When cells are resistant to insulin, they don’t use the insulin effectively to bring the glucose from the bloodstream into the cell. The pancreas needs to produce more insulin to overcome this resistance in an effort to normalize blood sugar levels. When the pancreas can’t keep up with the insulin demands in a person with insulin resistance, that person develops diabetes.
Why do people develop prediabetes? Prediabetes develops through a combination of factors that are still being investigated. For sure, lifestyle factors (food, exercise, stress, sleep) play a role, but family history and genetics certainly do as well. It is easy to assume that prediabetes is the result of being overweight, but the relationship is not that simple. While obesity is one underlying cause of insulin resistance, many overweight individuals may never develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and a minority of people with prediabetes have never been overweight. To make matters worse, it can be increasingly difficult to make healthy choices in today’s toxic food environment that steers all of us to make the wrong food choices, and there are many factors that can contribute to weight gain in addition to diet.
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One of the biggest hits in type 2 diabetes treatment is glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonists, which induce insulin production in beta-pancreatic cells while suppressing the secretion of glucagon. All big pharma have GLP-1 drugs on the market or their pipelines, including Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Roche, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim. But Novo Nordisk is going a step further with the first oral version of a GLP-1 drug, which is now close to the market.
In type I diabetes, insufficient levels of insulin result from the immune system itself attacking the pancreatic beta cells. On the other hand, while beta cell dysfunction varies widely between type II diabetes patients, insulin resistance is a major part of the disease. Restoring the beta cells of the pancreas to health is the treatment approach these two diseases share to some degree.
Other research conducted at the same institute studied possible regeneration of the islets of langerhans in rats that were made diabetic for the study and then given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. The diabetic rats were able to double the number of their islets and beta cell numbers. Researchers felt that the herbal therapy was able to bring blood sugar stability by repairing the pancreas and increasing insulin secretion.
Many people have heard about type 2 diabetes, but its common precursor, prediabetes, doesn’t get as much attention. Prediabetes is estimated by CDC to affect 86 million Americans (51% of whom are 65 years and older), and an estimated 90% of people with prediabetes don’t even know it. According to the CDC, 15-30% of these individuals will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. In other words, as many as 26 million people that currently have prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes by 2020, effectively doubling the number of people with type 2 diabetes in the US.
“The field has suffered from a checkered history 20, 30 years ago, when there were operations that were dangerous. But modern metabolic surgery is very safe,” Cummings said. “The risk of dying from a laparoscopic gastric bypass is a little bit less than the risk of dying from having your gallbladder or appendix removed. But we never consider those risky surgeries; they’re totally bread-and-butter procedures.”
Low glycemic index foods also may be helpful. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar quickly. Low glycemic index foods may help you achieve a more stable blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index typically are foods that are higher in fiber.
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