Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How To Control Diabetes

In my medical training I was taught that we should eat a low fat diet high in complex carbohydrates and that prevented weight gain and disease. I have since discovered that I have been mislead down the wrong path. It isn't fat that makes us fat or have diabetes. In fact, it is the carbohydrates that we are eating. A diet high in fruit, milk, bread, and very little fat sets you up for higher blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, weight gain, and abnormal cholesterol profiles. Carbohydrates increase the release of insulin to bring blood sugar levels down. Insulin is a fat storing hormone. Weight gain, along with high insulin levels cause blood pressure to increase. The blood pressure medications often used often increase blood sugar levels even more.

You could test this yourself by monitoring your own blood sugar levels. Do an experiment of your own. Check your blood sugar levels when you get up in the morning before you eat and if you are not diabetic your blood sugar level should be "normal" which is between 70-100. Then eat a perfect American Diabetes Association breakfast, a bowl of shredded wheat with non fat milk, a banana and a glass of orange juice. Wow! Now watch your blood sugar rise one hundred to two hundred points. A normal blood sugar response to any meal is no more than ten to twenty points.

So it must be food that is the problem. It isn't protein. Protein will eventually turn into sugar, but not that quickly. It isn't the fat. We aren't eating any fats, or hardly any, and fats do not turn into sugar that quickly either. Carbohydrates are the only nutrient group that can be converted into sugar so fast. All carbohydrates are recognized as sugar by the body, whether they are in the form of grains, starches, dairy, fruits, or sweets. So basically we are telling diabetics to eat SUGAR!

Why is sugar so destructive to diabetics? To understand and appreciate why, you need to understand the role of insulin in the human body. Insulin is the hormone responsible for tightly regulating the amount of sugar going to the brain after you eat. Insulin accomplishes this in two ways. First, the presence of insulin alerts the liver to incoming high amounts of sugar so that the liver does not let this high sugar pass through to the brain. Second, insulin stows away sugar into cells, thereby decreasing blood sugar levels. Also, when sugar is stowed, insulin levels normalize. This system keeps blood sugars and insulin levels balanced.

Diabetics are insulin resistant. This means that cells will not allow insulin to unload sugar from the bloodstream. Because the cells do not respond to insulin, the pancreas reacts by secreting even more insulin in an attempt to open up the closed cells. The result is type 2 diabetics have both high insulin levels and high blood sugar levels. Now, ask a type 2 diabetic to eat more carbohydrates and it further increases both their blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

You can try this for yourself. Eliminate all obvious carbohydrate foods, such as potatoes, rice, legumes, cereals, breads, fruit, low fat yogurt, milk, and of course refined sugar. Add more eggs, egg substitutes, fish, chicken, red meat, nuts, non starchy vegetables, real mayonnaise, real cheese, real butter and healthy oils. See what happens. You will see that your blood sugar numbers will fall dramatically and you may even lose body fat.

Let's take this even further. Numerous studies reveal that diabetic patients have a very high rate of heart disease. These studies span three decades relating high insulin levels and heart disease, high insulin levels and hypertension, high insulin levels and excessive body fat gain and many other problems. What is interesting to me is that many people after a heart attack are told to go on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. This increases their blood sugar levels which then increase the insulin levels. High insulin levels are associated with increase in weight, increase in blood pressure, degenerative diseases of aging such as osteoarthritis, various cancers, cholesterol abnormalities, coronary artery disease, less lean body mass with excess body fat, osteoporosis, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Could it be that we are accelerating the aging process through poor eating and lifestyle habits that raise insulin levels?

Of course there are genetic variables. However, this is clinically significant only when eating and lifestyle habits consistently cause insulin levels to rise. In other words, a genetic predisposition to disease is not a "guarantee" that you will develop that disease. Instead, what you do and how you live your life determines your risk for developing insulin resistance and the degenerative diseases of aging.

To learn more give me a call!

Call my office in Lombard (630) 627-3700 to set up an appointment or email me at jones.gretchen@gmail.com


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