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.
Benari, an Ashkenazi Jew, doesn’t fall into that category. But Cummings and other bariatric experts I spoke to said that surgery should be a possible option for any person whose diabetes isn’t improving. Cummings himself is currently working on a clinical trial in India of bariatric patients with BMIs as low as 25. And he expects similar trials will come down the pipeline.
How long will diabetes stay away after weight loss? Long-term normal blood glucose control in previously diabetic individuals after bariatric surgery demonstrates that diabetes does not recur for up to 10 years, unless substantial weight gain occurs (86). These observations are consistent with the twin cycle hypothesis and the existence of a trigger level for adverse metabolic effects of fat in the pancreas. Hence, for a given individual with type 2 diabetes, reducing the liver and pancreas fat content below his or her personal trigger levels would be expected to result in a release from the fatty acid–mediated dysfunction. Individual tolerance of different degrees of fat exposure vary, and understanding this liposusceptibility will underpin the future understanding of genetically determined risk in any given environment. However, this should not obscure the central point: If a person has type 2 diabetes, there is more fat in the liver and pancreas than he or she can cope with.
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 the drugs listed above act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels, they may be used together. For example, a biguanide and a sulfonylurea may be used together. Many combinations can be used. Though taking more than one drug can be more costly and can increase the risk of side effects, combining oral medications can improve blood glucose control when taking only a single pill does not have the desired effects. Switching from one single pill to another is not as effective as adding another type of diabetes medicine.
The study, published in Diabetes Care, measured C-peptide, which is produced at the same time and in the same quantities as the insulin that regulates our blood sugar. By measuring C-peptide levels in blood or in urine, scientists can tell how much insulin a person is producing themselves, even if they are taking insulin injections as treatment. The team studied 1,549 people with Type 1 diabetes from Exeter, England and Tayside, Scotland in the UNITED study.
Some of the above drugs are available in compound form, and there are many patients taking three to four of them to control their blood sugar. But again, "the most common duo is metformin and a sulfonylurea,” says Arti Bhan, MD, division head of endocrinology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Metformin makes the body utilize insulin more effectively, and the sulfonylurea works on the pancreas to make more insulin in response to food consumption. Another common combination is metformin and insulin.”
Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng), which has a long history of use as a hypoglycemic agent. At least five constituents of this herb have been shown to exert hypoglycemic effects. In one study, treatment with ginseng lowered blood glucose levels and improved mood and psychological performance as compared with placebo. Recommended dosage is 100–200 mg/day.14
Clearly separate from the characteristic lack of acute insulin secretion in response to increase in glucose supply is the matter of total mass of β-cells. The former determines the immediate metabolic response to eating, whereas the latter places a long-term limitation on total possible insulin response. Histological studies of the pancreas in type 2 diabetes consistently show an ∼50% reduction in number of β-cells compared with normal subjects (66). β-Cell loss appears to increase as duration of diabetes increases (67). The process is likely to be regulated by apoptosis, a mechanism known to be increased by chronic exposure to increased fatty acid metabolites (68). Ceramides, which are synthesized directly from fatty acids, are likely mediators of the lipid effects on apoptosis (10,69). In light of new knowledge about β-cell apoptosis and rates of turnover during adult life, it is conceivable that removal of adverse factors could result in restoration of normal β-cell number, even late in the disease (66,70). Plasticity of lineage and transdifferentiation of human adult β-cells could also be relevant, and the evidence for this has recently been reviewed (71). β-Cell number following reversal of type 2 diabetes remains to be examined, but overall, it is clear that at least a critical mass of β-cells is not permanently damaged but merely metabolically inhibited.
For over a decade, Cummings and others have tried to reframe the very concept of bariatric surgery (they prefer “metabolic surgery”). Their work has shown these procedures just don’t change how much food the stomach can fit; they trigger a cascade of metabolic and bodily changes, many of which help people with type 2 diabetes naturally get their blood sugar under control. Some changes even start happening before a patient loses weight, such as higher levels of peptide production in the gut that seem to restore a patient’s sensitivity to insulin.
What are the symptoms of prediabetes? People typically do not have symptoms of prediabetes, which is partially why up to 90% of people don’t know they have it. The ADA reports that some people with prediabetes may develop symptoms of type 2 diabetes, though even many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes show little or no symptoms initially at diagnosis.
With all of the nutrition information available today about improving blood sugar, it can be a bit daunting to know which information is correct and which is not. It is so important to look to what science-based evidence and research says about the subject. But even more, we need this science to be translated into easy to understand advice so that we can actually incorporate it into our lives and benefit from it. This is the most important factor.
According to TCM, the major activity of the blood is to circulate through the body, nourishing and moistening the various organs and tissues. Disharmonies of the blood may manifest as “deficient” blood or “congealed” blood. If deficient blood exists and affects the entire body, the patient may present with dry skin, dizziness, and a dull complexion. Congealed blood may manifest as sharp, stabbing pains accompanied by tumors, cysts, or swelling of the organs (i.e., the liver).4 The key organs associated with blood are the heart, liver, and spleen.
Your diabetes care team may recommend that you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM is a wearable device that can measure blood sugar every few minutes around the clock. It's measured by a thread-like sensor inserted under the skin and secured in place. Sensors can stay in place for about a week before they have to be replaced and are accurate enough to replace frequent finger-stick testing. The more frequent CGM blood sugar readings can help you and the care team do an even better job of troubleshooting and adjusting your insulin doses and diabetes management plan to improve blood sugar control.
One of the most advanced alternatives comes from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) in the US, which is developing a bioengineered mini-organ where insulin-producing cells are encapsulated within a protective barrier. Two years ago, the DRI announced that the first patient treated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial no longer requires insulin therapy.