Secret #5) Avoid all processed foods. Avoid eating refined anything. That includes white breads, processed meat (which strongly promotes diabetes) and dairy products. Switch from cow's milk to almond milk (Blue Diamond brand is good, but I suggest you avoid the Silk brand). Reduce or eliminate cheese from your diet. If you eat meat, eat only fresh unprocessed meat, never eat processed packaged meat because it contains sodium nitrite, a chemical that destroys pancreas function. This means no pepperoni pizza, no ham and potato soup, no deli meat sandwiches and so on.
Known as gurmar, or “sugar destroyer,” in Aryuvedic medicine, Gymnema has consistently shown benefits in patients with diabetes. The most active part of Gymnema seems to be gymnemic acids, and many products list the percentage each capsule contains. Analyses of the herb for diabetes have shown it may be helpful in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can delay glucose absorption from the intestine. It was shown to regenerate pancreatic tissues, allowing more insulin to be produced, and help regulate insulin secretion. It also increases the utilization of glucose by the cell, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing appetite, especially for sweets. I usually use it in capsules, or in liquid form in some patients. Due to Gymnema having a very similar shape to glucose, it can fit into the taste bud receptors for sugar; it thus has unbelievable power to actually prevent the taste of sweets in the mouth for up to 1.5 hours. When I have a patient who is still struggling to not eat cake and cookies and so forth at parties or celebrations (or just in general), I will give her a tincture of Gymnema sylvestre. This is one of my favorite herbs for diabetes. In capsule form doses of 400 to 2,400 mg a day are recommended.
In addition to walking and stretching exercises, try interval training cardio, like burst training, or weight training three to five days a week for 20–40 minutes. Burst training can help you burn up to three times more body fat than traditional cardio and can naturally increase insulin sensitivity. You can do this on a spin bike with intervals, or you can try burst training at home.
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.
The drug reduces the amount of glucose made by the liver, and is frequently prescribed because it has been found to help prevent many of the long-term complications of diabetes. Metformin is usually taken without another drug, usually at a dose of 500 milligrams (mg) a day, depending on the brand, to start. Doses are not to exceed 2,000 or 2,500 mg per day.
Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
Because TCM defines diabetes as a disease characterized by Yin deficiency and excess internal heat, an example of a dietary prescription would be to consume spinach, which is cooling, “strengthens all the organs, lubricates the intestines, and promotes urination.”7 A recommendation might be to boil tea from spinach and drink 1 cup three times/day. Other foods considered to be cooling and beneficial for diabetes include vegetables and grains, such as celery, pumpkin, soybeans (i.e., tofu, soymilk), string beans, sweet potato/yam, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet. Fruit remedies, which act in specific therapeutic ways, include crab apple, guava, plum, strawberry, and mulberry.7 It is generally recommended that patients eat a wide variety of seasonal foods and avoid or minimize consumption of sweets and fruits. Meals should be smaller, eaten more frequently, and eaten at regular times each day.
If you are interested in trying a natural treatment in addition to standard treatment, be sure do so only under the close supervision of your physician. If diabetes is not properly controlled, the consequences can be life-threatening. Also, inform your physician about any herbs, supplements, or natural treatments you are using, because some may interact with the medications you are taking and result in hypoglycemia unless properly coordinated.
Trick (important): Cut down on sweets, and if you can, cut them out entirely for a couple months. I still eat ice cream about once a week, and know people who are losing weight on this diet while eating ice cream almost every day. But this probably won’t be the case for everyone. Better to severely restrict sweets for the first few months, and then gradually reintroduce.