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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Diabetics: Waiting to Inhale

The FDA recently approved the first inhalable version of insulin, giving many adult diabetics relief from regular insulin injections.

It’s great that the pharmaceutical industry has developed a painless, bloodless, easy way to deliver insulin. My concern: we need to focus much more attention on improving insulin metabolism once it’s in the body.

Now this topic might not appear to have much to do with digestion. But diabetics must eat sugar-free foods, which are sweetened by sugar alcohols—substances known to cause loose stools and digestive distress in a large portion of the diabetic population.

Improving insulin function along with digestive function could help reduce the requirement to eat only sugar-free foods, and thereby reduce the negative impact on the GI tract.

Let’s examine the two primary diabetes types:

Type 1, also called juvenile diabetes, occurs in childhood due to a genetic error with insulin producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, the body doesn’t make its own insulin, and requires it from an outside source. Inhalable insulin will not eliminate needles for people with Type 1, because they require longer-acting injections to control the disease.

Type 2, which is manageable by inhalable insulin, is adult on-set insulin resistant diabetes mellitus. Here the body loses its ability to properly utilize the insulin it produces. It’s essentially an insulin resistance. This malfunction is also linked to other disorders, including hypertension, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease.

Regardless of the type being treated, the body still requires nutrients for insulin to function well once it’s in the system. Proper nutrients reduce insulin resistance by helping insulin bind to insulin receptors which, in turn, deliver life-sustaining glucose to cells.

To maximize medicines’ effects and improve insulin function, eat a nutrient-rich diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night. And incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your daily routine.

Appropriate nutritional supplements can also help. For diabetics, I recommend finding a good source of biologically active niacin-bound chromium. (Most chromium sources are not beneficial.) Insulin resistance is almost always characterized by a chromium deficiency, and replacing chromium promotes better insulin function.

If you’re diabetic, ask your doctor if inhalable insulin is right for you. In the meantime, don’t wait to inhale—help your body live with this condition by adopting a healthier, smarter lifestyle.


  • ~ Anonymous Anonymous said …

    how do we go about having a serious conversation about this without the embarassment and jokes? I can't even tell my doctor the whole story because it is a very uncomfortabel subject to discuss.

  • ~ Anonymous Anonymous said …

    I've been a diabetic for years now and eating sugar free foods is a no go for me. Sugar free foods are like the the evil side of being diabetic, all you do is fart and its nothing but embarrassing. I used to sit at work day after day just letting em out. They used to call me the fartmiester since I was so good at it. Since then Ive learned to eat healthier over the years, which has been a big help.


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