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While there is no consensus yet on just what type of diet is best for people with type 2 diabetes to follow, there is overwhelming evidence that being active is one of the best things you can do to control your condition. The National Institutes of Health’s landmark Look AHEAD trials, which sought to establish whether intensive lifestyle modifications could affect diabetes outcomes, found that when participants lowered the amount of fat in their diet and increased their physical activity to 150 minutes a week, they reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
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This powerful herb promotes glucose utilization in the cells thus lowering blood glucose. It also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into the blood stream, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Some people feel Gymnema Sylvestre is one of the most powerful herbs for treating high blood glucose – both type 1 and 2 diabetics. Also Gymnema Sylvestre may help rejuvenate beta cells in the pancreas thus helping heal the condition.
A couple of studies have found that cinnamon improves blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. In the first study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes were divided into six groups. Three groups took 1, 3 or 6 g of cinnamon a day and the remaining three groups consumed 1, 3 or 6 g of placebo capsules. After 40 days, all three doses of cinnamon significantly reduced fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
“People need to understand the continuum of diabetes,” she says. “If they’re on an upward trajectory of insulin resistance and a downward trajectory of insulin production weight loss, healthful eating and physical activity will slow down the insulin-loss trajectory and improve insulin sensitivity.” But, she says, “If they gain weight back, the diabetes comes back.”
Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.
Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng), which has a long history of use as a hypoglycemic agent. At least five constituents of this herb have been shown to exert hypoglycemic effects. In one study, treatment with ginseng lowered blood glucose levels and improved mood and psychological performance as compared with placebo. Recommended dosage is 100–200 mg/day.14
Together with evidence of normalization of insulin secretion after bariatric surgery (84), insights into the behavior of the liver and pancreas during hypocaloric dieting lead to a hypothesis of the etiology and pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (Fig. 6): The accumulation of fat in liver and secondarily in the pancreas will lead to self-reinforcing cycles that interact to bring about type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver leads to impaired fasting glucose metabolism and increases export of VLDL triacylglycerol (85), which increases fat delivery to all tissues, including the islets. The liver and pancreas cycles drive onward after diagnosis with steadily decreasing β-cell function. However, of note, observations of the reversal of type 2 diabetes confirm that if the primary influence of positive calorie balance is removed, then the processes are reversible (21).
Another factor to consider when determining when to take your diabetes medicines is how well you can follow the regimen your doctor recommends. For any drugs to be effective, you have to take them. Ideally, your medication schedule should be incorporated into your daily routine; only having to remember to take your diabetes pills once a day may make things easier for you. Not much evidence is available that taking saxagliptin and glipizide at different times will provide a better blood-glucose-lowering effect. The most important thing is to take them regularly and without missing any doses. In addition to taking the diabetes medicines you’ve been prescribed, other ways to help improve your blood glucose levels are to engage in healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
These surgeries, even today, come with significant side effects. People have to be vigilant about getting their needed nutrients, since many aren’t as easily absorbed through food anymore. Other substances are too easily absorbed by the body, particularly drugs like alcohol. This vulnerability can then lead to alcohol abuse and may even help explain the slightly higher rates of suicide and self-harm seen in patients soon after surgery. Also distressing is that an estimated one of every 10 patients will fail to lose weight or regain the weight back in the long term, while others will require additional operations to fix complications like stomach leakages.
Patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may discover that if they are overweight at diagnosis and then lose weight and begin regular physical activity, their blood glucose returns to normal. Does this mean diabetes has disappeared? No. The development of type 2 diabetes is a gradual process, too, in which the body becomes unable to produce enough insulin for its needs and/or the body's cells become resistant to insulin's effects. Gradually the patient goes from having "impaired glucose tolerance" — a decreased but still adequate ability to convert food into energy — to having "diabetes."
The first thing to understand when it comes to treating diabetes is your blood glucose level, which is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat and also is formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of the body, and is carried to them through the blood. Glucose gets into the cells with the help of the hormone insulin.
Scientists are cautious, and research is continuing, but evidence is growing that the diet can indeed remove the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. The question for researchers, who are now working on identifying the type of diet that can keep diabetes at bay after reversal, is once we've beaten the condition, how do we improve our lifestyle so it doesn't return? Watch this space.
If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.
You should have no more than three of these “feeding times” per day. The reason limiting the number and duration of your meal times is so important has to do with staying out of the vicious cycle of increasing insulin resistance. To get smart on insulin resistance — the cause of both type 2 diabetes and obesity — read Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, or watch his free lecture on YouTube.