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Integrative Medicine Protocol For Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

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Integrative Medicine Protocol For Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes represents a massive health problem for modern society. Every year 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, the overwhelming majority being type 2 diabetes. Just over 11% of the population has this condition, the 7th leading cause of death in the US.

While these statistics sound frightening, there is good news. While genetics does play a role in type 2 diabetes, this condition is primarily driven by lifestyle and environmental factors you can control.

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What is Type II Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic metabolic condition marked by elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels brought on by the body's ineffective use or insufficient production of the hormone insulin. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, controls blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to enter the cells to be used as energy.

Type 2 diabetes is when your cells don't respond normally to insulin, resulting in insulin resistance. The pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in normal ranges. It's called non-insulin-dependent diabetes because the body can still make and use insulin, albeit ineffectively. Lifestyle factors are the primary driver of this condition.

Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is insulin dependent. It is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This causes an inability to produce insulin, which makes the person dependent on insulin injections for survival.

The elevated blood glucose levels characteristic of type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health problems over time, including heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, retinopathy (eye problems), and increased susceptibility to infections.

Type II Diabetes Symptoms

In type 2 diabetes, the inability to effectively use insulin and manage blood sugar levels results in many symptoms. Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Significant hunger or thirst
  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow wound healing
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Areas of darkened skin (usually around the neck and armpits)

It's important to note that not everyone with type 2 diabetes experiences symptoms, and some people may have mild symptoms. Being proactive about your health is vital to optimal wellness. Regular visits to your Functional Medicine practitioner will help identify biological imbalances that could indicate whether you are at increased risk for developing diabetes.

What Causes Type II Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. The primary risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • A diet high in refined and processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Various nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies are associated with type 2 diabetes, including inositol (a sugar produced by the body that supports blood glucose and insulin regulation), Vitamin D, and micronutrients (including zinc, chromium, and magnesium).
  • If you have a family history of diabetes, you're at higher risk of developing the condition yourself.
  • The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases in people over 45.
  • People of certain ethnicities, including Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Those with blood sugar levels above normal but not high enough to be in diabetic ranges (prediabetes) are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Disruption of the gut microbiome (the trillions of microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract), called dysbiosis, is associated with this condition.
  • Evidence indicates that the toxins increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. This includes toxins such as Bisphenol A (BPA, a chemical used to produce plastics), arsenic, dioxin, and others, many commonly found in pesticides.
  • The circadian rhythm is the body's internal 24-hour clock that syncs up with our daily light and dark cycles. Disruption in the circadian rhythm is associated with type 2 diabetes, which includes disruption to regular sleep patterns.

It's important to note that having one or more of these risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop type 2 diabetes, but it's essential to be aware of them and make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for Root Cause of Type II Diabetes

An Integrative Medicine protocol for reversing type 2 diabetes begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Your practitioner will dive deep into your lifestyle, past medical history, and environmental exposures to assess what physical and functional laboratory evaluations will be necessary to identify the root causes of your type 2 diabetes.

Hormone Testing

Cortisol and melatonin are hormones that are released in circadian cycles. Cortisol rises in the morning to signal to the body that it's time to rise and shine, and melatonin increases at night to signal that it's time for that deep rest that sleep provides. The DUTCH Plus™ evaluates the morning cortisol rise (called the Cortisol Awakening Response, or CAR) and melatonin levels. If you struggle with insomnia, this test also allows you to collect a cortisol sample during the night.

Micronutrients Testing

Evaluating micronutrients in the body will determine whether deficiencies or insufficiencies are present. This will help your Integrative Medicine practitioner create targeted supplement recommendations to support your healing process.

This comprehensive Micronutrients Panel by Vibrant America evaluates many micronutrients in the body, including Vitamin D3, inositol, magnesium, zinc, and chromium, which may be associated with type 2 diabetes.

Blood workup

A comprehensive blood workup will provide helpful baseline information regarding blood sugar regulation, blood lipid levels, and information about liver and kidney function, which can become impaired in type 2 diabetes. A comprehensive workup for type 2 diabetes would include CBC, CMP (which tests fasting blood glucose levels), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, and a lipid panel.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Testing

An oral glucose tolerance test measures blood sugar levels before and after drinking a sugary beverage to determine how well your cells respond to glucose.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is important to help manage diabetes. This can be done through self-monitoring with a glucose meter or continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices.

Comprehensive Stool Analysis

Comprehensive stool testing will provide valuable information about the gut microbiome to determine whether dysbiosis is affecting your diabetes.

Toxin Testing

Evaluating toxins in the body with a urine test, such as the Vibrant Wellness Total Tox-Burden, will help your practitioner determine whether toxin exposure is contributing to the root cause of your diabetes.

Conventional Treatment for Type II Diabetes

There are times when conventional treatments are necessary, in conjunction with lifestyle modifications and natural therapies, to provide an Integrative Medicine solution that supports your best healing process.

Conventional medical treatments for type 2 diabetes typically focus on managing blood sugar levels through medication.

