Does acupuncture for diabetes work? Acupuncture has many uses, and some research has suggested that it may work for diabetes, although how it would help has not yet been explained. Find out about the types of acupuncture that might help, the risks, and some evidence of its benefits. Anyone considering acupuncture should first check with their doctor. Read now
In type 2 diabetes, even though insulin resistance is what leads to the condition, injections of insulin are not the first resort. Instead, other drugs are used to help boost insulin production and the body’s regulation of it. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells don’t respond properly to insulin, which is a hormone made in the pancreas that’s responsible for ferrying glucose to cells for energy.
Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
It would be a mistake to assume that the diabetes has gone away, however. Basically, type 1 diabetes occurs when about 90 percent of the body's insulin-producing cells have been destroyed. At the time that type 1 diabetes is diagnosed, most patients still are producing some insulin. If obvious symptoms of type 1 diabetes emerge when the patient has an illness, virus or cold, for example, once the illness subsides the body's insulin needs may decrease. At this point, the number of insulin-producing cells remaining may be enough — for the moment — to meet the person's insulin needs again.
Effect of an 8-week very-low-calorie diet in type 2 diabetes on arginine-induced maximal insulin secretion (A), first phase insulin response to a 2.8 mmol/L increase in plasma glucose (B), and pancreas triacylglycerol (TG) content (C). For comparison, data for a matched nondiabetic control group are shown as ○. Replotted with permission from Lim et al. (21).
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.
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Lab studies show that Encellin’s “ultra thin-film implantable cell delivery system” keeps islet cells alive and functioning. In a 2015 study in the journal ACS Nano, Dr. Nyitray and others found that cells in the packaging survived for 90 days in lab animals. New blood vessels grew around the transplants and the cells produced insulin in response to rising glucose levels. In a 2016 study from Dr. Desai’s lab, also published in ACS Nano, human islet cells packaged in the tiny film envelopes survived for six months in mice—and the cells made and released insulin in response to rising blood glucose levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), survival rests solely on how well the patient can follow their prescribed plan. Most patients who do not develop any complications within 10-20 years can live long healthy lives. Factors like motivation, awareness, intelligence level and the patient’s education usually determine the survival rate of Type 1 Diabetes.
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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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Alternative: “The reason I use food-based supplements is because they most closely help correct what I see as the problem: The food we’re eating is lacking in nutrients,” DeLaney says. “If their vitamin D is low, it tells me all their fat-soluble vitamins are low.” She uses cod liver oil along with high-vitamin butter oil to restore these deficiencies.
The twin cycle hypothesis of the etiology of type 2 diabetes. During long-term intake of more calories than are expended each day, any excess carbohydrate must undergo de novo lipogenesis, which particularly promotes fat accumulation in the liver. Because insulin stimulates de novo lipogenesis, individuals with a degree of insulin resistance (determined by family or lifestyle factors) will accumulate liver fat more readily than others because of higher plasma insulin levels. In turn, the increased liver fat will cause relative resistance to insulin suppression of hepatic glucose production. Over many years, a modest increase in fasting plasma glucose level will stimulate increased basal insulin secretion rates to maintain euglycemia. The consequent hyperinsulinemia will further increase the conversion of excess calories to liver fat. A cycle of hyperinsulinemia and blunted suppression of hepatic glucose production becomes established. Fatty liver leads to increased export of VLDL triacylglycerol (85), which will increase fat delivery to all tissues, including the islets. This process is further stimulated by elevated plasma glucose levels (85). Excess fatty acid availability in the pancreatic islet would be expected to impair the acute insulin secretion in response to ingested food, and at a certain level of fatty acid exposure, postprandial hyperglycemia will supervene. The hyperglycemia will further increase insulin secretion rates, with consequent enhancement of hepatic lipogenesis, spinning the liver cycle faster and driving the pancreas cycle. Eventually, the fatty acid and glucose inhibitory effects on the islets reach a trigger level that leads to a relatively sudden onset of clinical diabetes. Figure adapted with permission from Taylor (98).
The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, as it’s estimated that almost 34 million U.S. adults were prediabetic in 2015. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are above normal but below the defined threshold of diabetes. Without proper intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.
