Diabetes. Supplements and Lifestyle Changes for Patients

Updated: 11/2/23

Living with diabetes is a challenge, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the life of good health and wellness that you dream about. Making lifestyle changes and incorporating supplements into your diet can be incredibly beneficial for improving your overall well-being while managing diabetes. In this blog post we’ll discuss specific tips on how to make healthier choices when it comes to food, drinking habits, exercise, and supplements–all factors which play an important role in helping diabetes patients gain better control over their condition. Learn how minor adjustments to your daily life can boost your energy levels as you take healthy steps towards a future of improved health!

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. When the body does not produce enough insulin, or it becomes resistant to insulin, sugar (glucose) builds up in the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases to plague the developed world. It is a serious disease but it is manageable. Diabetes is considered a disability, specifically because the endocrine system has limited function. It affects about 30 million people in the United States. Interestingly, about 25 percent of these patients are unaware of the condition. There are several types of diabetes, including diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus and gestational diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus occurs when blood glucose levels get too high. Glucose is the most common carbohydrate and it is a monosaccharide, a simple carbohydrate. While the body needs blood glucose, too much of it becomes a major health concern. Blood glucose, or blood sugar, becomes too high when the body doesn’t make or use insulin properly. Within this category, there are different types. The most common are type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This results in little to no insulin production. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections or an insulin pump to replace the lost insulin. Type 1 diabetes often starts in childhood, and the cause is still unknown. There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes, and it cannot be prevented.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, with over 90% of all diabetes cases being Type 2. In this type of diabetes, the body becomes insulin resistant, meaning that the insulin produced by the body is not being used effectively. This leads to high glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, and medication may also be prescribed. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body is required to produce more insulin to regulate the mother’s blood sugar levels. If the body is unable to produce enough insulin, gestational diabetes develops. This type of diabetes usually resolves after pregnancy but can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. Women who have gestational diabetes should have their blood sugar levels monitored after pregnancy to ensure they are in a healthy range.

Diabetes Insipidus

As opposed to diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that occurs when the kidneys fail to hoard water as they filter blood. Unlike diabetes mellitus, it is not caused by inadequate insulin secretion or regulation. Instead, it occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t make enough of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH). The body needs ADH to control its water levels and individuals with this condition often lose excess water in excess. Therefore, diabetes insipidus can be life threatening without treatment. Doctors often mistake diabetes insipidus with diabetes mellitus because they both share the same chief symptom—frequent and excessive urination (polyuria).

Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes can present itself in a number of different ways. Early detection is very important to avoid long term complications. The most common symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme fatigue, pain, unexplained weight loss and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.

Increased Urination

Do you find yourself running to the restroom more often than usual? Frequent urination is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes. Your body is working hard to flush out the excess sugar in your system, which leads to frequent urination. If you notice this change, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.

Noticeable Weight Loss

While losing weight may sound like a good thing, in the case of diabetes, it can be a red flag. When the body cannot break down glucose properly, it begins to break down fat and muscle for energy, resulting in weight loss. If you have lost weight suddenly without trying, it’s time to get checked for diabetes.

Increased Hunger

Another sign of diabetes is increased hunger, especially after meals. When glucose levels are uncontrolled, the body cannot utilize it effectively for energy, leading to feelings of hunger. This uncontrolled hunger can lead to overeating, causing weight gain, and can lead to other health problems in the future if left untreated.

Extreme Thirst

Are you constantly thirsty no matter how much water you drink? This symptom often goes hand in hand with frequent urination. When there is a high amount of sugar in your bloodstream, it draws water out of your cells, causing dehydration. This can lead to feelings of intense thirst, even if you drink plenty of water.


Feelings of tiredness and exhaustion could be a sign of diabetes. When your body has trouble regulating your blood sugar levels, it doesn’t effectively convert glucose into energy. Instead, it is often stored in your cells, leading to feelings of fatigue and low energy.

Slow Healing

Diabetes can impact your body’s ability to heal itself. High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels and nerves, making it harder for your body to repair itself. If you notice that cuts or bruises are taking longer to heal, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.

Vision Changes

Diabetes can cause changes in your vision, including blurred vision or even vision loss. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in your eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy. If you notice changes in your vision, make sure to talk to your doctor to get ahead of any potential eye complications.

Numbness and Tingling in the Hands and Feet

High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, leading to a tingling or numb sensation in the hands and feet. This condition is called neuropathy and can be a sign of untreated diabetes. If you have been experiencing numbness or tingling, it’s important to get checked for diabetes.

Other Signs

Autonomic neuropathy can cause gastrointestinal distress such as stomach pain and diarrhea as well as dizziness or vertigo. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to problems with the eyes, kidneys, feet, heart, brain and nerves. It can cause blurred vision and even vision loss. If it affects the kidneys the patient’s hands, feet and face may swell and they may have unexplained weight gain, itching or drowsiness. It can cause nerve damage in the feet that causes pain and numbness that may even require amputation. The condition may cause heart attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and chest pain. It can also affect the brain, causing paralysis or numbness.

