These surgeries, even today, come with significant side effects. People have to be vigilant about getting their needed nutrients, since many aren’t as easily absorbed through food anymore. Other substances are too easily absorbed by the body, particularly drugs like alcohol. This vulnerability can then lead to alcohol abuse and may even help explain the slightly higher rates of suicide and self-harm seen in patients soon after surgery. Also distressing is that an estimated one of every 10 patients will fail to lose weight or regain the weight back in the long term, while others will require additional operations to fix complications like stomach leakages.
People with diabetes are unable to control the level of sugar in their blood, usually due to a breakdown in how their bodies use the hormone insulin. It’s not completely clear how obesity can contribute to diabetes, but it is known that excess weight is associated with chronic inflammation and a dysfunctional metabolism. And these factors in turn make it easier for someone to stop responding to the presence of insulin as easily as they once did. So by using surgery to help very obese people with diabetes lose weight, the logic goes, you can indirectly treat or prevent the condition. But doctors such as David Cummings, a senior investigator at the University of Washington’s Diabetes & Obesity Center of Excellence, are pushing back against this way of thinking.
In Type 2 diabetes — which makes up 9 out of 10 diabetes cases and is generally associated with older people and weight gain — the cells reject the insulin, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream even as cells are starved for energy. Type 2 is often treated with pills that tell the cells to let in the insulin. But in Type 2 diabetes, the body also often gradually loses the ability to produce insulin, requiring insulin injections.
Known as gurmar, or “sugar destroyer,” in Aryuvedic medicine, Gymnema has consistently shown benefits in patients with diabetes. The most active part of Gymnema seems to be gymnemic acids, and many products list the percentage each capsule contains. Analyses of the herb for diabetes have shown it may be helpful in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can delay glucose absorption from the intestine. It was shown to regenerate pancreatic tissues, allowing more insulin to be produced, and help regulate insulin secretion. It also increases the utilization of glucose by the cell, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing appetite, especially for sweets. I usually use it in capsules, or in liquid form in some patients. Due to Gymnema having a very similar shape to glucose, it can fit into the taste bud receptors for sugar; it thus has unbelievable power to actually prevent the taste of sweets in the mouth for up to 1.5 hours. When I have a patient who is still struggling to not eat cake and cookies and so forth at parties or celebrations (or just in general), I will give her a tincture of Gymnema sylvestre. This is one of my favorite herbs for diabetes. In capsule form doses of 400 to 2,400 mg a day are recommended.
At his first visit, the naturopathic doctor told John he’d be “off medication and free of diabetes in three months.” John left the doctor’s office with instructions to eat a low-carb diet. He’d been on a low-fat diet for years because of heart problems, but while he’d cut the fat, his meals included many highly processed foods. His new diet included “a lot of salads and healthful, organic foods.” He was given several whole food supplements that he says were “simple to mix and tasted good.”
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you'll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both.
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