Dr. Julian Whitaker, MD, shares some advice for developing an action plan against diabetes. He talks to us about pharmaceutical drugs, supplements, and the importance of a complete lifestyle change in order to beat diabetes.
AM: What are the top five pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes and why should they be avoided? What are the side effects of taking these drugs?
JW: Many of the drugs prescribed for diabetes actually make patients worse. The most serious complications of diabetes are fatal and nonfatal heart attacks. Several drugs such as Avandia, Actos, and sulfonylureas (which include Glyburide and Glipizide), clearly state on their labels that they increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events.
In general, no drug is appropriate if it is used as the primary tool for treating type 2 diabetes. Here at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, we stop oral diabetic drugs and replace them with a weight loss program, exercise, a healthy diet, and nutritional supplements to lower blood sugar and protect against complications. Unlike drugs, this approach can actually eliminate the diabetic condition.
AM: What are the specific advantages of implementing a lifestyle change versus relying on drugs?
JW: Lifestyle changes can lead to weight loss, and appropriate weight loss can virtually eliminate type 2 diabetes. Drugs, on the other hand, often have adverse effects —including fatal heart attacks — and are also associated with hypoglycemia and weight gain. This is particularly true of insulin, which is used by approximately a quarter of patients with type 2 diabetes. When insulin is used in obese patients with diabetes, you can almost guarantee that both the obesity and the diabetic condition will worsen, and worsen rapidly.
AM: What vitamins, supplements, spices, herbs, etc. are beneficial to a diabetic?
JW: Vitamins and minerals are more than appropriate for people with diabetes — they’re indispensable. Optimal health of the eyes, kidneys, heart, blood vessels and nerves is highly dependent on adequate supplies of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, the elevated blood-sugar characteristic of the diabetic condition acts like an osmotic diuretic and causes excessive urination. In fact, diabetes comes from the Greek word meaning excessive urination and mellitus, from Latin, means sweet. This is a good description of diabetes mellitus: excessive, sweet urination. Unfortunately, excess sugar is not the only thing that is purged from the body in the excessive urination brought on by diabetes. All other water-soluble nutrients are also lost. Therefore, it is imperative that copious amounts of vitamins and minerals be taken to avoid the nutritional wasting that is so common in diabetes.
I cannot recall a single patient with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes who came to Whitaker Wellness in the past 30 years who had been told by their doctors to take supplemental vitamins and minerals to combat this inevitable nutrient wasting. This is surely one of the most obvious and damaging mistakes made by conventional medicine.
In addition to a broad range of antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, minerals, and other water-soluble nutrients that protect against diabetic complications, a number of specialized supplements, including vanadyl sulfate, cinnamon, chromium, and berberine, help lower blood sugar. Here at Whitaker Wellness, we stress the importance of these and other nutritional supplements for blood sugar control and prevention of complications.
AM: What does a complete “action plan” look like for someone who is at risk for diabetes?
JW: The program we use with great success at the clinic to help our patients lose weight and normalize blood sugar, lipids, and other risk factors is the “minifast with exercise.” It involves postponing breakfast until noon and walking or engaging in other exercise for 30 to 40 minutes during the morning fasting period several days a week. A good diet is recommended for the rest of the day, with low-glycemic foods and substantial reductions in sugar and starches. We also prescribe a broadspectrum, high-potency, antioxidant-rich daily vitamin and mineral supplement, along with Glucose Essentials, which contains vanadyl sulfate and other blood sugar-lowering ingredients, berberine, and other supplements.
This is the action plan we use here at Whitaker Wellness to help patients with type 2 diabetes avoid or discontinue oral diabetes medications and insulin.