A new class of medications called DPP-4 inhibitors help improve A1C without causing hypoglycemia. They work by by preventing the breakdown of a naturally occurring compound in the body, GLP-1. GLP-1 reduces blood glucose levels in the body, but is broken down very quickly so it does not work well when injected as a drug itself. By interfering in the process that breaks down GLP-1, DPP-4 inhibitors allow it to remain active in the body longer, lowering blood glucose levels only when they are elevated. DPP-4 inhibitors do not tend to cause weight gain and tend to have a neutral or positive effect on cholesterol levels. Alogliptin (Nesina), linagliptin (Tradjenta), saxagliptin (Onglyza), and sitagliptin (Januvia) are the DPP-4 inhibitors currently on the market in the US.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body turn sugar from food sources into energy for cells throughout the body. But when the immune attack destroys the beta cells, insulin is no longer produced and the sugar stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to body organs. Because of this, people with type 1 diabetes have to regularly inject insulin in order to stay alive.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a vine native to Central & South India. Used in traditional Indian medicine since the 6th century BC, the leaves of this plant contain ‘gymnemic acids’ that have the amazing ability to slow down the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. Some scientists even believe that Gymnema Sylvestre extract can help repair and regenerate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin!
The overall goal of treatment with insulin (and other diabetes medicines) is to achieve the best match possible between the amounts of insulin given and the person's individual needs for insulin throughout the day and night. In this way, blood sugar levels can be kept as close to normal as possible to help avoid both short- and long-term problems from diabetes.
She says that the problem with diabetes is that it’s a silent disease. “Apart from needing to go to the loo a few times in the middle of the night, I experienced zero symptoms. Diabetes had no impact on my life – 99% of the time I forgot I even had it. Perhaps if it had been a disease with more symptoms, I would have been more motivated to do something about it.”
In adults, a rare side effect of taking diabetes pills is lactic acidosis, a very serious condition caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the blood. Lactic acidosis can cause symptoms like rapid breathing, muscle pain, cool and clammy skin, sweet-smelling breath, nausea, and vomiting. This problem has mostly happened in elderly people who have other medical problems in addition to their diabetes.
“For me it’s a personal challenge – going from being completely 100% sedentary to climbing the highest mountain in Africa. One thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought possible – and this is just another way of proving that to myself. It’s also a way of showing people with diabetes that there is always greatness within you; that you have the power to change your diagnosis and your destiny one step at a time.”
Researchers are working on vaccines to prevent someone with type 1 diabetes from losing their insulin producing cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system turns on its own insulin producing cells and periodically kills them off. A successful vaccine would prevent this from happening. The vaccine has been successful in rodents but vaccines have yet to demonstrate the same success in human trials.
Don’t let anyone discourage you! Your doctor may be skeptical and resist your efforts to cure yourself, but persevere! Worst case, put your doctor in touch with Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist who grew tired of simply controlling pain for his end stage kidney patients at the end of lives ravaged by diabetes, and decided to do something to help them thrive with the energy of a healthy life well-lived. Now follow the simple rules plainly and freely explained above and help yourself!