Optimal management of diabetes involves patients measuring and recording their own blood glucose levels. By keeping a diary of their own blood glucose measurements and noting the effect of food and exercise, patients can modify their lifestyle to better control their diabetes. For patients on insulin, patient involvement is important in achieving effective dosing and timing.
Ordinary calorie restriction through any diet can lead to weight loss and make it easier to manage blood sugar. Intermittent fasting is thought to go a step further by lowering serum insulin, which triggers the body to burn stored sugar, called glycogen, along with fat, in the absence of glucose from food, Dr. Fung says. These processes (called glycogenolysis and lipolysis, respectively) can temporarily lower blood sugar and cause weight loss.
Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices, about the size of a beeper that you wear on your belt or put in your pocket. They have a small flexible tube with a fine needle on the end. The needle is inserted under the skin of your abdomen and taped in place. The pump releases a carefully measured, steady flow of insulin into the tissue. Insulin pumps can cost $6,000 to $10,000 for the pump, with additional costs for necessary supplies to use the pump.Using a pump means you will have to monitor your blood sugar level at least four times a day. You program doses and make adjustments to your insulin, depending on your food intake and exercise program. Some health care providers prefer the insulin pump over injections because its slow release of insulin imitates a working pancreas.
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.
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."
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.