We’ve been writing about diabetes and metabolic illness for some time now. Many of our recipes are hypoglycemic, especially our vinaigrettes, and our recipes use alternative sweeteners, except for breads which need actual sugar to help the yeast (otherwise, the only sugar you’d find in my home is organic turbinado sugar for the hummingbird feeder) . We’ve even invented a Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin (A Texas Sized Muffin) that raises blood glucose levels less than 15 points. And we wrote a very important article about AGE’s or Advanced Glycation End-Products and the gunk they produce in your body, while covering diet and supplementation needed to fight AGE’s as well as how to fight the damage done by the MG metabolite that comes into play with type two diabetes.
We did all this while I had convinced myself that I was maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. I’ve been supplemented with anti-inflammatories that are also hypoglycemic. Before a meal, I’d eat a sour pickle made with herbs that were both hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory. I’ve stayed active, playing tennis, rebounding, lifting weights. I thought I was in good health because I supplement and I try to keep a low-ish carb diet, while experimenting with hypoglycemic recipes. I’ve had guests who are diabetic and they always tell me that they use about 40% of the insulin they would have normally used, so I thought I must be doing well.
Oh, and those A1c commercials on TV? I ignored them for years because when I researched the drugs they were recommending, I found out that the drugs WERE KILLING THE PATIENTS!!! So I never learned what A1c was because the cure for it had the minor side effect of death.
Ask your doctor if dying early is right for you!
That is until recently . . .
I’ve since learned about Metformin (its history actually goes back to 1918), which isn’t killing people. But I’d already lost interest in this A1c stuff . . . and that was a huge mistake.
My overall health has not been all that good lately. The pandemic put weight on me. I hated the term “morbidly obese” so I asked my doctor to note: pandemically plump.
Then my PTSD began acting up. When people around you are dying due to stupidity and incompetence, it’s just like war again. The VA put me on some great drugs, which helped, but put me in a weird position with one doctor telling me to lose weight and the other giving me drugs that put it on. So again, I just gave up.
There is no way to diagnose long-haul COVID, but I might have it. Some of you know I’ve been working with a solution that cures COVID though I do not publish this because the FDA would shut me down, AND there are way too many whackos out there touting the craziest cures you’ll ever hear. . . (please, when you’re in a pandemic, trust the authorities more than the politicians or whacko leaning nutjobs) and you are probably wondering how I got long-haul COVID. Well, not everyone is on the internet. We should all know this. And people older than me are not smartphone savvy. So, yours truly visited well over fifty homes with the “solution” and gave them instructions (order a nebulizer, do it all day long!) and support, and sometimes I went out of my way to order nebulizers for them from Amazon because in Minnesota, buying one requires a prescription. Long story short, I caught “the bug” 5 or 6 times. Sure, I used the solution in a nebulizer to get over it, but all those times I’d had it, it did its damage. My lung capacity/efficiency has shrunk. Any heavy walking requires oxygen. Sucks, surely, but I helped save a few lives.
Our page on Chronic Inflammation has grown over the years into a Russian novel, as my proofreaders tell me. And I’ve had some trouble keeping my inflammation index down. Yes, I have obesity related inflammation, but on my last visit to my doctor, he reminded me that I also have stress related inflammation. And, I guess he’s right. My PTSD never really goes away. And it was intensified by the pandemic. So there’s that to work with.
Add to all this that I’d recently been admitted to the hospital with a PTSD emergency and my blood pressure was 211/111, so I’m quite lucky to still be here.
No, I do not want to live forever. But I know that most writers do their most brilliant work in their seventies. So, sure, let’s make it to eighty . . . but that ain’t gonna be easy.
Now get this:
With all the things I’ve been doing in the past to keep my blood sugar levels low, at my checkups, all I’d hear is: Your blood sugar is a bit high today.
So I kept up my regimen; made sure I had enough pickles in the house and supplements to keep my blood sugar from spiking. Big deal: blood sugar a bit high. I incorporated 500 mg of L-Carnosine and added a carb blocker. No big deal, right. For the past 10 years, I’ve heard, “Your blood sugar is a bit high.” So I just kept up my regimen.
This time, however, the VA had a captive audience. I was in lock-down. They took blood samples daily, and I met with my team daily. They didn’t like my lipid levels and I told them that I’d read Ancel Keys’ study, read the Congressional hearings, and that the science was horrible, the lipid hypothesis was worthless, and I’ve got statistics that show people with lower cholesterol levels are more likely to have a heart attack than people with high cholesterol levels (really depends on who’s putting out the statistics too). Then they hit me with my glucose levels, and I told them how I eat and how my recipes are hypoglycemic and perhaps my numbers will go down when I get home again.
Saying that opened the clouds and the sun broke in.
“These results are not from a single day, but a three month period.”
Could’a knocked me over with a pickle. I told them I’d never heard of that. And if it’s the case, put me on whatever drug you want.
I learned later that the drug was Metformin. I knew the name from the A1c commercials. But I still did not know what A1c was.
Additionally, my blood pressure was not coming down, and I agreed to go on BP meds, but that I would get home and find the nutritional cost of the drugs so I could supplement. The pharmacist was walking away from our meeting when I tapped him on the shoulder with a couple of questions.
I started out: “I realize that when I’m suddenly hit with three prescription medicines (this would be four now) that all the double blind studies go out the window.”
He stopped me there saying, “Yeah, they do, don’t they.” It wasn’t a question.
“So,” I continued on, “in your experience, how do the drugs I’m about to take work together? Any complications?” He looked at his paperwork, and told me that this combination is very common, at the VA, he added. Especially the anxiety meds for veterans. He said told me most tolerate the combination well, but should something happen, I’d be advised to call in. And he handed me a list of side-effects.
It was a rough time being locked up. My PTSD hit big. I’ve told this story way too many times, but . . . here’s the long story short:
I hired a housekeeper who was basically homeless. I allowed her to sleep in my living room on my beanbag pillows. Because of her back and the metal and screws in it, it was a perfect setup. She told me that she was able to get a full night’s sleep and wake up without pain sleeping that way. But after a while I began to realize she was severely mentally ill. She’d left an abusive situation, and I felt very protective of her. I didn’t like her driving back into that environment, and she was constantly late.