Can Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body cannot use glucose (sugar) properly, resulting in high levels of sugar in the blood. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage. This damage can also cause high blood pressure, which is a condition in which the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high.

The link between diabetes and high blood pressure is twofold. First, high blood sugar can damage the walls of the arteries, making them more rigid and less flexible. This can cause blood pressure to rise because the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the narrowed vessels. Second, people with diabetes are more likely to be overweight or obese, which is another risk factor for high blood pressure.

Causes of Diabetes


One of the most significant causes of diabetes is genetics. Type 1 diabetes, which typically develops during childhood or adolescence, is believed to be triggered by genetic factors. In some cases, type 2 diabetes, which generally develops later in life, may also have a genetic component. If you have a family history of diabetes, you may be at a higher risk of developing this disease yourself.


Another significant risk factor for diabetes is obesity. When you carry excess weight, it can cause your body to become insulin resistant, which means that your cells are less able to use insulin to absorb glucose from your bloodstream. Over time, this can lead to high blood sugar levels and eventually diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing this disease.

Sedentary Lifestyle and Poor Diet

A sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet can also increase your risk of developing diabetes. When you regularly consume processed foods and sugary drinks, it can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which can eventually lead to diabetes. Additionally, if you spend the majority of your day sitting, it can further increase your risk of developing this disease. Incorporating regular exercise and a balanced diet into your daily routine can help to reduce your risk of developing this debilitating disease.


Another significant risk factor for developing diabetes is age. As you get older, your body is less able to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar levels, which makes you more susceptible to developing diabetes. Additionally, as you age, you may also be more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle or consume a poor diet, which can further increase your risk of developing this disease.

Gestational Diabetes

Finally, for women, gestational diabetes can also increase your risk of developing diabetes later in life. This condition occurs during pregnancy when the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. While gestational diabetes typically resolves after childbirth, it can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational diabetes develops because the pancreas produces hormones that trigger insulin resistance. Patients who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing it. Other risk factors include age, medical history and the baby’s weight. Patients over 25 may be at a higher risk, as well as those with a history of prediabetes or gestational diabetes. In addition, if the patient’s baby weighs more than 9 lbs., that can increase the risk.

Other causes of gestational, mellitus or insipidus diabetes can include:

  • Family history/genetics
  • Hormonal diseases
  • Damage to the pancreas
  • Medications
Causes of Diabetes

Complications of Diabetes

Nerve Damage and Neuropathy

One of the most common complications of diabetes is nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. This condition can affect the nerves in your hands, feet, and legs, causing numbness, tingling, and pain. Over time, neuropathy can make it difficult to sense temperature changes, leading to burns or injuries that go unnoticed. To prevent neuropathy, it’s essential to keep your blood sugar levels under control through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and diabetes medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Eye Problems and Retinopathy

Diabetes can also damage the blood vessels in your eyes, leading to vision problems or even blindness. This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, it’s essential to have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can detect any signs of retinopathy and provide treatment to prevent vision loss. In addition, maintaining good blood sugar control and managing other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol can help prevent eye problems.

Heart Disease and Stroke

People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke. High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of developing fatty deposits inside your arteries, which can clog them over time. To prevent heart disease and stroke, it’s crucial to manage your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol through healthy lifestyle habits and medication if needed. Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Kidney Disease and Nephropathy

High blood sugar levels can also damage your kidneys and lead to kidney disease, also called diabetic nephropathy. This condition can cause your kidneys to leak protein into your urine, leading to kidney failure over time. To prevent kidney disease, it’s crucial to keep your blood sugar levels under control and have your kidney function checked regularly by your doctor. Managing other risk factors like high blood pressure and avoiding excessive alcohol use can also reduce your risk of kidney disease.

Foot Problems and Ulcers

Finally, people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing foot problems. Nerve damage can make it difficult to sense injuries or sores on your feet, making them more prone to infections. In addition, poor circulation can make it harder for your body to heal wounds. To prevent foot problems, it’s crucial to inspect your feet every day and treat any injuries promptly. Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes and practicing good foot hygiene can also reduce your risk of foot problems and ulcers.

Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, commonly referred to as impotence, is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection that’s firm enough for sexual intercourse. ED can be caused by various factors, including psychological issues, lifestyle choices, and health conditions like diabetes. When it affects the nerves and blood vessels that supply the penis, the result is often ED.

Can Diabetes Kill You?

Diabetes is a serious and chronic medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. It involves a high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood that can cause a lot of health problems such as heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and many others. But, can diabetes kill you? This is a question that people who have been diagnosed with this condtion often ask themselves. The answer is yes, diabetes can kill you, but it doesn’t have to.

Managing Diabetes

Fortunately, patients can manage diabetes in a variety of ways including following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise. Patients can also take oral medications and insulin injections.

