For type 2 diabetics, diabetic management consists of a combination of diet, exercise, and weight loss, in any achievable combination depending on the patient. Obesity is very common in type 2 diabetes and contributes greatly to insulin resistance. Weight reduction and exercise improve tissue sensitivity to insulin and allow its proper use by target tissues. Patients who have poor diabetic control after lifestyle modifications are typically placed on oral hypoglycemics. Some Type 2 diabetics eventually fail to respond to these and must proceed to insulin therapy. A study conducted in 2008 found that increasingly complex and costly diabetes treatments are being applied to an increasing population with type 2 diabetes. Data from 1994 to 2007 was analyzed and it was found that the mean number of diabetes medications per treated patient increased from 1.14 in 1994 to 1.63 in 2007.
By checking your own blood sugar levels, you can track your body's changing needs for insulin and work with your doctor to figure out the best insulin dosage. People with diabetes check their blood sugar up to several times a day with an instrument called a glucometer. The glucometer measures glucose levels in a sample of your blood dabbed on a strip of treated paper. Also, there are now devices, called continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), that can be attached to your body to measure your blood sugars every few minutes for up to a week at a time. But these machines check glucose levels from skin rather than blood, and they are less accurate than a traditional glucometer.
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.”
Diabetes can be very complicated, and the physician needs to have as much information as possible to help the patient establish an effective management plan. Physicians may often experience data overload resulting from hundreds of blood-glucose readings, insulin dosages and other health factors occurring between regular office visits which must be deciphered during a relatively brief visit with the patient to determine patterns and establish or modify a treatment plan.
The medications only hide the blood sugar by cramming it into the engorged body. The diabetes looks better, since you can only see the blood sugars. Doctors can congratulate themselves on a illusion of a job well done, even as the patient gets continually sicker. Patients require ever increasing doses of medications and yet still suffer with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. “Oh well” the doctor tells himself, “It’s a chronic, progressive disease”.
When stress occurs, whatever the source, the hypothalamus signals the adrenals to release cortisol (and adrenaline). These hormones are life-saving in true “fight or flight” situations like running away from a charging animal or hoisting a car off a small child, but they cause big problems when they are regularly produced in excess. Excess cortisol can contribute to hormone imbalance in the body since the body uses hormones like progesterone to manufacture cortisol. Excess cortisol absent of a charging animal can also interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, reduce fat burning ability, raise insulin, suppress thyroid function and cause gain in belly fat.
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.
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.
Other medications such as metformin or the DPP4 drug class are weight neutral. While this won’t make things worse, they won’t make things better either. Since weight loss is the key to reversing type 2 diabetes, medications won’t make things better. Medications make blood sugars better, but not the diabetes. We can pretend the disease is better, but that doesn’t make it true.
Eating a balanced diet is vital for people who have diabetes, so work with your doctor or dietitian to set up a menu plan. If you have type 1 diabetes, the timing of your insulin dosage is determined by activity and diet. When you eat and how much you eat are just as important as what you eat. Usually, doctors recommend three small meals and three to four snacks every day to maintain the proper balance between sugar and insulin in the blood.
The bottom line is that diabetes can be bad news—but this doesn’t have to be the case. Interventions can prevent or delay the disease in people with prediabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large study of people at high risk of diabetes, has established a prevention plan that’s both feasible and cost-effective. The DPP showed that weight loss and increased physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58% during a three-year period.
There was a clinical trial conducted at Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences Madras, India that studied 22 patients with type 2 diabetes. It reported that supplementing the body with 400 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily resulted in remarkable reductions in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. What’s even more remarkable is that by the end of this 18 month study, participants were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription diabetes medication. Five were even completely off medication and attaining stable blood sugar levels with Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation alone.
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Capsaicin cream, a topical ointment made with cayenne, has been reported by some patients to help lower pain in the hands and feet from diabetic neuropathy. But people with loss of sensation in the hands or feet should use caution when using capsaicin, as they may not be able to fully feel any burning sensation. Check with your doctor if you are thinking of trying this product.
Greek clover is an annual herb with aromatic seeds having medicinal properties. It is also known as fenugreek, and is largely used in curry. Greek clover has properties to lower down the levels of glucose in the body, which, in turn, controls diabetes. Also, when given in changeable doses of 25 gm to 100 gm on a daily basis, it was found to diminish reactive hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. Furthermore, levels of glucose, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides were also appreciably reduced. Alternatively, one can just stir two teaspoons of Greek clover seeds in powder form in warm milk and consume on a regular basis; it will control the levels of blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In case one does not want to have the powder in milk, seeds can be eaten wholly, too.
Formal recommendations on how to reverse type 2 diabetes in clinical practice must await further studies. In the meantime, it will be helpful for all individuals with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes to know that they have a metabolic syndrome that is reversible. They should know that if it is not reversed, the consequences for future health and cost of life insurance are dire, although these serious adverse effects must be balanced against the difficulties and privations associated with a substantial and sustained change in eating patterns. For many people, this may prove to be too high a price to pay, but for those who are strongly motivated to escape from type 2 diabetes, the new understanding gives clear direction. Physicians need to accept that long-term weight loss is achievable for a worthwhile proportion of patients (96). In the United States, diabetes costs $174 billion annually (97), and in the United Kingdom, it accounts for 10% of National Health Service expenditure. Even if only a small proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes return to normal glucose control, the savings in disease burden and economic cost will be enormous.
Plus, when you eat too few calories, you’ll be exhausted, and struggle with constant hunger and cravings. The solution? If you want to lose weight and potentially reverse your diabetes, don’t just eat fewer calories on a high carb diet. Instead, switch to a low-carb, high fat diet that won’t cause blood sugar spikes. By keeping your blood sugar down, you’ll keep your insulin levels down, and unlock your body’s natural ability to burn its stored fat. It may seem counterintuitive, but to lose fat, you have to eat fat. This type of low-carb, high-fat diet is called a ketogenic diet.
Low glycemic index foods also may be helpful. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar quickly. Low glycemic index foods may help you achieve a more stable blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index typically are foods that are higher in fiber.
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.