Sometimes people with type 2 diabetes are able to bring their blood glucose levels under control through a combination of weight loss, diet, and exercise, but many people with diabetes take medication to manage their condition. For some, a single diabetes medication is effective, while in other cases a combination of drugs works better. “If diabetes control is suboptimal on the maximum dose of one medication, it’s prudent to add on a second agent,” says Deepashree Gupta, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
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.

For 15 years, Erez Benari’s struggle with his type 2 diabetes had been a losing one. A software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Benari had stuck to a restrictive diet that kept him off most carbs, along with regular insulin shots. But still, his high blood sugar levels never dropped, while his health continued to decline. In 2013, the then 39-year-old Benari suffered a heart attack.
The core problem is insulin. Most people naturally secrete that substance when they eat something with carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and candy bars. Insulin acts like a concierge that escorts the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, providing the cells with the energy to function. In most people, the body is continually monitoring blood sugar and producing insulin as needed.
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.
• The vegetable/fruit called bitter melon, bitter gourd, or karela seems to stop insulin resistance. It gets glucose into cells. You can cook with it (many Chinese recipes incorporate this ingredient), eat it raw, or juice it. You can get it at Asian markets or farmers’ markets, or sometimes in supermarkets. It can also be taken as capsules or a tea.
Alternative: “The reason I use food-based supplements is because they most closely help correct what I see as the problem: The food we’re eating is lacking in nutrients,” DeLaney says. “If their vitamin D is low, it tells me all their fat-soluble vitamins are low.” She uses cod liver oil along with high-vitamin butter oil to restore these deficiencies.
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.
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These seeds, used in Indian cooking, have been found to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce high cholesterol, according to several animal and human studies. The effect may be partly due to the seeds’ high fiber content. The seeds also contain an amino acid that appears to boost the release of insulin. In one of the largest studies on fenugreek, 60 people who took 25 grams daily showed significant improvements in blood sugar control and post-meal spikes.
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.
Pramlintide is only appropriate for certain people with diabetes who use insulin and are having problems maintaining their blood sugar levels. Because of the potential for severe hypoglycemia with the use of pramlintide is with insulin, adjustments to insulin dosage and more frequent glucose monitoring may be necessary. Insulin and pramlintide should not be mixed in the same syringe.
Within the hepatocyte, fatty acids can only be derived from de novo lipogenesis, uptake of nonesterified fatty acid and LDL, or lipolysis of intracellular triacylglycerol. The fatty acid pool may be oxidized for energy or may be combined with glycerol to form mono-, di-, and then triacylglycerols. It is possible that a lower ability to oxidize fat within the hepatocyte could be one of several susceptibility factors for the accumulation of liver fat (45). Excess diacylglycerol has a profound effect on activating protein kinase C epsilon type (PKCε), which inhibits the signaling pathway from the insulin receptor to insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1), the first postreceptor step in intracellular insulin action (46). Thus, under circumstances of chronic energy excess, a raised level of intracellular diacylglycerol specifically prevents normal insulin action, and hepatic glucose production fails to be controlled (Fig. 4). High-fat feeding of rodents brings about raised levels of diacylglycerol, PKCε activation, and insulin resistance. However, if fatty acids are preferentially oxidized rather than esterified to diacylglycerol, then PKCε activation is prevented, and hepatic insulin sensitivity is maintained. The molecular specificity of this mechanism has been confirmed by use of antisense oligonucleotide to PKCε, which prevents hepatic insulin resistance despite raised diacylglycerol levels during high-fat feeding (47). In obese humans, intrahepatic diacylglycerol concentration has been shown to correlate with hepatic insulin sensitivity (48,49). Additionally, the presence of excess fatty acids promotes ceramide synthesis by esterification with sphingosine. Ceramides cause sequestration of Akt2 and activation of gluconeogenic enzymes (Fig. 4), although no relationship with in vivo insulin resistance could be demonstrated in humans (49). However, the described intracellular regulatory roles of diacylglycerol and ceramide are consistent with the in vivo observations of hepatic steatosis and control of hepatic glucose production (20,21).
Trick (most important): Go for longer periods of time without eating (yes, yes, fasting). Consume water only for days or weeks at a time. Your fat will literally dissolve away, and with it your type 2 diabetes and other ailments. The definitive book here is Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease. I highly recommend it; if you’re skeptical, read the 200+ testimonial comments on Amazon. I and at least 20 of my friends have tried fasts lasting days to weeks. It works, and it is amazing.
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