Diabetes treatment and understanding its causes has come a long way in recent years. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. It is also the primary cause of kidney failure, limb amputations, and new onset blindness in adults. Diabetes is also one of the major causes of heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time.
Diabetes brings a host of symptoms and complications, and all of them have to do with our body’s production and usage of insulin. The pancreas creates the hormone insulin, which regulates how much glucose reaches the cells in our body. Glucose circulates in the bloodstream and is a major source of energy. Glucose comes from the breakdown of most of the food we eat. Diabetics do not produce enough insulin, or do not use the insulin they produce properly. Sometimes both of these factors play a role. The result is that your blood glucose level is too high.
The most common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Frequent urination
- Always feeling tired
- Increased thirst, hunger, or both
- Sudden weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Very dry skin
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Wounds or bruises that heal slowly
Type 1 Diabetes – Previously called juvenile diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is when your body does not produce insulin. This form of diabetes usually occurs during childhood or the teen years. The only cells in our body that produce insulin are pancreatic beta cells, and when the body’s immune system destroys these types of cells, type 1 diabetes develops very quickly. Without adequate insulin production, blood glucose levels increase drastically and cause a condition called hyperglycemia. Insulin injections are required for type I diabetics.
Sometimes after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you go through a period where it appears you have overcome the disease. However, usually this period only lasts for a few months to perhaps a year, where you do not require insulin. After that time, most of your insulin-producing cells, if not all, will be destroyed and you will have to totally rely on insulin injections as part of your diabetes treatment.
The life expenctancy for people with this type of diabetes is 15 years less than the average person. Causes of type I diabetes are not clear, but there are certain risk factors such as genetics, autoimmune disorders, and environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes accounts for less than 10% of all cases of diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes – This type of diabetes is much more common and used to be known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. This type develops slowly over time, but is beginning to affect more and more people at ever younger ages. The reasons for this is due to an increase in the comsumption of refined carbohydrates and the obesity epidemic.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
- Over 45 years of age
- Family history
- A previous occurrence of gestational diabetes, or a pregnancy where the baby weighed over nine pounds.
- Ethnicity: African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at greater risk.
- High blood pressure
- Lack of exercise
- HDL cholesterol lower than 35 or triglycerides above 250
People with type 2 diabetes still produce insulin, but their bodies are no longer responsive to the insulin they produce. Their bodies try to produce more insulin to counteract the resistance, but in time, the production can not keep up with the increased resistance. This causes blood sugar levels to rise.
High blood pressure is common in people with type 2 diabetes. According to a study in England, controlling your blood pressure is even more important than blood sugar levels. If you have type II diabetes, your blood pressure should be no higher than 120/80 mmHg. Risk of heart attack or stroke is greater with even a modest increase over this level.
Gestational Diabetes – This is a form of type 2 diabetes that only affects pregnant women. Approximately five percent of women in their third trimester of pregnancy will develop gestational diabetes. Fortunately, this is just a temporary condition, but serious problems can still result. Most of the same risk factors are present with this type of diabetes, and women who develop this type have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years after their pregnancies.
In rare cases, about one percent of the time, diabetes develops due to other factors. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is one disease that can trigger the onset of diabetes. Certain drugs can temporarily cause diabetes, such as beta-blockers and corticosteroids. Malnutrition and infection can also cause diabetes in rare cases.
Diabetes treatment options – Most complications arising from diabetes are related to vascular problems resulting from damaged endothelial cells. High levels of free radicals are responsible for this damage, which causes decreased nitric oxide production. Diabetic complications usually follow this progression of events. A heart healthy diet that boosts nitric oxide production should be your first diabetes treatment option. This can reduce endothelial damage and potentially stop complications from diabetes.
It is known that nitric oxide reduces blood pressure and can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy. This is a condition that can occur when an especially bad type of atherosclerosis associated with diabetes develops, which affects both the smaller and larger blood vessels. An overgrowth of very small vessels in the eyes can develop, and these blood vessels are very fragile. If they rupture, then blindness can occur.
