The American Diabetes Association contends the promise of an unlimited source of beta cells from stem cell technology is likely to become a reality in the next several years, in an article on its site. “However, how to use this new source of cells, how these cells live and function after transplantation, and how to best control immune responses against the transplanted tissue present additional barriers to the widespread use of islet transplant. Research in these areas will be essential for the realization of the potential of stem cell derived islets for the cure of diabetes.”
There was a clinical trial conducted at Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences Madras, India that studied 22 patients with type 2 diabetes. It reported that supplementing the body with 400 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily resulted in remarkable reductions in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. What’s even more remarkable is that by the end of this 18 month study, participants were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription diabetes medication. Five were even completely off medication and attaining stable blood sugar levels with Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation alone.
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.”
There is a risk that those who attempt it and fail could end up worse off, speculates Annie Hoang, a registered dietitian at Sunnybrook. An individual’s metabolism might switch into “starvation mode,” reducing the amount of energy needed at rest, she explains. That means some patients could regain all the weight they lost – and more – if they stop doing intermittent fasting.
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.
For 15 years, Erez Benari’s struggle with his type 2 diabetes had been a losing one. A software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Benari had stuck to a restrictive diet that kept him off most carbs, along with regular insulin shots. But still, his high blood sugar levels never dropped, while his health continued to decline. In 2013, the then 39-year-old Benari suffered a heart attack.
With research funding, people managing this challenging disease have received tools that help them to live better lives. Every advancement or milestone has elevated our understanding of Type 1, achieved improved management and has gotten us one-step closer to an actual cure. That’s why donating to diabetes research is so important — it’s the only way we’ll eliminate this disease.
Conventional cow’s milk: Conventional cow’s milk and dairy products should be eliminated, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. Dairy can be a fantastic food for balancing blood sugar if it comes from goat’s, sheep or A2 cows. But stay away from all other forms of dairy because the A1 casein produced by conventional cows will harm the body and trigger an immune response similar to gluten. When buying dairy, only purchase raw and organic products from pasture-raised animals.
The NIDDK has played an important role in developing “artificial pancreas” technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and a second hormone, glucagon, automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, but many also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. The decision about which medications are best depends on many factors, including your blood sugar level and any other health problems you have. Your doctor might even combine drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
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.
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Second, all minerals and vitamins should be taken in the most absorbable, bioactive forms. This makes the product a little more expensive, but there is a huge difference in the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize different forms of nutrients. I recommend Pure Encapsulations’ Polyphenol Nutrients to my patients, as part of a natural home remedies protocol for diabetes.
A 2012 review of ginseng in animals and human beings found that not only does ginseng reduce insulin resistance, it also lowers HbA1C levels. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control. Indian ginseng, also called Ashwagandha, offers fantastic all round benefits. Scientists are also researching the connection between diabetes and Alzhiemer’s. Panax Ginseng is a type of ginseng that is able to help with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
The new study showed that a diet of 825–853 calories per day over a period of 3 to 5 months, followed by a gradual reintroduction of food in the next two to eight weeks, could have a profound impact. “Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible,” University of Glasgow professor Michael Lean, co-lead researcher, explained to The Guardian. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimize individual results.”
There are major barriers for widespread use of islet also-transplantation that can help people with type 1 diabetes. The shortage of islets from donors is a huge obstacle. The other obstacle is that this is still considered an experimental procedure and until the procedure is considered successful enough to be labeled therapeutic by the FDA instead of experimental, the costs of these transplants come from limited research funds.
Online diabetes prevention programs: The CDC has now given pending recognition status to three digital prevention programs: DPS Health, Noom Health, and Omada Health. These offer the same one year long educational curriculum as the DPP study, but in an online format. Some insurance companies and employers cover these programs, and you can find more information at the links above. These digital versions are excellent options for those who live far away from NDPP locations or who prefer the anonymity and convenience of doing the program online.
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.