Oral medications

Several medications treat type 2 diabetes, including metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors. These medications work in different ways to lower blood sugar levels.

Insulin therapy

In some cases, people with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. Insulin is typically injected under the skin or delivered through an insulin pump.

Integrative Medicine Treatment Protocol for Type II Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is primarily driven by lifestyle, so it should be no surprise that the best way to reverse type 2 diabetes is to begin with lifestyle changes.

Exercise is an excellent place to start when it comes to improving blood glucose and insulin regulation. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the development of type 2 diabetes by 30-50%. If you have previously lived a sedentary lifestyle and adding exercise sounds daunting, there's good news. Research shows that walking for just 15 minutes after meals can significantly improve glucose control.

Nutrition For Type II Diabetes

Nutrition plays a critical role in managing type 2 diabetes. An Integrative Medicine protocol for reversing type 2 diabetes incorporates a nutritional plan that ensures adequate protein and healthy fats and emphasizes whole, organic, nutrient-dense, low glycemic, high-fiber foods. Low glycemic and high-fiber foods are important as they minimize blood sugar spikes and support better glucose control. A specific dietary approach with evidence to support its benefits for type 2 diabetes is the Mediterranean Diet. A Mediterranean Diet has been shown to support better blood glucose control and a healthy gut microbiome, which is an important consideration for those struggling with type 2 diabetes.

Another nutritional approach to consider for type 2 diabetes is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can help reverse or manage type 2 diabetes by improving blood glucose control. Fasting regimens vary, including alternate-day and time-restricted fasting, and have been shown to reverse insulin resistance and improve blood glucose levels.

If environmental toxin exposure is a factor in your diabetes, eating as organic and clean as possible is essential. The Environmental Working Group has a few resources to help you choose which foods to focus on purchasing organic (the Dirty Dozen list) and which conventional produce are less contaminated with pesticides (the Clean Fifteen list).

Stress Management For Type II Diabetes

Stress management techniques, including yoga and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy, have been shown to support improvements in blood glucose control.

Acupuncture Therapy For Type II Diabetes

Acupuncture therapy is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment that uses tiny needles at specific points on the body to improve energy flow and support healing and well-being. Acupuncture therapy has been shown to improve fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels in diabetic patients.

Supplements For Type II Diabetes

Myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol are forms of inositol that have been shown to significantly reduce fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels, indicating improvement in blood glucose control.

Supplementation to restore nutrients shown to be deficient or insufficient with micronutrient testing is vital for the optimal function of the body's biological processes, including blood sugar regulation. Vitamin D, zinc, chromium, and magnesium are nutrients that improve blood glucose control.

Various herbal supplements have been shown to improve parameters associated with better blood glucose control, such as fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and insulin levels. Herbal supplements that should be considered in an Integrative Medicine protocol for reversing type 2 diabetes include curcumin, cinnamon, berberine, and gymnema.

Probiotic supplementation is another crucial and helpful strategy for supporting type 2 diabetes. Probiotics have not only been shown to treat dysbiosis by creating beneficial changes in the gut microbiome, but they have also been shown to improve blood glucose control in diabetes.

If toxin exposure is determined to be involved in the root cause of your type 2 diabetes, your practitioner will recommend various foods and supplements to support your body in detoxification. Foods that help the body's detoxification mechanisms include cruciferous vegetables, berries, celery, carrots, parsnips, parsley, garlic, onions, and grapefruit. Staying adequately hydrated is also critical when undergoing detoxification treatments. Supplements that support detoxification include glutathione, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), Vitamin C, milk thistle, and fiber.

Circadian Rhythm For Type II Diabetes

Making changes that support the natural circadian rhythm of the body can be helpful for better glucose control as well as supporting overall well-being. Lifestyle modifications that support getting adequate sleep will help support better glucose control. Supplementing with melatonin at night before bed may help support better sleep if you suffer from sleep issues. Melatonin may also support better glucose control when it's taken away from food. Studies indicate elevated melatonin concentrations with food intake reduce glucose control. This supports the notion that eating close to bedtime is not a health-promoting habit.  

Summary

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition in which the body's cells don't respond to insulin properly. This reduces the ability of glucose to enter the cells to produce cellular energy and results in elevated blood glucose levels. This condition can negatively affect your overall health and well-being and lead to other chronic diseases.

An Integrative Medicine Protocol for reversing type 2 diabetes includes a thorough understanding of your genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that may be contributing as a root cause. A well-rounded treatment approach relies heavily on lifestyle modifications, including physical activity and dietary changes, as well as supplementation and other therapies to support your unique biology in overcoming this condition.

If you're struggling with type 2 diabetes and feel overwhelmed by the thought of changing your lifestyle, you may find it encouraging to know that even small changes can be helpful. For example, walking for just 15 minutes after meals can significantly improve blood glucose control. Talk with your practitioner about the steps you can take to improve your blood glucose control and reverse your type 2 diabetes.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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