In discussing self management with the person with diabetes I focus on how healthy lifestyle behaviors can change the treatment plan. Introducing healthy lifestyle behaviors by providing consistent and predictable meals, daily activity, healthy coping and consistent medication management can improve overall glucose control and may change the overall treatment plan for managing diabetes.
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.
Chinese medicine teaches us that we do not treat a patient based solely on a Western medical diagnosis, but, rather, based on the symptoms that present, and the health of the body as a whole system. There are several beneficial herbal formulas that have been developed to treat some of the general symptoms, but it is important to remember that not everyone will present symptoms in the same way, and treatment should be individualized to suit the specific needs of the patient.
First, the health of your gut is critical to your overall health. This is because your gut is home of trillions of microbes called the gut microbiome. These microbes work in symbiotic and antagonistic relationships within your body. A 2017 study using multiple therapies to manipulate the gut microbiome composition, found they could impact the individual’s health more rapidly. This study also found manipulating the gut microbiome as an effective way to avoid insulin resistance and therefore prevent diabetes.
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).
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).
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.
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 (the symptom) better, but not the diabetes (the actual disease). We’ve been pretending that the symptom is the disease.We can pretend the disease is better, but that doesn’t make it true. That’s the reason most doctors think type 2 diabetes a chronic and progressive disease. We’ve been using the wrong treatment. We’ve been prescribing drugs for a dietary disease. No wonder it doesn’t work.
Depending on the severity of diabetes, an individual can keep control on his/her disease using diet alone, diet & oral hypoglycemic drugs, and diet & insulin. While a mild diabetic can practice disease control with diet alone, a severe diabetic might need to practice diet control along with insulin administration. Whatever the method of controlling diabetes, routine and reliability should be strictly pursued. A person suffering from diabetes should have limited amount of carbohydrates and fats along with moderate amount of protein in the diet. High-fiber diet like vegetables, whole wheat products, oats, whole legumes prove to be more beneficial. Let us have a look at what all should be had and what all should be avoided.
Other research conducted at the same institute studied possible regeneration of the islets of langerhans in rats that were made diabetic for the study and then given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. The diabetic rats were able to double the number of their islets and beta cell numbers. Researchers felt that the herbal therapy was able to bring blood sugar stability by repairing the pancreas and increasing insulin secretion.
When a patient is ready to make a big commitment to get their blood sugar under control, Simos works with them to help tease apart what may be causing their blood sugar to spiral. Sometimes it’s what they're eating, sometimes it’s stress at home and at work and sometimes it’s a day full of sitting versus moving. Often, it’s a mix of these things. Other factors may contribute to diabetes risk, including a family history of the disease.
Start by trying these first three days of the plan, and then use a combination of these foods going forward. Review the list of foods that you should be eating from Step 2, and bring those healthy, diabetes-fighting foods into your diet as well. It may seem like a major change to your diet at first, but after some time you will begin to notice the positive effects these foods are having on your body.
As diabetes management is affected by an individual's emotional and cognitive state, there has been evidence suggesting the self-management of diabetes is negatively affected by diabetes-related distress and depression. There is growing evidence that there is higher levels of clinical depression in patients with diabetes compared to the non-diabetic population. Depression in individuals with diabetes has been found to be associated with poorer self-management of symptoms. This suggests that it may be important to target mood in treatment.
Replacing humans with computers could make patients better control their sugar levels and suffer less complications in the long term. The French company Cellnovo has already shown that just a partially automated system, where blood sugar levels can be monitored wirelessly but patients still select insulin amounts, can reduce the chances of reaching life-threatening low sugar levels up to 39%. The company is now working towards developing a fully automated artificial pancreas in collaboration with Imperial College, the Diabeloop consortium and the Horizon2020 program.
Gene therapy can be used to manufacture insulin directly: an oral medication, consisting of viral vectors containing the insulin sequence, is digested and delivers its genes to the upper intestines. Those intestinal cells will then behave like any viral infected cell, and will reproduce the insulin protein. The virus can be controlled to infect only the cells which respond to the presence of glucose, such that insulin is produced only in the presence of high glucose levels. Due to the limited numbers of vectors delivered, very few intestinal cells would actually be impacted and would die off naturally in a few days. Therefore, by varying the amount of oral medication used, the amount of insulin created by gene therapy can be increased or decreased as needed. As the insulin-producing intestinal cells die off, they are boosted by additional oral medications.
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).
Healthy fats: Medium-chained fatty acids found in coconut and red palm oil can help balance blood sugar levels, and they serve as the preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Using coconut milk, ghee and grass-fed butter can also help balance out your blood sugar levels, so include these foods into your meals and smoothies. Some research actually suggests that a high-fat, low carb diet known as the keto diet may be a novel approach to reverse diabetes naturally, although you don’t technically have to go into ketosis to achieve the benefits of healthy fats in treating diabetes. (12)
A OGTT glucose of less than 140 ml/dl is considered normal, with 141-199 being pre-diabetic and levels above 200 mg/dL considered full-blown diabetes. From my research, I believe that OGTT blood sugar levels above 140 mg/dL , especially regularly, can increase risk of vision problems, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease, even without an official diabetes diagnosis.
Magnesium is high in green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and grains, but we remove most beans and all grains from the diet of patients, which is why using magnesium as part of a natural remedy for diabetes can be beneficial. Low intracellular magnesium can cause insulin resistance. Dosing of up to 500 mg a day is fine, but higher than that may result in diarrhea in patients.
Taylor and his colleagues observed that people who were unable to restart normal insulin production had lived with diabetes for a longer time. Individuals who had lived with diabetes for an average of 3.8 years could not correct their condition through weight loss, while those who had it for an average of 2.7 years were able to regain normal blood sugar control.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a vine native to Central & South India. Used in traditional Indian medicine since the 6th century BC, the leaves of this plant contain ‘gymnemic acids’ that have the amazing ability to slow down the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. Some scientists even believe that Gymnema Sylvestre extract can help repair and regenerate pancreatic beta cells that produce 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.
Fix your Gut– Not the beer gut, your intestines. Grains and toxins cause damage to the intestinal lining and facilitate leaky gut syndrome. Depleted beneficial bacteria in the gut caused by poor diet, antibiotic use or being bottle fed as a baby can make the problem worse. Remove the grains, avoid toxins whenever possible and take a high quality probiotic to help the intestines heal. As a note: some people will have continued damage to the gut with exposure to grains, especially gluten, as little as only every 10 days or even every 6 months.
One of the lesser known herbs that lower blood sugar, Marjoram, is high in polyphenols, which aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels. A 2012 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Marjoram reduced formation of Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. AGE is the smoking gun that researchers today say is responsible for a lot of the complications that diabetics face, like damage to arteries and eyes. Try sprinkling marjoram on your dinner every night to help add variety in flavor. It can often be used as a substitute for oregano in cooking and brings in a distinct flavor to dishes.
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
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.
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.
The American Diabetes Association publishes treatment guidelines for physicians based on all available scientific evidence. In the 2018 guidelines document, Standard of Medical Care in Diabetes, the ADA states that there is not sufficient evidence to support the use of any of the proposed alternative treatments for diabetes. These guidelines state that: