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The body’s main source of energy is glucose. Glucose is a sugar that the body derives from carbohydrates found in the food. Blood glucose is the amount of sugar that is in the blood, for the body to use as energy (1,2).

After a meal, the levels of blood glucose in the body increases. This increase triggers the pancreas to release a hormone known as insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin handles the transportation of sugars (from ingested food or beverages) to the cells of the body. The cells then convert the sugars into energy for the body to use (2,3).

Additionally, insulin handles the storage of sugar by the liver and muscles. Insulin also ensures that new sugar is not made in the liver, causing a reduction in the blood sugar levels. The opposite mechanism occurs when the blood sugar levels are low. The pancreas releases a hormone known as glucagon. Glucagon makes the liver release its stored sugar and allows the liver to make new sugars for use as energy. An increase in blood sugar levels stops the release of glucagon (3).

What System Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease. It develops when the blood glucose or blood sugar levels become too high. This occurs due to a lack of insulin production or when the body is not using the produced insulin as it should. Such occurrences cause the glucose to remain in the blood; instead of going to the cells. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes (3,4).

What Body Systems are Affected by Diabetes?

One of the reasons that diabetes can be such a difficult and devastating disease is due to the fact that all body systems are affected. If your cells cannot absorb sugar and your blood sugar is too high, it affects your circulatory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, endocrinal, digestive, and nervous systems(150).

How Does Diabetes Affect the Nervous System?

Peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage primarily of the legs, feet, toes, arms, hands, and fingers is one of the most common complications of diabetes. If not kept in check, it can lead to amputation.

About 30 percent of people with diabetes have autonomic neuropathy which affects involuntary functions like digestion(150).

How Does Diabetes Affect the Digestive System?

As discussed, nerve damage to the digestive system can occur. Gastroparesis is a condition that may occur, which keeps food from moving from the stomach into the small intestine(150), by disrupting the stomach’s contractions(151).

Diabetes is a metabolic disease. It develops when the blood glucose or blood sugar levels become too high. This occurs due to a lack of insulin production or when the body is not using the produced insulin as it should. Such occurrences cause the glucose to remain in the blood; instead of going to the cells. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes (3,4).

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas. These cells are responsible for producing insulin. When this occurs, these cells do not produce sufficient insulin or even any insulin at all. Type 1 diabetes is most common in children and adolescents. This type of diabetes has been formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile onset diabetes. Persons with Type 1 diabetes require constant insulin replacement therapy (4,5,6,7).

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body is resistant to the effects of insulin. There are two main distinctions between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Persons with type 2 diabetes are not dependent on insulin, as the pancreas still secretes insulin. Additionally, there is no autoimmune destruction of the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 diabetes, accounting for over 90% of all diabetes diagnoses. Type 2 diabetes is typically seen in middle-aged to older adults and is usually a result of obesity (4,5,6,8).


Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms for Type 1 Diabetes include (9,10,11):

  • Abnormally extreme and excessive thirst
  • Abnormal and excessive production of urine
  • Frequently waking up at night to urinate
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pains
  • Blurry vision

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Genetics and family history of diabetes (12,13)
  • Lack of vitamin D in mother’s during pregnancy (14)
  • Increased intake of cow’s milk during infancy and childhood (15,16)
  • Early (less than 4 months old) and late (more than 6 months old) exposure to solid food for infants (17)
  • Dietary gluten in childhood (18,19)
  • Prenatal factors (20,21,22)

Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms for Type 2 diabetes include (23,24):

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive abnormal thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Infections in the genital areas, urinary tract, mouth, and skin
  • Mood changes and feelings of confusion
  • Excessive itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Inflammation of mouth and lips
  • Impaired vision
  • Numbness in feet
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Patches of darkened skin in armpits and neck

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include (23,25):

  • Genetics and family history of diabetes (26)
  • Age – type 2 diabetes is usually seen in adults over the age of 40 years
  • Obesity and large waist circumference
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking (27,28,29)
  • Diets high in sugars, fried foods, red meats, and carbohydrates (29,30)
  • Vitamin D and K deficiency (31,32,33,34,35)



Silent ischemia [lack of oxygen] or a silent heart attack can go by unnoticed or ignored, but still does damage and has significant effects. The 4 persistent signs that may indicate you have suffered a silent heart attack are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Persistent indigestion
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle pain mistaken for a strain or pull(152)


As with any heart attack, a silent heart attack is caused by a buildup of plaque that causes a reduction of blood flow to the heart. This buildup of plaque can be produced by:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history
  • Obesity(152)


The symptoms are the same as a full-fledged heart attack, just usually not as severe or as prolonged. Even these mild symptoms should be taken seriously:

  • Chest pressure
  • Pain in the chest, jaw, shoulder, back, and arm
  • Numbness
  • Shortness of breath(153)


Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is a response of the body against trauma or stress, both physical and psychological. Trauma triggers the body’s stress responses like hormones and creates changes in how carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are metabolized(154).


