“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.”
Type 2 diabetes has long been known to progress despite glucose-lowering treatment, with 50% of individuals requiring insulin therapy within 10 years (1). This seemingly inexorable deterioration in control has been interpreted to mean that the condition is treatable but not curable. Clinical guidelines recognize this deterioration with algorithms of sequential addition of therapies. Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are known to be the major pathophysiologic factors driving type 2 diabetes; however, these factors come into play with very different time courses. Insulin resistance in muscle is the earliest detectable abnormality of type 2 diabetes (2). In contrast, changes in insulin secretion determine both the onset of hyperglycemia and the progression toward insulin therapy (3,4). The etiology of each of these two major factors appears to be distinct. Insulin resistance may be caused by an insulin signaling defect (5), glucose transporter defect (6), or lipotoxicity (7), and β-cell dysfunction is postulated to be caused by amyloid deposition in the islets (8), oxidative stress (9), excess fatty acid (10), or lack of incretin effect (11). The demonstration of reversibility of type 2 diabetes offers the opportunity to evaluate the time sequence of pathophysiologic events during return to normal glucose metabolism and, hence, to unraveling the etiology.
Before making any fiber recommendations, Dean has her patients tested for “pancreatic insufficiency.” She believes people with pancreatic insufficiency should be given digestive enzymes along with fiber, “otherwise the fiber will just bloat them up, and they’ll be quite unhappy,” she says. Dean uses a glucomannan fiber supplement for her patients with type 2 diabetes.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into fuel for the body. It effectively improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as weakness, pain and numbness that’s caused by nerve damage. Although we make alpha lipoic acid and it can be found in some food sources, like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes, taking an ALA supplement will increase the amount that circulates in your body, which can be extremely beneficial when trying to reverse diabetes naturally. (17)
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• The vegetable/fruit called bitter melon, bitter gourd, or karela seems to stop insulin resistance. It gets glucose into cells. You can cook with it (many Chinese recipes incorporate this ingredient), eat it raw, or juice it. You can get it at Asian markets or farmers’ markets, or sometimes in supermarkets. It can also be taken as capsules or a tea.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.
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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.
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.
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