“Basic principles of good health like eating right, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can be as effective as medicine in the management of type 2 diabetes for most people,” says Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDE, lead medical nutrition therapist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. That's backed up by the Look AHEAD study, a large clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers found that over a four-year period, changes like eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise led to weight loss and improved diabetes control in 5,000 overweight or obese participants with type 2 diabetes.
According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, over 30 million people living in the United States have diabetes. That’s almost 10 percent of the U.S. population. And diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, causing, at least in part, over 250,000 deaths in 2015. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to reverse diabetes and the diabetes epidemic in America.
The problem, of course, has not been solved — the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). It’s putting a band-aid over a bullet hole. So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take medication to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of medication cannot force any more sugar into the body.
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.)
Carbohydrate Spike Test-On one day of your blood sugar readings (after at least 2-3 days of testing) eat a food high in simple carbs at your test meal (a potato, rice, etc) along with any vegetables, but in the absence of any fats or proteins. This will test your basic glucose reaction to high levels of glucose not mitigated by fat. Record these numbers as usual. Important note: if you usually eat a low-carbohydrate diet, this number might seem higher than it should be. This is because of decreased tolerance to carbohydrates and is not a cause for concern.
12. Consult a naturopathic, homeopathic, and/or Chinese medical doctor: Alternative practitioners are trained to treat the patient as a whole, organic being — not just their disease. This may help you develop a well-rounded treatment approach, as well as provide you with new information and perspectives on the disease and form of natural remedies for diabetes.
Rosanna Keyes is a writer, editor, yoga teacher, and office manager extraordinaire living in the Asheville, NC area. She has a B.S.S. from Ohio University with concentrations in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Geography. She has been practicing yoga for over ten years and received her 200-hour teaching certification in 2013. Over the years yoga and writing have been important mainstays in her life. She is continually amazed and humbled at the deep healing, balance, and peace that comes from these practices, and she is grateful to be able to share those experiences with others.
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.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.
Also called weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, bariatric surgery may help some people with obesity and type 2 diabetes lose a large amount of weight and regain normal blood glucose levels. Some people with diabetes may no longer need their diabetes medicine after bariatric surgery. Whether and for how long blood glucose levels improve seems to vary by the patient, type of weight-loss surgery, and amount of weight the person loses. Other factors include how long someone has had diabetes and whether or not the person uses insulin.1
This powerful herb promotes glucose utilization in the cells thus lowering blood glucose. It also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into the blood stream, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Some people feel Gymnema Sylvestre is one of the most powerful herbs for treating high blood glucose – both type 1 and 2 diabetics. Also Gymnema Sylvestre may help rejuvenate beta cells in the pancreas thus helping heal the condition.
There are many promising studies suggesting chromium supplementation may be effective, but they are far from conclusive. For example, a small study published in the journal Diabetes Care compared the diabetes medication sulfonylurea taken with 1,000 mcg of chromium to sulfonylurea taken with a placebo. After 6 months, people who did not take chromium had a significant increase in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat, whereas people taking the chromium had significant improvements in insulin sensitivity.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist who focusses on the mouth-body connection. Through ancestral nutrition, the oral and gut microbiome, and epigenetics, his programs aim to prevent chronic dental and systemic disease. His book 'The Dental Diet', will be released on January 18'. To receive free updates on functional oral health from Dr. Lin, subscribe to his newsletter below.
Taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate three times daily with meals can help improve insulin sensitivity. A review published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics evaluated 13 studies that reported significant improvement in glycemic control and substantial reductions in hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia after patients used chromium picolinate supplementation. Other positive outcomes from supplementing with chromium picolinate included reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for hypoglycemic medication. (14)
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.
Cloves protect the heart, liver and lens of the eye of diabetic rats, according to studies. This spice contains 30% of the antioxidant phenol in dry weight, along with antioxidants anthocyanins and quercetin. As a result, cloves have antiseptic as well as germicidal properties. It also offers anti-inflammatory, analgesic and digestive health benefits for diabetics.
The Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital was the first inpatient diabetes program in the United States to earn a Certificate of Distinction for Advanced Inpatient Diabetes Care from The Joint Commission. This means that the Hospital meets rigorous standards to control patient blood-sugar levels while they are hospitalized — whether they are experiencing diabetes complications at the time or admitted for an unrelated condition. This is important since controlling blood glucose can be difficult when patients are fighting infections, stressed or on certain medications.
To make matters worse for the inactive, carb addict, when the body senses glucose in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) to signal the body to store the glucose as glycogen. If the glycogen receptors are full and it can’t do this, the body thinks that the cells didn’t get the message and releases even more insulin.
Even if you aim to lose 5% of your body weight, if overweight, you are likely to see a fall in your blood glucose levels back into the normal range but even then we can’t say diabetes has been reversed or gone away. These actions build-up the body’s ability to respond to rising levels but if you get sick, eat more carbohydrate or gain some weight, more than likely your blood glucose levels will be on the rise again into the diabetes range.
