Reducing the effects of diabetes
Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Type 2 diabetes in the United States is the most common form of diabetes. With this disease, your body doesn’t process insulin properly. And while some people can control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise, others need help from medication or insulin.
In 1950, about 500,000 people in the US had diabetes. By 2022, the number of diagnosed cases of diabetes will have exploded to nearly 40 million people. In fact, between 1988 and 2014, diagnoses rose by almost 400%, and today, nearly half the population in the United States has diabetes or prediabetes. But we’re only number three on the global list. India leads the world with the highest rate, followed by China in the number two slot. By contrast, the UK diagnosed cases rate is about half of the USA.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
- Nearly one-third of diabetics age 40+ lose their vision
- 50% of all amputated limbs are due to diabetes
- Diabetics’ risk of heart disease is increased by four times
- Adult diabetics double their risk of dying from a stroke
Do I have your attention now?
Diabetes is an invisible and deadly progressive disease. Most diabetics require intense intervention to control blood sugars. But recently, there’s been a significant trend toward working to reverse type 2 diabetes through proactive lifestyle changes. Evidence from a Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study strongly confirms that short-term remission may be possible through low-calorie and low-carbohydrate diets.
At issue are fat deposits within the cell walls of our organs and muscles. With these deposits, the tissues become resistant to the enzyme signaling reactions of two proteins responsible for transporting glucose into the cell (more about these proteins later).
TYPES OF FAT
Saturated fat (bad fat) primarily comes from animal products, causes the body to make cholesterol, and increases the risk of heart disease.
Trans fatty acids come from hydrogenating vegetable oils and are worse for you than saturated fat because they raise the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and lower HDL (good cholesterol).
Unsaturated fat (good fat) is found mainly in plant oils. Unsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol levels.
Two types of unsaturated fats:
Monounsaturated fats—avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats—flaxseed oils, sunflower, corn, walnuts, and fish.
Glucose, absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestine, is the primary energy source for cells. Once in the bloodstream, glucose dissolves and circulates throughout the body. Because glucose is water soluble and cell walls are of fatty material, glucose can’t easily move through the cell membranes on its own but relies on two proteins; the first is a glucose transporter (GLUT), and the second is insulin. When insulin attaches to the insulin receptor (GLUT) on the cell, it activates a series of enzyme signaling reactions, which starts glucose transport.
Type 1 diabetics have no (or very little) insulin released by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetics produce enough insulin, but cell resistance prohibits its effectiveness. Researchers suspect that tiny fat particles inside our cells create toxic fatty breakdowns and the release of free radicals inhibits the enzyme signaling reactions required to activate glucose transport.
Now, do you see the importance of fats in our diet?
FOODS TO AVOID
Refined sugar spikes blood glucose, and soda, fruit juice, and other sugary beverages are the worst.
Grains containing gluten have large amounts of carbohydrates, quickly converting to sugar. As a result, gluten is a source of intestinal inflammation.
Conventional cow’s milk from A1 casein cows may trigger an immune response like gluten. Therefore, experts recommend purchasing raw and organic products from grass-fed animals.
Alcohol can increase blood sugar to dangerous levels and lead to liver toxicity.
GMO foods (genetically modified organisms) may promote diabetes.
Hydrogenated oils should be removed from your diet (vegetable oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil).
FOODS TO EAT
High-fiber foods regulate your blood sugar levels and support detoxification. Eat food like Brussels sprouts, peas, avocados, berries, nuts, and seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Food high in chromium normalizes carbohydrates, and lipid metabolism helps to bring glucose into our cells. Broccoli, raw cheese, green beans, and grass-fed beef are good sources.
Magnesium-rich foods aid in glucose metabolism. Foods like spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt, and black beans, may improve type 2 diabetes symptoms.
Healthy fats found in coconut milk, ghee, grass-fed butter, and red palm oil are better fuel sources for your body than sugar.
Clean protein slows down the absorption of sugar. The best sources of clean protein include wild fish, containing omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, lentils, eggs, and bone broth.
Low glycemic foods metabolize carbohydrates at a slower, more sustained rate. These foods include non-starchy vegetables, berries, stone fruits (fruit with pits), nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, organic meat, eggs, wild-caught fish, and raw pastured dairy.
We can’t overstate the benefits of exercise for diabetics. Exercise controls weight, lowers blood pressure, lowers harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raises healthy HDL cholesterol, and strengthens bones and muscles. The best time to exercise is one to three hours after eating. If you use insulin, test your blood sugar before exercising. If the level before exercise is below 100 mg/dL, your provider my suggest that you eat a piece of fruit or have a small snack to avoid hypoglycemia.
All forms of exercise—aerobic, resistance, or combined training—were equally good at lowering HbA1c values, and both helped to reduce insulin resistance in previously sedentary older adults.
If you have a healthcare topic of interest or would like to learn more about St. Luke’s Hospital, send me a note at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or visit our website at StLukesNC.org.