Diabetes is categorized into two types; type 1 and type 2. Both types of diabetes are categorized by a disorder of insulin production, usage of insulin in the body, or both. The pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone, which is responsible for moving glucose (sugar in the blood) into cells of the body. This process is triggered when a high level of glucose is present in the bloodstream. The liver and the muscles receive signals to store glucose away as glycogen. Insulin "tells" the cells to store glucose in the form of fat, to reserve energy for future usage. Insulin receptors are found in all cells throughout the body. Blood glucose levels are normally stable in a healthy individual.

Type 1 diabetes, which has also been known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is considered a progressive autoimmune disease, in which the beta cells that produce insulin are slowly destroyed by the body's own immune system. It is unknown what initiates this process. Evidence suggests that both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as a viral infection, are involved in causing the condition. Insulin replacement therapy is usually required as the body no longer produces any insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 – 95% of cases. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond properly to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas may become exhausted and unable to produce insulin in adequate amounts. The disease is progressive and several stages occur. Insulin and glucose levels will be elevated during the early stages, while in the later stages insulin levels drop and blood glucose levels are raised. Treatment of type 2 diabetes should be adapted to the specific stage of the disease present.

Frequently Asked Questions

Obesity is the cause of most of the increase in the prevalence of diabetes in younger adults but only part of the increase in older adults. Worldwide, there is an urgent need for a new approach to the treatment of diabetes, as existing and conventional approaches have failed us. Alarmingly, the leading cause of adult blindness, amputation and an epidemic of heart disease have been singled out as diabetes.

It is imperative that those diagnosed with diabetes, and those with a strong predisposition to developing diabetes comprehend why and how blood sugar causes damage throughout the body. These individuals need to take preventative action to limit and interrupt these processes. The most damaging process is called glycation. This chemical process involves proteins in the body binding to sugar molecules, which then forms irreversible structures in the body. These proteins cannot be utilised again. This process has an impact in the development of detrimental complications arising in diabetics, such as blindness, heart attacks and nerve damage, to name a few.

Another process that needs to be halted in diabetics is oxidative stress. Oxidation takes place due to free radical damage throughout the body, particularly the arteries. Supplementation with the right anti-oxidants is key in limiting oxidative stress through free radical damage, which will lower the risk of complications developing in diabetic individuals.

There is substantial evidence that sleep duration - which is very short in sleep apnea patients - may be an important risk factor in the development of diabetes. Sleep deprivation in healthy humans alters:

  • Glucose homeostasis - the organism's tendency to maintain the balance of insulin and glucagon in order to keep a healthy blood glucose level.
  • The disruption of glucose homeostasis is mostly found in people with diabetes.
  • Insulin sensitivity - the sensitivity to insulin is decreased.
  • This means that you'll need larger amounts of insulin to keep the blood glucose stable.
  • If the pancreas cannot produce larger amounts of insulin, you'll need injections.
  • A low sensitivity to insulin is mostly common in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Risk of obesity and diabetes - the risk is increased for people who have many disruptions during sleep, such as apnea episodes.

Glucose intolerance, which is a precursor to diabetes, is manifested by glucose levels rising higher than normal and for a longer period after an intravenous dose of glucose. Researchers have found that stimulating repeatedly the sympathetic nervous system, a person can develop in time glucose intolerance. Stopping breathing during sleep can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. This leads to release of cortisol and other vasoactive intermediates, which may mediate the development of glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and, ultimately, type II diabetes.

Conventional therapy has been shown to be deficient – but it is important to understand why, before discussing therapy for type 2 diabetes. Traditionally, type 2 diabetics have been instructed to increase their insulin levels, in order to enhance transfer of blood glucose out of the blood and into the cells, in an attempt to lower blood glucose levels. Regrettably, this recommendation is flawed and does not make much sense.

Type 2 diabetics generally present with impaired insulin utilization, rather than a defect in insulin production. Therefore often type 2 diabetics have raised insulin levels, also known as hyperinsulinemia. The sensitive receptors located on cell membranes become "deaf" or resistant to the "message" of insulin, meaning that more and more insulin has to be produced in order to reduce elevated levels of blood sugar. This means blood glucose absorption becomes less efficient, and the individual will have more damaging glucose in the blood (exposing the arteries to risk of glycation occurring).

Treating elevated blood sugar, fat hormones and insulin resistance alone will have inferior results. In order to have to best possible result all other potential causes of inflammation must be addressed as well.

1. Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid sugar, fructose and grains
  • Eat less saturated and trans fats
  • Lose weight
  • Balance you sex hormones with bio identical hormone replacement therapy
  • Stop smoking
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce your stress

2. Supplementation/Nutraceuticals

3. Medical treatments

4. Sleep Studies – ensure you get a good night sleep between 6-8 hours. When you sleep too little – or too long – your nervous system stays alert, which will interfere with hormones that regulates blood sugar. A lack of sleep has also been shown to affect levels of leptin and ghrelin, two of the hormones linked with appetite and eating behaviour. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormones that tells your brain there is no need for more food, while increasing levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

Book a consultation with our Health Renewal doctors for Diabetes.

Patients with diabetes type 2, will use supplementation that is tailor made for their requirements. It is very important that patients don`t self-medicate Diabetes type 2. Self-Medication is when patients decide to take prescription medication or nutraceuticals without consulting with a physician first, and can be very harmful to the body. The Doctor will decide which combination of supplements or drugs will be best suited to each individual’s requirements and deficiencies, after assessing a full medical history, blood tests and full examination.

It is vital for patients to note: Under no circumstances should people suddenly stop taking diabetic drugs, especially insulin. A type 1 diabetic will never be able to stop taking insulin.

However, it is possible to improve glucose metabolism, control, and tolerance of diabetes with the following supplements:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (a powerful anti-oxidant)
  • R-lipoic acid
  • L-Carnitine
  • Carnosine,
  • Chromium,
  • Cinnamon extract
  • CoQ10 (in the form of ubiquinol,
  • DHEA (depending on blood results)
  • Fibre (i.e. oat bran)
  • Omega 3 (EPA & DHA)
  • Garlic
  • Ginko Biloba
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • Green tea extract
  • NAC
  • Vitamin D3
  • Magnesium
  • Resveratrol
  • Propolmannan
  • Pycnogenol taken daily may help reduce health risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome such as type 2 Diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, which thus improves cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C & E
Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff