If you’ve worked with patients who are pre-diabetic or diabetic, you’ll know that many people view the condition as an all or nothing phenomenon. They either have it and they need to worry, or they don’t have it yet and don’t need to worry. Does that sound about right?
But functional medicine practitioners know that issues related to glucose control are a sliding scale and begin long before someone is diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Carbohydrate and glucose toxicity don’t happen overnight. Poor dietary and lifestyle choices that lead to symptoms like brain fog, afternoon energy crashes, and abdominal bloating stem from intolerance and occur long before any pre-diabetic or diabetic indicators.
In the United States, obesity is a growing problem that can lead to chronic issues like diabetes and hypothyroidism. However, many more people are affected by glucose control issues—and that includes people who are overweight or obese. That’s why we need to be concerned earlier in the symptom trajectory, when we can boost glucose control before it gets out of control and pre-diabetes and diabetes are diagnosed.
Functional medicine practitioners can run diagnostics to customize a food plan, a movement plan, and the right supplement regimen to help promote glucose control in patients.
Controlling Blood Glucose Levels
Lifestyle and routine have an impact on glucose control and weight loss and on the liver and pancreas’s function. If you skip meals or make consistently poor dietary choices, there are prolonged effects on the body and its productivity. The body may go into survival mode if it’s being starved at times when it ought to be fueled. This can cause the cells to store extra fat to compensate for what it thinks is happening, rather than burning incoming food as fuel.
When blood sugar isn’t regulated, other systemic functions are affected because the body is expending extra effort to control the blood sugar. Spikes can cause the body to store fat and convert incoming carbohydrates into more sugar, overloading the liver and pancreas. Check your patient’s body composition to get a sense of their muscle and fat distribution. If there isn’t much lean muscle, but there’s a lot of fat, it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness about the relationship between sugar and carbs, fatty liver, and body composition.
When a patient’s liver and pancreas are functioning optimally, they’ll have more energy, preserve lean body mass, and have a decrease in fat cells especially around the abdomen. Mental clarity will be better because glucose regulation is under control, and the patient will generally feel vital and feel that they “look” better. When the liver and pancreas are being impacted by poor glucose control and insulin resistance, they’ll feel tired, have low energy, and fat will increase.
Functional medicine practitioners can help patients manage the effects of glucose by first listening for clues that give a better sense of the whole metabolic picture, and then recommending diet changes, exercise, and the right supplements to improve that picture. Right away, patients should stop skipping meals. Quickly experienced upticks in energy, mental clarity, and overall vitality and appearance will go a long way toward encouraging long-term patient compliance.
How Supplements Can Help
Glucose regulation is a roller coaster, with highs and lows that occur regularly. Glucose control, coupled with a smarter diet, helps slow the release of sugar into the pancreas.
A high-quality protein supplement designed to aid with glucose control can help the body respond and manage glucose throughout the day, keeping the highs and lows in balance. Glucose control supplements help maintain levels, support energy as a byproduct of maintaining glucose levels, and aid in glucose transport and utilization by the cells. These supplements also reduce the free radical damage associated with putting the body in shock with unhealthy glucose levels. In essence, it’s helping the body become more insulin sensitive rather than insulin resistant.
Some of the key ingredients in these supplements include chromium, cinnamon, alpha lipoic acid, vanadyl sulfate, and bitter melon. Chromium is a major nutrient that’s active in the glucose tolerance factor, which attaches insulin to the cell membrane receptor sites where insulin functions. Vanadyl sulfate shows improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels in people with Type I and Type II Diabetes. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) helps build lean muscle, maintaining glucose and cholesterol levels in a normal range.
Vitamin B6 can also help. You might also consider Berberine HCL.