But a prescription doesn’t have to be a life sentence. It may be that, through weight loss and physical activity, you can reduce your risk of diabetes, or prevent it from occurring. "The only evidence-based treatment that can 'cure' diabetes is weight-loss surgery,” says Gupta, “but weight loss in overweight or obese type 2 diabetes patients certainly helps with decreasing drugs.”
At Diabetes Daily, we prefer using the word remission over cure because far too often the state of diabetes returns even with people’s best efforts. Regardless of the definition of a cure, finding a way to live with little to know highs or lows is a worthwhile endeavor. Long-term studies show that even a few years of great blood sugars significantly reduces your long-term risk of complications.
• 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.
“The cell is the original smart machine,” notes Crystal Nyitray, PhD, on the website of Encellin, the biotech start-up she founded in 2016. “All drugs, devices, and even digital health approaches are trying to restore or copy these functions. At Encellin, we believe in the human cell and creating a safe and reliable solution for patients. We are creating a technology to promote cell function and protection.”
A good multiple vitamin and mineral product (or “multiple,” for short) is a great way to start supporting nutrient intake in all diabetic patients. This ensures every day that the body receives all the key nutrients it needs so that all its biochemical, hormonal, nutritional, detoxifying, healing, rebuilding, protecting, and strengthening processes can be performed easily and smoothly. The body runs on enzymes, as enzymes speed up reactions to make the body function more efficiently; all enzymes require nutrient cofactors to enable them to effectively engage the action they are designed to do. A good multiple vitamin supplement for diabetes ensures all those cofactors are available every minute, every day.
First, speak with your doctor — you should not start relying on plants or stop your medicines on your own. You’ll need to work closely with your diabetes health-care provider, and you’ll need to do some research and monitor yourself. Still, millions of people are using plant medicines, and a number of them have written to Diabetes Self-Management to tell us that they’re working.
Random blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken at a random time. Blood sugar values are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Regardless of when you last ate, a random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher suggests diabetes, especially when coupled with any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination and extreme thirst.
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Complications, which eventually lead to death, usually arise when the patient does not adhere to the advice of their doctor. Statistics show that sixty percent of patients are able to live long and productive lives; the rest suffer from a lot of complications including retinopathy (eye disease which can lead to blindness), gastroparesis (inability of the stomach to move food), neuropathy, and end-stage renal disease to name a few.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body turn sugar from food sources into energy for cells throughout the body. But when the immune attack destroys the beta cells, insulin is no longer produced and the sugar stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to body organs. Because of this, people with type 1 diabetes have to regularly inject insulin in order to stay alive.
Known for its immune-boosting and disease-fighting benefits, this Chinese herb has several positive diabetes studies behind it. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption; increases cells’ ability to use glucose; and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas. A team from the University of Toronto has repeatedly demonstrated that ginseng capsules lower blood glucose 15 to 20 percent compared to placebo pills. These are the best superfoods for people with diabetes.
Over the last century, advancements in new treatments aided by the remarkable developments in computer technology have helped many people better manage the disease, but achieving optimal glucose control remains an unattainable goal for the vast majority of those with diabetes, and particularly among young people. Despite patients' best attempts, managing diabetes remains a challenging, daily balancing act that requires constant vigilance. That's because insulin therapy cannot ideally mimic the exquisite biological function of a healthy pancreas. And that's why the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation remain passionately committed to achieving this singular goal. Learn more about our progress toward a cure and the steps we are taking to turn our vision into reality.
Healthy fats: Medium-chained fatty acids found in coconut and red palm oil can help balance blood sugar levels, and they serve as the preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Using coconut milk, ghee and grass-fed butter can also help balance out your blood sugar levels, so include these foods into your meals and smoothies. Some research actually suggests that a high-fat, low carb diet known as the keto diet may be a novel approach to reverse diabetes naturally, although you don’t technically have to go into ketosis to achieve the benefits of healthy fats in treating diabetes. (12)
Because of poor peripheral circulation and slowed healing of skin infections and ulcerations, needling of the lower extremities in diabetic patients should be performed with extreme caution and sterile technique. In general, however, acupuncture appears to be a relatively safe form of treatment. An extensive worldwide literature search identified only 193 adverse events (including relatively minor events, such as bruising and dizziness) over a 15-year period. There have been approximately 86 reported cases of hepatitis B and 1 case of HIV transmission. In all of these cases, nondisposable needles were used.6
Fluids are bodily liquids other than blood and include saliva, sweat, urine, tears, and semen. Fluids act to moisten both the exterior (skin and hair) and the internal organs. Disharmonies of fluids may result in dryness and excess heat. The key organs involved in the formation, distribution, and excretion of fluids are the lungs, spleen, and kidneys.3
Foods high in chromium: Chromium is a nutrient that’s involved in normal carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Foods high in chromium can improve the glucose tolerance factor in your body and naturally balance out blood glucose levels. It plays a role in insulin pathways, helping bring glucose into our cells so it can be used for bodily energy. Broccoli has the highest amounts of chromium, but you can also find it in raw cheese, green beans, brewer’s yeast and grass-fed beef. (10)
Q. I have Type 2 diabetes, and I currently take 1,000 milligrams (mg) of metformin twice a day, 5 mg of Onglyza (saxagliptin) once a day, and 5 mg of glipizide once a day. Does it matter when I take the Onglyza and the glipizide? I used to take them both at breakfast, but I thought I might get better blood-glucose-lowering coverage if I took one of them with lunch and one with dinner.
The NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases says it, “currently supports studies that are working toward obtaining FDA licensure to reclassify islet allo-transplantation as therapeutic. In other countries, such as Canada and Scandinavia, islet allo-transplantation is no longer considered experimental and is an accepted therapy in certain patients.” It adds that “Some patient advocates and islet researchers feel that islet allo-transplantation is close to having a therapeutic label.”
Alternative: “I’m a fat-atarian,” says DeLaney, who tells her patients to avoid low-fat foods. She encourages them to eat whole-fat dairy products, egg yolks, butter, olive oil, and avocado. “Restoring healthful fats to our diets as well as eliminating trans fats and all refined oils that help deplete our fat and vitamin stores will help nourish the body and reduce the need for diabetes medication.”
Foods high in fiber: Research shows that 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t consume enough fiber on a daily basis. High-fiber foods help slow down glucose absorption, regulate your blood sugar levels and support detoxification. Aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day, which can come from vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, peas and artichokes), avocados, berries, nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds. (9)
Chinese medicine has been using cinnamon for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has been the subject of numerous studies to determine its effect on blood glucose levels. A 2011 study has shown that cinnamon, in whole form or extract, helps lower fasting blood glucose levels. More studies are being done, but cinnamon is showing promise for helping to treat diabetes.
A representative for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, told Gizmodo the agency “has not received a reconsideration request” to overhaul its coverage of bariatric surgery as of yet. Gizmodo also asked several of the leading insurance companies, such as Anthem, Aetna, and UnitedHealthcare, about any possible revision in their coverage policies. Only Aetna replied, stating it constantly evaluates “new published peer-reviewed studies and medical research when developing our clinical policies.” But the company seemingly has no current plans to roll out any changes.
Pancreatic islet transplantation is an experimental treatment for poorly controlled type 1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that make the hormone insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks these cells. A pancreatic islet transplant replaces destroyed islets with new ones that make and release insulin. This procedure takes islets from the pancreas of an organ donor and transfers them to a person with type 1 diabetes. Because researchers are still studying pancreatic islet transplantation, the procedure is only available to people enrolled in research studies. Learn more about islet transplantation studies.
According to TCM, diet plays an important role in maintaining health and treating disease. In the TCM paradigm, foods are valued and prescribed for their energetic and therapeutic properties rather than solely for their chemical makeup. Attention is paid to the quantity, quality, method of preparation, and time of food intake, as well as to the patient’s body type, age, vitality; geographic location; and seasonal influences.
Alcohol: Alcohol can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity. Research published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was a 43 percent increased incidence of diabetes associated with heavy consumption of alcohol, which is defined as three or more drinks per day. (8) Beer and sweet liquors are especially high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
Magnesium is high in green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and grains, but we remove most beans and all grains from the diet of patients, which is why using magnesium as part of a natural remedy for diabetes can be beneficial. Low intracellular magnesium can cause insulin resistance. Dosing of up to 500 mg a day is fine, but higher than that may result in diarrhea in patients.
According to TCM, Xiao-ke is attributed to three main factors: improper diet (consuming large quantities of sweets, fatty or greasy foods, alcohol, and hot drinks such as hot coffee or tea), emotional disturbances (stress, anxiety, depression,) and a constitutional Yin deficiency (fatigue, weakness, lethargy, pale complexion).7 To the Western ear, TCM diagnoses sound esoteric, even poetic. In the case of a person with diabetes presenting with symptoms of excessive thirst, the diagnosis can be described as kidney Yin deficiency along with lung Yin deficiency and “internal heat that consumes fluids, thus bringing on wasting and thirsting.”7
In another study, albeit including only 30 people, those who were recently diagnosed and went on a very low-calorie diet for eight weeks experienced remission. That remission continued more than six months after their low-calorie diet ended. In people who have had type 2 diabetes for a long time, unfortunately, weight loss has a much more limited impact.
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