“I have many ways to help patients manage diabetes, but it’s very hard to reverse,” says Dr. Rita Louard, director of the Clinical Diabetes Program at Montefiore Health System in Bronx, New York. Still, some diabetes experts will use the word “reverse” when talking about this topic, Louard says, acknowledging the controversy that exists when discussing diabetes reversal.
Low glycemic index foods also may be helpful. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar quickly. Low glycemic index foods may help you achieve a more stable blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index typically are foods that are higher in fiber.
It is a good idea to wear a MedicAlert bracelet or tag that says you have diabetes. This will make others aware of your condition in case you have a severe hypoglycemic attack and are not able to make yourself understood, or if you are in an accident and need emergency medical care. Identifying yourself as having diabetes is important because hypoglycemic attacks can be mistaken for drunkenness, and victims often aren't able to care for themselves. Without prompt treatment, hypoglycemia can result in a coma or seizures. And, because your body is under increased stress when you are ill or injured, your blood sugar levels will need to be checked by the medical personnel who give you emergency care.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus require direct injection of insulin as their bodies cannot produce enough (or even any) insulin. As of 2010, there is no other clinically available form of insulin administration other than injection for patients with type 1: injection can be done by insulin pump, by jet injector, or any of several forms of hypodermic needle. Non-injective methods of insulin administration have been unattainable as the insulin protein breaks down in the digestive tract. There are several insulin application mechanisms under experimental development as of 2004, including a capsule that passes to the liver and delivers insulin into the bloodstream. There have also been proposed vaccines for type I using glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), but these are currently not being tested by the pharmaceutical companies that have sublicensed the patents to them.
Evidence linking hepatic insulin sensitivity to intraorgan triglyceride content has been steadily accumulating. In insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, insulin dose correlates with the extent of fatty liver (35), and in turn, this is associated with insulin sensitivity to suppression of hepatic glucose production (36). Decreasing the fat content of liver is associated with improvement in insulin suppression of glucose production and, thereby, with improvement in fasting plasma glucose (20,23).
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar level drops below your target range, it's known as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Your blood sugar level can drop for many reasons, including skipping a meal, inadvertently taking more medication than usual or getting more physical activity than normal. Low blood sugar is most likely if you take glucose-lowering medications that promote the secretion of insulin or if you're taking insulin.
They would often say to me, “Doctor. You’ve always said that weight loss is the key to reversing diabetes. Yet you prescribed me a drug that made me gain 25 pounds. How is that good?” I never had a good answer, because none existed. The truth was that insulin was not good for type 2 diabetes — it was only good for reducing blood glucose. The key was weight loss, whereupon the diabetes often goes away or at least gets significantly better. So, logically, insulin does not help reverse the disease, but actually worsens it.
“People need to understand the continuum of diabetes,” she says. “If they’re on an upward trajectory of insulin resistance and a downward trajectory of insulin production weight loss, healthful eating and physical activity will slow down the insulin-loss trajectory and improve insulin sensitivity.” But, she says, “If they gain weight back, the diabetes comes back.”
Foods high in chromium: Chromium is a nutrient that’s involved in normal carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Foods high in chromium can improve the glucose tolerance factor in your body and naturally balance out blood glucose levels. It plays a role in insulin pathways, helping bring glucose into our cells so it can be used for bodily energy. Broccoli has the highest amounts of chromium, but you can also find it in raw cheese, green beans, brewer’s yeast and grass-fed beef. (10)
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
10. Molecular Hydrogen: One of the best natural remedies for diabetes, this potent antioxidant has proven successful in the treatment of several different health ailments, and is now showing promise as a treatment for diabetes. It works by triggering antioxidative activities within cells, and can promote increased metabolism as well as assist in the absorption of insulin. It’s taken topically, mixed in water, or inhaled as a gas. It has no toxicity levels, even if taken at high doses.
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.
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.
As diabetes is a prime risk factor for cardiovascular disease, controlling other risk factors which may give rise to secondary conditions, as well as the diabetes itself, is one of the facets of diabetes management. Checking cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels may indicate hyperlipoproteinemia, which may warrant treatment with hypolipidemic drugs. Checking the blood pressure and keeping it within strict limits (using diet and antihypertensive treatment) protects against the retinal, renal and cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Regular follow-up by a podiatrist or other foot health specialists is encouraged to prevent the development of diabetic foot. Annual eye exams are suggested to monitor for progression of diabetic retinopathy.
In the study, Fung and his team randomly recruited three men, ages 40 to 67, with type 2 diabetes, who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. At the start of the study, the authors recorded the participants’ vitals, including their A1C (a three-month average of their blood sugar levels), their fasting blood glucose levels, their waist circumference, and their weight. All three men were on insulin and oral medication.
These dietary recommendations have made high carb, low-fat foods a staple of the American diet. “Healthy” foods like fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, sugary protein shakes and low-fat processed grains flooded the market. The standard American diet began to include more sugary drinks and sodas, as well as more processed grains. Since all carbohydrates (even complex carbs) are broken down into sugar in the body, these dietary recommendations meant that the average blood sugar of Americans began to rise – and the diabetes epidemic began to grow.
As a bonus, stress relief may help you sleep better, which is important because studies show that not getting enough sleep can worsen type 2 diabetes. Sleeping less than six hours a night has also been found to contribute to impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes. In fact, a review published in 2015 in Diabetes Care analyzed 10 studies that involved more than 18,000 participants combined and found the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes in the group of participants that slept seven to eight hours per day. That’s the minimum recommended amount of sleep for most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Big pharma are in the early stages of developing their own cell therapy approaches for diabetes. Novo Nordisk, one of the largest providers of diabetes treatments, is bidding for stem cells and an encapsulation device, stating that the first clinical trial could take place in the “next few years.” Sanofi, also a big name in diabetes, is working with the German Evotec in a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetics.
After you are diagnosed with diabetes, by following a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet along with exercise, you may be able to decrease your blood glucose levels to within normal range. Utilizing SMBG (self monitoring of blood glucose), you can see how different foods, as well as meals, influence your blood glucose levels. Doing SMBG along with a healthy diet and exercise is key to getting your diabetes under good control.
About 90 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight, according to the Obesity Society. Weight loss is a known treatment for type 2, which affects the majority of the 30.3 million people with diabetes, as it helps people with the disease reduce insulin resistance and absorb blood glucose more effectively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight makes it harder to control diabetes and is a risk factor for diabetes-related health complications.
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.
Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas. This release of insulin promotes the uptake of glucose into body cells. In patients with diabetes, the absence of insufficient production of or lack of response to insulin causes hyperglycemia. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, meaning that although it can be controlled, it lasts a lifetime.