Implementing integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, I helped the patient understand that she could reverse the trajectory she was on by making lifestyle changes—and that’s what she did. We engaged in shared decision making in our ongoing nutrition consultations. Over the course of one year, her physiology and health status changed for the better. Her A1c dropped from 7.2% to 5.6%, and she no longer required medications. She continues to adhere to her new lifestyle program and is confident she’ll remain free of a diabetes diagnosis.
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.
If you google “diabetes cure” you are directed to websites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic where you find information on diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy, but nothing about the cure. This lack of information may have to do with the fact that Americans spend $322 billion a year to treat diabetes, $60 billion a year on weight-loss programs, and $124 billion a year on snack foods. This is about 3% of the US economy! Because so many peoples’ livelihoods are supported by diabetes and its main cause, obesity, the viral effect of people getting cured and telling others is greatly diminished.