The Top Science-Backed Ways To Reverse Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a silent killer. Of the approximately 26 million Americans (1) who have this dangerous disease, many don’t even know it. Yet, it is a leading cause of heart disease and many other health complications. Once called “adult onset diabetes,” this disease now affects a growing number of children, ravaging not only quality of life but quantity, as diabetes shortens lifespan by up to 10 years. (2)
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In 2012 alone, the U.S. spent more than $245 billion on diabetes, but in spite of this, the disease continued to spread, increasing in the population by 41 percent in just 5 years. By the year 2020 the diabetes epidemic is projected (3) to have cost us around $3.35 trillion over the preceding decade. This epidemic seems poised not only to bankrupt the United States, but in Europe as well. (4) With billions being spent, you would expect an improvement, but it’s estimated (5) that by 2020, 50 percent of the United States will be either affected or at risk.
Right now, we aren’t doing much to combat this health emergency. Diabetics are given very few options in mainstream medicine. They are typically told to do three things: 1. Take this pill, 2. Lose weight, and 3. Come back in six months. Taking a pill may be easy, but when the pill doesn’t help, many feel left to fend for themselves, saddled with weight loss resistance that makes losing weight much harder than they may have thought.
Many try to research the subject but are inundated with a seemingly endless stream of conflicting information marketed to people with this disease. The problem with a billion-dollar industry is that profits tend to trump patient care. In my experience, most people newly diagnosed with type II diabetes are trying to do the right thing, but they are simply overwhelmed with misinformation and propaganda.
At the heart of the propaganda machine is the pharmaceutical industry, which spends 19 times more (6) on self-promotion than they do on actual research. The ugly truth behind most of medications prescribed today is that they are anything but magic pills. They have negative, sometimes dangerous side effects (like bladder (7) cancer). They often don’t make people feel any better (and sometimes make them feel worse). And most importantly, they are not designed to heal. They are for masking symptoms and making lab tests look more normal, even when they do nothing to address the root cause of the disease.
These medication dosages typically have to be increased until no other option is left but to go on insulin, since they are not addressing the destruction of the pancreas, which continues to progress. When nothing changes but your prescription list, it’s really disheartening. When you’re told to lose weight but are given medications that make you gain weight, it’s discouraging. It’s no wonder so many people give up and just accept their poor health.
But here is a sober truth: Nobody is sick from a deficiency of pharmaceuticals. What many are sick from is a deficiency of the things the body needs to fix its own blood sugar imbalance. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution because people develop diabetes for different reasons. In functional medicine, we see high blood sugar as the body’s “check engine” light. Instead of covering up the light with a prescription and telling you to keep on living life normally, we look at why your blood sugar is high in the first place.
Investigating a blood sugar imbalance involves a close-up-and-personal look at the intricate, complex systems that regulate the dance of blood sugar and insulin. The players include your brain, thyroid, adrenal glands, liver, pancreas, gut, and cell membranes, all working synergistically to regulate blood sugar and insulin. When we look at this balance diagnostically, we can often see internal and external forces contributing to this imbalance.
For the full picture, we investigate food intolerances, chronic infections, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies. Instead of simply matching the diagnosis with a corresponding drug, we design a thorough health program for the individual (which may or may not also include medication, but which, especially in the early stages, may not require this).
Is it possible to makeover our failing system? I certainly hope so. You know what they say – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity! The mainstream model is looking in the wrong place. If I lost my car keys in my car, but hired all the best detectives and spent billions of dollars to look for the keys in my office building, what good would it do? For the sake of our health and our lives, we need to start looking somewhere else. Functional medicine may just help you get back to the place where you lost those keys and put you back on the path toward wellness.
8 Ways To Fight Diabetes Naturally
1. Green tea
A compound in green tea, EGCG, has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels of moderately diabetic mice just as effectively as a prescription pharmaceutical diabetic medication. Adding a cup or two per day (or taking a supplement) might do the same for you.
2. Alpha-lipoic acid
In several studies, alpha-lipoic acid appeared to help lower blood sugar levels, and its free-radical-busting antioxidant action may also help with the peripheral neuropathy so many diabetics experience. A 2006 study found that taking alpha-lipoic acid for diabetic neuropathy reduced symptoms compared to the placebo. Alpha-lipoic acid also strengthens immunity, improves energy in cells, protects brain cells against excitotoxicity, and helps the body more efficiently eliminate excess toxic metals. The suggested dose for diabetics and diabetic neuropathy: 400 mg twice a day.
When chromium levels are low, HDL levels tend to fall, insulin resistance is more likely to develop, and triglyceride levels tend to rise. The chain of events can lead to diabetes or pre-diabetes as well as increasing heart disease risk. The solution may be chromium supplementation, which has been shown to improve insulin receptor function, reduce hemoglobin A1c (a marker of blood sugar control over time), decrease inflammation, and normalize glucose levels. Best food sources of chromium include onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and sea vegetables.
4. Cinnamon extract
A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin shows great potential for diabetics because it may alter the insulin-signaling activity in fat cells. A half teaspoon of cinnamon a day has also been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels and triglycerides in people with type II diabetes.
5. Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10)
This supplement has been shown to lower blood glucose in diabetics by 30%. CoQ10 increases cellular energy and is an antioxidant. One study showed an oral dose of 100 mg CoQ10 twice daily effectively lowered blood sugar levels in diabetics.
6. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle seed extract contains powerful antioxidant properties. One study showed that people who received a 200 mg milk thistle tablet three times per day before meals for four months saw improvements in their blood sugar compared to placebo.
7. Omega-3 fatty acids
You’ve probably heard that you should eat more fish for the omega-3 fatty acidsd that can lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks, but this special kind of fat is a multi-tasker and has been shown to convert the potentially harmful very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) into LDL, decreasing cellular inflammation, which is essential for diabetics!
8. Panax Ginseng
A study out of University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine found that mice who were given daily 150 mg dosages of Panax Ginseng Berry Extract had significantly improved glucose tolerance and normal blood sugar levels after just 12 days!
Personalize your solutions
These are suggestions for natural ways to lower blood sugar, but even with natural solutions, what works for one person may not be right for the next. Everyone is different in many ways so certain treatments may work for you but others may not. Working with a clinician trained in functional medicine or another qualified natural health practitioner can help find a safe, effective natural solution designed for your individual needs, to get your blood sugar under control and get healthier.
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- Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million CDC January 26, 2011. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0126_diabetes.html
- Diabetes in the UK 2010: Key statistics on diabetes Diabetes UK March 2010. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/resources-s3/2017-11/diabetes_in_the_uk_2010.pdf
- Pat Wechsler UnitedHealth Predicts $3.4 Trillion Diabetes Decade Bloomberg November 23rd 2010. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-23/unitedhealth-says-diabetes-will-cost-3-4-trillion-over-the-next-decade
- Diabetes threatens to ‘bankrupt’ NHS within a generation The Guardian 25 April 2012. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/25/diabetes-treatment-bankrupt-nhs-generation
- Jane E. Allen Half of American Adults Headed for Diabetes by 2020, UnitedHealth Says ABC November 25th 2010. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Diabetes/diabetes-half-us-adults-risk-2020-unitedhealth-group/story?id=12238602
- Alexander Eichler Pharmaceutical Companies Spent 19 Times More On Self-Promotion Than Basic Research: Report Huffington Post 9 August 2012. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pharmaceutical-companies-marketing_n_1760380
- Nancy Walsh Study Affirms Actos Bladder Cancer Risk Medpage Today 31 May 2012. https://www.medpagetoday.org/endocrinology/diabetes/33012?vpass=1
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.
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