Type 2 Diabetes is a serious health epidemic – it is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. (and worldwide), and has numerous health problems that typically come along with it, including overweight and obesity, systemic inflammation, impaired circulation, lowered immunity, vision problems, kidney malfunctions, and increased risk of infections, amputations, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stroke.
According to a large-scale study published in Sept 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), over half of all U.S. adults has either Pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, and nearly 1/3 of those afflicted are undiagnosed.
Pre-diabetes is defined as a +/- 90 day average blood sugar (as measured by an hbA1C test) of 5.7% to 6.4%, and/or a fasting blood sugar (aka fasting blood glucose or fasting plasma glucose) level of 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL, and/or a 2-hour post-meal blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL. Pre-Diabetes is a mid-level stage in the progression of Diabetes, which means that while it has likely been developing slowly over many years, it is easier to turn things around and regain optimal health at this point than it is once it reaches the full-blown Type 2 Diabetes level (though that is reversible too!) And though it is avoidable in most cases, the vast majority of people who develop Pre-Diabetes eventually progress to full-blown Type 2 Diabetes, which is diagnosed as a +/- 90 day average blood sugar (hbA1C) of 6.5% or greater, and/or a fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or more, and/or a 2-hour post-meal blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or more.
The progression of Type 2 Diabetes begins with the development of Insulin Resistance, where the cells of the body no longer open the door to insulin as readily when it comes to deliver blood sugar to the cells. Insulin is a hormone that escorts sugar from the blood into cells to either be used immediately for fuel or stored as fat for later use. When the cells are regularly bombarded with carbohydrates from the foods we eat, they eventually get too full and say “stop!” by not allowing insulin in to deposit more sugar. But sugar that is allowed to stay circulating in the blood is caustic and inflammatory, so the body makes more and more insulin in an effort to shove the extra sugar in the blood into our cells, like these “subway pushers” in Japan:
All of that extra sugar and insulin constantly trying to get into the cells makes the cells more deaf – or, resistant – to insulin’s signal; hence the term Insulin Resistance. At this point, with the extra sugar stuck in the bloodstream outside the cells, one’s blood sugar is more elevated for more of the time, and the cells continue to get more and more resistant to insulin’s signal. So the pancreas pumps out more and more insulin trying to pry the cells open to take in more sugar, and the cells cover their ears and say ‘I can’t hear you…’
and round and round it goes, until eventually, Pre-Diabetes and then Type 2 Diabetes develop. [If this cycle goes on long enough, eventually the pancreas gets tired and can’t make as much insulin (and sometimes quits making insulin altogether), and then insulin must be taken orally and/or injected.]
So the root problem with both Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes (as well as with many other health issues) is Insulin Resistance, and restoring Insulin Sensitivity is the key to reversing these diseases and improving overall health.
How to Restore Insulin Sensitivity
To accomplish this, a multi-pronged approach over the course of at least a few months is typically needed:
- Implementing a very low carb (aka VLC / HFLC / Ketogenic / Keto), nutrient dense diet, ideally under the careful guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner.
- The regular use of stress-reduction techniques such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga, play, etc., in part to help reduce the overproduction of cortisol, a stress hormone which raises blood sugar.
- A customized herbal medicine and supplement regimen.
- Getting good and enough sleep on a regular basis and on a fairly regular schedule.
- Appropriate quality and quantity exercise for your body and goals.
Have you – or someone you care about – been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes / Metabolic Syndrome / Insulin Resistance? If so, and you’re looking to reverse or avoid Type 2 Diabetes using natural methods instead of medications, you’ve come to the right place!
At the Sunflower Wellness Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dr. Emily Franklin guides patients step-by-step in implementing the multi-pronged approach discussed above – diet, lifestyle and health-supporting treatments including herbal medicine, supplements, and acupuncture – to naturally reverse and avoid Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome/Insulin Resistance, achieve a healthy body weight (ie. healthy body fat percentage), and improve overall wellness and longevity in the process.