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Lifestyle Changes More Effective Than Medications in Diabetes


If you've ever wondered whether or not you can reverse diabetes, or prevent it, the answer is yes. Whole food diets and lifestyle changes have consistently proven themselves capable of reversing Type II Diabetes. New research now shows that these choices are more effective than medications. 


The landmark Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) clinical trial proved that lifestyle changes were more effective than the leading medication choice, Metformin. Lifestyle intervention was less costly and produced an increase in health over a 10 year period, as opposed to placebo.

In the DPP study, lifestyle changes were shown to be 58% effective, while Metformin was only 31% effective. Lifestyle changes were also free of the common side effects associated with diabetes drugs. The effectiveness of Metformin matches what Dr. Allen Roses, former head of genetic research at GlaxoSmithKline and current  Director of the Deane Drug Discovery Institute at Duke University, has publicly stated about medications on the whole. "The vast majority of drugs - more than 90% - only work on 30 or 50% of the people," Dr. Roses said.  

Diabetes is an epidemic of modern industrialized societies, with more than 1.9 million new cases a year in the United States alone. By 2015, it is estimated that there will be 37 million Americans with Diabetes. 

Part of the reason for the increase in diabetes is due to an increase in the rate of obesity and an increase in the level of physical inactivity, two co-factors for diabetes. 

"The DPP demonstrated that the diabetes epidemic can be curtailed. We now show that these interventions also represent good value for the money," said study chair David M. Nathan, M.D., director of the Diabetes Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston."

An easy intervention that I have seen helpful with many of my pre-diabetic and diabetic patients over the years, is a food-based approach that utilizes frequent snacking throughout the day. This Blood Sugar Protocol is as follows:

You’ll need to eat at least a small handful of food every 45-60 minutes (60 minutes usually works). That can be 1/3 of a celery stick or carrot, ¼ of an apple, ½ of an avocado, a rice cake, a meal, some veggies, etc., to keep your blood sugar balanced. It is very important that you follow this strictly, as almost doesn’t work. Anyone with problems handling fruit, should stick to celery, meats, avocado, etc., for snacks. Fruits will probably not work for those with more severe blood sugar regulation issues. Celery is very easy to prepare and carry with you. Plan your day around having enough of something with you at all times. As an example – Wake up at 7am -have something right when you get up; if you then eat breakfast at 8am, then snack at 9, 10, 11; lunch at 12; snack at 1, 2, 3, 4; dinner at 5; snack at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; snack at bedtime, 11pm. Have a snack as soon as you get up, then go about getting ready for your day and making breakfast. It is important to do this for at least 4 months. Additionally, it’s important to start the day with protein and have protein at every meal.

The best lab tests for determining whether or not you have a blood sugar issue is the Glucose Tolerance Test. Many labs are no longer performing this test however, so doctors are unable to prescribe it.

Another approach would be a functional assessment. If you get tired, irritable, sleepy, moody, or have food cravings when you go too long without food, you most likely have a low blood sugar issue (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia can affect your hormones - estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones; suppress the immune system; cause adrenal fatigue; create sugar cravings; alter sleep cycles;  promote inflammation; and cause various disturbances in the nervous system such as anxiety, depression, nervousness, brain fog, etc. In addition to hypoglycemia, many people will also have hyperglycemia/insulin resistance (feeling tired after meals) during the day. If you have either one or both, the above Blood Sugar Protocol can be helpful.

Physical activity is another area most of us can improve. Engaging in daily activity can help to reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes. The US guideline for adults is to engage in 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, as a minimum. For better results, more activity is encouraged.

In the end, what we are willing to do for ourselves will always have a greater impact on our health and the lifestyle we are able to pursue for years to come.



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