Diabetes is an illness related to elevated blood sugar levels. When you stop releasing and responding to normal amounts of insulin after eating foods with carbohydrates, sugar and fats, you have diabetes. Insulin, a hormone that’s broken down and transported to cells to be used as energy, is released by the pancreas to help with the storage of sugar and fats. But people with diabetes don’t respond to insulin properly, which causes high blood sugar levels and diabetes symptoms.
An unbalanced microbiome composition, known as dysbiosis, has been found in patients with diabetes, for whom the diversity of the gut microbiome is often reduced as compared to healthy people. Researchers from the University of Amsterdam recently showed that fecal transplants, used to transfer the microbiome of a healthy person to the gut of one with diabetes, can result in a short-term improvement of the insulin resistance found in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
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.
Everybody and their brother is jumping on the Diabetes bandwagon. I remember when Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Gabriel Cousens were the only two advocating a vegan diet to reverse Type 2 Diabetes and nobody was listening. Now, it seems there is some Doctor who pops out of the woodwork who claims to have the “Real” cure. Bottom line a ketogenic diet is dangerous for diabetics. It has been proven through studies that high fat diets are detrimental for glucose control. Fasting is also hit and miss for glucose control. As each person’s body is different and responds differently, a keto diet may work at first, but over time blood sugar numbers will rise. I tried a keto diet for 8 weeks. First three weeks it worked great then my glucose numbers slowly started to rise and it started to get hard to control my numbers. Same with fasting. My body responds to eating smaller meals every two hours, 90% vegan and raw. I eat chicken and fish sparingly. It works for me. But, I have known many diabetics who ended up in a bad place on a keto diet. In the long run it is a big fail. There are no studies that support it, whereas there are numerous studies (even government funded studies) that support a vegan diet to reverse diabetes.
Cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve your sensitivity to insulin. A study conducted at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. found that the consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in plasma glucose levels, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cinnamon consumption also helped increase HDL cholesterol levels. (15)
The diagnosis of diabetes, and the effectiveness of treatments can be objectively measured. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) measurements and then the oral glucose tolerance test accurately measure insulin function, and guide diagnosis. While routine blood sugar monitoring (with test strips) is generally unnecessary in Type 2 diabetes, measurement gives a point estimate of blood sugar levels. Glyclated hemoglobin (A1C) levels reflect overall blood sugar trends, with higher levels associated with more complications of the disease. Interestingly, super-intensive blood glucose lowering isn’t associated with additional risk reduction, and it increases the risk of side effects due to too-low blood sugar. Treatment goals are individualized (hey, it’s “holistic”), balancing a number of factors including risks as well as a patient’s ability to manage complex treatment plans.
They will always have the pre-diabetes diagnosis and have the potential to develop type 2 diabetes if aggressive dietary, exercise and or medication is not followed. It is possible to achieve a normal non-diabetic HbA1c after this – virtually not having any clinical evidence of the pre-diabetes, however the disease process is still there and being held at bay.
Over a period of years, you went from pre-diabetes, to diabetes, to taking one medication, then two then three and then finally large doses of insulin. Here’s the thing. If you are taking more and more medications to keep your blood sugars at the same level, your diabetes is getting worse! Even if your blood sugars get better, your diabetes is getting worse. This is unfortunately what happens to virtually every patient. The body is already overflowing with sugar.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Some medical professionals use an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to test for diabetes. If you’ve ever been pregnant and had to drink the sickeningly sweet sugar cocktail and then have blood drawn, you are familiar with this one. Basically, a patient is given 50-75 grams of glucose in concentrated solution and his blood sugar response is measured. I’m not a fan of this test because no one should be ingesting that much concentrated glucose, and the test is not a completely accurate measure. (Just a side note: if you are a drinker of the “Big Gulp” drinks or large amounts of soda, you are putting your body through a similar test each day! Eventually, your body will respond, probably with something like “Fine, you want diabetes, I’ll show you diabetes!)
The twin cycle hypothesis of the etiology of type 2 diabetes. During long-term intake of more calories than are expended each day, any excess carbohydrate must undergo de novo lipogenesis, which particularly promotes fat accumulation in the liver. Because insulin stimulates de novo lipogenesis, individuals with a degree of insulin resistance (determined by family or lifestyle factors) will accumulate liver fat more readily than others because of higher plasma insulin levels. In turn, the increased liver fat will cause relative resistance to insulin suppression of hepatic glucose production. Over many years, a modest increase in fasting plasma glucose level will stimulate increased basal insulin secretion rates to maintain euglycemia. The consequent hyperinsulinemia will further increase the conversion of excess calories to liver fat. A cycle of hyperinsulinemia and blunted suppression of hepatic glucose production becomes established. Fatty liver leads to increased export of VLDL triacylglycerol (85), which will increase fat delivery to all tissues, including the islets. This process is further stimulated by elevated plasma glucose levels (85). Excess fatty acid availability in the pancreatic islet would be expected to impair the acute insulin secretion in response to ingested food, and at a certain level of fatty acid exposure, postprandial hyperglycemia will supervene. The hyperglycemia will further increase insulin secretion rates, with consequent enhancement of hepatic lipogenesis, spinning the liver cycle faster and driving the pancreas cycle. Eventually, the fatty acid and glucose inhibitory effects on the islets reach a trigger level that leads to a relatively sudden onset of clinical diabetes. Figure adapted with permission from Taylor (98).
A history of blood sugar level results is especially useful for the diabetic to present to their doctor or physician in the monitoring and control of the disease. Failure to maintain a strict regimen of testing can accelerate symptoms of the condition, and it is therefore imperative that any diabetic patient strictly monitor their glucose levels regularly.
Lose Excess Weight– Obesity and Diabetes often go hand in hand, and while the debate still rages on if one causes the other, studies show that losing weight can help mitigate diabetes, and also lowers your risk of getting it to begin with. Certain dietary and lifestyle improvements can help you lose weight and are beneficial for diabetes reversal as well.
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.
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.