I’ve been off medication for about three years now. There were times when I struggled and still took herbal remedies like bitter melon, apple cider vinegar, Ceylon cinnamon and gymnema sylvestre. It was a consuming routine I combined with diet and exercise. Often the thought passed through my mind it might be easier to go back to metformin, but I always convinced myself that “natural” was better. Most of the herbs also have powerful antioxidants and help other vital body functions like heart, arteries and joints.
Earlier this year, I suffered pain in my hips and tendonitis in my left ankle. This cut into my exercise program and I got a little sloppy with my diet. The result was rising blood sugar, especially in the morning. Spending hours in front of a computer screen didn’t help. My morning readings went from 130 up to 176 and I had difficulty getting the morning readings to a 150 level. My A1C went to 7.5.
I credited part of the spikes to hip and ankle pain but delayed seeing a doctor fearing a diagnosis of hip replacement. The pain would come and go. I took aspirin, used salve, a hand massager and a small ultrasound unit to relieve the pain. Walking helped loosen the hip but wasn’t great for the ankle.
My weight was also back up to 225 pounds which was only five pounds less than when I went on the milkshake diet three years ago. In the past I knew my waist would lose a half inch for every five pounds I lost and my readings would go down three to five points for every five pounds I lost.
Just as I was planning a strategy of increased exercise and reduced calories, I stumbled on some articles about artificial sweeteners. I hated saccharin and never used it. There was enough evidence that aspartame, which was the chemical name for Equal and NutraSweet, was harmful so I stopped using that years ago.
I still used sucralose in the form of Splenda. At one time I was knocking back a lot of diet soda, Snapple and other Splenda flavored drinks. I had cut back on the drinks but still used Splenda in my homemade teas and morning coffee. I used the same amount of Splenda as I did sugar in my coffee. I’m too embarrassed to say how much, but I like my coffee sweet. I like it sweet enough my wife Li would get a stunned blank look on her face when I added Splenda to my coffee.
About a year ago I cut back on the Splenda and combined it with stevia. I’m not crazy about the aftertaste of stevia so I used the Splenda to balance the stevia bitterness.
Reports on sucralose safety were mixed. Some experts argued it did no harm and some argued it was harmful. My sweet tooth went with the camp that said it was harmless.
I still yearned for more freedom in my diabetes routine. I took supplements twice a day which took time each week to organize the pill boxes. I juiced bitter melon twice a week which meant two trips a week to the local Asian market. I drank four ounces every night before I went to bed. It works better than anything I’ve ever used for natural blood sugar control. My readings would have been worse if I hadn’t used it. I may have become more dependent on it than I should have. To say the least, it’s an acquired taste reminiscent of ear wax. I drank it cold, diluted with water pretending it was an exotic adult beverage. “I wonder if you can ferment bitter melon,” I mused.
I cut back my calories a bit and saw an orthopedist about my hip. It was bursitis which will go away eventually. I had a few weeks of therapy and the hip and ankle are at least manageable. The therapy and exercises began to help my blood sugar as I was just about at the point of asking my doctor to put me back on metformin.
About six weeks ago I came across an article on some research that artificial sweeteners may cause type 2 diabetes. The article suggested those with the disease could have difficulty controlling it if they used these sweeteners.
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel performed the research. The sweeteners were tested on both mice and humans. The article appeared in USA Today last September and read in part; “The benefits and risks of artificial sweeteners have been debated for decades. Some studies show no link to diabetes and others suggest there is one. The new research, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, finds that differences in gut microbes may explain why some people can handle artificial sweeteners just fine while in an unknown percentage of others the sweeteners lead to diabetes.”
After reading the article I decided to stop using Splenda and see what that did. The results were dramatic. After two weeks on the diet and without Splenda. I’d already lost five pounds but my morning readings had never been this low at that weight. I stopped using the supplements and halted my evening dose of bitter melon juice. My readings continued to improve. It’s been several weeks and my morning readings have been under 120. In fact, my readings before all meals are within 5 points of each other which has never happened before. Morning readings are now my lowest reading of the day which is also a new development for me.
I’m confident that a few more weeks on the diet will give me morning readings of 95 to 110. The diet is simple. I do smoothies once or twice a day and eat a regular meal at least once a day. I have most of my calories for breakfast. I weigh myself every morning before breakfast. If my reading is under 110 I treat myself to some high fiber, high protein cereal with some fruit or nuts. If my weight stays the same for two days in I row I have three milk shake meals on the third day. I also exercise at least a half hour a day and usually an hour a day. The exercise includes resistance with Pilates bands and dumbbells, power walks, swimming and bouncing on a small trampoline. We’ll be discussing the trampoline in a later post.
I’m not crazy about stevia but did a little research on the best brands. Trader Joe ranked high so I’m using that. It doesn’t have the bitterness of other brands and it’s pure without any binders. If you buy stevia the best bet is powder without inulin or dextrose. Liquid stevia should be alcohol free. The powder is good in cooking and in hot drinks. It can get lumpy in cold drinks unless you stir with gusto. The liquid is better for drinks.
If you buy it from Trader Joe, make sure you get the small organic bottle of powder. The larger bottle is not pure. The Trader Joe stevia is available on Amazon.com if you don’t have a brick and mortar store in your location. Amazon sells a combination of the Trader Joe powder and liquid. It’s actually cheaper than the brick and mortar price. Shipping is free. Check it out here.
I’m also experimenting with stevia in my garden. Some stevia plants at one of our local nurseries surprised me. One stevia leaf is supposed to sweeten a cup of coffee or tea. Three teaspoons equal a cup.
Stop using artificial sweeteners and you may lower your blood sugar.
One of the facts the Weizmann research uncovered was the artificial sweeteners don’t affect everyone the same way. It has to do with the microbe chemistry in the stomach. Just as everyone’s T2 diabetes is unique so is stomach chemistry.
If you have success or have had past success with your readings after stopping artificial sweeteners, I would love to hear from you.