The extent of weight loss required to reverse type 2 diabetes is much greater than conventionally advised. A clear distinction must be made between weight loss that improves glucose control but leaves blood glucose levels abnormal and weight loss of sufficient degree to normalize pancreatic function. The Belfast diet study provides an example of moderate weight loss leading to reasonably controlled, yet persistent diabetes. This study showed that a mean weight loss of 11 kg decreased fasting blood glucose levels from 10.4 to 7.0 mmol/L but that this abnormal level presaged the all-too-familiar deterioration of control (87).
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.
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.
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
Even as things stand now, there are a lot of people left out in the cold. A 2016 study, for instance, found that only 41,000 people with diabetes annually get bariatric surgery in the US—fewer than 5 percent of the total new cases diagnosed every year. And the longer someone has diabetes, studies have suggested, the less likely they are to go into remission if they eventually get surgery. Getting those numbers up will not only require changing the minds of insurers, but public opinion, too.
The fact these improvements can happen independently of weight loss should also signify a shift in how we conceptualize both obesity and diabetes, according to Peter Billings, the Seattle bariatric surgeon who operated on Benari. Billings, a nearly 20-year veteran in the field, has started to perform surgery on other lower-BMI patients similar to Benari, though they often pay out of pocket.
Type 2 diabetes has long been known to progress despite glucose-lowering treatment, with 50% of individuals requiring insulin therapy within 10 years (1). This seemingly inexorable deterioration in control has been interpreted to mean that the condition is treatable but not curable. Clinical guidelines recognize this deterioration with algorithms of sequential addition of therapies. Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are known to be the major pathophysiologic factors driving type 2 diabetes; however, these factors come into play with very different time courses. Insulin resistance in muscle is the earliest detectable abnormality of type 2 diabetes (2). In contrast, changes in insulin secretion determine both the onset of hyperglycemia and the progression toward insulin therapy (3,4). The etiology of each of these two major factors appears to be distinct. Insulin resistance may be caused by an insulin signaling defect (5), glucose transporter defect (6), or lipotoxicity (7), and β-cell dysfunction is postulated to be caused by amyloid deposition in the islets (8), oxidative stress (9), excess fatty acid (10), or lack of incretin effect (11). The demonstration of reversibility of type 2 diabetes offers the opportunity to evaluate the time sequence of pathophysiologic events during return to normal glucose metabolism and, hence, to unraveling the etiology.
A success story? Perhaps. But experts advise caution. For one thing, because Sweet Eze contains six different ingredients -- and because the severity of diabetes symptoms can fluctuate on their own -- it's hard to say what exactly is responsible for Cottingham's improvement. For another, supplements carry their own risks. Some products don't contain the ingredients listed on their labels. Others come mixed with dangerous -- and unlisted -- ingredients. And scientists are just beginning to verify which ones actually work.
Secret #5) Avoid all processed foods. Avoid eating refined anything. That includes white breads, processed meat (which strongly promotes diabetes) and dairy products. Switch from cow's milk to almond milk (Blue Diamond brand is good, but I suggest you avoid the Silk brand). Reduce or eliminate cheese from your diet. If you eat meat, eat only fresh unprocessed meat, never eat processed packaged meat because it contains sodium nitrite, a chemical that destroys pancreas function. This means no pepperoni pizza, no ham and potato soup, no deli meat sandwiches and so on.
Eating meals at regular times generally makes this easier. Although eating on schedule may work well for younger kids, sticking to a routine can be a challenge for older kids and teens, whose school, sleep, and social schedules often vary. The diabetes health care team can help you work through any problems your child might have with scheduling meals and insulin injections.
A spice that is popular for soothing your stomach and aiding digestion, Ginger also has the ability to normalize blood sugar levels. Multiple studies conducted on rats show that ginger extract can have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect. It lowers serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol levels. Diabetes is a digestive disorder. Diabetics often face issues with acid reflux. Ginger soothes the entire digestive tract, giving diabetics another reason to add ginger to their supplement regimen.
The only reason to continue to give this bad advice is the lingering fear of natural fat. If you’re going to avoid fat you need to eat more carbohydrates in order to get satiated. But in recent years the old theory about fat being dangerous has been proven incorrect and is today on its way out. Low-fat products are simply unnecessary. So this reason doesn’t hold up either.
