Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist who focusses on the mouth-body connection. Through ancestral nutrition, the oral and gut microbiome, and epigenetics, his programs aim to prevent chronic dental and systemic disease. His book 'The Dental Diet', will be released on January 18'. To receive free updates on functional oral health from Dr. Lin, subscribe to his newsletter below.
What’s critical is not necessarily the cutoff itself, but where someone falls within the ranges listed above. The level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes is closely related to A1c or FPG at diagnosis. Those in the higher ranges (A1c closer to 6.4%, FPG closer to 125 mg/dl) are much more likely to progress to type 2 diabetes, whereas those at lower ranges (A1c closer to 5.7%, FPG closer to 100 mg/dl) are relatively more likely to revert back to normal glucose levels or stay within the prediabetes range. Age of diagnosis and the level of insulin production still occurring at diagnosis also impact the chances of reverting to normoglycemia (normal blood sugar levels).
Currently, people with diabetes who receive a transplanted pancreas (typically not possible unless you are also having a kidney transplant) or who receive islet-cell transplants as part of a research study in the US must take these drugs so that their own body won’t attack the new cells. The drugs work, but raise risk for bacterial and viral infections as well as for mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigue and even some cancers.
One can't, in spite of the initial reported success of following a 600 kcal vegetarian diet for 8 weeks cured all 11 participants of their diabetes, resulting in an enormous very beneficial weight loss of 15 kg and reversal of pancreatic fat infiltration that many think is the underlying defect causing type 2 diabetes, see this 2011 paper Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol only just 3 months afterwards diabetes had recurred in 5 out of the 11 see Diet reverses Type 2 Diabetes
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Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are chronic conditions that can only be managed using insulin, anti-diabetes medications, lifestyle changes, etc., but cannot be cured. Gestational diabetes generally resolves on itself after the delivery. If not managed properly, diabetes can cause several other complications, like hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, nonketotic hyperosmolar coma, etc. Other serious and long-term complications include cardiovascular diseases, chronic renal failure, diabetic retinopathy, etc.
In obese young people, decreased β-cell function has recently been shown to predict deterioration of glucose tolerance (4,78). Additionally, the rate of decline in glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic individuals is strongly related to the loss of β-cell function, whereas insulin sensitivity changes little (79). This observation mirrors those in populations with a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in which transition from hyperinsulinemic normal glucose tolerance to overt diabetes involves a large, rapid rise in glucose levels as a result of a relatively small further loss of acute β-cell competence (3). The Whitehall II study showed in a large population followed prospectively that people with diabetes exhibit a sudden rise in fasting glucose as β-cell function deteriorates (Fig. 5) (80). Hence, the ability of the pancreas to mount a normal, brisk insulin response to an increasing plasma glucose level is lost in the 2 years before the detection of diabetes, although fasting plasma glucose levels may have been at the upper limit of normal for several years. This was very different from the widely assumed linear rise in fasting plasma glucose level and gradual β-cell decompensation but is consistent with the time course of markers of increased liver fat before the onset of type 2 diabetes observed in other studies (81). Data from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study demonstrated that plasma triacylglycerol and ALT levels were modestly elevated 2 years before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and that there was a steady rise in the level of this liver enzyme in the run-up to the time of diagnosis (75).
