Nowadays, with so many drugs having severe side effects, insulin has become the go-to therapy for many doctors who treat type 2 diabetes. But if you want to get off insulin and you’re type 2 diabetic, there are several things that you should know.
First, before I talk about insulin, it is important that I stress, insulin has many advantages, as well as disadvantages. And before using any of this material, consult with your physician. Everyone is different and if your doctor put you on insulin there is usually a good reason.
Why Doctors Put People on Insulin
Most of the doctors that I work with, have all admitted that they’re guilty of using insulin as a threat. They have said that they tell patients who don’t keep their sugar in check that they are going to have to prescribe insulin as a wake-up call or punishment for poor control.
But sometimes, if someone has sky-high blood sugar, their doctor will put them on insulin right away. And Endocrinologists, usually treat more aggressively and use insulin at the drop of a hat.
When most of the drugs that a doctor prescribes all fail, a doctor will usually use insulin as a last resort. And if a person is on 3 drugs for diabetes and they are all failing to control blood sugar levels, it’s usually hard to argue.
So the biggest reason why doctors prescribe insulin is because drugs alone aren’t getting it done.
But more and more doctors are starting to use insulin earlier for type 2 diabetics. Because diet and exercise are going by the wayside and people are relying more on medications to help control diabetes.
One very good reason for prescribing insulin is when your pancreas can no longer produce anymore insulin. Much like type 1 diabetes, where insulin injections are required for survival, in type 2 when the pancreas isn’t able to make enough insulin, a doctor usually has no choice but to prescribe insulin.
And insulin isn’t all bad. In situations where a person with type 2 diabetes is pregnant, short-acting insulin is the way to go as most drugs aren’t safe to use during pregnancy as they can cause risk to the fetus.
Types of Insulin
Many of the doctors that I work with are also guilty of overusing insulin. A doctor will usually prescribe a short acting or a long-acting insulin; a combination of the two; or an intermediate acting.
The reason for a long acting is to give the body that pulsatile release of insulin during the fasting state. Much like a normal working pancreas. That’s it.
The reason for short-acting or mealtime insulin is to cover meals. After you eat, when blood sugar spikes can be significant short acting insulin helps to mimic the normal insulin response.
Most doctors that I work with don’t really understand that long acting isn’t supposed to cover meals, and vice versa. So instead of using short-acting for meals, and long-acting for fasting, they will use long-acting for “everything” and keep increasing the units of long-acting insulin. Two popular brand name long acting insulins are Lantus and Levemir.
This in and of itself is a big problem. Too much insulin, used the wrong way can increase your risk for low blood sugar, weight gain, cardiovascular problems, and a host of other issues.
How To Get Off Insulin
If you want to stop insulin, there are several ways to make this happen…
Reduce insulin resistance. A big reason why type 2 diabetics require insulin is because their cells are so resistant to insulin that they require way more insulin to overcompensate for this resistance to help get the sugar into the cells. This is a big reason why many believe the pancreas “burns out” over time from having to work so hard to produce abnormally high amounts of insulin.
There are drugs that help to reduce insulin resistance, and as a direct result they help to lower your blood sugar and the required insulin units that you need. Exercise is a great way to reduce insulin resistance. Although it is important to speak with your doctor before exercise as this can cause your blood sugar to drop too low if you are exercising while taking insulin.
Lose Weight if you’re overweight. Fat around the midsection and your organs increases insulin resistance, which increases your insulin needs.
NOTE: Insulin promotes weight gain. One of many reasons for this is because it helps the cells of your body get sugar instead of those calories from sugar being lost in the urine.
Test your blood sugar more regularly. I know of some type 1 diabetics who test their sugar 8 times per day. The more you have an understanding of how food, exercise, and insulin affect your blood sugar, the easier it is to tweak and control it.
With better control, instead of your doctor telling you that you will need more units of insulin, now the doctor may tell you that you don’t have to increase the dose or you can reduce it.
Prior to using any of this material, please consult with your physician.