How to Save Beta Cells

Okay so the more I research the subject the more confused I become. I am currently diagnosed as a “type2” diet and exercise controlled only with an A1C of 6.0. I pretty much have to exercise just to eat. I am considering going on metformin especially at night as I am struggling to get my fasting glucose down however, I am curious does starting medicine destroy beta cells or help preserve them? I know high blood sugar kills beta cells but what about medicine? Would I destroy more beta cells by trying to put off taking meds and having some higher blood sugars or by taking meds? I am concerned about starting meds as well because I have been diagnosed so young and am wondering if your body becomes used to the dosage and you just have to keep increasing after you start them. Anyone taken Metformin for years? HELP! I want to save my beta cells!!lol any advice would be so very much appreciated!

Hi Lil MaMa,

Metformin has been around along time and is considered one of the safer oral medications. Side effects mainly are diarrhea and stomach upset. I get these occasionally. If you go on it start out with a small dose and work your way up, most people do that. Ask your Dr for the extended release form.

You have to outweigh the benefits to the risks. With elevated blood sugars you eventually will succumb to complications.
I dont like medications either but I dont like the latter either.

Yes getting your BG down will preserve your beta cells.

By your picture you dont fit the profile of a Type 2. Have you talked to your Dr about being a LADA and to get additional testing?. If you are LADA Metformin will do little if anything to get your BG down and the treatment plan is different. Some people though are thin Type 2 also so I am not saying you are but it would be something I would get checked out to make sure. You came to the right place, good luck. Others will weigh in here to. You will do fine!

Good Luck

I’m willing to bet $20 that you are misdiagnosed.

Metformin should not burn out your beta cells. A druug like a sulfonurea may burn out cells and make them work harder to produce insulin.

Higher blood sugars can cause glucotoxicity which can affect your remaining beta cells.

Agree with Pauly in that you may want to make you are not a LADA - or late onset T1 (but also agree that there are thin T2 people as well).

There are studies that says the sooner you start metformin the better! Some of the other meds make your pancreas put out more inulin which I think is just wrong! If the beta cells are going why wear them out farther! Metformin makes your cells accept glucose and make your liver quit pumping out glucose. That’s what I got out of what I read anyway. I started metformin about 3 mos ago and am pleased with my fasting tests. Eating a few more carbs too, but just a few! As far as side effects, I’m more “regular” but no other problems. It is worth about 7 # from what my dr says and from what my all
body did. You look thin already so you may have to watch that. I think it’s deffinately worth it especially for fasting am numbers! Good luck! Let us know what you do! And I agree with Pauly the benefits outweigh the downsides! Gotta same those betas!

Hi Lil,

I just started Met last week and so far haven’t seen much of a change, although I haven’t really eaten anything hi/higher carb than usual. I’ve not read anything that discusses Met destroying beta cells but I have read enough about what high blood sugar can do, even slightly higher over a long time. I didnt want to go on medication but I already eat a lo carb diet and exercise enough so thought I should give it a try. I’m going to take it for a month and if my numbers don’t change I’ll probably demand to see a specialist so I can have the tests done for LADA.

I would say, take the Met and if you don’t see a change in a month then have the LADA test… Looks like were in the same boat :wink:

Keep me informed, Paul

I can’t make it edit! I meant gotta save those betas!

Firtsly “if” you are diabetic and have a HbA1c of 6.0, that is very good, you wont gain much more benefit (in terms of reduction of complications) by pushing that down further. You were diagnosed in January, has you HbA1c fallen since then?

When you say you are having trouble keeping your fasting glucose down, do you mean when you wake up in the morning and you check? Depending on your fasting glucose level, you may have “impaired glucose tolerance”, and a significant proportion of these individuals will go on to develop Type II DM. But going by your HbA1c and in your pic you look thin, (or atleast a healthy BMI), I wouldnt rush into adding in metformin, and as Frances says perhaps the diagnosis needs to be reconsidered by your Dr, but then i dont know you history and how things have changed since you were diagnosed. But you can get thin Type 2s as south asians (indian sub cont), hispanics etc do have 5-10 times greater risk of developing type II DM compared to other healthy members of the population.

Regarding the benefits of Metformin: It increases your insulin sensitivity ie allows your body to better utilise the insulin it does produce, so infact it probably allows what remaining Beta cells you do have left, can work a little easier. Most Type 2’s will eventually require medication as their Beta cells gradually decline in function.

Hope that helped some what : )

My A1C at diagnosis was 6.1 my past three A1Cs were 6.0. My fasting numbers are typically about 105-110 but if I do not exercise right before bed I can get about 125-135 in the morning. I’m thinking my initial A1C was so low because of hypos, I used to not eat very much during the day and then eat a huge dinner. Now I am eating every 2 hours for a total of 60-90 carbs per day.

