Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays -- and builds up-- in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. And, if left untreated, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.
For 15 years, Erez Benari’s struggle with his type 2 diabetes had been a losing one. A software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Benari had stuck to a restrictive diet that kept him off most carbs, along with regular insulin shots. But still, his high blood sugar levels never dropped, while his health continued to decline. In 2013, the then 39-year-old Benari suffered a heart attack.
The old “bring people to the table” metaphor rang especially egregious to the artist and writer Anasa Troutman, who had a similarly revelatory vision for wellness: “Unless we’re willing to make a commitment to community, we will never be well. Even if you wake up every morning and drink your juice and do your yoga, without that commitment to each other we will not be well as a country and as a world,” Troutman said.
This is the advice that diabetics received a hundred years ago. Even in Sweden, with the high fat-Petrén diet that included fatty pork cuts, butter and green cabbage. And when diabetics start eating this way today the same thing happens as it did in the past. Their blood sugar levels improve dramatically from day one. This makes sense, as they avoid eating what raises blood sugar.
Diabetes mellitus occurs throughout the world but is more common (especially type 2) in more developed countries. The greatest increase in rates has however been seen in low- and middle-income countries, where more than 80% of diabetic deaths occur. The fastest prevalence increase is expected to occur in Asia and Africa, where most people with diabetes will probably live in 2030. The increase in rates in developing countries follows the trend of urbanization and lifestyle changes, including increasingly sedentary lifestyles, less physically demanding work and the global nutrition transition, marked by increased intake of foods that are high energy-dense but nutrient-poor (often high in sugar and saturated fats, sometimes referred to as the "Western-style" diet). The global prevalence of diabetes might increase by 55% between 2013 and 2035.
Type 2 diabetes was also previously referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), or adult-onset diabetes mellitus (AODM). In type 2 diabetes, patients can still produce insulin, but do so relatively inadequately for their body's needs, particularly in the face of insulin resistance as discussed above. In many cases this actually means the pancreas produces larger than normal quantities of insulin. A major feature of type 2 diabetes is a lack of sensitivity to insulin by the cells of the body (particularly fat and muscle cells).
The bionic pancreas is another project from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital in a joint effort to create a bionic pancreas, a type of artificial pancreas which not only includes insulin but also glucagon to raise blood sugar. The system is intended to use an algorithm that checks every 5 minutes to calculate the amount of insulin or glucagon needed. The project has recently formed into a public benefit corporation called Beta Bionics. This newer structure allows it to serve not just shareholders, but also the public good. Beta Bionics also became the first American company to raise over a $1 million from small investors under new public investing rules!
According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, over 30 million people living in the United States have diabetes. That’s almost 10 percent of the U.S. population. And diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, causing, at least in part, over 250,000 deaths in 2015. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to reverse diabetes and the diabetes epidemic in America.
With Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Most people with diabetes—9 in 10—have type 2 diabetes. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (though increasingly in children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight if you’re overweight, healthy eating, and getting regular physical activity.
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Big pharma are in the early stages of developing their own cell therapy approaches for diabetes. Novo Nordisk, one of the largest providers of diabetes treatments, is bidding for stem cells and an encapsulation device, stating that the first clinical trial could take place in the “next few years.” Sanofi, also a big name in diabetes, is working with the German Evotec in a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetics.
Nerves help orchestrate this digestive tour de force, says Bragg, by telling the muscles what to do. Uncontrolled diabetes, though, can damage the nerves, leading to some GI missteps. “It has to do with hyperglycemia [high blood glucose],” says Bragg. “We don’t know the exact mechanism.” We do know that blood glucose control can both prevent and improve GI dysfunction.
The results of his medical tests are still being analyzed, Darkes said, but he hasn't needed insulin injections for a year and a half. "It took a long time to sink in," he noted. But Darkes is confident he no longer has type 1 diabetes. He said that doctors told him that he has a "rare" gene that somehow facilitated his cure. "I'm the only one who carries [the gene], at the moment," and there's no further explanation so far, he said.
Metformin is generally recommended as a first line treatment for type 2 diabetes, as there is good evidence that it decreases mortality. It works by decreasing the liver's production of glucose. Several other groups of drugs, mostly given by mouth, may also decrease blood sugar in type II DM. These include agents that increase insulin release, agents that decrease absorption of sugar from the intestines, and agents that make the body more sensitive to insulin. When insulin is used in type 2 diabetes, a long-acting formulation is usually added initially, while continuing oral medications. Doses of insulin are then increased to effect.
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may use other tests to diagnose diabetes. For example, they may conduct a fasting blood glucose test, which is a blood glucose test done after a night of fasting. While a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is normal, one that is between 100 to 125 mg/dL signals prediabetes, and a reading that reaches 126 mg/dL on two separate occasions means you have diabetes.