I’m a combat vet. When someone says they’ll be here at such and such time, and they’re not there, the only reason they were not there is that they were dead. What’s learned in combat is never forgotten. Every combat vet I know suffers from this. We do not understand being late and not at least giving a call. EVERYONE HAS A CELL PHONE. I even bought her a cell phone just for that reason. It came to a head one day and we had a blow out, and I finally settled down saying, “And the only reason I’m angry as hell is that when you are late, because of all the assholes in your life, I worry. I worry about you.”
It was an under exaggeration. The reality? I get panic attacks.
So she said she’d call.
Then fifteen minutes away, okay, thirty the way she drives, she called me one night saying she was leaving. She got home three and a half hours later. I spent a couple of weeks rigid from panic attacks, mostly in bed, taking sleep aids. My brother called and said that he’d been to my website and he’d seen that my business address was in Grandy, Minnesota. “Where’s that?” he asked.
“It’s two miles from here by car, three hours by housekeeper.”
On top of her driving me nuts by never being where she was expected to be at the time she was expected, things in the house started doing disappearing. I’m a chef. I need my tools. They kept disappearing. She would find them and I’d tell her to please keep them where I put them. But everything began going missing and this all culminated with an errand I had to run. I got to my destination and my hearing aid batteries needed changing. I looked all over the car for the blue soap dish I kept my tiny hearing aid kit in, consisting of batteries, and supplies, cleaning tools, etc. Nowhere to be found. And then, since there still was this pandemic running loose, I looked for my mask and found only one that was broken, and fit over one ear. I looked in the glove box, but nothing.
Yes, as a person with PTSD, I have anger issues. I’ve taken anger management courses. Not sure what good it does you when your anxiety levels are up and everything you need is missing . . . and then this. I drove home angry. There was ice and snow in my driveway. I didn’t drive fast, I drove angry. Coming around a corner in my driveway, I hit a patch of snow and ice and totaled my car on a tree.
I refused to blame her. I blamed my anger and I sat down and found a site on the web and went over the steps of how to handle anger and for the next two weeks . . . where are my kitchen scissors? doesn’t matter, I’ll use a knife. Where are my Tupperware tops? No matter, I’ll use aluminum foil. “My large spoon? no matter, I’ll use this. Everything was fine. (Found my Tupperware tops in the linen closet.)
And then things started breaking. My phone holder in the car, smashed to bits. (She didn’t know how that had happened.) I’d just installed a $30K bathroom, with Alexa lights and music, a super walk in tub with bubbles and heat and light. In the corner, over the tub was a plastic shelf to hold soap. Cracked in half. Toilet seat, broken. Sink broken. Toilet leaking. Eight thousand dollar tub, leaking.
Panic attacks were peaking. She’s off on a half hour errand, arrives 3 to 4 hours late. I’m sleeping. I’m out of the meds they’d given me earlier. I come out for meals and I go back in. I heard about the damage in the new bathroom, took a look, and told her she needs to shower upstairs. Meanwhile, the house is going to hell. She was hired to do housekeeping, but the kitchen is a mess, with great piles. She liked piles. So, she piled things. The carpet needed vacuuming, but the last time I saw her vacuum it was the same spot, over and over for an hour. And I’d made a video her outside one day, whacking at things with a stick for two hours, and afterwards, I caught bits of her, between outbuildings, sweeping the leaves. She wasn’t moving them anywhere, she just swept the tops, over and over. Oh, and she destroyed the old-wood patina over my fireplace. She rubbed and rubbed for hours to get out the little black specks . . . that were getting in her feces.
She had wanted to get together with friends on a Friday night. Around ten, she told me. She was in the shower around 12:30 (she has no sense of timing) and she made the loudest racket I’ve ever heard in a shower and I watched her through the security cameras loading the car and getting even more prepared, which took another 45 minutes, and then I watched her drive off.
In the morning I awoke and went in to shower only to find she’d ripped the shower head off the wall.
Now, my blood pressure had gotten dangerously high the previous week. My anxiety was out of sight and I had no more drugs, so I really wanted to see a doctor, and soon.
But I didn’t have a car. She had it. I had no way to get to see a doctor.
I quickly found out that if you call the sheriff up and tell him: “I’ma kill myself and take that bitch with,” they move you to the head of the line.
I quickly found myself in the hospital emergency room, albeit locked in. The nurse taking my blood pressure took a look at the numbers, and then did a double take. It was 211/110. I looked up at her, “Crash cart?” She laughed.
I have some pretty good friends. Two of them were there at the hospital within an hour of my arrival. Another was driving up from Texas. They were all going to make sure this gal packed her stuff and was out of there.
But back at the ranch, she wouldn’t let anyone touch “her stuff” and threatened to call the sheriff if they did. She put it all in my barn and fastened a lock on the door.
My buddy who had arrived from Texas called and said he needed money to put her up in a hotel room for one night. I sent it to him. After that she quickly found out she was on her own, though she seemed to expect my buddy to pick her up and ferry her somewhere. Instead, he went through her stuff finding my stuff. Approximately $2,000 worth of my property was found stashed away in “her stuff.”
I’m not a materialist. I could give a crap about “things,” but I am a utilitarian. Things have their use. She’s the second housekeeper to walk off with my Canon Stabilizing Binoculars. But this time, we found them in her “stuff.”
Part of her mental illness, obviously, is kleptomania. Eighty percent of what she took I would have gladly given her had she asked.
I was transferred to the VA once they got my blood pressure under control. It was so high they didn’t want to risk me coding in the ambulance on the way over. I should tell you that I really did not need to be there because losing it and screaming at the sheriff was amazingly therapeutic. It was like electroshock therapy. It calmed me down and my sense of humor started returning. But, I had exhibited psychotic behavior and they wanted to make sure I would be safe to both myself and others before being released.
At my daily meetings with my team, my nurse would ask, “Any thoughts of suicide?” and I’d answer, “Only when the food arrives.”
At our last meeting, she leaned over to me and asked, “Any thoughts of harming someone else?” I leaned back whispering, “Who’d you have in mind?”
