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.[62] Smartphone apps have been found to improve self-management and health outcomes in people with diabetes through functions such as specific reminder alarms,[63] 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.[64]

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.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is a syndrome in which a person's blood sugar is dangerously low. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for this condition. There are other diseases that can cause a person's blood sugar levels to go too low, for example, pancreatitis, Cushing's syndrome, and pancreatic cancer. Symptoms and signs that your blood sugar levels are too low include:
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Grains: Grains, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, contain large amounts of carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar within only a few minutes of consumption. Gluten can cause intestinal inflammation, which affects hormones like cortisol and leptin, and can lead to spikes in blood sugar. I recommend removing all grains from your diet for 90 days as your body adjusts to this healing program. Then you can try bringing sprouted ancient grains back into your diet in small amounts.
Called ALA for short, this vitamin-like substance neutralizes many types of free radicals. A build-up of free radicals, caused in part by high blood sugar, can lead to nerve damage and other problems. ALA may also help muscle cells take up blood sugar. In a German study, a team of scientists had 40 adults take either an ALA supplement or a placebo. At the end of the four-week study, the ALA group had improved their insulin sensitivity 27 percent. The placebo group showed no improvement. Other studies have shown a decrease in nerve pain, numbness, and burning.
One of the most advanced alternatives comes from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) in the US, which is developing a bioengineered mini-organ where insulin-producing cells are encapsulated within a protective barrier. Two years ago, the DRI announced that the first patient treated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial no longer requires insulin therapy.
Knowing your blood-sugar levels and acting accordingly are among the most important ways to treat T1D. Monitoring lets a person know when insulin may be needed to correct high blood sugar or when carbohydrates may be needed to correct low blood sugar. Monitoring blood sugar can be done using traditional blood-sugar meters or continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
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.
The extent of weight loss required to reverse type 2 diabetes is much greater than conventionally advised. A clear distinction must be made between weight loss that improves glucose control but leaves blood glucose levels abnormal and weight loss of sufficient degree to normalize pancreatic function. The Belfast diet study provides an example of moderate weight loss leading to reasonably controlled, yet persistent diabetes. This study showed that a mean weight loss of 11 kg decreased fasting blood glucose levels from 10.4 to 7.0 mmol/L but that this abnormal level presaged the all-too-familiar deterioration of control (87).
The diabetes market is expected to reach a massively big €86Bn by 2025 combining both type 1 (€32Bn) and type 2 (€54Bn) treatments, and we can expect all sort of revolutionary technologies to come forward and claim their market share. Researchers are already speculating about microchips that can diagnose diabetes type 1 before the symptoms appear or nanorobots traveling in the bloodstream while they measure glucose and deliver insulin.

