5.4
July 15, 2014

5 Steps to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes & Insulin Resistance.

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Breaking news: some newly discovered compounds have just been found to turn off all of the genes that cause diabetes.

Are these compounds found in a pill bottle? No! Instead, you’ll find them on your dinner plate—in rye bread and pasta.

As I wrote in another blog about diabetes, rye contains special phytonutrients that turn off all the genes responsible for diabetes—in just a few weeks. I explained how to find out if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. Half of the 24 million people with diabetes don’t know they have it and nearly all the 60 million people with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it.

Today, I want to share with you more information about what you can do now to prevent and reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes.

And rye bread isn’t the only answer—I’ve got a lot more good advice, too.

But first I want to emphasize new research that should be headlines news but never saw the light of day. Do our current drugs treatments for diabetes actually work to prevent heart attacks and death?

Surely lowering blood sugar in diabetics is an effective strategy for reducing the risk of death and heart disease. It would seem obvious that if diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar, then reducing blood sugar would be beneficial.

However elevated sugar is only a symptom, not the cause of the problem. The real problem is elevated insulin unchecked over decades from a highly refined carbohydrate diet, a sedentary lifestyle and environmental toxins.

Most medications and insulin therapy are aimed at lowering blood sugar through increasing insulin. In the randomized ACCORD trial of over 10,000 patients, this turns out to be a bad idea.

In the intensive glucose-lowering group, there were no fewer heart attacks, and more patients died. Yet we continue to pay $174 billion annually for this type of care for diabetes, despite evidence that lifestyle works better than medications. We also pay for cardiac bypass and angioplasty in diabetics when evidence shows no reduction in death or heart attacks compared to medication.

So now that we know what doesn’t work, let me review what does work.

Dietary Recommendations to Reverse Diabetes

Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver detoxification is the key to preventing and reversing insulin resistance and diabetes.

This is a way of eating that based on a whole foods diet that’s high in fiber, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, and low in sugars and flours, with a low glycemic load.

It is a way of eating that includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying foods. It includes plenty of omega-3 fats and olive oil, soy products, beans, nuts, and seeds.

All these foods help prevent and reverse diabetes and insulin resistance. This is the way of eating than turns on all the right gene messages, promotes a healthy metabolism, and prevents aging and age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Here are more specifics.

Meal Timing

>> Eat protein for breakfast every day, such as whole omega-3 eggs, a soy protein shake, or nut butters.
>> Eat something every four hours to keep your insulin and glucose levels normal.
>> Eat small protein snacks in the morning and afternoon, such as a handful of almonds.
>> Finish eating at least two to three hours before bed. If you have a snack earlier in the day, you won’t be as hungry, even if you eat a little later.

Meal Composition

>> Controlling the glycemic load of your meals is very important.
>> You can do this by combining adequate protein, fats, and whole-food carbohydrates from vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit at every meal or snack.
>> It is most important to avoid eating quickly absorbed carbohydrates alone, as they raise your sugar and insulin levels.

Travel Suggestions

Two handfuls of almonds in a zip-lock bag make a useful emergency snack. You can eat them with a piece of fruit. Remember, real food is the best.