I was finally let loose and told that they’d set an appointment to see my regular physician within a few days, and I love this guy (my regular physician). I’ve talked about him before. He went to a university that focused on nutrition. And he’s not just a physician, he’s a teacher. He’ll always put aside time to teach and I was dying to know about this “three month image of my blood glucose levels.”
When the day finally arrived, they found my blood pressure slightly raised. Keep in mind that nearly 10 years ago, they raised the bar on blood pressure for people my age, okay, “seniors.” 150/80 is the new normal, at my age. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1511939
When Dr Johnathan Van Arsdale walked in, we shook hands like we were old friends. I asked if he knew about my current situation, he smiled and said, “A bit of excitement.”
Now I can’t remember where we went first, but I told him I’m tired of everyone trying to put me on cholesterol lowering drugs. I told him statistically those with lower cholesterol have heart attacks at a rate greater then people with high.
That raised his eyebrows. He had different statistics, and I told him I got mine from Scandahoovian countries (we call them that here) and that I did not trust the stats from anyplace that kisses the asses of the pharm industry. And again I pointed out that the lipid hypothesis is just bad science, adding that cholesterol is actually an anti-inflammatory lipid. That perked him up. He said that medicine is now looking at cholesterol as lifesaving, to a degree. Inflammation is what damages the arteries and cholesterol comes along to patch the area. The problems is oxidized cholesterol hardening and forming plaque.
I replied, “Well that’s fantastic,” but left out the “because I wrote about that in my book Bypassing Bypass in 2004.” I don’t like to brag. So I asked him about this blood sugar thing. How can they get a reading over the past three months.
And he explained it perfectly. “You see, blood carries glucose throughout your body, and insulin helps the glucose get into cells that need it. Your red blood cells have glucose receptors. Blood cells require glucose for energy. But when the system gets fouled up, insulin resistance will keep that glucose in your blood vessels too long and it will bond with red blood cells. And since red blood cells have a three months lifespan, what they’re measuring is the percentage of red blood cells that have bonded with glucose and yours in 9.5%.”
“And what is a healthy level?”
“We want to see it get to 6.5%.”
“How come I’ve never been told this before?”
“We screwed up. Every person who is prediabetic should have been told this at one time or another. This percentage is called A1c. Yours is 9.5.”
“So that’s what A1c is!” and I immediately went off on why it never interested me but holy shit am I interested now, and I went home kicking myself in the arse at regular intervals, and then went online only to discover that my research into AGE’s, Advanced Glycation Endproducts, was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the process of glucose bonding with red blood cells.
Here is what I found at the NIH:
Glycosylated Hemoglobin Test (Hemoglobin A1c)
Hemoglobin is the substance inside red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells of the body. Glucose (a type of sugar) molecules in the blood normally become stuck to hemoglobin molecules – this means the hemoglobin has become glycosylated (also referred to as hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c). As a person’s blood sugar becomes higher, more of the person’s hemoglobin becomes glycosylated. The glucose remains attached to the hemoglobin for the life of the red blood cell, or about 2 to 3 months.
A blood test can measure the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood. The glycosylated hemoglobin test shows what a person’s average blood glucose level was for the 2 to 3 months before the test. This can help determine how well a person’s diabetes is being controlled over time.
So, to put it in layman’s terms, blood carries the glucose from your meal, after it’s been broken down, and your gut releases a hormone (Glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1) that triggers the pancreas to release insulin, but if you’ve had high blood sugar for a while, everything is clogged up, your body is resistant to insulin and resistant to leptin. Leptin helps you burn up the energy you’ve eaten and tells you when you’re full, but if resistant, you’re always hungry. And when you’re insulin resistant, the glucose stays in your blood longer (aging and less activity help mess things up) the sugar will attach permanently to your red blood cells and they become, as stated above, glycosylated. When we wrote about AGE’s I had no idea that this same process could happen to our hemoglobin and now, this process has occurred in my body and I am officially diabetic.
I’m currently performing one hell of a lot of research because I have to beat this if I want to make it to eighty years old. Dammit…there’s got to be at least one more short story in me and who knows? it could take 8 years to come out.
When I started this research, I ordered a blood glucose meter and to tell you the absolute truth, the readings have scared the hell out of me. I don’t allow sugar in my home, my foods are anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic. Who knew that it was my PTSD, the PTSD meds, mixed with aging and less activity and I’m overweight, hyperglycemic, and about ready to code?
So for now, I’m following doctors’ orders, and I’m adding supplements to my routine (more supplements) and I’m taking my blood sugar readings about six times a day. I don’t expect any overnight successes. Let’s face it, this didn’t happen overnight and it ain’t going away overnight. I’m in it for the long haul and I’ll be writing an article later on what worked, what didn’t, and hopefully I’ll stick around long enough to treat you all to some great stories.
I have read 3 books on diabetes, watched videos, read related materials and listened to advisors. I’ve taken my metformin like a good boy, and supplemented in the morning with things to aid in improving my insulin sensitivity, and now, before each meal and a half hour after meals I supplement also. I’ll list out my supplementation routine later.
This morning I got my A1c checked, and has dropped to 6.3. Everyone was as shocked as I was. You normally don’t find that large a drop in a two month period, meaning that in one more month, if this keeps up, it will be even lower. The thing is, 6.3 is normal. It’s a high normal, but it’s normal, meaning I am no longer diabetic, but I am pre-diabetic. And a problem with modern medicine is that pre-diabetes is not treated as a disorder, illness, or problem when it sure the f**k is!
I will fill you all in soon. This has been a real experience. My blood sugar in the morning is still high. Apparently my liver thinks the rest of me is a marathon runner. But then, I’ve read that sometimes that morning glucose level might not affect A1c. There sure is a lot to learn, but one thing is certain. With my high glucose levels and the amount of cinnamon I’m taking daily, I am turning into a pastry.
The one thing that finally hit home is how different we all are. Intellectually I knew this. In fact, at our previous site we posted the following as our disclaimer:
People are like snowflakes: no two are alike. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily have to work for another and can, at times, do damage.
In the past 2+ months I worked angrily to beat this, and the fact that my body was different from that of others lit up like an epiphany and suddenly everything started to make sense.
