What is it?
Diabetes mellitus results from your pancreas being unable to produce enough insulin to act on the sugar content in your bloodstream. Diabetes is defined as a fasting (12-hour fast) blood glucose (known as FPG) of 126 mg/dl or greater or a glucose level of 200 mg/dl or greater after a meal. A pre-diabetes condition exists when the fasting blood sugar is 110 mg/dl or above.
What causes it?
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin, which is a hormone essential for protein, fats, and sugars (glucose) to enter cells for growth and repair or energy production. When cells become resistant to the action of insulin (due to diet, lack of exercise and genetic factors), cells think they are starving and send messages to the pancreas to produce more insulin (which is still ineffective). As a result, the pancreas becomes exhausted from chronic overproduction of insulin.
Visualize a muscle pumping a weight. When the muscle becomes exhausted, the weight cannot be pumped or picked up no matter how hard the person tries. If the muscle is rested and re-energized, the weight can again be pumped. The pancreas is similar. Years or decades of chronic insulin overproduction will cause exhaustion. Resting the pancreas with diet and improving muscle cell sensitivity restores the pancreas to proper function without medication.
What role might cytokines play?
Cytokines have been discovered that promote cell resistance to insulin (called resistin). Diet and exercise are shown to balance these cytokines, helping the body fix the metabolism errors common in diabetes and restore pancreas insulin production.
What results could I expect with MNT?
MNT is the primary treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Medication should be added only after diet fails to produce significant changes in blood sugar. Many people with diabetes experience something called diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage, frequently described as burning in the feet or legs. These symptoms typically improve, especially if present for only a few years. Other conditions related to diabetes usually improve with MNT as well, including: hypertension, edema (swelling), elevated cholesterol/triglycerides, sleep disorders, fatigue, and depression. Study each applicable disease section, and complete the Disease/Symptom Questionnaires in the Workbook Calendar to track exactly how MNT helps with diabetes-related symptoms.
How can I measure symptom change on the plan?
You need to be clear whether or not you have Type 2 adult onset diabetes mellitus. If monitoring blood sugar with a home test kit (available at pharmacies), record daily glucose readings until they are normal and stay normal (FPG level at less that 126 mg/dl). If you take medications for diabetes, your physician should closely supervise your treatment throughout the MNT Plan.