What to Eat

>> Choose from a variety of the following real, whole foods:
>> Choose organic produce and animal products whenever possible.
>> Eat high-quality protein, such as fish—especially fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, sable, small halibut, herring, and sardines—and shellfish.
>> Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sable contain an abundance of beneficial essential fatty acids, omega-3 oils that reduce inflammation. Choose smaller wild Alaskan salmon, sable, and halibut that are low in toxins. Canned wild salmon is a great “emergency” food.
>> Eat up to eight omega-3 eggs a week.
>> Create meals that are high in low-glycemic legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans (try edamame, the Japanese soybeans in a pod, quickly steamed with a little salt, as a snack). These foods slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which helps prevent the excess insulin release that can lead to health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
>> Eat a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables teeming with phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, which are associated with a lower incidence of nearly all health problems, including obesity and age-related disease.
>> Eat more low-glycemic vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
>> Berries, cherries, peaches, plums, rhubarb, pears, and apples are optimal fruits. Cantaloupes and other melons, grapes, and kiwifruit are suitable; however, they contain more sugar. You can use organic frozen berries (such as those from Cascadian Farms) in your protein shakes.
>> Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries (these are rich in polyphenols), dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes, and nuts.
>> Eat more antioxidant-rich foods, including orange and yellow vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, etc.), anthocyanidins (berries, beets, grapes, pomegranate), purple grapes, blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cherries. In fact, antioxidants are in all colorful fruits and vegetables.
>> Include detoxifying foods in your diet, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese broccoli), green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa.
>> Season your food with herbs such as rosemary, ginger, and turmeric, which are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and detoxifiers.
>> Avoid excessive quantities of meat. Eat lean organic or grass-fed animal products, when possible. These include eggs, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, buffalo, and ostrich. There are good brands at Whole Foods and other local health-food stores (also see mail order sources).
>> Garlic and onions contain antioxidants, enhance detoxification, act as anti-inflammatories, and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
>> A diet high in fiber further helps to stabilize blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and supports a healthy lower bowel and digestive tract. Try to gradually increase fiber to 30 to 50 grams a day and use predominantly soluble or viscous fiber (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit), which slows sugar absorption from the gut.
>> Use extra virgin olive oil, which contains anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants, as your main cooking oil.
>> Soy Products such as soymilk, soybeans, and tofu are rich in antioxidants that can reduce cancer risk, lower cholesterol, and improve insulin and blood sugar metabolism.
>> Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, including raw walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin and flax seeds.
>> And yes—chocolate can be healthy, too. Choose only the darkest varieties and eat only 2 to 3 ounces a day. It should contain 70 percent cocoa.

Decrease (or ideally eliminate) your intake of:

>> All processed or junk foods
>> Foods containing refined white flour and sugar, such as breads, cereals (cornflakes, Frosted Flakes, puffed wheat, and sweetened granola), flour-based pastas, bagels, and pastries
>> All foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
>> All artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Sorbitol, etc.) and caffeine
>> Starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips
>> Processed fruit juices, which are often loaded with sugars (Try juicing your own carrots, celery, and beets, or other fruit and vegetable combinations, instead)
>> Processed canned vegetables (usually very high in sodium)
>> Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (which become trans fatty acids in the bloodstream), such as most crackers, chips, cakes, candies, cookies, doughnuts, and processed cheese
>> Processed oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and canola
>> Red meats (unless organic or grass-fed) and organ meats
>> Large predatory fish and river fish, which contain mercury and other contaminants in unacceptable amounts, including swordfish, tuna, tilefish and shark
>> Dairy—substitute unsweetened, gluten free soymilk, almond milk, or hazelnut milk products
>> Alcohol—limit it to no more than 3 glasses a week of red wine per week

Balance Blood Sugar with Exercise

Exercise is critical for the improvement of insulin sensitivity. It helps reduce central body fat, improving sugar metabolism. Regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of complications, and even help reverse it.

Ideally you should do 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking after dinner is a powerful way to reduce your blood sugar.

More vigorous exercise and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe insulin resistance or diabetes. Doing sustained aerobic exercise for up to 60 minutes five to six times a week is often necessary to get diabetes under full control. You want to work at 70 to 85 percent of your target heart rate, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying that number by 0.70 to 0.85.

Interval training can be an added benefit to helping improve your metabolism and mitochondrial function. It helps to increase the efficiency calorie burning so that you burn more calories and energy during the time you are not exercising. This is described in detail in UltraMetabolism.

Strength training also helps maintain and build muscle, which can help also with your overall blood sugar and energy metabolism.

Supplements that Can Help Reverse Diabetes

Nutritional supplements can be very effective for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. I recommend a number of different supplements, depending on the severity of the problem:

>> A multivitamin and mineral.
>> Calcium and magnesium and vitamin D.
>> Fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg) a day improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
>> Extra magnesium (200 to 600 mg a day) helps with glucose metabolism and is often deficient in diabetics.
>> Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg day) is very important for proper sugar metabolism.
>> Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) are important in helping to reduce and balance blood sugar.
>> B-complex vitamins are important and are part of a good multivitamin. Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and >> B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) are especially helpful in protecting against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
>> Biotin (2,000 to 4,000 mcg a day) enhances insulin sensitivity.
>> I also encourage people to use alpha-lipoic acid (300 mg twice a day), a powerful antioxidant that can reduce blood sugar significantly. It also can be effective for diabetic nerve damage or neuropathy.
>> Evening primrose oil (500 to 1,000 mg twice a day) helps overcome deficiencies common in diabetics.
>> I encourage people to use cinnamon as a supplement. One to two 500 mg tablets twice a day can help blood sugar control.
>> Other herbs and supplements that can be helpful include green tea, ginseng, bitter melon, gymnema, bilberry, ginkgo, onions, and garlic. Fenugreek can also be used to help improve blood sugar ,although large amounts must be taken.
>> Banana leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa) can be an effective herb. Take 24 mg twice a day.
>> I recommend konjac fiber, such as PGX (WellBetX), four capsules 10 minutes before meals with a glass of water. This helps reduce blood sugar after meals and improves long-term blood sugar control while reducing appetite and cholesterol.

Rahul Gaywala

Manage Diabetes by Managing Stress

Stress plays a dramatic role in blood sugar imbalances. It triggers insulin resistance, promotes weight gain around the middle, increases inflammation, and ultimately can cause diabetes. So it’s essential to engage in relaxation practices on a regular basis, such as yoga, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hot baths, exercise, meditation, massage, biofeedback, hypnosis, or even making love. Your survival depends on it.

Use Medications if Necessary

A number of medications may be helpful for diabetes. There are several specific classes of medications, each with their own effects. Sometimes combinations are helpful.

These are the main classes.

  1. The biguanides, especially metformin (Glucophage), is one of the best medications to improve insulin sensitivity. It can help lower blood sugars by improving your cells’ response to insulin.
  2. Thiazolidinedione drugs are a new class of diabetes medication and can help improve uptake of glucose by the cells by making you more insulin-sensitive. They also reduce inflammation and help improve metabolism working on the PPAR, a special class of cell receptors that control metabolism. They can cause weight gain and liver damage. Thiazolidinediones include rosiglutazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos).
  3. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose and miglitol, which can help lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates in the intestines, reducing the absorption of sugar after meals. And there are newer medication on the market every day.

Older medications include sulfonylureas include glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride. I strongly recommend against these medications because they only reduce your sugar in the short term and cause further insulin production, which actually worsens diabetes over the long term. They have also been linked to high risk of heart attacks, which you are trying to prevent. They treat the symptoms rather than the cause.

Insulin is the last resort after all other measures have failed and often leads to a slippery slope of weight gain and increased cholesterol and blood pressure. Many patients have been able to come off insulin entirely if they are treated early and aggressively through the other methods I’ve listed.

Diabetes and its precursor, insulin resistance, are looming as the major threat to our health in the 21st century. It will affect one in three children born today, and one in two minority children. This is a tragic consequence of our toxic food environment, our unmitigated exposure to stress, our sedentary lifestyle, and environmental toxins.

However, these problems are completely preventable and often reversible through aggressive lifestyle changes, supplements, and exercise and stress management.

Diabetes is the biggest health epidemic triggered by the obesity epidemic, but all of our medical efforts to treat it are focused on medications and insulin. It is simply the wrong approach.

If you follow these guidelines instead, you will see a dramatic change very quickly in your health, your weight, and your diabetes.

Just try it!

Now I’d like to hear from you…Have you been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes? Have you been told that you must take drugs to treat it? Which of these steps do you plan to take and which are you already trying? What are the results?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Andrea Rose/Flickr, Rahu Gaywala/Pixoto

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Jane Feb 2, 2015 7:32am

Dear Dr. Mark!
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes Sept.29th with a high of 395 A1C. I was shocked, because I eat well, exercise 1-1 1/2 hrs. a day, and am 5'7"–145lbs., aged 65–though always have been active —so not the usual diabetic patient. I discovered after checking family history that on my Dad's side—his brother, sister, and Mom had symptoms and one had been diagnosed. After I got over the shock, I tightened what was a very good diet–except for a few occasional lapses—-even more. I'm bookmarked the above info. I did follow the above, after doing my own research and went from a 395 A1C Sept.29th to 130A1C in 3 months. I was in denial for about a month and started one pill of Mitformin(500mg) on Oct.25th and avoided all refined anything. I'm happy with my progress. I feel this is a life decision. I want quality of life and have managed to go out to dinner, a party etc. and have found that it is manageable. Organic, unsalted nuts are my go-to if I need a snack, cashew butter with Ezekiel toast for breakfast, coffee with cream, eggs, veggies, organic meat(fistsize) fruit every once in awhile. Is Green Leaf Stevia okay to use in plain yogurt. I find if I eat it as a dessert, my nos. are higher at night. I find that I'm managing my nos. but have gained 5 pounds. Would that be the Mitformin? I continue to lift, do the elliptical for an hour 15mins. 3-4 times a week and walk my dog uphill for an hour a day everyday for 2-3 miles. What next? I'm not tempted to eat beans, lentils, barley,oatmeal etc. because the carb count is too high. 1/4-1/2 a cup does not fill you up and uses 35-39 carb grams of a 53 carb allowance for a meal. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Dan Sacapano Dec 29, 2014 5:48pm

