Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Lowered My Blood Sugar-Without Drugs!!!

Every so often I blog about retirement health issues.  Often when I blog, these topics are about natural solutions or taking control of one's own health.  Just to be clear, when I talk about natural healing or health alternatives, I am never talking about hating or ignoring physicians or other health professionals. I regularly get physicals, have medical tests, get vaccines and take medication. I do happen to think that knowing our own bodies and how they react, is very important, and that only you know what is best in the end.

A couple years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I am not sure that I have ever even mentioned this on the blog.  Taking medications for me is fairly new. I only started taking blood pressure and high cholesterol medications five or six years ago, even though I have had weight issues much, much longer.  

My diagnosis has been difficult for two reasons.  First, finding real breakfasts that are low in carbs AND low in cholesterol can be a challenge. I am a real food, not a yogurt or smoothie person. Second, my medication has been making me ill.  For those not familiar (and I apologize for too much information here), Metformin is the standard medication for lowering sugar.  One of it's side effects is illness and diarrhea for a week or so, until the body adjusts.  For me, there has been just one problem-my body has not adjusted, and in order to leave the house, I have had to take something every day to offset those symptoms. This has not been conducive to many things, sleep among them. 

About two and a half months ago-maybe three, actually, I decided to simply stop taking my medication. Without telling my doctor.  I knew this was a risk, and I understood the effects of high blood sugar on my body. I decided that if my blood sugar went higher (I have blood tests every six months) I would ask for an extended release drug or be willing to experiment with alternatives.

For what it's worth, I did not do this in a vacuum. I was exercising regularly and had just decided to purchase that fitbit to measure steps and sleep. I was adjusting my diet in other ways, and counting carbs, not calories.  I also increased fiber (which has it's own initial issues)-something I had to work at as I am a cooked versus raw veggie person as a rule. 

courtesy of www.diabetes.org

I was also looking at other ways to lower my blood sugar and "doing the research". I increased my exposure to the sun (within reason) after looking at studies. One showed that low levels of D (caused by limited exposure to sunlight) increase diabetes risk. Another, Australian study showed that after the national drive to support sunscreen use, diabetes rates were higher. I have an olive skin, and annual skin checkups, and so sitting in the sun on the patio every morning with a light sunscreen for half an hour to an hour has been come part of my routing.

I take a multi vitamin, but I also added some supplements to my diet, including Magnesium (magnesium deficiency is very common in people with diabetes). I'm adding ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid) because studies show it can reduce glucose by 20 percent and helps with nerve pain-which I also have because of my knee and some fibroid-myalgia issues. I'm looking at adding cinnamon as well.

Again, I don't do things in a vacuum. I did research all of these supplements and alternatives on mainstream medical sites, and looked at all the side effects. For example, Chromium is a highly recommended supplement, which I chose not to take. It can cause kidney issues, and I already take Tylenol Arthritis tablets (600m mg) almost every day. I decided at this point I would not take anything that affected my liver or kidneys according to current research.

There are other issues that affect diabetes, including stress and environment. In fact, weight and body mass issues are just one set of many contributors.

The result of this experiment? This past week, I had my physical, which included six month blood work (my last being in February). To say I was happy would be an understatement. Without taking my diabetes drugs, and with only a small weight loss and diet change, my sugar numbers decreased by almost ten points. In less than six months.

I would not necessarily suggest that others take this step. Metformin is a life saver for many. Most people manage to take this on a regular basis with no side effects and good results. I am not one of them.

And this experiment does not mean I am physically fit, the example of perfect health, or even the perfect diabetes patient. I still have a (real, non diet) coke every single day, and love to bake and eat desserts, for example.

 I am still officially over weight. I have a history of fibroid and cysts which probably means a biopsy for me in the next month. I am behind on my follow up colonoscopy (although new research suggests follow ups do not lower risk, and my blood stool is negative). Because I concentrated on more protein than carbs, my cholesterol levels have upped a tiny bit, meaning I probably need to chose liquid eggs for my breakfast. And I still take four daily meds even without the diabetes drug.

I have to tell you though, without taking this particular pill, I have ended up healthier, with less side effects, and life is more enjoyable.

So in this case, this choice worked, for me!

Do you have diabetes?  If so how are you taking care of your own health?


  1. Good for you Barb!! Way to be proactive.

    God bless.

  2. You're behind on your colonoscopy? An unintentional pun, no doubt! Anyway ... congrats on taking control of your situation, and I'm glad it's all working out well for you. I do not have diabetes; but I do have high blood sugar and should be more careful abt. consuming sweets and carbs. Maybe you'll be an inspiration for me!

    1. I am not nearly as good as I should be, and today since someone partially totalled my car (more to come) I am completely filling up on junk food

  3. Congratulations! I do not have diabetes, but I am a retired RN and did a lot of diabetic education. It is very difficult for most people to make lifestyle changes...keep up the good work!

  4. I don't have diabetes but I have several risk factors - overweight and age being the two most prominent. I actually have trouble with low blood sugar, which can be debilitating as well and requires that I watch what I eat.
    I started a pre-diabetes class where I work and went to the second weekly session (of 16) today. After these sessions it is followed up with 8 months sessions to help us maintain our progress. Our employer, Indiana University, is footing the bill.
    This weeks assignment is monitoring our fat gram intake, keeping it under a limit. (For me at 261 lbs, the limit is 55 grams daily). We're also recording our calories but not limiting them per se. Each week more healthy behaviors are added.
    I've been using a Fitbit for about 2 months, along with MyFitnessPal for 1 month now. I'm currently pushing to get the 10,000 steps every day, plus the other goals. It's not easy but I am seeing how much better I feel. I like the challenge.

    1. I will never get the ten thousand steps but I might get the five thousand (my knee and all). It sounds like you are doing well. I do not limit fat as a rule, except for using low fat dressing, sour cream, and the like. I use real butter. Lucky for you that it is helping you foot the bill. Sounds like you are really on track.

  5. Luckily, my blood sugar has been running ok, but my husband has been working very hard to keep from moving on to diabetes from the pre-diabetic category. His doctor has encouraged him to try and control it with diet and exercise as long as he can, and avoid medication. He's been doing a great job! :) As far as breakfasts, we always keep some frozen breakfast sandwiches around. If you ever shop at Aldi, they have Fit & Active turkey sausage breakfast sandwiches, which are made with egg whites instead of whole eggs. They come to about $1 a piece. 31 total carbs, 17 grams protein, 9 grams fat. They are easy to just throw in the microwave when you don't feel like dealing with raw eggs in the morning.

  6. I am one of the Type 2 that metformin didn't work on. Besides making me sicker than I have ever been, it did not seem to ever kick in. Therefore I am on insulin and accept the fact that I must take it along with the half-dozen other pills. I am feeling great and my numbers are good all the way around. So, yes, we read, we study and then we do what we can to stay as healthy as possible.

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