Three Common Mistakes in Diabetes Treatment
Julian Whitaker, MD
The American Heart Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2012 Update” has some good news and some bad news. The good news is that between 1998 and 2008 death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke declined by 30 and 34 percent, respectively. The downer is that 11 percent of the adult population now has diabetes and another 36.8 percent are prediabetic.
Why is diabetes even discussed in the annual heart disease report? Because it is a very significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease—so significant that these positive trends are expected to be undermined by our growing epidemic of diabetes.
High blood sugar damages the blood vessels, which, coupled with the metabolic disturbances characteristic of diabetes, doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke. Moreover, two in three adults with diabetes have hypertension and one in three has peripheral artery disease, which further boosts risk. That’s why the American Heart Association is concerned about diabetes—and this organization doesn’t even take into account the kidney, eye, and nerve problems that plague so many diabetics.
I’m doubly concerned because I know that the conventional approach all too often makes patients worse. In this article, I want to point out three common mistakes doctors make in treating diabetes—and what we do at the Whitaker Wellness Institute to correct these mistakes and help patients control their blood sugar and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications.
1. Prescribing Oral Diabetes Drugs
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will most likely be prescribed an oral drug. These medications increase the risk of hypoglycemia (potentially dangerous low blood sugar), most cause weight gain (average 5–10 pounds), and some (including Avandia, Actos, Glyburide, Glipizide, and other sulfonylureas) have black box warnings stating that they increase risk of serious cardiovascular events, including death. Furthermore, many people end up taking more than one medication, which puts them at even greater risk of adverse effects. Now ask yourself, if a drug increases your risk of dying, why would your doctor prescribe it, and—more importantly—why should you take it?
What we do at Whitaker Wellness is stop all oral diabetes drugs and start our patients on a diet, exercise, and weight loss program, along with vanadyl sulfate, berberine, chromium, cinnamon, purslane extract, and other safe, natural, glucose-lowering therapies.
People are often resistant to discontinuing their medications at first. After all, they’ve been told for years that drugs are absolutely necessary. But as their blood sugar goes down and stabilizes over the course of the week or two they’re with us, they understand the wisdom of our approach.
2. Giving Insulin to Heavy Patients
Approximately 4.5 million Americans with type 2 diabetes are on insulin. If they are obese or overweight, as almost all are, it’s a clear sign that insulin injections are doing more harm than good. Insulin doesn’t just escort glucose into the cells. It also signals fat storage and stops fat burning—a recipe for weight gain. I don’t ask heavy patients on insulin if they’ve gained weight; I ask how much. Excess weight makes blood sugar control more difficult, and poor control increases insulin requirements. In other words, the more weight you gain, the more insulin you need, and the more insulin you take, the more weight you gain. It’s a vicious cycle that the use of insulin only makes worse.
What we do at Whitaker Wellness is stop insulin use in these patients, institute natural blood sugar-lowering therapies, and get very serious about weight loss. Stopping insulin shocks many patients, but they’re pleased when they see for themselves that this program works.
3. Overlooking Vitamins and Minerals
A hallmark of diabetes is increased urination. That’s because high levels of sugar in the blood act like an osmotic diuretic, overwhelming the kidneys’ ability to not only reabsorb glucose but also essential nutrients, such as antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals. This nutrient wasting is a major cause of heart attacks, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and premature death, the most common complications of diabetes.
What we do at Whitaker Wellness is recognize that in order to prevent these complications, diabetics must constantly replace the nutrients that are being lost. We make sure all of our patients are on a nutrient-dense diet and copious amounts of antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid, benfotiamine, carotenoids, coenzyme Q10, and other vitamins and minerals that protect the blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. This alone goes a long way toward warding off the devastating complications of diabetes.
This is just common sense, but incredibly, conventional physicians almost never prescribe nutritional supplements—and almost always overprescribe oral drugs and insulin. I’m not suggesting that you stop your drugs on your own; that’s best done under medical supervision. However, you need to be aware of these irrational blunders in diabetes management and protect yourself with these safe, effective solutions.
- Eat a high-fiber, low-glycemic diet and get daily exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and take a good daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Supplement with nutrients for lowering blood sugar: vanadyl sulfate 100 mg, Gymnema sylvestre 400 mg, chromium 200 mcg, berberine 1,500 mg, cinnamon 500 mg, and supplemental fiber. Add nutrients for protecting against complications: alpha lipoic acid 1,200 mg, benfotiamine 300 mg, coenzyme Q10 100–200 mg, and lutein 15 mg. Look for these supplements, in single or combo products aimed at glucose support, in your health food store, or order by calling (800) 810-6655.
- To learn how the Whitaker Wellness Institute can help you control diabetes and its complications, call (800) 488-1500.
- Roger V, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2012 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011 Jan 3;125(1):e2–e220.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.