New cases of adult type 2 diabetes have increased by more than 90 percent in the past 10 years, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease and Prevention.(1) Equally troubling is the dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes among children. Recent reports reveal a 200 percent increase in hospitalizations for children with type 2 diabetes, a condition that was rarely diagnosed in children decades ago.(2) In the words of the CDC, “Diabetes is common, disabling, and deadly.”(3)
Millions of Americans, however, have found new hope by managing their diabetes through healthy lifestyle changes. To discuss details of this approach, I spoke with Blaine Purcell, MD, FACP, who specializes in the care of diabetic patients. In practice for 23 years, he works diligently to help patients make transformational lifestyle changes using nutrition and exercise.
Dr. Purcell reflected upon the progress made by Jim A., a member of the “300 Club.” With a weight of 300 pounds, insulin resistance requiring 300 units of insulin daily, and average blood sugars of 300, Jim’s future was looking pretty bleak. But by implementing the nutritional shifts recommended by Dr. Purcell, his blood sugar dropped from 300 to 60 within a day! Since taking charge of his life and his eating habits, Jim is back to work as a baseball umpire and has a whole new lease on life. Lifestyle changes of diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, and weight loss were a prescription for success for Jim.
Dr. Purcell, who treats patients in an outpatient internal medicine clinic, is alarmed by the number of medications his patients are taking when he first sees them. Many are on from five to 30 medications per day, and the average is 12 medications per day. With all these medications, many of the patients have impaired health status. They often feel miserable, fatigued, and dysphoric, and their mental alertness is impaired. Many suffer side effects or drug interactions from being on multiple medications, and some suffer from nutritional deficiencies secondary to a particular medication.
For anyone on a statin drug to lower cholesterol, the importance of taking additional coenzyme Q cannot be overstated. Statins, which are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol, deplete coenzyme Q, a vital nutrient for the heart. Dr. Purcell recommends 200 to 300 milligrams per day of coenzyme Q for any person prescribed a statin medication.
Other nutrients specific for diabetics recommended by Dr. Purcell include:
- Alpha lipoic acid: 300 mg twice daily
- L-carnitine: 250 mg twice daily
- Folic Acid: 1 to 2 mg per day
- Magnesium oxide: 400 to 600 mg per day (for patients with normal kidney function: Check with your doctor first)
- Coenzyme Q: 100 mg per day (unless on a statin medication; in that case, take 200 to 300 mg daily)
- Glyconutrients, often compounded with magnesium glycinate, 600 mg, and folic acid, 1 mg
Dr. Purcell also recommends careful monitoring of blood tests for people with diabetes. Besides home blood sugar monitoring, he orders the following tests for his patients every year:
- CBC w/differential
- Comprehensive chemistry profile
- Lipid profile
- Homocysteine levels
- C-reactive protein
- Microalbumin screen
Dr. Purcell also utilizes some innovative laboratory tests that he learned about from Stephen Sinatra, MD, a board certified cardiologist. Lab tests by Spectracell analyze microcomponents of lipids, helping differentiate patients who are at higher risk from those at lower risk. Spectracell also offers blood tests that itemize nutritional deficiencies, which can then be rectified with nutritional supplementation. Some insurance companies cover some of these tests, so check with your insurance company.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition, but with attention to diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation, many people with diabetes are living normal, healthy lives. A proactive attitude, a daily lifestyle commitment, and a good working relationship with your doctor are essential components of a health plan for success.
Mary Zennett, MD, has an MBA in healthcare administration and has been a practicing psychiatrist for 22 years. The founder of the National Alliance for Health Reform, she is mobilizing a grassroots movement of citizens committed to patient-centered, cost-effective health reform that incorporates wellness and prevention. The mother of two young adult sons, she is dedicated to reforms that will improve the quality of life for future generations. Her motto is “Patients First!” More information is available at healthforusall.com.
- EON Diabetes on the Rise Across the U.S. www.eontarionow.com/health/2008/10/31/diabetes-on-the-rise-across-the-us/
- Diabetes-At a Glance 2009 http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/aag/ddt.htm
- Reinberg, Steven, Dramatic Rise in U.S. Kids Hospitalized for Type 2 Diabetes, Health Day News, May 5, 2007