by Jim Paoletti, BS Pharmacy, FAARM, FIACP
One of the toughest aspects of insulin resistance and diabetes is the fact that it’s influenced by so many factors. Genetic predispositions can increase an individual’s likelihood to manifest diabetes, and this factor is felt by many to be uncontrollable. While the genetic factors themselves are not, the manifestation of the disease state in each individual is controllable at least to a degree. For these individuals, controlling the factors that increase the risk of developing the disease are more critical, including nutritional supplementation. Although the most important controllable factors in fighting development of insulin resistance or the presence of adult onset diabetes are diet and exercise, there are a number of nutritional supplements that can be beneficial for patients with these conditions.
- Dietary fiber can substantially increase the ability to manage glucose levels. Fiber, especially insoluble fiber slows the digestive process and allows for food to be broken down more completely and using more energy for the digestive process. Dietary fiber has been linked to improved cardiovascular function, which may help glucose to be better utilized by muscle tissue.
- Alpha lipoic acid may increase glucose uptake by the muscles and improve insulin sensitivity. In Germany it is considered a necessity for diabetics.
- Several studies have shown that Chromium altars insulin resistance, and makes insulin more efficient.
- Omega-2 Fatty Acids have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular and heart health, improving cognitive function, reducing inflammation, and helping to regulate glucose levels.
- Cinnamon has been used in Oriental medicine for centuries, and evidence shows it has a positive effect on the fasting blood glucose levels.
- Vitamin B 1 (thiamine) deficiency is common among patients with diabetes and can lead to blood vessel damage and heat problems.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are critical to nerve health and may help with diabetic neuropathy. Generally, I recommend a B-Complex daily along with a good MVM.
- Curcumin aids in normalizing blood sugar levels, prevents beta-cell death, and decreasing insulin resistance. Vitamin E improves the ability to control glucose levels, and glucose production.
- Ginseng taken immediately before meals can reduce post-meal blood sugar levels by apparently improving the sensitivity and response to insulin.
- Studies have shown that bitter melon has been effective in animals in controlling blood glucose levels. Although more research needs to be done in humans, initial evidence is very promising.
- Green tea has been shown to improve insulin activity, control glucose levels, and prevent Type II diabetes.
- Magnesium, in addition to improving sleep, having a calming effect, and helping regulate blood pressure, also has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics. 300-500 mg daily of a well-absorbed chelated magnesium.
- Coenzyme Q10 and garlic, although not directly helping control glucose levels, both may help prevent cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. Both have interactions with a number of medications, including blood pressure medications and anticoagulants.
- Research has shown that vanadyl sulfate acts to help cells activate transport protein for glucose uptake.
With all the alternatives, how do you decide which supplements each of your patients should be taking? As a general rule, for any patient who shows developing insulin resistance I recommend (in addition to avoiding high glycemic index foods, a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise) the following:
- Magnesium Glycinate (600 mg contains about 90 mg of elemental magnesium): 3 capsules at bedtime.
- A good MVM daily, and a B-Complex daily at least until improvement.
- Vitamin D3. I start at 2000IU daily if I do not have a level. Try to get level to at least 50-60 ng/dl. 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 should raise the level about 10 mg/dl/
- Green Tea. The stuff is so good for you, I try to get everyone to consume several cups a day.
- Fish Oil. (1-2 Grams of EPA & DHA daily). Everyone should take it.
- Increase fiber intake and adequate water.
For patients who already are diabetic or feel that may soon become diabetic, I also suggest a product like Ortho Molecular’s Glycemic Foundation. It adds Chromium, Vanadyl Sulfate, Alpha Lipoic acid to the above regimen plus has a blend of proteins, gums and a fiver source which help maintain a full feeling and control glucose levels. I also suggest these patient eat only low glycemic index foods.
I have found that most patients do not need to continue the added supplements IF they can lose weight, and then maintain a good weight. If they will give up all sugar (including the tough one – alcohol) until their weight lose plateaus, then give up all grains in addition to sugars until again their weight lost plateaus, and then increase exercise until they reach their desired weight, then they can discontinue the added supplements for insulin resistance/diabetes. But that is a tough assignment for many people, so I reinforce how important the supplements are in protecting them at least to some degree, from themselves.
Jim Paoletti, BS Pharmacy, FAARFM, FIACP, is a Clinical Consultant with over 30 years of experience creating and using bio-identical hormone therapies in both retail pharmacy and clinical practice. Jim is a Diplomat in Functional Medicine in addition to being a former faculty member for the Fellowship of Functional Medicine. Jim is also author of the book “A Practitioner’s Guide to Physiologic Bioidentical Hormone Balance.”
At Power2Practice, he applies his wealth of knowledge and experience by hosting live webinars and creating useful content, such as blogs, podcasts and clinical support tools.