This might seem as if all the things I’m going to tell you will be meaningless to you because “we are different,” but it will make perfect sense in that there are options and we must all find out which ones work for us.
Here is an example.
I started taking my blood sugar . . . in fact so often, that I should have invested in the company making the damn testing strips. But every morning, my sugar level would be high. I even tracked it using a spreadsheet, but finally just gave up. It was not coming down. Here is a graph of my numbers.
There are two reasons experts give for high blood sugar in the morning,
The Somogyi effect occurs when your blood sugar drops too low in the middle of the night. In order to “rescue” you, the body releases hormones that kick the liver into overdrive, releasing stored glucose. If you have diabetes, that will throw a wrench in the works and you’ll get way too much sugar/glucose circulating.
The dawn phenomenon is simply your body preparing for the morning. You’ll need glucose to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.
To determine which of the above I was experiencing, I started setting alarms to wake myself and take my blood sugar, and very quickly it turned out to be the latter, the dawn phenomenon. It seemed that, in my case, my liver thought it belonged to a freakin marathon runner. I woke up each morning with enough glucose in my veins to push my car up my quarter mile driveway. In fact, one of the best things you can do if you have high glucose levels in the morning is to go for a brisk walk.
However, in the months previous, I fell a dozen times because my housekeeper kept sabotaging my pathway. I even took a header off the stairs, but luckily I was able to land on a bean bag pillow and only injure a shoulder. I am currently attending a chiropractor, and things are improving, but 10 minutes into a 20 minute walk my back starts to go out. So my exercise routine has shrunk to a bit of qigong in the morning, some weight training, and a round of tennis every now and then.
Cardiovascular problems and metabolic syndrome often work together to kill you. I pass all my cardio tests with flying colors, except for one: my blood pressure.
I have written at least three articles on hypertension and believe you me, I’ve done everything I’ve found in my research to keep it down. I make my own beet and pomegranate concoctions, and even take Super Beet chews, and have added CBD gummies to my regimen. And finally, I’m taking BP drugs, which I really want to get off. I’m trying my damndest to keep my blood pressure at or below 150/90 which, at my age, is the new normal, according to what we’ve published in our page on Stubborn Hypertension:
But if you are over 60, perhaps you should know that the new guidelines for blood pressure (from the famous SPRINT Study [Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial]) in which it was found that 150/90 is the new normal.https://wellnessjourneys.org/2019/08/08/stubborn-hypertension/
Thus, I’ve had to work with “tradeoffs” since some of the things I’m taking for my blood pressure, are going to raise my blood glucose level, and there’s one more thing I use at night: throat lozenges.
I use a BiPAP with a humidifier but still, my throat gets dry and I have trouble swallowing so I take these wonderful Ricola Lozenges.
Point of Interest: I’ve been warned against taking these things at night, because if I fall asleep I could choke on them. Well, not this guy because evolution has created a process of releasing anything in our mouths should we fall asleep. I’ve awaken in the morning with two unchewed CBD gummies and a Ricola lozenge attached to my night shirt.
The human body has always, and will always, fascinate me.
Back to these damn morning blood glucose levels.
In my research I found a physician (I think on YouTube . . . friends often send me YouTube lectures to help with my quests), and this guy said that if I find my glucose levels are always high in the morning, the odds are they will not have an effect on my A1c.
When I met with my doctor and told him that, I got the, “Well . . . . “ and all sorts of variables medicos have to consider, but after taking my blood test, it turns out that this time, YouTube Doc was right on.
And that’s when it hit me that medicine really doesn’t know all there is to know about diabetes. Most of the time, they’re just shooting in the dark, falling back on studies that sometimes contradict each other, or were great for the “general population” but not for the patient sitting in their office this minute.
Again, we are all different and at this point, generalities can generally be off. We each have to find what works and what doesn’t.
Thus I’ve tried to increase my exercise, change my diet, and develop a supplement regimen that will fight my hypertension and bring down my A1c and it’s not been easy, but it has been successful so far.
For over a decade I’ve been studying alternative sweeteners. I’ve written about them and have always wanted to put one comprehensive paper together on the subject, but hey, I’m retired. My diabetes, though, doesn’t want to retire. It wants to start all over and finish its job of killing me as soon as possible.
Many of my recipes use alternatives to “sugar” and they were just dandy until someone pointed out that most of them, though low in calories, are pretty high in carbs.
There are 4.2 carbs in a teaspoon of sugar. I looked at the labels of my sweeteners and there were 3-4 carbs in a teaspoon. The only ones with ZERO carbs were stevia and monk fruit (also known as lo han guo). I don’t like monk fruit, because there are so many forms of it and you need to hire a math wiz to figure out the sugar equivalent . . . and it tastes too sweet. And a friend living in Mexico told me about a form of stevia from there that has no aftertaste, and you can find it on Amazon, but the only problem is, it comes in packets and you have to open some 20+ packets to get a cup’s worth of sweetener.
. . . . which might kill me someday, choking on the handfuls of capsules I swallow in the morning and throughout the day.
Though, I am one of the lucky ones who can swallow a handful at a time. I figure 40 to be my record. Were I to take them one at a time, I wouldn’t be here typing away, I’d be up in my kitchen taking supplements all day long.
The new supplements I’ve added to my regimen, as far as diabetes is concerned, fall into two categories:
And, yes, of course, there is overlap. Some supplements do both. First I will list the supplements, their benefits, and then I’ll let you in on how I experimented with them to find what works and what doesn’t. Also, you can support the charity that keeps my website running and keeps getting things to people who need them by using the links to purchase those things you want. They are our affiliate programs links.
Please Note: I’m going to report some of the studies’ results, what these do in our bodies, and then my experience and regimen, but remember: We are all different, and you’ll need to find out what works best for you. Also note that I am trying, at the same time, to keep my hypertension under control, so again, what I’m doing might not be right for you. All this stuff at my site is simply educational, not recommendations.
Berberine—has shown to be as effective in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels as the prescription drug metformin. [Ref] Also has been shown to aid in weight loss and significantly lowers blood lipid levels, helping to regulate body fat. You’ll find it in many fitness products. The dosage is 500 mg, three times daily. It is also an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to lower blood pressure and blood lipids. It does not, however, work for type one diabetes.
