A reader asks: "I have tried just about every kind of medicine to keep my sugar down, but my doctor insisted I start on insulin and take five other medicines as well. I have tried exercise and walking, but nothing really helps. Do you have any advice?"
There are a lot of good answers to this sort of question. First of all, I applaud you for looking at alternatives other than taking drugs to get your blood sugar down. But I have several questions about your situation, because this is an issue that is completely in your control. When you say, "I have tried exercise and walking, but nothing really helps," does that mean you are still exercising and walking, or did you try it for a few days and then give up on the habit? Because blood sugar will never be normal unless you engage in regular physical exercise.
That means a daily basis. I recommend at least 30-45 minutes of walking or other cardiovascular exercise on a daily basis, with one day off each week for rest. And ideally, you should work your way up to much more strenuous forms of physical exercise such as swimming, aerobics, dancing, Tai Chi, Pilates, and so on. Frankly, I don't know what it means to "try" exercise. Exercise is not something to be tried as an allopathic response to high blood sugar. Exercise is something that the human body was designed to do on a regular basis, so it's a habit that you and all of us should adopt for life.
The second answer to this question really gets to something that wasn't asked in your question, and that is, what causes high blood sugar in the first place? The answer to that is your diet. The simple fact is your blood sugar cannot be high unless you consume foods that are high in carbohydrates. My guess is that your diet consists of quite a few refined carbohydrates. These might include potato chips, soft drinks, bread, or other items made with white flour. You might be eating breakfast cereal or items that are sweetened with corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. In fact, biologically speaking, there is no way for your blood sugar to be high unless you are eating these foods in the first place.
Certainly, you could experience high blood sugar from eating a lot of fruits if you ate nothing but fruits and didn't consume balancing quantities of protein and fat, but my guess is, based on the nature of your question and a lot of experience in talking to other people who are having trouble with blood sugar levels, you are probably consuming large quantities of refined carbohydrates. I'm not being blameful here, just matter-of-fact. I've been there, too: I ate sugars and white flour up until I was in my mid 20's.
That, in effect, is the answer to your question. If you really want to get your blood sugar down, it's time to change your diet. Remember, your health outcome is in your hands. You are the only person who can alter your blood sugar on a permanent basis, and the way to do that is to make new choices in the types of food and beverages that you consume.
First off, soft drinks should be avoided for the rest of your life. If you need help in transitioning off of soft drinks, read my book called The Five Soft Drink Monsters, which is available at Truth Publishing.com. Given your apparent history with high blood sugar, it is absolutely essential that you avoid soft drinks for the rest of your life. These beverages contain somewhere around 12 to 15 tablespoons of sugar per can, and that is like poisoning your system. Even a lot of walking won't counteract the blood sugar spiking effects of drinking soft drinks, so you've got to find a way to get off of these soft drinks starting right now.
You also have to tackle refined white flour and all products made with it. This may mean giving up all breads and cereals, pastries, crackers, cookies, and other similar foods. Believe me -- you won't die from giving up these foods. In fact, the truth of the matter is that you will probably die early if you don't give up these foods. These foods are simply incompatible with healthy human beings and balanced blood sugar levels.
I could go on and on about which foods to avoid, but I think you get the idea. Basically, you could learn a lot from the Atkins diet about refined carbohydrates. Just be sure to search out foods that are very low in their carbohydrate count. These would include healthy fats and oils such as avocados, nuts and seeds, and flax oil nutritional supplements.
You should also get good quantities of healthy protein into your diet. Good protein sources are isolated soy protein and soy products such as tofu or soy milk. I also strongly recommend spirulina as an outstanding protein source, because its protein is highly digestible -- plus you'll get the added benefits of the spirulina phytonutrients at the same time, which are known to have anticancer properties.
By the way, it's also possible that you have nutritional deficiencies that are part of the problem here, although the large problem is no doubt the foods you are choosing to consume. But you could have a deficiency in chromium, which is a trace mineral that plays an important role in insulin sensitivity, so you could supplement with chromium and see if that helps. You could also benefit from taking GLA supplements. This is a healthy oil found in spirulina and various plants such as the primrose plant. So if you take primrose supplements, you'll be giving yourself some GLA, which has been known to help balance blood sugar levels.
On the herbal front, there are some other things you can do as well, such as taking gymnema sylvestre, or you could read about the blood sugar lowering effects of the cinnamon herb. In fact, there are quite a few herbs that help stabilize blood sugar. But once again, these are only things to be done in conjunction with a major lifestyle change that moves you away from refined carbohydrates and soft drinks.
Also, it's important to note that any of these changes should only be conducted with the expert advice and consultation of a physician or a qualified naturopath. Unless you are well-versed in blood sugar and human nutrition, you shouldn't tackle these issues in isolation. Make sure you get a qualified professional to help you with the transition, but also emphasize to those professionals that you are working toward a lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix.
Lastly, you might wonder what the role of insulin and blood sugar medications might be in this case. If your blood sugar is dangerously high (check with your doctor about what level he or she considers to be dangerous), then insulin and medications are definitely recommended for the short term. But that's the key here -- short term only! You don't want to be dependent on these medications, and you need to make it clear to your health care provider that you only want these medications to reduce the acute danger while you make lasting lifestyle changes in an effort to get off of those medications and off of insulin injections for the rest of your life.
These medications can be lifesavers in the short term, but remember, there is toxicity associated with all prescription drugs, and the prescription drugs related to diabetes and insulin have a horrifying history of dangerous side effects, including outright liver failure, which has killed at least 10,000 people and permanently harmed the livers of 100,000 or more. One anti-diabetes drug called Rezulin, for example, was finally pulled off the market after killing thousands (but that's another story...).
The trap that most people get into with this kind of system is they end up being too lazy to engage in physical exercise, or they don't have enough discipline to make healthy food choices. So they end up using the herbs or the pharmaceuticals as a crutch. They figure, hey, if I can use these drugs to get my blood sugar down to healthy levels, then I can just take these drugs for the rest of my life. That is a huge mistake. In fact, it could be a fatal mistake, and I strongly urge you to resist the temptation to rely on herbs or medicines or even insulin as a lifelong approach to balancing the blood sugar levels.
If you're going to be healthy, you've got to get your body into balance on its own, and the only way to do that is to get outside, get some natural sunlight on your skin on a regular basis, get a daily dose of physical exercise, take lots of superfood supplements and make healthy food choices that avoid refined carbohydrates and other metabolic disruptors that promote high blood sugar.
There is no shortcut to doing this. And yet, at the same time, what really works in this case are strategies that are either dirt cheap or free. So, not only will you be much healthier if you adopt this new lifestyle, you will also save yourself a small fortune.