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The immune system of a person with diabetes kills off useful “beta” cells, but the UT researchers say they have found a way to make other cells in the pancreas perform the necessary work. Their approach, announced earlier this month in the academic journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, not only would have implications for Type 1, formerly called juvenile diabetes, but also could help treat the far more common Type 2 variety, also known as adult-onset diabetes.
Formal recommendations on how to reverse type 2 diabetes in clinical practice must await further studies. In the meantime, it will be helpful for all individuals with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes to know that they have a metabolic syndrome that is reversible. They should know that if it is not reversed, the consequences for future health and cost of life insurance are dire, although these serious adverse effects must be balanced against the difficulties and privations associated with a substantial and sustained change in eating patterns. For many people, this may prove to be too high a price to pay, but for those who are strongly motivated to escape from type 2 diabetes, the new understanding gives clear direction. Physicians need to accept that long-term weight loss is achievable for a worthwhile proportion of patients (96). In the United States, diabetes costs $174 billion annually (97), and in the United Kingdom, it accounts for 10% of National Health Service expenditure. Even if only a small proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes return to normal glucose control, the savings in disease burden and economic cost will be enormous.
Because TCM defines diabetes as a disease characterized by Yin deficiency and excess internal heat, an example of a dietary prescription would be to consume spinach, which is cooling, “strengthens all the organs, lubricates the intestines, and promotes urination.”7 A recommendation might be to boil tea from spinach and drink 1 cup three times/day. Other foods considered to be cooling and beneficial for diabetes include vegetables and grains, such as celery, pumpkin, soybeans (i.e., tofu, soymilk), string beans, sweet potato/yam, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet. Fruit remedies, which act in specific therapeutic ways, include crab apple, guava, plum, strawberry, and mulberry.7 It is generally recommended that patients eat a wide variety of seasonal foods and avoid or minimize consumption of sweets and fruits. Meals should be smaller, eaten more frequently, and eaten at regular times each day.
Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
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Chronic exposure of β-cells to triacylglycerol or fatty acids either in vitro or in vivo decreases β-cell capacity to respond to an acute increase in glucose levels (57,58). This concept is far from new (59,60), but the observations of what happens during reversal of diabetes provide a new perspective. β-Cells avidly import fatty acids through the CD36 transporter (24,61) and respond to increased fatty acid supply by storing the excess as triacylglycerol (62). The cellular process of insulin secretion in response to an increase in glucose supply depends on ATP generation by glucose oxidation. However, in the context of an oversupply of fatty acids, such chronic nutrient surfeit prevents further increases in ATP production. Increased fatty acid availability inhibits both pyruvate cycling, which is normally increased during an acute increase in glucose availability, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, the major rate-limiting enzyme of glucose oxidation (63). Fatty acids have been shown to inhibit β-cell proliferation in vitro by induction of the cell cycle inhibitors p16 and p18, and this effect is magnified by increased glucose concentration (64). This antiproliferative effect is specifically prevented by small interfering RNA knockdown of the inhibitors. In the Zucker diabetic fatty rat, a genetic model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, the onset of hyperglycemia is preceded by a rapid increase in pancreatic fat (58). It is particularly noteworthy that the onset of diabetes in this genetic model is completely preventable by restriction of food intake (65), illustrating the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Sometimes people with type 2 diabetes are able to bring their blood glucose levels under control through a combination of weight loss, diet, and exercise, but many people with diabetes take medication to manage their condition. For some, a single diabetes medication is effective, while in other cases a combination of drugs works better. “If diabetes control is suboptimal on the maximum dose of one medication, it’s prudent to add on a second agent,” says Deepashree Gupta, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
Remember that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and the right medication are all critical to managing type 2 diabetes. Taking the medication your doctor has prescribed for you is key. “Medication adherence can help with glycemic control and A1C reduction, which we know helps with decreasing diabetic complications, like neuropathy, as well as kidney disease,” Gupta says.
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“Three years after receiving two administrations of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine four weeks apart, all members of a group of adults with longstanding type 1 diabetes showed an improvement in HbA1c to near normal levels – improvement that persisted for the following five years. The study from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team – published in npj Vaccines – also reports that the effects of BCG vaccine on blood sugar control appear to depend on a totally novel metabolic mechanism that increases cellular consumption of glucose.
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