From PubMed: Berberine improves physiological stimulation of glucose via cascade reaction of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), thus inducing secretion of insulin in the body, reducing insulin resistance, and improving sensitivity of liver, muscle tissues and fat to insulin. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6434235/]
Milk Thistle (silymarin)—traditionally known as a liver tonic, research has shown it can lower blood sugar levels, blood lipid levels, and improve insulin resistance. Can trigger allergic reactions if you are allergic to chrysanthemums, daisies, ragweed, or marigolds.
Ginseng—studies show that it regulates insulin secretion, glucose uptake, anti-oxidative stress, and anti-inflammatory pathways. However, there are so many forms of ginseng and processing methods that some studies don’t get the same results, as mentioned above. Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) appears to be far superior to other ginseng products. But even American ginseng (much if it comes from Wisconsin) has been shown to decrease glucose levels after meals by about 20% if taken 40 minutes before the meal. It also appears to increase insulin secretion and sensitivity (thus better uptake by your cells).
Contraindications: Ginseng can decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner, and can stimulate your immune system, interfering with immunosuppressant drugs
Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA)—has shown promise in treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Also improves insulin sensitivity, significantly lowers hemoglobin A1c, and improves inflammatory biomarkers, including interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein. The safest dose is 600mg daily, but side effects to watch out for are nausea, vomiting, and vertigo, which will increase with an increase in dosage. Some take up to 1800mg per day. It is recommended to take ALA with lots of water, and for best results, 600mg three times a day prior to a meal. [Ref]
Chromium picolinate—significantly enhances the action of insulin. Long used to help dieters, 1,000 mcg in a controlled study, showed a 405 reduction in insulin resistance. Fifty to one hundred mcg daily can correct a deficiency, but isn’t sufficient to improve blood sugar control. The recommended dosage to start is 400-500 mcg daily. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with very poor glucose control, 1,000 mcg are recommended until you see signs of improved insulin function, but only with a physician’s guidance. Ninety percent of us are not getting enough chromium.
Biotin —another component to B vitamins helps metabolize blood sugar once it gets into our cells. Studies have shown that biotin reduces insulin resistance and improves glucose tolerance at 16 mg per day. Considerably less (2 mg) is required for prevention. Though you’ll most likely get enough Niacin/Niacinamide in your B complex, you won’t find a B complex that has 16 mg per capsule, so you’ll have to take a separate biotin supplement with your B complex (again, take all of your B vitamins together as they work best together).
Zinc gummies—people with diabetes are often low in zinc, because it’s excreted in the urine, and people with diabetes are urinating often. Zinc aids in the proper utilization of insulin, and can lower hemoglobin A1c. The recommended dosage is zinc gluconate 25mg twice daily. Because I’m taking meds that interfere with uptake of zinc, I’m using gummies so that the tiny blood vessels under my tongue can absorb the zinc. (See more below.)
Diabetes and cardiovascular problems walk hand-in-hand. This is why we researched the amino acid L-Carnosine, because it helps to stop the damage type 2 diabetes does to the body, in general, and to the cardiovascular system in particular. If a person has hypertension (high blood pressure), odds are they have a high A1c. They just go together. And seeing my BP was registering upwards of 200/100—and I have written extensively on hypertension and have been taking the supplements that I’ve found that are supposed to bring down blood pressure but don’t seem to be doing their job—I finally opted for hypertension meds. The other option was picking out a nice coffin. Now if you know me the way most know me, you’d know that I researched the crap out of the drugs I’m taking, and I discovered that they block the absorption of magnesium, CoQ10, B-12, and zinc (to name a few). Thus I am now taking all of those in a chewable or sublingual form. Thus, I would highly recommend that if you are on meds, find out their “nutritional costs” and make sure you’re replacing whatever they’re blocking.
Fenugreek—studies have shown that fenugreek supplements can reduce blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c, and also has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men. It is also anti-inflammatory, and can help conditions such as asthma. And you should know that our Taste of India pickles are made with fenugreek. (Our pickle recipe.)
Pycnogenol®— significantly delays uptake of complex sugars such as starch. It potently inhibits the digestive enzyme α-glucosidase in the duodenum. Other α-glucosidase inhibitors such as green tea extract, pure catechin and the oral antidiabetic medication acarbose (Precose, Glucobay) are dramatically less potent. Pycnogenol® delays the uptake of glucose from a meal 190 times more potently than prescription medications, preventing the typical high glucose peak in the blood stream after a meal. [Ref] The optimal dose per one study for blood glucose reduction and in other bio markers was 200mg per day. However blood pressure reduction has been seen at 100mg per day.
Pycnogenol® is a registered trademark. The generic form is called “Grape Seed Extract” and will cost you a little bit less. In fact, if you ask anyone the difference between Pycnogenol® and Grape Seed Extract, they will tell you: “The cost.”
Gymnema sylvestre—shown to have anti-diabetic properties and can lower your blood sugar levels after a meal. However, it does such a good job lowering A1c levels, it should not be used with prescription meds such as metformin without consulting your integrative/functional medicine physician. It’s been used for thousands of years in India, and it suppresses sweetness in foods, making sweets less attractive, by blocking the sugar receptors in taste buds, thus it helps limit food intake. But I’m not sure about this one, and it could be because of the combination of things I’m taking, but lately the sweet things taste “too sweet” so I’m really cutting back on the sweeteners.
I was very careful because of these warnings, but I really didn’t see my glucose levels drop much. Then I realized I was taking just 300 to 600mg with meals and I upped it to 12,000 to 24,000mg and found that was working pretty well, but not all the time. Finally, I found a 20:1 extract, 175mg, equivalent to 3,500mg, and started experimenting with that. Remember, I’m taking my glucose levels like I’m OCD. I don’t want to drop them too low, and guess what. They never have. So I’ll take one of two of these before a meal, and depending on the meal, I’ll take up to four, sometimes five a half hour to an hour and a half after a meal. But I’ll get into my regimen as we move on here.