Reports for 2017 show that 9.4 % of the US population, which is 30.3 million persons, have diabetes (36). Type 1 diabetes is less common than Type 2 diabetes, with only about 5% of all diabetes cases being Type 1 (37).

Is There a Diabetes Epidemic?

Technically, diabetes is not and cannot be an epidemic, because it is not an infectious disease, but it is approaching epidemic proportions. As global rates of obesity increase, so does the occurrence of diabetes. is a global diabetes community, and it estimates that 1 in 11 people, 415 million globally, have diabetes, and if things do not change, that number could increase to 642 million by the year 2040(155).


Type 1 Diabetes

The mainstay treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin replacement therapy, as the body is producing little to no insulin at all. A drug known as Pramlintide, is also used in addition to insulin therapy. It mimics the actions of the enzyme Amylin, which is no longer produced by the body if a person has Type 1 diabetes (38).

Pramlintide works to improve glycemic control, reduce glucose levels and body weight in persons also taking insulin after meals (39). Pramlintide is an intravenous drug. Brand names include at Symlin or SymlinPen. Side effects of Pramlintide include dizziness, fainting, seizures, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, and irritation at injection site (40).

Type 2 Diabetes

Biguanides (Metformin) works by increasing insulin sensitivity, decreasing absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract, improving glucose uptake and inhibiting liver production of glucose (26). Marketed as Glucophage, Glumteza, DM2, Fortamet, Riomet (41,42). Side effects include fever, chills, feeling of confusion, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle pain or cramps, fatigue, diarrhea, metallic taste in mouth (42).

Sulfonylureas (Glyburide & Glipizide) works by stimulating insulin secretion from beta cells in the pancreas. Glyburide is long-acting and can cause hypoglycemia. It is not recommended for use with elderly patients (26). Marketed as Diabeta, Micronase, Glynase, Glucotrol, and Amaryl (41). Side effects include weight gain, nausea, skin irritation, jaundice, hepatitis, Growth Hormone disorder, cardiac problems, erectile dysfunction, and malignancy (43,44).

Meglitinides (Repaglinide and Nateglinide) work by stimulating insulin secretion from beta cells in the pancreas. These drugs have a rapid onset and are short-acting (26). Marketed as Pradin and Starlix (41). Side effects include skin rash and blisters, difficulty breathing, seizures, trembling, rapid heart rate, feelings of confusion, weight gain, runny nose, coughing, and sore throat (45).

Thiazolidinediones (Pioglitazone) works by decreasing resistance to insulin. Marketed as Actos and Avandia (41). Side effects include edema, heart failure, weight gain, bone loss (risk of fractures in women) (46,47).

Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors (Acarbose, Voglibose, and Miglitol) works by delaying the absorption of glucose. Marketed as Precose and Glyset (41). Side effects include diarrhea and flatulence (48).

Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors (Sitagliptin and Saxagliptin) are taken together with metformin, thiazolidinediones, and insulin (26). Marketed as Januvia and Janumet (41).

Side effects include upper respiratory tract infections, swelling of nasal passages and back of the throat, headache, anaphylaxis, angioedema, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (severe skin disorder), pancreatitis, hypoglycemia when used with sulfonylurea (49,50).


Practices to Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels:

For Type 2 Diabetes, research has shown that a healthy diet and exercise can support healthy glucose levels. This aids in the prevention of developing diabetes.  Lifestyle modifications such as healthy weight loss and increase physical activity can contribute to the prevention of diabetes and to supporting the management of persons living with diabetes (51,52,53,54).

Effective Home Remedies for Diabetes

Again, diet and exercise are key when it comes to controlling diabetes. Follow a diet rich in low-sugar fruits (you may have to avoid high-sugar fruits like pineapple and mango) as well as vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Stay away from refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. A low glycemic-index diet is a good framework(156).

Dehydration can raise blood sugar levels, so make sure you drink plenty of water. Also, try to reduce stress and get plenty of good restorative sleep(156).

Natural Supplements That Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Chromium (55,56,57)
  • Cinnamon Extract (58,59,60,61)
  • Gymnema (62,63,64,65)
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (66,67,68,69,83,84,85,86)
  • Bilberry (70,71)
  • Fenugreek Seed (72,73,74)
  • Butcher’s Broom (75)
  • Bitter melon (76,77,78)
  • Banaba (79,87,88)
  • Holy Basil (80)
  • Vanadium (81,82,89,90,91,92,93)
  • Aloe Vera (94,95,96,97,98,99,100)
  • American ginseng (101,102,103)
  • Barberine (104,105,106,107)
  • Black seed (108,109,110)
  • Blond psyllium  (111,112,113,114,115,116,117,118)
  • Caffeine (119,120,121,122,123,124)
  • Flaxseed (125,126,127,128,129)
  • Glucomannan (130,131,132,133,134,135)
  • Magnesium (136,137,138,139,140,141)
  • Gotu kola (142,143)
  • Bitter melon (144,145,146,147,148,149)


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