People with diabetes produce too much superoxide anion, which destroys nitric oxide. It is extremly important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of foods that are high in antioxidants as part of your diabetes treatment. Avoid fruit juice if you have diabetes, instead opting for whole fruits, because they contain fiber that slows down the absorption of sugar from the fruit.
Most people with diabetes have abnormal blood lipids, with HDL cholesterol levels too low and triglyceride levels too high. Their LDL cholesterol may be at a normal level, but this may still be too high for someone with diabetes. Controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids should be a top priority for your diabetes treatment.
Dr. J. Joseph Prendergast, one of the nation’s premier diabetes treatment specialists, and recipient of the American Diabetes Association’s top honor in 2008 states that “Patient empowerment is probably the most philosophically exciting idea to emerge in medicine in recent years. Patients can, and must, be educated to play the primary role in maintaining their own health. I have seen it work and have had the great satisfaction over the past 30 years of helping thousands of individuals live full and active lives.” Dr. Prendergast offers an online diabetes and metabolic management program to offer you the opportunity to use strategic health and telemedicine to manage your diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Prendergast has implemented a treatment protocol since 1991 that incorporates L-arginine, a common amino acid, and vitamin D. He helped formulate the popular nutritional supplement, ProArgi-9+. The results he has seen over these years are what prompted the American Diabetes Association to honor him for:
* Saving more lives than any other physician in the USA
* Clinically testing and documenting the results of more than 6,000 of his own patients
* Not admitting ONE patient to a hospital in 19 years
* Not losing ONE patient to Heart Attack or Stroke in 19 years
Until recently, sulfonylureas were the only available medications for treating type 2 diabetes. This type of medication stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin. DiaBeta (glyburide), Diabinese (chlorpropamide), and Orinase (tolbutamide), are in this class of drugs, along with several others. A slightly different reaction causes an increased production of insulin with non-sulfonylureas. The most common drug from this class is metformin.
There are new medication available now for type 2 diabetes treatment that make the body more sensitive to the insulin it produces, as opposed to increasing insulin production. These types of drugs include the thiazolidinediones Actos (pioglitazone) and Avandia (rosiglitazone).
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are an effective diabetes treatment for some people. These medications, often called “starch blockers” slow down the absorption rate for carbohydrates. This reduces the spike in blood glucose levels. Some examples of this type of medication are Glyset (miglitol) and Precose (acarbose).
Dr. Prendergast began using the injectable drug, Symlin, as part of his diabetes treatment regimin in his patients in March, 2005. The FDA approved this drug to benefit both type 1 and type 2 diabetics by helping them control their blood glucose levels. Its primary use has been with people who have not done well on insulin therapy. Symlin is a synthetic version of amylin, a hormone that is secreted along with insulin. When used with insulin, Symlin helps lower blood sugar after eating a meal for three hours. Some patients have experienced some weight gain while taking this drug.
A sister drug to Symlin that came about around the same time is Byetta. Dr. Prendergast believes that Byetta may be capable of completely reversing diabetes. It was a long process of getting this drug to the market, and it experienced several roadblocks along the way. The potential for this drug is great, but there are also some risks. In FDA trials, Byetta caused seriously low blood sugar levels. Rather than banning it, though, the FDA compared its tremendous benefits to its risks. In order to more closely monitor and explore its potential, it was only made available to 80 doctors in the U.S. and Dr. Prendergast was one of those doctors. Company officials carefully monitored the work of those doctors and the progress of their patients.
Dr. Prendergast has seen remarkable results with his patients on Byetta and believes it could be the next miracle drug. Cells dying due to diabetes are capable of regrowing. Byetta was made available for diabetes treatment to the general population in 2005. It has tremendous potential when used correctly, and it would be worth asking your doctor if it may be useful for your treatment.
There are additional drugs that are being developed for diabetes treatment that may increase your options. Drugs can affect people in different ways, so having various options is important to find out what works best for you.