5 Recent Alternatives in Diabetes Care

Cindy Wilson Thumbby Cindy Wilson
BS, Dietetics and Nutrition

Diabetes management has seen transformative changes. The last few years, in particular, have introduced a wave of new alternatives in diabetes care, offering patients and healthcare providers more solutions against this chronic condition. 

These recent alternatives not only aim to enhance blood glucose control. They also improve patient convenience, reduce side effects, and address the multifaceted challenges of diabetes management. Check them out here: 

5 recent alternatives in diabetes care

GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

GLP-1 receptor agonists are a newer class of injectable diabetes medications that have significantly impacted the management of type 2 diabetes. These drugs mimic the action of the GLP-1 hormone, which is naturally produced by the body to increase insulin production in response to high blood sugar levels. 

Unlike other diabetes treatments that may carry a risk of causing hypoglycemia or weight gain, GLP-1 receptor agonists offer the advantage of weight loss. They act on receptors in the brain that regulate appetite. This increases feelings of fullness and reduces hunger, helping diabetics consume fewer calories and, in turn, contributing to weight loss.

GLP-1 receptor agonists can also slow the rate at which the stomach empties its contents into the small intestine. This prolongs the feeling of fullness after eating, which helps reduce overall food intake.

One example of a GLP-1 receptor agonist is Rybelsus. It’s often taken orally once a day and offers a more convenient alternative for those who prefer not to use injectables. How is it different from the well-known diabetes drug Metformin? Let’s check it here: 

Rybelsus vs Metformin

Here we take a look at the topic of Rybelsus vs Metformin: The Difference. With these key differences, we’ll know what medicine to take based on doctor’s orders and our current condition.

  1. Mechanism of Action: Rybelsus mimics the GLP-1 hormone, which increases insulin secretion in response to high blood sugar, reduces the amount of sugar your liver releases, and slows gastric emptying, which helps decrease appetite and food intake.

Metformin, in contrast, works by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, increasing the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin, and slightly reducing glucose absorption from the intestines.

  1. Cost: Rybelsus is generally more expensive than Metformin, as it is a newer medication. Conversely, Metformin is widely available as a generic medication, making it less expensive. 

Overall, Metformin is typically the first medication for type 2 diabetes, given its long history of use, effectiveness, and safety profile. If it’s insufficient to control blood sugar levels or in patients who may benefit from the additional effects, such as weight loss, Rybelsus may be prescribed. 

CGM Systems

Unlike traditional finger-prick glucose tests, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems provide real-time, dynamic glucose level readings daily and at night. This continuous insight allows patients to make more informed diet, exercise, and medication decisions. CGM systems can also alert users to impending high or low blood glucose levels, offering a proactive approach to managing potential emergencies.

The benefits of CGM are manifold. Patients report improved glycemic control and a reduced burden of disease management, as the need for frequent finger-pricking is virtually eliminated. The ability to track glucose levels over time also enables more personalized and effective treatment plans tailored to the individual’s unique response to different factors affecting blood sugar levels.

Insulin Pumps with Integrated CGM

Advancements in insulin delivery have also seen significant improvements. One of the most notable innovations is the development of insulin pumps that integrate with CGM systems. These devices work by automatically adjusting insulin delivery based on real-time glucose readings, essentially mimicking the function of a healthy pancreas. This integration not only simplifies the management process but also improves insulin dosing accuracy.

Patients using integrated systems have experienced lower HbA1c levels, indicating better long-term glucose control. The convenience of not having to manually administer insulin for each meal or correct high blood glucose levels is also a game-changer for many. This reduces their daily burden of diabetes management and increases their adherence to treatment protocols.

Artificial Pancreas Systems

The development of artificial pancreas systems is another groundbreaking alternative in diabetes care. These systems combine a CGM and an insulin pump with sophisticated software to adjust insulin delivery based on glucose readings automatically. 

Its goal is to maintain blood glucose levels within a target range, minimizing the risk of both high and low blood sugar episodes. Hence, these systems are particularly beneficial for individuals with type 1 diabetes, who require constant insulin adjustment and are at a higher risk of hypoglycemia.

Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines

Recent years have seen a growing interest in dietary supplements and herbal medicines for managing diabetes. Note that they aren’t replacements for diabetes medications but rather complementary approaches in conjunction with traditional diabetes treatments.

Examples of these are supplements such as chromium, magnesium, and alpha-lipoic acid. They have been studied for their potential to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Similarly, herbal medicines like fenugreek, bitter melon, and cinnamon are also being explored for their glucose-lowering effects.

Final Thoughts

The exploration of recent alternatives in diabetes care underscores the rapid progress being made in treatment options, offering new hope and possibilities for individuals managing this chronic condition. As these advancements continue to evolve, it’s crucial for patients to consult with healthcare professionals to tailor treatment plans that best suit their individual needs and circumstances. Seeking professional guidance ensures the most effective and safe integration of these new alternatives into their overall diabetes management strategy.

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science | Connect with on LinkedIn
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition (Kansas State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

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