Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their disease by making healthy food choices and being more physically active. Many people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes medicines as well. These medicines may include diabetes pills or medicines you inject under your skin, such as insulin. In time, you may need more than one diabetes medicine to control your blood glucose. Even if you do not take insulin, you may need it at special times, such as during pregnancy or if you are in the hospital.
There have been some small, limited studies as well as anecdotal reports that certain alternative or “natural” treatments can help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes or otherwise prevent the condition or prevent its complications. These can include herbs or dietary supplements. Examples include garlic, cinnamon, alpha-lipoic acid, aloe vera, chromium, ginseng, and magnesium.
Sugars raise insulin levels, and over extended periods of time, damage the pancreas and cause insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes. Fructose is the top offender in the sugar world, as it is recognized as a toxin the body and has no proven benefit to the body. Fructose is immediately taken to the liver, where it must be processed, and some doctors now suggest that this may be a large factor in development of fatty liver disease. Excess sugar in the bloodstream also increases the release of cortisol and adrenaline (more on those in a minute), slows the immune response, decreases necessary Leptin levels and promotes fat storage. There are various types of sugar and sweeteners, and while all should be limited, some are worse than others:
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that is characterised by chronically elevated blood sugar levels. However, the main cause as well as the driver for this condition is something called Insulin Resistance. When you eat certain foods, particularly refined carbohydrates, that food is converted to sugar inside your body. Your body’s way of dealing with this sugar is to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin moves the sugar inside your cells so that it can be used for energy. Sounds great, right?
Because many patients with diabetes have two or more comorbidities, they often require multiple medications. The prevalence of medication nonadherence is high among patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, and nonadherence is associated with public health issues and higher health care costs. One reason for nonadherence is the cost of medications. Being able to detect cost-related nonadherence is important for health care professionals, because this can lead to strategies to assist patients with problems paying for their medications. Some of these strategies are use of generic drugs or therapeutic alternatives, substituting a prescription drug with an over-the-counter medication, and pill-splitting. Interventions to improve adherence can achieve reductions in diabetes morbidity and mortality, as well as significant cost savings to the health care system. Smartphone apps have been found to improve self-management and health outcomes in people with diabetes through functions such as specific reminder alarms, while working with mental health professionals has also been found to help people with diabetes develop the skills to manage their medications and challenges of self-management effectively.
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.
“People need to understand the continuum of diabetes,” she says. “If they’re on an upward trajectory of insulin resistance and a downward trajectory of insulin production weight loss, healthful eating and physical activity will slow down the insulin-loss trajectory and improve insulin sensitivity.” But, she says, “If they gain weight back, the diabetes comes back.”
For Type 1 diabetics there will always be a need for insulin injections throughout their life. However, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics can see dramatic effects on their blood sugars through controlling their diet, and some Type 2 diabetics can fully control the disease by dietary modification. As diabetes can lead to many other complications it is critical to maintain blood sugars as close to normal as possible and diet is the leading factor in this level of control.
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.
Talking to a counselor or therapist may help you cope with the lifestyle changes that come with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. You may find encouragement and understanding in a type 2 diabetes support group. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be good sources of information. Group members often know about the latest treatments and tend to share their own experiences or helpful information, such as where to find carbohydrate counts for your favorite takeout restaurant. If you're interested, your doctor may be able to recommend a group in your area.
You’ll give yourself insulin shots using a needle and syringe. You will draw up your dose of insulin from the vial, or bottle, into the syringe. Insulin works fastest when you inject it in your belly, but you should rotate spots where you inject insulin. Other injection spots include your thigh, buttocks, or upper arm. Some people with diabetes who take insulin need two to four shots a day to reach their blood glucose targets. Others can take a single shot.
A good multiple vitamin and mineral product (or “multiple,” for short) is a great way to start supporting nutrient intake in all diabetic patients. This ensures every day that the body receives all the key nutrients it needs so that all its biochemical, hormonal, nutritional, detoxifying, healing, rebuilding, protecting, and strengthening processes can be performed easily and smoothly. The body runs on enzymes, as enzymes speed up reactions to make the body function more efficiently; all enzymes require nutrient cofactors to enable them to effectively engage the action they are designed to do. A good multiple vitamin supplement for diabetes ensures all those cofactors are available every minute, every day.
Chromium plays a vital role in binding to and activating the insulin receptor on body cells, reducing insulin resistance. Supplemental chromium has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, lipids, A1C, and insulin in diabetic patients. It can also help decrease one’s appetite, particularly for sweets. A dosage from 200 mcg to 2,000 mcg a day is safe. Higher doses are unnecessary and can cause acute kidney failure.
Vanadium is a compound found in tiny amounts in plants and animals. Early studies showed that vanadium normalized blood sugar levels in animals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. When people with diabetes were given vanadium, they had a modest increase in insulin sensitivity and were able to lower their need for insulin. Researchers want to understand how vanadium works in the body, find potential side effects, and set safe dosages.
If you are interested in trying a natural treatment in addition to standard treatment, be sure do so only under the close supervision of your physician. If diabetes is not properly controlled, the consequences can be life-threatening. Also, inform your physician about any herbs, supplements, or natural treatments you are using, because some may interact with the medications you are taking and result in hypoglycemia unless properly coordinated.
You can talk to your diabetes health care team about making any necessary meal or medication adjustments when you exercise. They'll offer specific suggestions to help you get ready for exercise or join a sport and give you written instructions to help you respond to any diabetes problems that may happen during exercise, like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
The more intense the exercise, the better. According to the British diabetes association diabetes.co.uk, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be better for weight loss and glucose control than continuous aerobic activity like jogging. HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of increased intensity exercise and rest — for instance, running and then walking on and off throughout the workout.
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: