Since this is a deeper dive into prediabetes/diabetes, you probably want to read the first article I wrote about diabetes called Diabetes & Prediabetes: Can It Be Reversed?
But prediabetes and diabetes are affecting so many people currently I felt it necessary to add a little more to the above conversation.
The first article covers such things as damaging effects of diabetes, its causes and risk factors, how it is diagnosed, pharmaceutical treatments, and most importantly, how to naturally treat and reverse diabetes, as well as prediabetes.
This article will discuss signs and symptoms of diabetes, signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia, supplements that might be useful in reversing or at least prevent the disease worsening, and monitoring blood sugars, among other things.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
Because Type 2 diabetes typically has a gradual onset, there may not be noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages. As it progresses here are some that one may experience:
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirst, dry mouth
- Numbness & tingling
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decreased vision
- Frequent urination
- Patches of dark skin
- Fungal infections
- Poor wound healing
Monitoring Blood Sugars
One suggestion I have is to get a glucometer, if you don’t already have one. It is a small device that you can use to measure your blood sugars at home. In my opinion, it is an essential piece of equipment if you have diabetes. And highly recommended if you have prediabetes. By measuring your blood sugars periodically you can get an idea how well controlled your blood sugar is and what effects the healthy changes you are making are having on them. Thus it can spur you on or give you a wake up call. You can buy one on Amazon here, at the drug store, or even at Costco in their pharmacy behind the counter.
It is considered optimal by many to always have blood sugars in the range of 70-120 mg/dL, if you are non-diabetic.
However, if you have diabetes, you want your fasting blood sugars when you wake up in the morning to be no higher than 100 mg/dL, and no higher than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating. You also need to watch for blood sugars below 70 mg/dL, especially if you are taking oral diabetic medications or insulin injections. Severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be life threatening.
Signs & Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
If you have diabetes, hopefully your doctor has already provided you with this important information, but because it is so critical I will briefly address it here.
- Feeling shaky or irritable
- Confusion, not being able to think clearly
- Pale skin
- Irregular heart beat
If you have these symptoms, check your blood sugar level. If it is below 70 mg/dL, immediately eat some form of sugar. A juice box would be perfect. Then recheck your blood sugar 15 minutes later. If it is still low drink more juice or soda, eat a pack of Gummy Bears, or a few teaspoons of sugar, then recheck your blood sugar. Repeat this until your blood sugar is above 70 mg/dL and then eat something with protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Of course, if symptoms are severe, call 911.
Supplements You Might Want to Consider
Supplements can help stabilize and/or reverse prediabetes and diabetes, but make sure that you check with your doctor to make sure that there are no contraindications for the ones you are considering. The following information on supplements is only meant to give you an idea of what kind of supplements might be helpful. I encourage you to research further and talk to your doctor, especially one that focuses on more natural methods of treating diabetes like a naturopathic doctor or one trained in functional medicine.
Here are just a few examples:
When diagnosed with prediabetes, O’Connell started taking : Chromium to improve insulin sensitivity, magnesium, biotin to reduce insulin resistance, and alpha lipoic acid to lower blood sugar levels. His doctor later added CoQ10, an energy booster that is good for the mitochondria, and acidophilus, which is a probiotic.
Dr. Mark Hyman recommends a high-quality multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement (I like Oxylent, which comes in individual powder packets, similar to Emergen-C, but higher in quality), vitamin D 1000-2000 IU, alpha lipoic acid 300-600 mg twice daily, chromium picolinate 200-600 mcg, Omega 3’s 1000-2000 mg, and PGX, a fiber capsule taken before meals that helps control blood sugar and hunger.
Dr. Morstein thinks supplementation is important for reversing diabetes, but can also help a person feel more comfortable as they are healing. She devotes 22 pages to the topic supplementation in her book Master Your Diabetes, suggesting amounts on many of them. I suggest getting a copy of this book to further explore Morstein’s recommendations. It is a great reference bood. But I think it is interesting to note that one supplement that Morstein states, “if I could only prescribe one supplement to a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic-acid” and then goes on to list a number of reasons why, such as it can prevent certain diabetic complications, is protective to the liver, and it can help reduce insulin resistance.
Did you notice all three of the people above included alpha lipoic acid? The preferred form though is R-alpha-lipoic-acid, as it is the more active form.
Another good supplement to add is Berberine. It provides many healthful benefits, but one of them is its ability to lower blood sugars, triglycerides, and insulin resistance.
Personally, I like Dr. Hyman’s list, with perhaps the addition of a good probiotic, because I generally think less is more.
Further Discussion about the Causes of Diabetes
Causes of diabetes was addressed in my first article, but here is some additional information that may help with understanding. Or just confuse you more. It’s all pretty complicated. Sorry.
With Type 2 diabetes, at first there is plenty of insulin being produced by the pancreas, but because of insulin resistance in the cells, the demand for more insulin can lead to beta cell burnout in the pancreas. (However, Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Diabesity Code, disagrees that beta cells become burned out, claiming instead that the pancreas become fatty due to metabolic problems with insulin and glucose. Thus the pancreas is no longer able to output as much insulin because it is so clogged with fat.) So, either the cells are not able to properly utilize the insulin that is there, or there is insufficient amounts of insulin produced for whatever reason.
Let’s just take another look into what is going on. The major players in diabetes are insulin and glucose. Insulin, the hormone secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas, escorts the glucose from your blood into cells where it can be used for energy. The main problem occurs when insulin tries to move glucose into cells that are already too full of glucose and the cells are resistant to let in more. This is insulin resistance. The body then makes more insulin to help cram more glucose into the cells because the body is trying to protectively get the sugar out of the blood. At some point no more sugar can be stuffed in, so the sugar level in the blood rises.
Excess protein and carbohydrates that are eaten are stored in the liver as glycogen. When the glycogen stores are full, any incoming glucose is converted to fat and is exported to abdominal organs, skeletal muscles, and then accumulates in the liver. A fatty liver is caused by too much insulin and sugar over a long period of time.
However, Dr. Fung boils it down more, maintaining that excessive dietary glucose and fructose provokes Type 2 Diabetes by causing 2 defects: Defect #1) Fatty liver and fatty muscle cause insulin resistance. Defect #2) Fatty pancreas causes beta cell dysfunction. As mentioned above, this is due to the pancreas being clogged with fat.
Exercise in Treating
Exercise is very important component in treating diabetes.
Jeff O’Connell in Sugar Nation talks a lot about exercise and how different amounts are needed for different individuals depending on things like their fitness level and glycogen stores. His doctor told him that aerobic and strength exercises are both advised since they are helpful for healing from prediabetes/diabetes in different ways.
According to Dr. Fung, exercise helps empty the fat stored in muscles. Therefore it is essential to start somewhere with more movement, doing something sustainable and doable, that one can continue and build on for life. You have heard it said that, “Sitting is the new smoking”. Fung also maintains that a fatty liver can return to normal by dropping insulin levels and emptying the surplus glucose. Exercise helps with both. Fung claims that exercise is especially effective for burning fat in skeletal muscles.
“Emptying the liver of its surplus glucose and dropping insulin levels returns the liver to normal”. Fung claims that fatty liver is the “harbinger of insulin resistance”. Also playing into this is fat in the muscles and pancreas. When fat storage cells called adipocytes are too full, skeletal muscles accumulate fat deposits between the muscle fibers. Here again, exercise, in addition to eating low carb and intermittent fasting can help with insulin resistance.
Fung states, “Type 2 diabetes is simply an overflow phenomenon when there is too much glucose in the entire body”. Why is this a problem? To put it the most simply, the body operates the best under very controlled parameters. Anything higher or lower upsets the delicate way it is designed to function. Too much sugar can make your blood thicker and stickier, and damages both larger blood vessel and smaller blood vessels.
It is important to remember that diabetes causes a myriad of chronic complications like kidney disease, painful neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, and retinopathy. It can really adversely affect the way you age, your overall health, and your quality of life. (Or some that you love.) It is all too prevalent now.
Thus, it is absolutely imperative to keep your blood sugars controlled and to take aggressive measures to reverse insulin resistance, prediabetes and diabetes.
I have experience as an RN and a health coach helping people successfully reduce their blood sugars and Ha1c levels, and eliminate the need for oral diabetes medications and insulin. And it typically happens in a very short period of time. I can help in making diet, and other lifestyle changes with exercise, stress, and sleep. Contact me if you would like to schedule a free 20-minute consultation to explore working together.
Happy healing! There is hope!
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be medical advice. The information is meant to educate and inspire people that diabetes does not need to be a hopeless, irreversible condition. I recommend that you try any of the recommendations only after being evaluated by your health care provider, and with his blessing. And of course, if you are experience any alarming signs or symptoms, obtain medical treatment right away.
You might be interested in reading these other articles I have written:
Fung, J. (2018). The Diabetes Code. Van Couver, Canada: Greystone Books Ltd.