According to the American Diabetes Association, islet transplantation can replace insulin injections and provide more physiological glucose control, but “there are not sufficient donor islets available for all the individuals who need them, and often it takes islets from several donors to transplant one recipient, exacerbating the donor shortage. A major reason for the need for multiple donors is that more than 80% of transplanted islets die within the first week after transplantation. The surviving islets may overwork and gradually die from exhaustion.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and unlike type 1 diabetes, it usually occurs in people over the age of 40, especially those who are overweight. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which means that the hormone insulin is being released, but a person doesn’t respond to it appropriately. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that’s caused by high blood sugar. The body can keep up for a period of time by producing more insulin, but over time the insulin receptor sites burn out. Eventually, diabetes can affect nearly every system in the body, impacting your energy, digestion, weight, sleep, vision and more. (5)
Others have also changed their lives through the diet. Carlos Cervantes, 53 and from the US, was at death's door when he tried it. He weighed 120kg, suffered a heart attack in spring 2011, his eyesight and kidneys were failing and he faced having an infected toe amputated. He even had fungus growing out of his ears, feeding on his ultra-high blood sugar levels. But after seeing a TV report on the Newcastle research, he started eating only 600 calories a day, replacing the supplements with not just vegetables but fruit, lean chicken, turkey, occasional bread and a daily milkshake. Two months later he had lost 40kg and 18 months later he is still free of his type 2 diabetes.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
Anti-diabetic medications are used to control type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this case, body cells are resistant to insulin (injections), therefore medications are given orally to lower the blood glucose levels. In most of the cases, oral hypoglycemic agents are highly effective. One just needs to ascertain which suits him/her the best. There are several classes of anti-diabetic drugs. Largely, their selection depends on the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person, as well as other factors.
What can people with prediabetes do to avoid the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes? The most important action people diagnosed with prediabetes can take is to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. This includes making healthy food choices, controlling portions, and increasing physical activity. Regarding weight control, research shows losing 5-7% (often about 10–20 lbs.) from your initial body weight and keeping off as much of that weight over time as possible is critical to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. This task is of course easier said than done, but sustained weight loss over time can be key to improving health and delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Is a prediabetes diagnosis serious? There has been significant debate around the term ‘prediabetes,’ and whether it should be considered cause for alarm. On the one hand, it serves as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and a host of other complications, including heart disease, and ultimately prediabetes implies that a degree of metabolic problems have started to occur in the body. On the other hand, it places a diagnosis on many people who may never develop type 2 diabetes. Again, according to the CDC, 15-30% of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. However, a 2012 Lancet article cites 5-10% of those with prediabetes each year will also revert back to healthy blood sugars.
Change in fasting plasma glucose (A), 2 h post-oral glucose tolerance test (B), and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-B) insulin secretion (C) during the 16-year follow-up in the Whitehall II study. Of the 6,538 people studied, diabetes developed in 505. Time 0 was taken as the diagnosis of diabetes or as the end of follow-up for those remaining normoglycemic. Redrawn with permission from Tabák et al. (80).
The findings, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, show the cells grown in the lab can reduce blood glucose levels to normal. Professor Evans added: “It was a little bit of a surprise to see that beta cells produce a high level of this regulator, but beta cells have to release massive amounts of insulin quickly to control sugar levels. It’s a very energy-intensive process.”
Good research and fascinating, but so far does not look to be a “cure”. It may prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases but an A1C of 6.5 is not a cure. It would interesting to see how much insulin each group is using and by what means. Making diabetes easier to manage is certainly a noble goal as well. If someone can keep an A1C of 6.5 without much effort, that is great progress. But with the new 670g and other “bionic pancreas” projects, people may have an easy time keeping A1C in the 6-7… Read more »
8. Amylin Mimetic This type of medication stimulates the release of insulin, and is used along with insulin injections. It may also help suppress hunger and promote weight loss. It’s less commonly used because it’s a shot administered in addition to insulin at each meal. Side effects can include low blood sugar, nausea, vomiting, headache, and redness and irritation at the injection site. Symlin (ramlintide) is what your doctor will prescribe you.
A 2005 study on the anti-diabetic effect of garlic in normal and lab-induced diabetic rats, published in the journal Phytomedicine, found that oral administration significantly decreased serum glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, urea, uric acid, creatinine, AST and ALT levels. While it increased serum insulin in diabetic rats, this was not so in the case of normal rats. It concluded that garlic must be considered as an excellent candidate for future human studies on diabetes mellitus. What’s better, garlic also helps reduce high cholesterol levels, a complication that diabetics often face. This makes it an excellent spice to use for in all recipes!
Although the promises are big, these technologies are still far from the market. First, clinical trials will have to show they do work. Then, the price could be steep, as cell therapy precedents for other applications, such as oncology, come with price tags that reach the six figures and are finding difficulties to get reimbursed. Considering that compared to cancer, diabetes is not an immediately life-threatening disease, health insurers in some countries might be reluctant to cover the treatment.