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This type of discussion occurs all the time. A patient has been assessed by their physician, and informed that they have a medical problem of some sort. The patient, reluctant to accept the physician’s evaluation, heads to the pharmacy for a second opinion. In some cases, the patient may question the physician’s advice: “All my physician wants to do is prescribe drugs.” Yet there’s a disconnect when it comes to strategies for management. More often than not, non-drug approaches are rejected out-of-hand (probably because the sample I speak with have already made the decision to buy something). And in those that are leery of medical management, there’s often a willingness to consider anything that’s available without a prescription – particularly if it’s perceived as “natural.” Natural products are gentle, safe, and effective, while medicine is thought of as unnatural, harsh, and potentially dangerous. This is the appeal to nature fallacy, nothing more. Purveyors of supplements leverage the appeal to nature fallacy into the marketing strategy of choice for almost all supplements and “alternative” medicines. And it leads to bad health care decisions.
In obese young people, decreased β-cell function has recently been shown to predict deterioration of glucose tolerance (4,78). Additionally, the rate of decline in glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic individuals is strongly related to the loss of β-cell function, whereas insulin sensitivity changes little (79). This observation mirrors those in populations with a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in which transition from hyperinsulinemic normal glucose tolerance to overt diabetes involves a large, rapid rise in glucose levels as a result of a relatively small further loss of acute β-cell competence (3). The Whitehall II study showed in a large population followed prospectively that people with diabetes exhibit a sudden rise in fasting glucose as β-cell function deteriorates (Fig. 5) (80). Hence, the ability of the pancreas to mount a normal, brisk insulin response to an increasing plasma glucose level is lost in the 2 years before the detection of diabetes, although fasting plasma glucose levels may have been at the upper limit of normal for several years. This was very different from the widely assumed linear rise in fasting plasma glucose level and gradual β-cell decompensation but is consistent with the time course of markers of increased liver fat before the onset of type 2 diabetes observed in other studies (81). Data from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study demonstrated that plasma triacylglycerol and ALT levels were modestly elevated 2 years before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and that there was a steady rise in the level of this liver enzyme in the run-up to the time of diagnosis (75).
I have been suffering with diabetes since 2008. In the beginning of my being diagnosed I was in control of it. but now it seems that nothing works. I have lost 36 lbs. and still nothing. I can drink one soda one eat a cookie and my sugar will sky rocket. Please tell me what I can do the get this under control. There is a lot of good info here. I will be starting with the gooseberry juice tomorrow
It’s the patients with type 2 diabetes that lean towards supplements. While lifestyle modifications (exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation) are the foundation for managing diabetes, drug treatment is usually also required. There are an array of prescription drugs like metformin and glyburide with a long history of use and demonstrated efficacy. Some drugs even decrease mortality – the primary outcome we’re after. But proper treatment has also been shown to the reduce the risk of an array of other consequences: Diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic amputation. Diabetes is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, too. Yet despite the irreversible consequences of diabetes, and the availability of effective medications, type 2 diabetes remains poorly-controlled in many, often because of poor self-management.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, but many also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. The decision about which medications are best depends on many factors, including your blood sugar level and any other health problems you have. Your doctor might even combine drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body cannot use insulin properly or make enough insulin, so the body cannot properly use or store glucose (a form of sugar) and sugar backs up into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels. In the United States, some 8.9 percent of adults 20 and older have been found to have diabetes, and health officials estimate that another 3.5 percent have undiagnosed diabetes.
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.
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)
It’s not just easy, but also tasty to add spices and herbs that lower blood sugar to your diet. Most of these can be used in everyday recipes. If you are looking for inspiration on how to start cooking with these, try out these recipes from our recipe section – Mushroom-stuffed Turkey, Stuffed Peppers, Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza, Courgette Carrot & Tomato Frittata, Moussaka, Vegetable Stir Fry, and Roasted Butternut Squash
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.
Control and outcomes of both types 1 and 2 diabetes may be improved by patients using home glucose meters to regularly measure their glucose levels. Glucose monitoring is both expensive (largely due to the cost of the consumable test strips) and requires significant commitment on the part of the patient. The effort and expense may be worthwhile for patients when they use the values to sensibly adjust food, exercise, and oral medications or insulin. These adjustments are generally made by the patients themselves following training by a clinician.
“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.
Foods with a low glycemic load: The glycemic index of a food tells you about the blood glucose-raising potential of the food. Foods that have a high glycemic index are converted into sugar after being eaten more quickly than low glycemic foods. If you are fighting diabetes, stick to low glycemic foods like non-starchy vegetables, stone fruits and berries, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, organic meat, eggs, wild-caught fish, and raw pastured dairy.
Artificial Intelligence researcher Dr. Cynthia Marling, of the Ohio University Russ College of Engineering and Technology, in collaboration with the Appalachian Rural Health Institute Diabetes Center, is developing a case based reasoning system to aid in diabetes management. The goal of the project is to provide automated intelligent decision support to diabetes patients and their professional care providers by interpreting the ever-increasing quantities of data provided by current diabetes management technology and translating it into better care without time consuming manual effort on the part of an endocrinologist or diabetologist. This type of Artificial Intelligence-based treatment shows some promise with initial testing of a prototype system producing best practice treatment advice which anaylizing physicians deemed to have some degree of benefit over 70% of the time and advice of neutral benefit another nearly 25% of the time.
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.
A 2012 review of ginseng in animals and human beings found that not only does ginseng reduce insulin resistance, it also lowers HbA1C levels. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control. Indian ginseng, also called Ashwagandha, offers fantastic all round benefits. Scientists are also researching the connection between diabetes and Alzhiemer’s. Panax Ginseng is a type of ginseng that is able to help with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
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.
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.
All of the above contributing factors don’t usually happen by themselves. Since the body functions as a whole, a problem in one area will usually correlate to problems in others. A combination of the factors above can be the catalyst for a full blown case of diabetes (or a lot of other diseases). While researchers often look at a single variable when trying to discover a cure for a disease, often the best approach is one that addresses the body as a whole. As with all diseases, the best cure is good prevention, but certain measures can help reverse disease once it has occurred.
Because the initial symptoms (fatigue, weakness, frequent urination) are usually mild, about 30 percent of all people with diabetes do not realize that they have the disease. And that can have tragic consequences, because with early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of living a long and productive life are higher than if the disease creeps along until irreversible damage occurs.
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.
These substances are not considered to be medications by the US FDA and are therefore not regulated as such. This means that there are no standards in place to ensure that a given product contains the substance or dose as described on the label. There are also no requirements to perform studies showing that the products are safe or effective. Side effects of supplements are typically not well understood, and some supplements can interfere with the action of medications.