Healthy fats: Medium-chained fatty acids found in coconut and red palm oil can help balance blood sugar levels, and they serve as the preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Using coconut milk, ghee and grass-fed butter can also help balance out your blood sugar levels, so include these foods into your meals and smoothies. Some research actually suggests that a high-fat, low carb diet known as the keto diet may be a novel approach to reverse diabetes naturally, although you don’t technically have to go into ketosis to achieve the benefits of healthy fats in treating diabetes. (12)
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)
Omega 6 oils are also a relatively new addition to the diet, making their appearance in the early 1900s. Oils in this category include vegetable, canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, etc. Consumption of these oils increased in the 1950s when they were promoted as a “healthy” alternative to saturated fats (they weren’t). Research is now showing that consumption of these oils increases risk for obesity and can damage thyroid function. They contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation, further aggravating the poor pancreas.
Magnesium is a mineral found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in nutritional supplements. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and for bone health.
Second, hypoglycemia can affect a person’s thinking process, coordination, and state of consciousness.[45][46] This disruption in brain functioning is called neuroglycopenia. Studies have demonstrated that the effects of neuroglycopenia impair driving ability.[45][47] A study involving people with type 1 diabetes found that individuals reporting two or more hypoglycemia-related driving mishaps differ physiologically and behaviorally from their counterparts who report no such mishaps.[48] For example, during hypoglycemia, drivers who had two or more mishaps reported fewer warning symptoms, their driving was more impaired, and their body released less epinephrine (a hormone that helps raise BG). Additionally, individuals with a history of hypoglycemia-related driving mishaps appear to use sugar at a faster rate[49] and are relatively slower at processing information.[50] These findings indicate that although anyone with type 1 diabetes may be at some risk of experiencing disruptive hypoglycemia while driving, there is a subgroup of type 1 drivers who are more vulnerable to such events.
Although the relationship between magnesiumand diabetes has been studied for decades, we still don't fully understand it. Low magnesium may worsen blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. Scientists say that it interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and builds insulin resistance in the body's tissues. And evidence suggests that a magnesium deficiency may contribute to some diabetes complications. People who get more magnesium in their diet (by eating whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables) have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The role of physical activity must be considered. Increased levels of daily activity bring about decreases in liver fat stores (43), and a single bout of exercise substantially decreases both de novo lipogenesis (39) and plasma VLDL (92). Several studies demonstrated that calorie control combined with exercise is much more successful than calorie restriction alone (93). However, exercise programs alone produce no weight loss for overweight middle-aged people (94). The necessary initial major loss of body weight demands a substantial reduction in energy intake. After weight loss, steady weight is most effectively achieved by a combination of dietary restriction and physical activity. Both aerobic and resistance exercise are effective (95). The critical factor is sustainability.
A rapid-acting inhaled insulin (Afrezza) is also FDA-approved for use before meals. It must be used in combination with long-acting insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes and should not be used by those who smoke or have chronic lung disease. It comes as a single dose cartridge.Premixed insulin is also available for people who need to use more than one type of insulin.
Diet management allows control and awareness of the types of nutrients entering the digestive system, and hence allows indirectly, significant control over changes in blood glucose levels. Blood glucose monitoring allows verification of these, and closer control, especially important since some symptoms of diabetes are not easy for the patient to notice without actual measurement.
First, avoid the One-A-Day brand. All of the well-known One-A-Day products contain poor-quality products at low doses, and are full of unhealthy excipients, fillers, and preservatives. A high-quality multiple will require you to take three to six capsules a day, but will cover all the nutrients your body needs. For children, there are good liquid or powder multiples.
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.

According to a review of clinical trials published in December 2014 in JAMA Surgery, people with diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery had greater weight loss than those who received nonsurgical treatment, and the surgery was more effective in helping obese participants get diabetes under control. An article on the notable Surgical Treatment and Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently trial, which was published in February 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy helped people with diabetes attain better glycemic control than medication alone. Compared with the medication-only group, people who underwent the surgeries also saw greater reductions in heart disease risk and medication use, as well as an improved quality of life.
First, avoid the One-A-Day brand. All of the well-known One-A-Day products contain poor-quality products at low doses, and are full of unhealthy excipients, fillers, and preservatives. A high-quality multiple will require you to take three to six capsules a day, but will cover all the nutrients your body needs. For children, there are good liquid or powder multiples.
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.

Genetic factors do play a role in any disease, but I put this factor last for a reason. Genetic predisposition to a given disease will increase the chances of getting the disease, but not in a vacuum. People with a strong predisposition to liver disease manage to avoid it, and some with a family history of heart disease remain heart-attack free. Even studies among identical twins show that in most cases, twins will get the same diseases, even in different environments, but sometimes they don’t. This means there are other factors involved (see above).

Recently, a small clinical trial in England studied the effects of a strict liquid diet on 30 people who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for up to 23 years. Nearly half of those studied had a remission that lasted six months after the diet was over. While the study was small, the finding offers hope to millions who have been told they must live with the intractable disease.

The problem with the medication-based approach is that you’ll most likely have to be on these medications for the rest of your life. They are expensive and many come with a host of side effects. The medication approach focuses on management of diabetes, not reversal. Taking medications for type 2 diabetes combats the end result, which is rising blood sugar, but does not address the root causes—insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance.
Although there are several different types of ginseng, most of the promising studies on ginseng and diabetes have used North American ginseng ​(Panax quinquefolius). Those studies have shown that North American ginseng may improve blood sugar control and glycosylated hemoglobin (a form of hemoglobin in the blood used to monitor blood glucose levels over time) levels.​​​
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.
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