God bless Dr. Mark Hyman! This article is a "Keeper"…especially to individuals looking for hope in the natural treatment of diabetes.

Can Diabetes be Cured?

Medical science employs a logical approach to health based on studies and research that after publication thereof often changes. The changes sometimes are a complete reversal of previous conclusions based on past studies. My point is that the human body can and will often correct itself from its former harmful practices which have resulted in poor health conditions.

However, the truth of this premise is dependent upon a couple of important factors…1) What you take into your body and…2) What you neglect to take into your body. Obviously, this is a broad open spectrum with many influencing variables. Isn't it amazing though, that an individual's diet and lifestyle is a prime factor to healthy living?

That said, would you agree that 'You are what you eat.?" and…that for you and for me, our food is our medicine and our medicine is our food? Conventional medicine considers testimonials of people naturally cured of diabetes to be anecdotal at best simply because of the lack of hard scientific data. That again is conventional medicine's perspective.

Interesting to me is that experts are on both sides of this argument. Experts at odds with each other on this are credible. Hence, I lean toward the non-conventional approach to responding to diabetes.

See more at: http://www.wisehealthsource.com/diabetes/get-our-
-Dan Sacapano

Jenny Sep 14, 2014 7:39am

I must comment in reply to the comments; I’m not the author; I am a random visitor having done an online search on Insulin Resistance.

Most of the comments I’m reading are coming from people with little to no prior self-education in health; however I sincerely applaud you for beginning to become your own health advocates.

Let me begin in expounding upon Carbohydrates. There are two kinds of carbohydrates; Simple and Complex, and while the simple are all bad for us.. there are yet still notable health differences with the complex – not necessarily negative for the most healthy of people, but still different.

Simple Carbohydrates can be broken down all the way to sugar; which, we find especially in the combinations of flour products; as such in Bakery items, and such items on shelves in the grocery aisles; like breads. Many – dare I say foods – are comprised of simple carbohydrates; most everything with added sugars; no matter the type of sugar. Not to mention all the listed added chemicals and hydrogenated oils! It’s a recipe for health disaster.

Complex Carbohydrates more often than not come in the form of natural whole foods. Many say that Pasta is a complex carbohydrate, but I digress somewhat; I myself believe this is borderline, and thankfully I don’t eat pasta all that much; though I do enjoy it. Some complex carbohydrates immediately are digested and are broken down in the small intestines; where the glucose is released in small amounts; not being completely released into the bloodstream. This greatly benefits the overload of glucose and allows for better cell absorption. Without proper cell absorption the glucose stores itself in fat tissue; increasing fat and weight gain. Also increased glucose stays in the bloodstream far longer than it should; creating other health problems. When there is a sustained (through lifestyle) increase of glucose in our bloodstream and fat tissues this helps lead to Insulin Resistance; depending on what other lifestyle choices are also in play. I find that sustained (chronic) stress along with a sustained intake of simple carbohydrates.. that these two factors alone can induce full-on diabetes.

Everything else this author noted on can be cross-referenced as well, so get to it. However, aside from learning more in your studies.. everything this author did note on is otherwise still healthy. All readers across the board need to take in consideration their own health, and possible ailments, because while healthy foods and nutrients are healthy.. they sometimes counteract the improvements we hope to notice in ourselves, and they sometimes also counteract with medications people take.

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Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.
Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Hyman works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa nominated Dr. Hyman for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, Dr. Hyman has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health MattersAchieving Wellness in Every Generation conference and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as with the World Economic Forum on global health issues.
Dr. Hyman also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen,he created The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church congregation collectively lose 250,000 pounds.  He is an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show and is on the board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating American students about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in a major documentary, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, called Fed Up (Atlas Films, September 2014)which addresses childhood obesity. Please join him in helping us all take back our health at his website, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.