Yes I have asked my Dr at my past two appts about this and he keeps saying “No, you are a type 2!”. Type 2 diabetes does run rampant in my family, my mother has pre diabetes and my father and maternal grandmother have type 2 as well. I had gestational diabetes at the age of 19 and they diagnosed me with Type 2 this past January (2010) so I have made it almost one year so far on diet and exercise alone with the same A1C. I am going to demand to see my c-peptide results and etc at my appt in December.

Figuring the average blood sugar the Dr B way you have a average blood sugar of 139 which is too high. I would work on getting it down as soon as you can.

I was under the impression that an A1C of 6.0 was an average blood sugar of 126 which is not necessarily high enough to cause damage.

It hasn’t made a difference?? What dosage are you on? Keep me updated it def does look like we are in the same boat ugh a complicated one!!

This is Dr B’s formula which is higher than the other formulas. You may want to read the website Blood Sugar 101 if you havent already.

I think one should be put on insulin ASAP to get the BG into the normal range. high BG i.e more than 140 will help wipe out the remaining beta cells. Once the blood sugars are normal then you can fool around with other alternatives. If the doctors are un-cooperative about this then metformin is better than nothing.but if you are misdiagnised it will be of limited use. With metformin you need a minimal dose and a very low carb diet helps.

Getting your body to use the insulin it makes more efficiently will relieve some of the stress from your beta-cells (provided that insulin resistance is the problem). If there is a time to try met, then now is probably it. You may see some functional preservation, and you’ll get to see how your body responds to it before it becomes mandatory. You’ll probably also see an improvement in your quality of life if you have to exercise so much to get a 6. I’m sure you’ve already been hammered on about the possibility that you’re LADA, so I probably don’t need to say that it won’t help. But even finding out oral meds don’t help could be a useful piece of info.

But an average of 126 means it could be way up with lows to counter. Couldn’t it? And a high over 140 is causing vascular damage from what I have read. Maybe I’m being to picky? I just know I’m scared to die by inches!

Good point…thanks!

Lil Mama, I presume those fasting numbers are mg/dl? Its just that in the UK we’re used to mmol/L. If so, going by those figures, it sounds as thoug you may have “Impaired Glucose Tolerance”, which is like i mentioned often a precursor to Type II DM. Quoting my Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, “Diagnosis of DM: a fasting plasma gluocse greater than or equal to 7.0/126”…"Fasting plasma gluocse in the range of 6.1/110 - 7.0/126, is an impaired fasting glycaemia. Do a glucose tolerance test (GTT) to clarify"
GTT: >200 = patient has DM
GTT: >140-200 = patient has Impaired glucose tolerance
GTT: <140 = Patient is not diabetic

Regarding HbA1c’s, its true that a HbA1c of 6.0 can be misleading, if your BMs are going very high and very low and so the average can be falsely reassuring, but this is usually the case with Type I’s who are on Insulin, I dont think that would be that could be the case with yourself because you are currently diet controlled. Only today i met a young lad, who had previously got his HbA1c down to 5.9 while on insulin, but a continous blood glucose monitor showed that his sugars were yo-yoing throught the day. As he snacked during the day, BMs went up, he then countered with correction doses of Novorapid and then over the following hours his BM’s dropped to less than 4 mmol/L (or ~80mg/dl).

It can take more than a week to see results. It isn’t automatic in everyone - it was in me. Only took 3 days to see the difference but than again I never did the just diet and exercise so I don’t know what my results would be if I did that. It can take up to six weeks for Met to build up in your body. Give it at least that. Six weeks on a med isn’t going to damage your body. The complications are worse than taking the meds in my opinon.


I have wondering lately about the effect of gestational diabetes on development of diabetes afterwards. I wonder if for some women who have a family history (genetic) of Type 2 whether having gestational diabetes sets off those genes early. And we know once they are set off you can’t turn them off.

I wonder if they have done a study on Type 2 genetic history and gestational diabetes and the rate of women who don’t get rid of the diabetes afterwards. Interesting.

I was preganant two years before I was DX but I noticed some “symptoms” (although not the obvious ones) after my pregnacy ended (more yeast infections, UTI). I am thin and Type 2 runs in my family (all women have it). I am wondering if preganancy kicked off my Type 2 (I was never tested for diabetes than btw - not a full preganancy). I have been looked back on than lately as I am always trying to figure out when it started.

If you are Type2, it doesn’t matter whether you are thin or fat. It is genetic.