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Have you ever been curious what the drugs for type 2 diabetes do in the body? In this article, we will go over the three major types of meds, along with the common diabetes medication effects and problems.
I will cover:
- The basics of the pancreas and insulin.
- What is diabetes?
- Type 2 diabetes medications – how they work and where they go wrong.
- Why medications don't fix the root cause of blood sugar problems.
- How the keto diet can help blood sugar levels and lower your need for meds.
- The bottom line.
Basics of the pancreas and insulin function
The pancreas is an organ located underneath the left rib cage. It produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin travels through the blood, and it responds to carbohydrates in our diets.
Whenever we eat, we break down the foods that we eat into sugars. The more carbs and sugary foods we eat, the more sugar that enters the blood. Insulin goes around to get rid of the excess. The goal of insulin is to lower our blood sugars back to normal whenever there is a blood glucose spike.
When insulin is released, it ends up going to an insulin receptor on our cells. The receptor receives insulin, and then the desired effects of lowering blood sugar are created.
The glucose might be turned into glycogen, cholesterol, or fat, so that it can later be used as fuel.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the healthy process described above gets out of balance.
When we eat a lot of sugar and do so over a long period of time, our bodies can't respond to it well anymore. Our bodies don't want to be exposed to so much sugar because it is toxic. So it goes into self-protection mode.
The way it does this is to start to resist insulin. The insulin receptors stop responding to it properly, and essentially block it out. And as a result, the pancreas tries to make even more of it.
But even though there is a lot of insulin floating around, it isn't working properly. The insulin receptors aren't responding to it and instead are resisting it. This is called insulin resistance.
Ultimately, we end up with really high blood glucose, because insulin no longer functions as it should. It is no longer bringing our blood sugar levels down.
Those high levels of blood sugar result in us developing what we know as type 2 diabetes.
To learn all about blood sugars, insulin, and diabetes, watch this webinar.
Diabetes medication effects – how they work and where they go wrong
Diabetes medications try to solve the problem of too high of blood sugar levels by doing one of three things. These include:
- Increasing the production of insulin.
- Improving insulin receptor function.
- Giving the body more insulin directly.
Let's take a closer look at each of these types of medications. We will break down what they try to do, along with the unintended side effects that they bring along.
1. Medications that increase insulin production
The goal of these medications is to increase the output of insulin from the pancreas. The cells in the pancreas that make insulin are called beta cells. These medications up the beta cell production of insulin, so that there is more floating around in the body. The idea is that with more insulin around, we can lower blood sugar levels back to normal.
Sulfonylureas are one popular medication that works in this way.
It is important to note that these medications can't work for type 1 diabetes. That is because sulfonylureas only enhance what is already there. It can't fix the problem with type 1 diabetes, but is used for type 2 diabetes instead.
What are the problems and side effects?
Sulfonylurea is also used as an herbicide. It blocks certain amino acids in plants, and it can kill them. So is it really good and safe for use in humans?
It turns out these medications have some dangerous side effects. Of note are the side effects of increasing your risk for heart disease and death.
On top of that, these meds won't fix your blood sugar problems. With type 2 diabetes, your insulin receptors aren't working well. So even if you force your body to produce more insulin, you'll just end up with the symptoms of high insulin. And high insulin is dangerous. In the end this approach won't help you bring down your blood glucose. And it won't get rid of your type 2 diabetes.
2. Medications that increase insulin receptor sensitivity
People with type 2 diabetes have problems with their insulin receptors. With insulin resistance, they aren't receiving or responding to insulin well. And the pancreas keeps making more. You end up with a lot of insulin, but insulin that is ineffective.
To fix this problem, certain diabetes medicines try to increase the sensitivity to insulin. They try to allow our receptors to receive insulin better.
An example of this type of medication is metformin.
What are the problems and side effects?
A side effect of this type of medication is lactic acidosis. This is a condition where your body makes too much lactic acid. And it results in your pH going way, way up.
One fix to this problem is vitamin B1. But it turns out that metformin also depletes the body of vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 deficiency is another common side effect that can cause many problems.
3. Medications that give the body straight insulin
The third approach to treating type 2 diabetes is to give the body insulin itself. Because our blood glucose levels are too high, the idea is that if we put more insulin in, those blood sugars will come down.
But as we now know, the insulin receptors aren't working anyways. So giving more insulin doesn't really help.
What are the problems and side effects?
It doesn't help to give more insulin when insulin receptors are blocked and not working. The insulin resistance that is present makes it so that adding in more insulin does not address the problem.
And the side effects of insulin can be serious. These include cardiovascular events, weight gain, and low blood sugar spells.
Giving insulin just keeps you in a bad cycle, and it does not address the root cause. It will not get rid of your type 2 diabetes problems.
Diabetes drugs don't fix the root cause
When you look at these diabetes medication effects, you can see that there are many issues.
So what is missing from this picture? A focus on the root cause of why your body has such high blood sugar levels in the first place.
And what is that? Too many carbs and sugars in the diet.
Sulfonylureas, metformin, and other drugs try to cover up the problem, but they don't address the real issue.
The real fix for type 2 diabetes is to look at the diet. It involves taking sugars and high amounts of carbs out of the foods that you eat. It involves healing insulin, in order to heal your blood sugar problems.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can actually make a big difference. And they can help you not just manage, but also reverse the problems going on. Because remission is possible.
The keto diet is one effective way to fix the root of the problem.
The keto diet can help diabetes and lower your need for meds
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Carbs spike insulin the most, while fats spike it the least. That allows your body to slow down insulin production, heal insulin resistance, and ultimately control blood sugars in a healthy way again.
Doing keto just might help you improve your condition and even support reversal.
And it can lower your need for diabetes medications. Once you start seeing your blood sugars and insulin levels go down, you will likely need less of your medications.
If you keep taking the same amount of your insulin or metformin, for example, you will end up with very low blood sugars. Because taking insulin or upping insulin sensitivity when you now have normal blood sugars will push your levels down too far. And low blood sugars can cause you problems.
Make sure to work with your healthcare provider so you can monitor things and make adjustments as needed.
The bottom line
There are many medications out there that are used for type 2 diabetes. But they come with a lot of side effects and problems. And in the end, they just don't fix the problem and won't fix your type 2 diabetes.
That is because they don't address the root of the problem: insulin resistance caused by too many carbs and sugars in the diet.
So consider trying out the keto diet instead. With keto, you can see a lot of positive benefit for type 2 diabetes. You can support your body in healing insulin, lowering blood sugar levels, reversing weight gain, and so much more.
Have you tried keto for diabetes? Share your experiences in the comments below.