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. The medications only hide the blood sugar by cramming it into the engorged body.
An injection port has a short tube that you insert into the tissue beneath your skin. On the skin’s surface, an adhesive patch or dressing holds the port in place. You inject insulin through the port with a needle and syringe or an insulin pen. The port stays in place for a few days, and then you replace the port. With an injection port, you no longer puncture your skin for each shot—only when you apply a new port.
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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.
1. Avoid toxins as much as possible: There is no doubt that we live in a polluted world, and it is next to impossible to avoid all toxins, however, recent research suggests that environmental toxins such as pesticides in our food and drinking water can be factors in causing or worsening Type 1 Diabetes. To lessen the amount of toxins that enter the body, try to buy “green” cleaners, organic fruits and vegetables, and dairy that is from organic or grass-fed cows. Although these items may be a bit more expensive, the health benefits are well-worth the higher price tag.
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.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar level drops below your target range, it's known as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Your blood sugar level can drop for many reasons, including skipping a meal, inadvertently taking more medication than usual or getting more physical activity than normal. Low blood sugar is most likely if you take glucose-lowering medications that promote the secretion of insulin or if you're taking insulin.
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!)
I bring this up because sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Also, sleep-disordered breathing is also related to proper nutrition throughout life. And perhaps most importantly, the first line of defense in catching sleep-disordered breathing in patients early, are dentists. This is another area where dentists must get involved if we want to tackle the issue of pervasive type 2 diabetes with any success.
Cinnamon’s effectiveness as a treatment for diabetes has not been established. A prescription drug as ineffective as cinnamon likely wouldn’t pass FDA muster. Existing drug treatments for diabetes, on the other hand, are cheap, effective, and generally well tolerated. Compared to drug therapy, we don’t know if cinnamon can reduce the risk of mortality due to diabetes, or the progression to any of the other serious outcomes of diabetes. For my patients that insist on trying cinnamon, I’d caution them of the risks, and reinforce that cinnamon is no alternative for lifestyle changes and medication if necessary. It may be natural, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s either safe or effective.
There has been a good amount of attention and time spent on discussing the “reversal” of diabetes, but there’s not been a lot of good facts to explain what this means. First, type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease) cannot be reversed, cured or avoided – period. It can be managed with insulin and made easier with good lifestyle choices like staying active and eating a healthy diet.
Alternative medicine for diabetes is big business, because the public health burden of diabetes is massive, and growing. In 1985, the worldwide prevalence was 30 million people. In 2000, it was 150 million. By 2030, it could be 250 million. Why are more people being diagnosed with diabetes? Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and an aging population. At its core, diabetes is a disease of sugar (glucose) management. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, allows cells to use glucose. When the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, it’s called Type 1 diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that strikes early in life, and was a death sentence until insulin was discovered. When the pancreas can produce insulin, but the amount is insufficient, or when there’s a problem with the uptake of insulin into cells, it’s termed type 2 diabetes. 90% of all diabetes is type 2. Typically a disease of older adults, type 2 diabetes can potentially be treated without drugs of any kind, but success rates are low and medication is eventually advisable. There’s also gestational diabetes, a disease of pregnancy, and prediabetes, where blood sugars are elevated, and diabetes is an expected future diagnosis.
Replacing humans with computers could make patients better control their sugar levels and suffer less complications in the long term. The French company Cellnovo has already shown that just a partially automated system, where blood sugar levels can be monitored wirelessly but patients still select insulin amounts, can reduce the chances of reaching life-threatening low sugar levels up to 39%. The company is now working towards developing a fully automated artificial pancreas in collaboration with Imperial College, the Diabeloop consortium and the Horizon2020 program.
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.
If your carb consumption is on the high side (once you add sugar into the mix, you’re most certainly on the high side), it’s stored as fat and you end up with insulin resistance or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reason behind it is that carbs metabolize into glucose, and limiting carbs helps your body control blood sugar more efficiently. It improves overall blood sugar profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c, which is a diabetes marker. Going low-carb is especially effective if you’re in the early stages when you do not yet need to administer insulin.
The accepted view has been that the β-cell dysfunction of established diabetes progresses inexorably (79,82,83), whereas insulin resistance can be modified at least to some extent. However, it is now clear that the β-cell defect, not solely hepatic insulin resistance, may be reversible by weight loss at least early in the course of type 2 diabetes (21,84). The low insulin sensitivity of muscle tissue does not change materially either during the onset of diabetes or during subsequent reversal. Overall, the information on the inhibitory effects of excess fat on β-cell function and apoptosis permits a new understanding of the etiology and time course of type 2 diabetes.
As self-management of diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications, adherence may pose a significant self-management burden on many individuals. For example, individuals with diabetes may find themselves faced with the need to self-monitor their blood glucose levels, adhere to healthier diets and maintain exercise regimens regularly in order to maintain metabolic control and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Barriers to adherence have been associated with key psychological mechanisms: knowledge of self-management, beliefs about the efficacy of treatment and self-efficacy/perceived control. Such mechanisms are inter-related, as one's thoughts (e.g. one's perception of diabetes, or one's appraisal of how helpful self-management is) is likely to relate to one's emotions (e.g. motivation to change), which in turn, affects one's self-efficacy (one's confidence in their ability to engage in a behaviour to achieve a desired outcome).
When islet cells have been transplanted via the Edmonton protocol, insulin production (and glycemic control) was restored, but at the expense of continued immunosuppression drugs. Encapsulation of the islet cells in a protective coating has been developed to block the immune response to transplanted cells, which relieves the burden of immunosuppression and benefits the longevity of the transplant.
A further danger of insulin treatment is that while diabetic microangiopathy is usually explained as the result of hyperglycemia, studies in rats indicate that the higher than normal level of insulin diabetics inject to control their hyperglycemia may itself promote small blood vessel disease. While there is no clear evidence that controlling hyperglycemia reduces diabetic macrovascular and cardiovascular disease, there are indications that intensive efforts to normalize blood glucose levels may worsen cardiovascular and cause diabetic mortality.
Conventional: A dietary pattern that includes carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat milk is encouraged for good health. Carbohydrate intake should be monitored using carbohydrate counting or experienced-based estimation. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for digestible carbohydrates is 130 g/day, which will provide a sufficient amount of glucose needed to fuel the central nervous system without reliance on glucose production from protein or fat. Using foods with a low glycemic index that are rich in fiber and other important nutrients is encouraged.
In a person with carbohydrate intolerance, type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, this system breaks down. The body loses its insulin sensitivity and more and more insulin is required to remove the excess blood sugar. As a result, blood sugar levels remain high and insulin levels are high as well, and these high insulin levels can make your body even less sensitive to insulin.
In discussing self management with the person with diabetes I focus on how healthy lifestyle behaviors can change the treatment plan. Introducing healthy lifestyle behaviors by providing consistent and predictable meals, daily activity, healthy coping and consistent medication management can improve overall glucose control and may change the overall treatment plan for managing diabetes.
Many manufacturers offer pen delivery systems. Such systems resemble the ink cartridge in a fountain pen. A small, pen-sized device holds an insulin cartridge (usually containing 300 units). Cartridges are available for the most widely used insulin formulations. The amount of insulin to be injected is dialed in, by turning the bottom of the pen until the required number of units is seen in the dose-viewing window. The tip of the pen consists of a needle that is replaced with each injection. A release mechanism allows the needle to penetrate just under the skin and deliver the required amount of insulin.