Proper Nutrition is Key

Your diet plays a major role in managing diabetes. To keep your blood sugar levels under control, you need to follow a balanced diet that contains carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help to slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. It is also important to limit your intake of sugary and processed foods that can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.

Whole Grains

Diabetics can eat grains in moderation, but opt for healthier whole grains as opposed to white, flour-based foods. Look for products like brown or wild rice, whole wheat flour, whole oats, buckwheat or quinoa. Stay away from products that say the item is “made with” whole grains or “contains” whole grains. The product should list whole grain as the first ingredient.


Type 1 diabetics may also be at risk for celiac disease and may require a gluten-free diet. According to research, approximately 10 percent of type 1 diabetics also have celiac disease. Focusing on fruits, vegetables and dairy will help patients reach calorie counts, but diabetics still need healthy carbohydrates. There are still many gluten-free options out there, such as beans, corn, millet, flax, potatoes, rice, soy and quinoa.

Regular Exercise Can Help

Physical activity is not only good for your overall health but can also help to manage your condition. Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels, improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, five times a week.

Monitor your Blood Sugar Levels

Regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels is essential for managing diabetes. You can use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar levels at home. It is recommended that you check your levels at least once a day, or as often as your doctor recommends. Keeping track of your levels can also help you identify patterns and make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle accordingly.

Take your Medication as Prescribed

If your doctor has prescribed medication to manage your diabetes, it is important that you take it as directed. This may include insulin injections or oral medications. Skipping doses, or not taking your medication as prescribed, can lead to complications and further health problems. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about your medications, and follow their instructions closely.

Seek Support

Managing it can be overwhelming, and it is important to have a support system in place. This may include family, friends, or a support group. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can help you feel less alone and provide you with valuable information and resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and remember that managing diabetes is a team effort.

Long-Term Complications

It can affect the entire body. Years of high blood glucose levels can lead to a host of other health problems and complications. For example, diabetes may cause vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. It may also cause heart disease and a heart attack or stroke.

Supplements for Diabetes

Bitter Melon 

Bitter melon is a vegetable-fruit that commonly grows in South America, Asia and Africa, where it is used for medicinal purposes. It may work similarly to insulin to lower blood glucose levels. The recommended dosage for bitter melon extract powder is 750 mg once a day. It has a bitter taste, but patients may disguise it by mixing the supplement with a beverage.

Ginger Root

Ginger root is typically used for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has the potential to lower blood sugar. As a dietary supplement, take ginger root extract powder once a day in 1,000 mg doses.

Berberine HCL 

According to research, berberine HCL may be able to regulate blood glucose levels. Take berberine HCL powder twice a day in 500 mg doses. Only use it for up to three months, unless a doctor instructs otherwise.

African Mango 

The seeds from the African mango tree may help manage blood glucose and assist with weight loss. Additionally, they are high in fiber, which may help increase satiety and aid in digestion. The recommended dosage for African mango seed extract powder is 1,200 mg per day with at least 8 oz. of water.

Alpha Lipoic Acid 

Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant with the potential to lower blood glucose levels. Take 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid powder one to two times per day. But do not take too much at once because it may throw off normal ALA levels in the body.


Chromium is a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin sensitivity. It may also help reduce insulin resistance and improve glucose metabolism. Studies have shown that taking chromium supplements can help reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Cinnamon is a spice that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels by mimicking the effects of insulin in the body. Some studies have also shown that cinnamon bark extract can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and improve blood pressure.


Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many biological processes in the body. It may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2. Magnesium supplements may also help prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease and nerve damage.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in bone health and immune system function. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of type 2, and supplementation may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of the disease. Vitamin D supplements may also help prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as kidney disease and retinopathy.

Fish Oil 

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. Studies have shown that supplementing with fish oil can help reduce inflammation, improve glucose metabolism, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

The Bottom Line

There are several different types of diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is the most common type, but diabetes insipidus is much more rare. Diabetes insipidus is a condition characterized by polyuria and the complications it creates—extreme thirst and dehydration. Deficiencies in ADH, a hormone that directs the kidneys to retain water, causes this condition. Diabetes mellitus develops because of the body’s inability to make or use insulin properly. As a result, blood sugar accumulates in the body and can cause complications. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy because of hormonal changes that may interfere with insulin production.

Natural supplements can be a beneficial addition to the management of diabetes, alongside a healthy lifestyle, standard medications, and regular consultations with healthcare professionals. While these supplements may not cure diabetes, they can provide some relief from complications and improve overall health outcomes. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen to determine the best course of action for each individual’s needs. With proper management, those with diabetes can live a healthy and active life.

There is no cure for diabetes, but by managing it properly, patients can lead full and healthy lives. There are medications available to help control it and doctors also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes. Patients may also take natural supplements to help regulate the condition, but they are not a cure for this condition or any other. Consult a doctor before adding supplements to a dietary regimen.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.