Cinnamon—well known for keeping blood sugar levels from spiking, but doesn’t seem to have an effect on hemoglobin A1c. And you should know that there are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon, and Cassia cinnamon. (Actually there are five, but I’m not here to confuse you.) Studies show Ceylon is the best (potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hypoglycemic agent, especially in extract form. Its polyphenols, namely rutin, catechin, quercetin, etc, are the key to much of its health-promoting effects) and contains a lot less coumarin (toxic to humans) than the Cassia cinnamon.
Mangosteen pericarp—the skin of a fruit from Southeast Asia that has been used medicinally for a couple thousand years. It’s an anti-inflammatory, known to lower your C-Reactive protein. It also slows the absorption of carbohydrates. In a powder form it can be added to cookies, muffins, and even pancakes, but the brown color will make everything look chocolaty, but really, it has no flavor. We’ve written an entire page on this guy: https://wellnessjourneys.org/2018/03/04/mangosteen-pericarp/
Banaba extract— from a tree in Southeast Asia, almost every part of the tree has medicinal properties. Its most common use is for dieters and people with type 2 diabetes. According to Healthline, its potential benefits are: anticancer effects, antibacterial and antiviral potential, antithrombotic effect (may help dissolve blood clots) and protection against kidney damage. However, it’s the lowering of blood glucose levels that helped it make the list, and it increases insulin sensitivity, especially when used in concert with cinnamon. One more thing: it helps lower cholesterol levels.
Vitamin D3—long known to lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it also has been shown in limited testing to improve lipid profile, diastolic blood pressure, and chronic inflammation. In July of 2019, the European Journal of Endocrinology published a study that showed megadoses (5,000 IU of Vitamin D3) improved insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in those people with type two diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Now get this: I’ve been taking 15,000 to 25,000 and sometimes 30,000 IU regularly and my blood tests show that my D3 is in the “normal” range, but at the bottom of the normal range. What’s happening? Obviously my body needs more D3 than most. I don’t know why. My doctors don’t know why. We just know I’m using a lot of D3 and my blood levels are on the low, normal side.
Coenzyme Q10—synthesized in every cell of our bodies, but as we age, this starts to slow down. Though there are not enough human studies, functional physicians have seen the power of this sweetheart and recommend 30 to 60 mg daily and you should see fasting levels of blood-sugar and insulin drop. If you are on a statin drug, you definitely want to supplement, as this is stated in the literature accompanying statins, though some physicians simply ignore this. Additionally, if you are on blood pressure meds, you should know that some of these block the absorption of Coq10 and you’ll want to find a form like CoQ10 gummies, to be absorbed by the blood vessels under your tongue. And because as we age the mitochondria get weaker and weaker, supplementing with PQQ will help rebuild your mitochondria and use your CoQ10 as if you were just 20 years old again. Oh, and I take it in the form of Ubiquinol.
Ginger—used as a spice for over 3,000 years and as a medicinal herb, this little guy makes all your Chinese and Indian foods just taste better. Not only does it aid in digestion (let’s face it, breaking down and controlling glucose levels starts in your digestion. Regular use of ginger protects against metabolic syndrome, which is the open door to diabetes. Ginger, in addition to aiding us in stomach problems aids in glucose tolerance. It should be used regularly in dishes. And if you’re making curry dishes, you’ll get turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, garlic, and ginger, all of which help control sugar and prevent inflammation. And then there’s the ginger ale we’ve concocted in our article on healthy soda pop.
L-Carnosine—a potent antioxidant that protects the muscles (and the heart) prevents kidney damage, has a relaxing effect on the brain (and can boost mood), and it halts the glycation process; the glycation that creates those AGEs and raise your A1c. It’s pretty much accepted by nutritionists keeping up on this research that if your fasting blood sugar level is over 90, or if you have type two diabetes or are pre-diabetic, you should be taking at least one 500 mg capsule with three meals equaling 1500 mg of L-Carnosine per day.
Taurine— is an amino acid, but a special amino acid: an amino sulfonic acid, one containing sulfur. Recently scientists have been taking a much closer look at taurine and its many functions and benefits. Like L-citruline, taurine is another amino acid discovered by athletes and can be found in their many drinks because of its performance enhancement and how it boosts endurance. And now research is discovering that taurine assists some pretty important functions in the brain and heart, supports nerve growth, lowers blood pressure, and helps people with congestive heart failure from getting worse. From ScienceDirect we get:
Taurine supplementation is beneficial in reducing glycemic indices, such as HbA1c, Fasting Blood Sugar, HOMA-IR in diabetic patients, but has no significant effect on serum lipids, blood pressure and body composition in diabetic patients. Taurine emerges as a new option for the management of patients with diabetes. Further studies are needed to understand the potential effect of taurine in diabetic patients.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S266656622200034X
So, as you can see, they’re still at a stage where they’re finding contradictory data, and as they said, “further studies are needed.”
As far as dosage is concerned, first off you should know that it’s in your food, your meat, seafood, and eggs. As a medicine, a dose of 6 grams (6,000mg) daily for a year has been prescribed. Personally, I take just 1000mg per day.
Benfotiamine—something I discovered while looking everywhere for ways to beat diabetes. It’s a laboratory-made version of vitamin B1, known as thiamin. Early research is showing potential benefits for conditions like diabetes-related nerve damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol dependence. Since I have a very mild form of neuropathy in my feet, I’ve started taking this. My only problem was I purchased a version called Maximum Potency and it was a factor of ten less potent that the 600mg used in studies and I wasn’t getting very good results. The recommended dosage is 150mg – 300mg per day. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/benfotiamine
First realize that every body is different. I’m going to let you all in on what I’ve been doing, but even my regimen has few hard and fast rules. I began taking my blood sugar (glucose) levels to the degree that religious Muslims pray, at least five times a day. And sometimes even more. I kept looking for that magic combination that would work every time, all the time. Instead, I eventually came to know what worked most often for me, and that the “numbers” do have a bit of leeway.
Here is an image I kept on my phone the whole time I was testing my glucose levels.