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.
Insulin therapy requires close monitoring and a great deal of patient education, as improper administration is quite dangerous. For example, when food intake is reduced, less insulin is required. A previously satisfactory dosing may be too much if less food is consumed causing a hypoglycemic reaction if not intelligently adjusted. Exercise decreases insulin requirements as exercise increases glucose uptake by body cells whose glucose uptake is controlled by insulin, and vice versa. In addition, there are several types of insulin with varying times of onset and duration of action.
Chong points to previous research in Circulation that describes the underlying mechanisms of sleep apnea. In people with sleep apnea, activation of the sympathetic nervous system — including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and constriction of blood vessels — all led to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, which can be compounded in people who have type 2 diabetes (and thus already have a higher risk of heart disease).
As of now, diabetes is classified as either Type I or Type II. New research suggests there are several more types of diabetes, which all require different treatment approaches, but that’s a developing area of knowledge. On an episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dr. Steven Masley explains why doctors are starting to view Altzheimer’s disease as “type III diabetes” and picks apart the relationship between insulin and brain degeneration. Listen to it on iTunes.
According to studies, cinnamon may have a positive effect on the glycemic control and the lipid profile in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. This is because it contains 18% polyphenol content in dry weight. This popular Indian spice can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. According to a study published in Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, “cinnamon lowered HbA1C by 0.83% compared with standard medication alone lowering HbA1C 0.37%. Taking cinnamon could be useful for lowering serum HbA1C in type 2 diabetics with HbA1C >7.0 in addition to usual care.”
The NIDDK has played an important role in developing “artificial pancreas” technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and a second hormone, glucagon, automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
Dr. King said that even short-term remission would reduce or put off some of the serious complications associated with diabetes, like nerve damage, kidney damage, loss of vision, heart attacks and strokes. Yet structured weight loss programs are expensive and often not covered by insurance, and physicians — who are often not well-versed in nutrition — may not take the time to counsel patients about diet, Dr. King said.
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise and is associated with insulin resistance. There are many factors which contribute to developing this disease some of which are modifiable and some of which are nonmodifiable. Modifiable risks which individuals can impact include weight, diet and exercise. It has been reported that gastric bypass patients who have T2DM are “cured” of the disease after surgery. That is a more drastic measure which many people are not ready or willing to consider.
Thank you so much for providing this expert panel. The varying views helped me understand which areas are somewhat vague and which areas overlap. As a Type2 pre-diabetic of 7 years, I have been informed that I need to take a cholesterol drug, even though my cholesterol has always been low. I was told it’s to help remove calcification in my arteries. I have been considered obese for over 20 years and recently lost 50 lbs (I now weight 197) and am continuing to lose weight. I was told that I would always be a diabetic and would have to take medication. I was so proud of my progress (A1c now 5.6), but this news depressed me. I refused to take the cholesterol drug until I could do some research. This expert panel helped me to realize that it is possible to get off the medication if I continue to eat a healthy diet (low saturated fats) and exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Thank you!
When the insulin levels are unable to keep up with the increasing resistance, blood sugars rise and your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and starts you on a pill, such as metformin. But metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs — the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart. Much of this extra sugar will also just get turned into fat.
Practitioners agree that nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management, and that a range of nutrition intervention strategies can be used to meet the metabolic goals and individual preferences of the person with diabetes. However, there are significant differences in the approach and methodologies used by alternative and conventional practitioners to manage the disease. One difference is in terminology. When is remission really remission?
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.
Enriched with phytosterols, aloe vera can have an anti-hyperglycemic effect on the people with type 2 diabetics. Nutritionists suggest that it is a safe and natural source to alleviate fasting sugar levels in your blood. Also, you can prepare a mixture of turmeric, bay leaves, and aloe vera, this herbal medicine is said to control glucose in the blood.
High doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and confusion. It can interact with certain medications, such as those for osteoporosis, high blood pressure (calcium channel blockers), as well as some antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and diuretics.
Cutting out the refined, processed starches and sugars, BG rebound into a normal range very quickly. My experience is when people begin to be more conscious of their food intake and physical activity, which happens immediately after being diagnosed with pre diabetes or diabetes, they begin to make better food choices and cut out the foods they know are not healthy.
There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20–65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.
Diabetes type 1 is caused by the destruction of enough beta cells to produce symptoms; these cells, which are found in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, produce and secrete insulin, the single hormone responsible for allowing glucose to enter from the blood into cells (in addition to the hormone amylin, another hormone required for glucose homeostasis). Hence, the phrase "curing diabetes type 1" means "causing a maintenance or restoration of the endogenous ability of the body to produce insulin in response to the level of blood glucose" and cooperative operation with counterregulatory hormones.
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.