral hygiene. Also, oral health problems can be avoided by closely monitoring the blood sugar levels. Patients who keep better under control their blood sugar levels and diabetes are less likely to develop oral health problems when compared to diabetic patients who control their disease moderately or poorly.
High blood glucose in diabetic people is a risk factor for developing gum and tooth problems, especially in post-puberty and aging individuals. Diabetic patients have greater chances of developing oral health problems such as tooth decay, salivary gland dysfunction, fungal infections, inflammatory skin disease, periodontal disease or taste impairment and thrush of the mouth. The oral problems in persons suffering from diabetes can be prevented with a good control of the blood sugar levels, regular check-ups and a very good oral hygiene. By maintaining a good oral status, diabetic persons prevent losing their teeth as a result of various periodontal conditions.
Parslane seeds have strong medicinal value and have been used to keep a check on blood sugar since ages. The compounds of parslane seeds help the body to produce insulin in a natural manner. Just consume a teaspoonful of parslane seeds with half a coup of water on a regular basis (everyday) for 4-5 months. It is one of the simpler, but effective home remedies for diabetes.
In the twentieth century, insulin was available only in an injectable form that required carrying syringes, needles, vials of insulin, and alcohol swabs. Clearly, patients found it difficult to take multiple shots each day; as a result, good blood sugar control was often difficult. Many pharmaceutical companies now offer discreet and convenient methods for delivering insulin.