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By Dr. Keith E. Lewis
May 22, 2008

Diabetes mellitus is the most common endocrine disorder affecting the US population.  Approximately 20 million patients are believed to have or have been diagnosed with diabetes and in reality there are probably many, many millions more that are diabetic, however, have not been diagnosed. Diabetes mellitus is in reality a group of disorders that have in common hyperglycemia and a risk for long-term complication. 

Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called insulin dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed. This is classically a disease of children and young adults.  Recent studies indicate that type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, classically occurs in adults, especially the elderly, but recently it has been diagnosed to show more frequency in children and as a matter of fact, at an alarming rate, the diagnosis has increased in children. 

The long-term complications of diabetes are divided into two: 

Microvascular complications affecting the eye, kidney, and nerve and of course macrovascular complications which accelerate atherosclerosis which can ultimately result in the risk of amputation, myocardial infraction, and stroke. The basic mechanism of each of these complications is a combination of the adverse affects of hyperglycemia on tissues, stimulation of various growth factors and secondary effects of conditions frequently associated with diabetes such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia. 

Type 1 diabetics have an inability to produce insulin, so consequently insulin has to be administered from an external source.

Type 2 diabetics do produce insulin and in most cases a normal quantity of insulin.  However, they do suffer from a condition known as insulin insensitivity. Basically, what this means is that the cells themselves and the receptor sites on those cells no longer recognize insulin. Consequently, as blood sugar levels increase, blood sugar is not driven into the cells by insulin. These patients do not absorb sugar properly for energy and are considered to be type 2 diabetics. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics do respond favorably to lifestyle modification and exercise. Type 2 diabetics are in general much easier to treat with lifestyle change and exercise. However, many diabetics have a difficult time complying with those types of changes. 

Although our discussion concerning diabetes will include both types 1 and 2 diabetics, the primary types of patients I have treated in my office have been type 2 diabetics. We have found clinically that type 2 diabetics respond very favorably to alteration in diet.  We have placed many patients on a low glycemic index type diet and have found very favorable results in terms of controlling their blood sugar levels. The glycemic index basically is a categorization of different food groups based on their effect on blood sugar levels. Foods that raise blood sugar levels dramatically are considered to be a high glycemic foods. Foods that have a slower or lower impact on blood sugar levels are considered low glycemic foods. These foods have been studied and several hundreds of foods have been studied and glycemic values have been placed on these foods. We do have guidelines available on our websites that are available to you. Just feel free to contact us if you would like more information concerning glycemic index and glycemic diets.

We have also found that the treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes responds very well to exercise. When I say exercise, I am not talking about going to the gym four, five, or six days a week and spending an hour or two in the gym. I am talking about simple exercises. Exercise is as simple as walking around the block twice on a consistent basis. We have found that the amount of exercise is not as important as the consistency of performing an exercise. We have many of our patients purchase pedometers and actually monitor their steps per day with a goal of 10,000 steps per day seeming to be a nice rounded number which many patients are able to achieve. Diet and exercise are a must for diabetic control. 

We have also found that nutritional supplementation in terms of vitamins, minerals, homeopathic supplements also help manage and maintain blood sugar levels, but they also help improve insulin sensitivity at a cellular level, so our bodies can identify insulin. That in itself helps manage, monitor and control blood sugar level. 

I found a variety of different vitamin supplements that actually help manage and monitor blood glucose levels. 

Biotin supports glucose metabolism and induces enzymes and encourages cellular retention of glucose, thus slowing glucose release into the blood stream.

Chromium polynicotinate promotes the formation of glucose tolerance factor or GTF needed for insulin function and subsequent control of glucose and liquid levels.

Vanadyl sulfate encourages normal glucose metabolism by supporting tissue insulin responsiveness.

Alpha lipoic acid assists safe disposal of excess glucose and discourages formation of damaging advanced glycation end products.

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine reduces oxidative stress crucial in controlling advanced glycation formation and inhibiting damage to pancreatic cells.

Banaba extract helps maintain normal transport of glucose in the cells.

Gymnema assists regeneration and repair of pancreatic beta cells and maybe responsible for the reduction of intestinal glucose absorption. Gymnema is also an excellent herb in curbing the carvings for refined carbohydrates or sugars.

Cinnamon extract enhances both insulin secretion and intracellular insulin signaling, improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose metabolism.

Turmeric extract assists blood sugar regulating ability and is highly protective of ocular tissues. I have developed a combination product called GlucoBalanceTM which contains all these ingredients in a formulation that is proving very effective in management and control of blood glucose levels. 

Another condition that we have found increasing in terms of our patient population is the development of diabetic neuropathy.

Typically, patients with diabetic neuropathies experience tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain involving the lower extremities and occasionally the upper extremities. Often times, these patients have debilitating pain involving their legs, numbness to the effect they cannot feel their feet, they have difficulty walking, difficulty sleeping, and ultimately result in reducing their quality of life. We have treated other patients whose such conditions have developed or regressed to a point where they have actually developed lesions or ulcerations in their legs. We have found several different treatment modalities that have been very effective other than changing diet, nutritional supplementation, and trying to incorporate exercise into their diet. 

We have used low-level laser therapy and found it to be very effective in the treatment of the symptomatology associated with diabetic neuropathy.

We have also used infrared therapy, high volt electrical muscle stimulation therapy as well as ionic cleanse energizing foot bath have also been great adjuncts in the treatment of diabetic neuropathies. Most of our patients either incorporate one or all of these treatment modalities with great deal of success.