In a previous article, I discussed the connection between blood sugar, diabetes, and the gut, and I listed some simple food-related tips to help improve blood sugar. Now, I’d like to highlight a case study of a patient who was able to reverse her type 2 diabetes with changes in diet, a personalized exercise plan, and targeted supplements. Yes, you read that correctly! It is possible to restore normal blood sugar and reverse diabetes without long-term reliance on medications.
Case Study: Reversing Diabetes
A 52-year-old female named Jacquie came to see me because she had gained over 55 pounds in the last three years. Like many Americans, she was stressed out, worked long hours, and ate processed foods common to the standard American diet. She drank more coffee than water, soda during lunch, and two glasses of red wine a night.
I ran blood work and discovered a few things about Jacquie’s health:
- Hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C) was 7.8% (normal is below 5.7%)
- Fasting blood sugar was 135 mg/dl (normal is below 99)
- Weight was 225 pounds
I asked Jacquie if anyone had every diagnosed her with diabetes, and she said no. Immediately, I could see fear creep into her face and body language, but I assured her that, with time and effort, I could help get her blood sugar back into normal range. She just had to be committed to making major changes in her diet and lifestyle.
Jacquie was a mother to a 12-year-old girl, and said she’d do anything to beat this disease and live a healthier and more vibrant life. We started treatment immediately.
Jacquie’s Natural Diabetes Treatment Plan
- Absolutely no processed foods or sugar
- More animal protein (fish, chicken, beef, pork, eggs), vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds
- Cook with oils like olive, ghee, coconut, and avocado
- No grains, no dairy, no corn, no soy, and no soda or fruit juice!
- Reduce coffee intake to two cups per day and stop adding sugar
- Replace soda and alcohol with sparkling water and lemon or lime and some stevia
- Daily movement (walking)
- 3-4 days a week of vigorous exercise
Jacquie rotated between cycling, hot yoga, Pilates, swimming, and gym workouts. Since Jacquie had not worked out regularly in many months, she eased herself into these exercises over the first two weeks. She reported that her muscles were sore initially, but muscle soreness decreased shortly after.
Blood Sugar Supplements
I put her on some blood sugar supportive combination supplements containing the following vitamins/minerals and herbs:
- A formula containing berberine and alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
- A formula containing bitter melon, gymnema, bayberry, cinnamon, bilberry
- Multivitamin formula including chromium, zinc, vanadium, magnesium, and B vitamins
- Trace mineral formula
I also supported her adrenal glands (HPA axis) with a formula containing adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, holy basil, and eleutherococcus.
Mind Body Medicine
She started meditating for just 10 minutes a day, which helped reduce stress in her life. She downloaded an app called Breathing Zone, and while driving to work in rush hour, she turned off the radio and instead focused on pacing her breathing at five breaths per minute.
At our first follow up 6 weeks later, I ran blood work again on Jacquie and her HgA1C and fasting blood glucose were as follows:
- HgA1C – 6.3% (now in the pre-diabetes range)
- Fasting blood sugar – 118 mg/dl (now in the pre-diabetes range)
- Weight – 202 pounds (23-pound weight loss)
At this point, Jacquie reported that she had not felt this good since before giving birth to her daughter over a decade ago! She also reported the following:
- Reduced abdominal bloating
- Improved sleep
- Improved energy
- Positive changes in her mood including feeling happy more often, and less snappy, frustrated, and depressed
- Reduced joint pain particularly with exercise
- Zero cravings for sugary foods or drinks
Since we were seeing such drastic changes, I kept Jacquie on the supplements and she doubled down on the diet, exercise, and meditation/deep breathing.
At our next follow up 8 weeks later, we ran labs again and I was very excited to see the following changes:
- HgA1C – 5.6% (no longer pre-diabetic)
- Fasting blood sugar – 97 (no longer pre-diabetic)
- Weight – 182 pounds (43 pounds in weight loss)
After a total of 12 weeks, Jacquie was almost back to her normal weight and she was no longer considered a diabetic. She was ecstatic that I didn’t have to prescribe her Metformin or other diabetes medications, and she couldn’t believe how good her body and mind felt in such a short amount of time.
I told Jacquie that she could begin reintroducing some grains and dairy products into her diet, and that she could drink alcohol on occasion. She realized that the high blood sugar and weight gain were really blessings in disguise, as these prompted her to radically change her health for the better. It’s cases like this that make me proud to be a doctor.
To Reverse Diabetes, Work with Your Doctor
If you know that you have diabetes, make sure you work with a naturopathic, integrative, functional medicine practitioner because lowering blood sugar too quickly can cause problems. I recommend monitoring the following while undergoing treatment:
- labs like fasting glucose or HgA1C
- signs and symptoms, and vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.)
- medication doses (blood sugar, thyroid, etc.)
Keep in mind, the ability to reverse type 2 diabetes depends on many factors like severity and duration of the condition and any other existing health conditions. It also takes time and a concerted effort from both you and your doctor to achieve this result. But it can be done!