Since the body functions as a whole, it is logical that when one hormone or part of the endocrine system is suffering, the other would be affected as well. This is the reason behind the recent research linking high stress levels to diabetes and other health problems. Most people think of stress only in the mental context (as in, “I’ve got a million things to do, I’m running late and I don’t have time to get anything done… I’m so stressed”) but stress can be physical, psychological, emotional, or mental and can be triggered by many factors including:
Focus on low glycemic index foods: While reducing fat and increasing fiber can significantly improve insulin sensitivity, low glycemic index (GI) foods reduce after-meal blood glucose levels. Low GI foods include pumpernickel or rye bread, oats, beans, bran cereals, most fruit, and sweet potatoes, compared to higher GI foods such as white potatoes, processed foods, and cold cereals.
Diabetes is a serious disease that you cannot treat on your own. Your doctor will help you make a diabetes treatment plan that is right for you -- and that you can understand. You may also need other health care professionals on your diabetes treatment team, including a foot doctor, nutritionist, eye doctor, and a diabetes specialist (called an endocrinologist).
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.
Dr. Sivitz emphasizes the importance of being active, eating a healthy diet, and having a good understanding of the role that carbohydrates play. He recommends eating healthy carbs, such as nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nonfat dairy products. A certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian can help personalize your diet and teach you strategies to control your blood sugar. Depending on your desired blood sugar range and weight loss goals, recommendations for foods, carbohydrate intake, and portion sizes may vary. Regardless, if you have diabetes, it will be important to count carbs in your diet because, while not off limits, they can lead to blood sugar spikes when overeaten.
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.
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.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease (meaning there isn’t a “cure”) and tends to be progressive. The longer that someone has been living with Type 2 diabetes the less insulin their beta cells may be producing. This doesn’t mean that lifestyle modification is irrelevant–but does mean that individuals should work on accepting their Type 2 diabetes diagnosis so they can focus on managing their diabetes in the best way possible.
But look closer. The results may be statistically significant, but they’re not that impressive compared to medication. Cinnamon lowered A1C by 0.09%, versus the usual 1% with medication. Give A1c reflects overall glucose trends, cinnamon doesn’t look that impressive. Even at the extreme of the confidence interval, cinnamon has, at best, 10% of the efficacy of drug treatments. At worst, it’s completely ineffective.
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.
Glycemic control is a medical term referring to the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose) in a person with diabetes mellitus. Much evidence suggests that many of the long-term complications of diabetes, especially the microvascular complications, result from many years of hyperglycemia (elevated levels of glucose in the blood). Good glycemic control, in the sense of a "target" for treatment, has become an important goal of diabetes care, although recent research suggests that the complications of diabetes may be caused by genetic factors or, in type 1 diabetics, by the continuing effects of the autoimmune disease which first caused the pancreas to lose its insulin-producing ability.
If you have type 2 diabetes, sometimes eating healthy and engaging in physical activity is not enough. Your doctor may give you oral medication to help control your blood glucose levels. For people with type 1 diabetes (and some people with type 2 diabetes) this means taking insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control diabetes--and this can only be done through multiple injections or by an insulin pump, a small device that delivers insulin continuously throughout the day. For more on medications and diabetes, click here.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. Normal levels are below 5.7 percent.
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.
While the Khan study looked promising, supplementary studies have failed to consistently show beneficial effects. Vanschoonbeek gave 1.5g of cinnamon or placebo to postmenopausal women over 6 weeks. There was no effect reported on blood sugar or blood lipid levels. Baker’s 2008 meta-analysis identified 5 trials including the Khan and Vanschoonbeek studies and concluded the following:
Primary Care Provider: Your primary care provider is the provider you see for general checkups or when you get sick. Your primary care provider may also be the one who refers you to specialists or other team members. Other health care providers who provide primary care include nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who typically work with a physician.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you'll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are chronic conditions that can only be managed using insulin, anti-diabetes medications, lifestyle changes, etc., but cannot be cured. Gestational diabetes generally resolves on itself after the delivery. If not managed properly, diabetes can cause several other complications, like hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, nonketotic hyperosmolar coma, etc. Other serious and long-term complications include cardiovascular diseases, chronic renal failure, diabetic retinopathy, etc.