Up to one third of us unfortunate Americans are predicted to have type 2 diabetes within my lifetime, so I think it’s about time we hash out the ins and outs of the disease.
If you are overweight or eating a typical American diet, you may be at high risk for type 2 diabetes. A type 2 diabetes diagnosis means years of taking frustrating semi-effective medication or even daily insulin injections. On top of that, your doctor will tell you that you have to completely reverse your eating and exercising habits, which is a near impossible task because it’s always just too late. I wouldn’t wish diabetes on anyone, so today let’s look at how diabetes works and how you can prevent it.
First of all, let’s talk about type 2 diabetes’ less common cousin, type 1 diabetes. Type 1 accounts for only 5-10% of all diabetes cases. Its causes are unclear, but it is generally considered to be an autoimmune disorder like a thyroid problem wherein the body has attacked its own pancreas, making the production of the hormone insulin impossible or very limited. Insulin processes sugar and carbohydrates by helping cells use them for energy or store them as fat. With no insulin production of their own, type 1 diabetics are forced to inject a certain amount of insulin on a daily basis depending on how many carbs/sugars (remember that carbs become sugar as they are digested) are consumed. Think of it like this: type 1 diabetes is blood sugar control on manual.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetics actually produce plenty of insulin. Type 2 is characterized by insulin resistance. The pancreas has produced plenty of insulin to deal with all of the incoming sugar, but the cells have grown sick of dealing with all of it. Picture a bloated fat cell that just can’t store any more fat. When insulin rolls up with some sugar trying to get in the door, the cell says it ain’t open. At this point, too much sugar is hanging around in the blood stream, and type 2 diabetes has begun.
Type 2 diabetes in its earlier stages is called prediabetes, but really there is no difference between type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Prediabetics must act right away to turn their diabetes around. If your doctor tells you not to worry about it until it gets worse, get a new doctor.
Can type 2 diabetes be reversed? Unlike type 1, type 2 can certainly be turned around, but not for everybody and it certainly isn’t easy. Those who have been diagnosed with type 2 or prediabetes should work with a doctor and do the things listed below, as simple as they are, and try to deviate from their treatment plan as rarely as possible.
How can we prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes? Lots of people have different ideas about this, and what you read here is NOT what most doctors will tell you. Many doctors get their patients all worried about things like low fat diets and getting to the gym 12 times a week, but these are secondary in my eyes.
The absolute most important thing to do to prevent diabetes is to eat a low carb diet. I look at it like this: the most important thing for the health of a diabetic is to control their blood sugar. When you eat carbs, your blood sugar goes up. If you don’t want high blood sugar, eat less carbs. It’s so simple, yet so many of us are obviously failing to follow this vital guideline.
What do I mean by low carb? I don’t mean you should switch to whole wheat carbs. I really don’t even care about whole grain carbs. Whole wheat bread and a pile of sugar have more similarities than most of us want to realize.
Here is a list of some completely reckless meals:
- Cereal with skim milk and a glass of juice
- Pizza and a soda
- Pasta with premade spaghetti sauce and bread on the side
- Meat with rice, starchy vegetables, AND dessert
- A bagel with cream cheese and jelly
Meals should be balanced: a low or moderate amount of carbs, plenty of protein, plenty of fat. The meals above aren’t good for anybody. Things like fruit, starchy vegetables, and sprouted grain bread can be part of a healthy diet, so long as they are strictly limited by those who are at risk for or have diabetes.
There are other things we should all be doing that will also help us prevent diabetes, but these are the same things everyone should do to stay healthy. We should exercise regularly so we pump the body and actually use some of the glucose we eat. We should sleep at night and get sun on our skin so our hormones are in balance. We should eat a diet with lots of whole foods so we get the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. If we are overweight, we should use a low carb diet and anaerobic exercise to take it off. If anyone needs serious help with diabetes, please contact me.
Best wishes to those facing this disease. Take care everybody.