As I said, my fasting levels have always been high, and if you awaken with high sugar levels, first determine if it’s the dawn phenomenon or the Somogyi effect, as I did (above). Set an alarm and take your glucose levels during the night. If it’s the Somogyi effect, then eating a snack before bedtime might be right for you. If it’s the dawn phenomenon to bring down your blood sugar, doctors suggest, exercise, eat a smaller breakfast, increase your meds. But for me, I’ve just learned to ignore it, and why? It’s hardly ever over 200, and it has never approached 300. And it was that 300 number my doctor worried about. And, as I mentioned above, my high fasting glucose levels were not having the greatest effect on my A1c. It was all that other stuff.
Another thing I researched were glucose monitors, and found that everyone considered the the CONTOUR NEXT EZ Blood Glucose Monitoring System to be the most accurate.
And if you’re not crazy about stabbing yourself repeatedly, I also learned that the tops of my knees have fewer nerve endings, and so that’s where I poke myself now. And I clean the lancets each time with BACO or iodine, Magnascent Iodine in fact.
When I wake up, I start the water for coffee. I make a special Mocha Irish Coffee each morning, and yes, I’m still keeping my blood sugar down but I’m not crazy enough to give up my joyfilled cup of java each morning. As I told a friend, I’m trying to lower my glucose levels and my blood pressure; I’m not trying to ascend to sainthood.
So while that’s warming up (and my mixture of vanilla brandy and Irish cream warms up), I go take my “regimen.”
First the meds: Metformin for the diabetes, and two for blood pressure. I’m going to be weaning myself off those in three months since I’ve got a new BP regimen that I’m hoping will finally work.
Then I take those things that raise my insulin sensitivity.
Alpha Lipoic Acid — 600mg
Milk Thistle — 3,000mg
Zinc — I take a gummy form or lozenge form because the meds I’m on interfere with absorption. 30mg
Chromium picolinate — 1,000mg
Biotin — another lozenge form for the same reason as above, 20,000mcg (20 mg)
Ginseng — now this is confusing, only because the research out there is confusing. The studies aren’t consistent. Some use this form and some use that form, so, in the morning I take 2,000mg of Korean Red Panax Ginseng, and an 1,800 capsule of American Ginseng. I take that last one up to an hour before each meal the rest of the day.
Benfotiamine — If you’ll recall, this is supposed to help fight neuropathy. One day it hit me, I think I have neuropathy in my feet. They always feel “thick skinned,” even after a pedicure in which I’ve removed a pound of flesh with one of those cheese grater looking things. So far, no change, but I’m told it could take about a year to feel a change.
My glucose “insensitivity” came about because I was not paying attention to my body. I’ve had injuries, gained weight, got better, and lost it. Injuries happen when you’re active (and a bit crazy), but then suddenly I wasn’t losing weight. Long story short, I no longer felt full while eating and that should have been a warning, but I did not pay attention.
After I started my regimen, I realized my body was becoming more sensitive to insulin and that the insulin was more effective because suddenly I started to feel full while eating.
It was very simple, something I’ve written about in the past, but whack me upside the head with a cast iron frying pan: leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. When your insulin sensitivity decreases, so does your leptin sensitivity. I was just not paying attention to my body. The moment I realized I was beginning to feel full during meals, it hit me (hard) that what I was doing was working.
I always took something, but I never really developed a strict regimen and this was because whatever I did, an hour after eating my glucose levels were (referring to the image above) well below the 170 – 200 range.
Then came the shocker. While talking with a nutritionist who works with diabetics, I learned that it was the glucose levels 2-3 hours after a meal that were most important. And when I took those, I was often above the 140-160 range, so . . . back to the drawing boards.
The pickle cure. Either before or with a meal, eat a sour pickle. The acetic acid helps keep your blood sugar from spiking. And our Taste of India pickles, which are charged with anti-inflammatories that are also hypoglycemic, well, it’s a natural. This always worked. [Our Pickle Recipe]
The carb blocker and green coffee extract: I always noticed better numbers when I took those a half hour prior to eating. These are usually considered diet aids, but they aid by suppressing blood glucose and the release of insulin, which is a “fat storing” hormone.
Cinnamon. Never forget the Cinnamon. I would just mix it up: Berberine, Gymnema sylvestre, Bitter Melon, but always Cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon before a meal.
The carb blocker, just one capsule, was a White Kidney Bean Carb Blocker.
At first I was leery about using Berberine and Gymnema sylvestre because of the warnings, so I used the first one first, and didn’t find any huge drop in blood glucose, and then I added the Gymnema sylvestre, and that didn’t do squat. I looked at the size of the capsule and found it was just 300mg. The dosages I’d read about were much higher, and then I found one that was 600mg, which started to make a dent in the glucose levels, but what really kicked it to the ground was a 175mg capsule of 20:1 extract (thus equal to 3,500mg) and two of those before a meal made one heck of a difference.
A half hour after a meal, I’d take some cinnamon, fenugreek, berberine, banaba extract, bitter melon, mangosteen pericarp, and gymnema sylvestra. I experimented with all of these, sometimes ignoring two or three. And it did not matter. As I mentioned above, my glucose levels were spectacular just an hour after a meal, and which ones I took really didn’t matter, as long as I took something.
But 2-3 hours after a meal I was in the high range (according to the numbers on the image above).
They were never over 200, which according to my doctor is just fine.
I had been taking supplements a half hour after I ate: Cinnamon, berberine, gymnema sylvestra, bitter melon, bananba extract, mangostene pericarp. The only hard and fast rule here are the use of first three. And as I stated, an hour after a meal my blood glucose levels would be perfect. But . . . there’s that 2-3 hour thingy, dammit!
My next change was to extend the period after eating to an hour and a half to two hours, and then take the supplements. My numbers at three hours after eating are perfection now, but let’s talk about those damn numbers.
When it comes to supplementing, there really are no hard and fasts. The point is to do something.
Three hours after a meal, a reading of 180 is okay. It’s better than 210, and it’s a hell of a lot better than 305. My blood sugar was the highest in the morning. But once I began my regimen, I never went over 200 after a meal. And I was taking both my supplements and metformin. I exercise daily, lifting dumbbells and doing a bit of qigong. I play tennis of some sort (against my machine or doubles) once or twice a week, and I stay away from sugars. I’ve had a few hotdogs with buns that were high in carbs, but even with a good beer, as long as I stuck to some sort of regimen, I never went over the 200 mark, of course, except for that morning stuff, and apparently in my case, blood glucose levels that high were not affecting my A1c.
