Patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may discover that if they are overweight at diagnosis and then lose weight and begin regular physical activity, their blood glucose returns to normal. Does this mean diabetes has disappeared? No. The development of type 2 diabetes is a gradual process, too, in which the body becomes unable to produce enough insulin for its needs and/or the body's cells become resistant to insulin's effects. Gradually the patient goes from having "impaired glucose tolerance" — a decreased but still adequate ability to convert food into energy — to having "diabetes."
Henry Cole, 67, from New Jersey, USA, did likewise. He saw a 20-second news clip on TV and took up the diet days later. He stuck rigidly to 600 calories daily from just protein (steak, chicken, turkey or fish) plus green veg, eating his one meal at 6pm most days, with coffee and calorie-counted cream for breakfast and 1.5 litres of water. His weight went down from 81kg to a stable 70kg on a now daily 1,500 cal diet, with his HbA1c level down to 5.6% from 6.9%.
Eight categories of diabetes medicine are available in pill form: metformin (a biguanide), sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, meglitinides, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2), dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, and bile acid sequestrants. Each medicine has good points and bad points. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.
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.
If you have type 2 diabetes and your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Blood sugar levels return to normal in 55 to 95 percent of people with diabetes, depending on the procedure performed. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than do other weight-loss surgeries.
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.”
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Can prediabetes be “cured”? In the early stages of prediabetes (and type 2 diabetes), diligent attention to food choices and activity, and most importantly weight loss, can improve blood sugar numbers, effectively “reversing” the disease and reducing the odds of developing type 2 diabetes. However, some people may have underlying factors (such as family history and genetics) that put them at a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, meaning they will always require careful attention to blood sugar levels and lifestyle choices. Returning to old habits will likely put someone back on the road to prediabetes, and eventually, type 2 diabetes.
Joseph, you should talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about this. In general, you can take metformin with most herbs, but your case might be different, and you might not need to. You might have to experiment. The same with insulin, although you have to be more careful there — in all cases you should work with your doctor or diabetes educator.
Within the hepatocyte, fatty acids can only be derived from de novo lipogenesis, uptake of nonesterified fatty acid and LDL, or lipolysis of intracellular triacylglycerol. The fatty acid pool may be oxidized for energy or may be combined with glycerol to form mono-, di-, and then triacylglycerols. It is possible that a lower ability to oxidize fat within the hepatocyte could be one of several susceptibility factors for the accumulation of liver fat (45). Excess diacylglycerol has a profound effect on activating protein kinase C epsilon type (PKCε), which inhibits the signaling pathway from the insulin receptor to insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1), the first postreceptor step in intracellular insulin action (46). Thus, under circumstances of chronic energy excess, a raised level of intracellular diacylglycerol specifically prevents normal insulin action, and hepatic glucose production fails to be controlled (Fig. 4). High-fat feeding of rodents brings about raised levels of diacylglycerol, PKCε activation, and insulin resistance. However, if fatty acids are preferentially oxidized rather than esterified to diacylglycerol, then PKCε activation is prevented, and hepatic insulin sensitivity is maintained. The molecular specificity of this mechanism has been confirmed by use of antisense oligonucleotide to PKCε, which prevents hepatic insulin resistance despite raised diacylglycerol levels during high-fat feeding (47). In obese humans, intrahepatic diacylglycerol concentration has been shown to correlate with hepatic insulin sensitivity (48,49). Additionally, the presence of excess fatty acids promotes ceramide synthesis by esterification with sphingosine. Ceramides cause sequestration of Akt2 and activation of gluconeogenic enzymes (Fig. 4), although no relationship with in vivo insulin resistance could be demonstrated in humans (49). However, the described intracellular regulatory roles of diacylglycerol and ceramide are consistent with the in vivo observations of hepatic steatosis and control of hepatic glucose production (20,21).
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.