At Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS), we see many patients suffering from diabetes, which reduces a person’s insulin sensitivity, and the disease's devastating side effects. One such side effect are non-healing wounds, commonly referred to diabetic foot ulcers. We take great pride in helping these individuals in successfully healing their diabetic foot ulcers with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Diabetic foot ulcers, or DFUs, which we've discussed in previous posts, are open sores that develop on the feet of diabetics. If left untreated, they could lead to amputation of toes and feet. For these patients, and others suffering from diabetes and pre-diabetes, we seek to be a resource to help our patients understand the root cause of their disease and to help them manage it, often working in tandem with these patients' other providers to co-manage their care. In this article, we discuss some of the biochemistry underlying diabetes and some things people can do to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes or even reverse its course.
A BIT MORE ABOUT DIABETES AND INSULIN RESISTANCE:
The pancreas produces several hormones that regulate blood sugar, including insulin and glucagon. Insulin turns the sugar (i.e., glucose) found in our foods into sources of energy. When sugar levels are low, glucagon converts stored sugar in the form of glycogen into glucose.
When someone is insulin-resistant, his or her body's cells need higher levels of insulin. Over time, this can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. Type 1 diabetics, in contrast, lack the insulin hormone entirely.
Whether someone has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, he or she needs assistance improving insulin sensitivity.
TO INCREASE INSULIN SENSITIVITY, KEEP THESE HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS IN MIND:
Adopt A Ketogenic Diet
As Vito J. Rizzo, DPM, DABPS and partner at 21st Century FootCare explains: “There is the potential of the ketogenic diet to reverse diabetes or decrease the number of drugs needed to manage it. It is a low-carbohydrate diet where patients get most of their calories from fat and protein."
This food regimen emphasizes the importance of eating natural, healthy fats, such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados, while avoiding certain foods like breads, baked goods, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables (i.e., potatoes, yams, corn, peas). It also involves moderately eating protein, such as fish and poultry.
Not only could adhering to the ketogenic diet lower blood sugar levels, but it could potentially help you lose weight, as well!
The ketogenic diet has also been shown to work well in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, an all-natural treatment that nourishes and regenerates body tissue. Combining these two treatments could help maintain healthy glucose levels in the body, and thus increase insulin sensitivity, which makes managing diabetes easier. In fact, there is some research that shows HBOT could directly improve insulin sensitivity!
However, remember that it’s best to consult with a trained and licensed nutritional specialist before going on the ketogenic diet. This way, you’ll know if it’s the most advantageous option for you and your health.
Get More Sleep
Getting enough sleep every night is extremely important for everyone’s health, regardless of whether or not you’re diabetic. One well-known, adverse effect of sleep deprivation is an inability to focus. Evidence suggests that not sleeping enough could be directly related to insulin resistance as well.
For example, a 2010 study by the nonprofit American Diabetes Association found that restricting an adult male’s sleep to five hours per night for just one week “significantly reduces insulin sensitivity, raising concerns about effects of chronic insufficient sleep on disease processes associated with insulin resistance.”
The analysis, which consisted of 20 healthy male participants between the ages of 20 and 35 years old, continues: “Our finding that sleep restriction leads to a decrease in insulin sensitivity is consistent with earlier studies showing impaired glucose metabolism with altered sleep duration.”
Another study shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found similar results. Instead of focusing strictly on adult men, however, it examined the sleep restriction effects in adolescents.
Conducted from 2011 to 2014, it concluded that getting less than eight hours of sleep per night heightens an adolescent’s risk of insulin resistance.
“Therefore,” it states, “investigations of sleep duration and sleep quality in adolescents should be included in clinical practice to promote, through health education, the eradication of the health risks associated with sleep restriction.”
Along with obtaining enough sleep, regular exercise should be another priority. Those with diabetes, specifically Type 2, should be especially cognizant of this.
A 2016 study titled “The Effect of Regular Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” points out "that regular exercise has a significant benefit on insulin sensitivity, which may persist for 72 hours or longer after the last training bout.”
“Therefore, clinicians should reinforce the importance of regular exercise to manage insulin sensitivity as these chronic benefits may ensure that short-term periods of inactivity will not negate the therapeutic effect from generally regular exercise participation,” the study concludes.
Hyperbaric Medical Solutions provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy to a wide range of patients, including those seeking to optimize their results using a ketogenic diet. We work closely with licensed nutritionists in order to ensure our patients are guided through a care program customized to their needs and goals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.