What worked for me were supplements a half hour before eating, and then an hour and a half after eating and my numbers are in the normal range (or lower) according to that image above.
Because everyone is different, your timing of taking supplements might be different. So I’ll sum up my regimen: First I took supplements prior to eating. This is usually good for anyone. Then I took them half an hour after eating and I increased some (the gymnema sylvestra amount I took depended on the number of carbs I’d eaten, or more carbs, more gymnema sylvestra). and finally, to get my numbers 2-3 hours after eating down, I moved the after meal supplements up to an hour and a half after.
If your doctor hasn’t told you (he’s an idiot), your diet should be low carb. Start removing carbs, avoid sugar, and look for lower carb alternatives. And if google low carb stuff you will find 3 things.
Keto is a diet fad. A low carb diet is healthy, and not a fad diet.
Here’s an example of cost: there is Hero bread. It’s ten bux a loaf. It’s got Zero net carbs, meaning the carbs it has, minus the fiber equals the “net carbs.” They are at www.hero.co.
Other alternatives (for bread) is to find yourself a very high fiber bread. The more fiber, the less it will raise your glucose levels. And you’ll probably want to take a bit of extra fiber too. I have been taking grapefruit fiber daily and definitely I take psyllium seed powder because I’ve increased the amount of meats and cheeses I eat, and staying regular is important.
You can find recipes to make low carb bread and tortillas. And when you do, suddenly everywhere you go online you’ll get hit with “keto” ads. Keto is low carb. It’s one of the worst diet fads out there, for many reasons. But you will be consuming more meat and cheese so, definitely look into some fiber to keep yourself regular.
I apologize up front, because everywhere you go you’ll be bombarded with keto this and keto that but really, you’re just cutting back on carbs.
Diabetes and cardiovascular illness go hand in hand. In the morning, I’m taking anti-inflammatories, like turmeric. Turmeric is also hypoglycemic. I’ve been taking these all along and still my A1c rose on me. Again, every body is different. I made sure my diabetes did not harm the rest of me so I took L-carnosine and Taurine 2 to 3 times a day, and I took a lot of supplements for my heart. And the whole time, even now, I’m trying to make candies out of pomegranate juice powder and beet juice powder, and I even take CBD gummies and Super Beets chews and I do not fret over the sugar intake in these products! Last night I chopped up nearly a half a cup of my homemade candies and chewed/sucked on them during a movie. I took my after meal supplements an hour and a half after eating, but I still kept chewing/sucking on the chews I made. They are good for my heart and blood pressure. At the end of 3 hours, I took my glucose levels, and here, you can see for yourself.
So, the moral of that story is care for yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You can take care of two things at once. I don’t recommend pomegranate juice if you’re fighting diabetes, but beet juice is still okay because it contains less sugar. At the end of this, I’ll point you to a beet salad recipe with pomegranate juice in it. It’s fabulous and so damn healthy.
And try to learn a few tricks. Here’s one: white bread. Worst bread in the world and children of the fifties were raised on it. Wonder Bread or Tasty Bread. Pure, white, soft carbohydrates.
Did you know that toasting your white bread will lower its glycemic index? Freezing the bread will cut the glycemic index by 31%. And toasting that bread after you’ve frozen it will lower it even further.
Your pasta? let it sit for a while to harden or under cook it in the first place. It becomes resistant starch. The same with rice. Find an unprocessed rice with the bran still on it. It’s fiber, and it slows the uptake of carbohydrates. And if you undercook it, it too has some resistant starch in it. Find recipes calling for Green Banana Flour, which is pure resistant starch. They don’t affect glucose levels, but they do feed your good bacteria. Also recipes with flax. Flax is high in fiber and those omega-3s. Two other flours you can experiment with are almond flour and coconut flour. Both are higher in protein and fiber than most other flours.
In a little over two months I brought my A1c from 9.5 to 6.3. And now I’m going to take it lower. I want off the drugs. It’s my BP that is going to be tough to handle, but we’ll see.
If you have any questions, leave a comment. If I can’t answer them, I’ll find someone who can.
Here’s that recipe I promised. Beet & Blue Cheese Salad. I’ve recently installed the option of adding pomegranate juice powder to this recipe. And if you don’t like or want the blue cheese, take it out. I’ve made this one with just the pomegranate juice powder and coconut milk powder alone, but added some xanthan gum for thickness.
And here’s something for those of you who miss your potatoes: Baked Radishes With Cheese and Bacon.
Because of all the research I’ve recently performed, on Facebook I’ve been getting hit by ads for supplements to fight diabetes. Two of the more humorous ones are “hydrogen water” and “CBD gummies.”
Hydrogen water is something I’ve used over the past thirty years, but I’ve referred to it as “electrolyzed water;” water that’s been changed electronically to have a higher pH. And if I’ve been using it for that long and turned diabetic, I’m pretty sure it didn’t work. And CBD gummies are touted to cure everything on earth from a hangnail to a harelip.
The bombardment of ads touting to cure diabetes has kept up over the past weeks (ever hear of an “insulin plant”?) but something new has been added: though Facebook allows these supplement companies to advertise, at the same time they slap a fact checking shield over the ads and point you to an article about “unproven” therapies.
First, keep in mind that “unproven therapies” are not “disproven therapies.”
Throughout this article, I have pointed to research supporting the supplements mentioned, and I have often enough stated that “more research” is needed, as well as “you have to find what works for you.”
The problem with the “more research” part is that you won’t find the money to research therapies not birthed by the drug industry. This is the world we live in and we all know it. The FDA pretends to protect the public, but in the end, they exist to protect profits.
Profits in our society, are more precious than people, and that’s fucking that.
However, when it comes to health and wellness advice, I am wise enough to trust the thousands of years of experience of traditional Southeast Asian physicians and traditional Ayurveda physicians over a bunch of fact checkers just out of college still living in their mothers’ basements.
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