Diabetes is on the rise. The latest reports say it has increased 90% in the last 10 years. Nearly 24 million people have diabetes and another 57 million are pre-diabetic. So what is diabetes and how can we avoid it? Obviously, what we have been doing is not working. One of the big issues is we have bought into the idea that low fat, high carbohydrate dieting is the answer.
So let's first address what diabetes is. Conventional thought is that diabetes is a disease of blood sugar and although blood sugar does rise in people with diabetes, that is just a symptom. The real problem with diabetes is insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating the amount of sugar to the brain after you eat.
When insulin is released by the pancreas, the liver is alerted to the incoming amount of sugar so that the liver will not allow high amounts of sugar to get to the brain. Insulin then stores the sugar into cells which decreases blood sugar levels. The problem in Type II diabetes is the person becomes insulin resistant and the cells will not allow any more sugar to be stored.
Recent research also shows that the ability of the liver and brain to listen to leptin, which is produced by fat cells, will affect whether or not you will get Type II Diabetes. Leptin influences functions of the hypothalamus which is the part of the brain that controls things like reproduction, thyroid function, adrenal function and the sympathetic nervous system. Leptin actually tells your brain if it is hungry or not. If you become leptin resistant, the brain does not get the message that you are full and therefore you will continue to eat more than you should.
How can you prevent Type II Diabetes? Well, if you eat the way the American Diabetes Association tells you to, you will almost certainly get diabetes. If you have a typical recommended breakfast of shredded wheat, non-fat milk, banana and orange juice, your blood sugar will increase by 100-200 points. Blood sugar should only raise 10-20 points after a meal. This is a meal very high in carbohydrates and low in fat. All carbohydrates are recognized as sugar by the body no matter what form - grains, starches, dairy, fruit or sweets. So high carbohydrate diets give the body sugar which increases insulin, which causes sugar to be stored into cells which eventually leads to insulin resistance and the diabetes. By the way, this is also a good way to get heart disease.
The two things you can do to prevent diabetes is to exercise and eat correctly. If you have diabetes, you need to avoid grains and things like rice, potatoes and cereal. Your diet needs to include protein and good fats like olive oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, canola oil and coconut oil. Avoid corn oil, margarine and hydrogenated fats like Crisco.
What I want you to know is Type II Diabetes is preventable and can be reversed in many cases. If you want to know more about how to eat, I recommend THE SCHWARZBEIN PRINCIPLE, by Diana Schwartzbein, M.D. Much of the information for this article came from this book and also from Mercola.com, an online newsletter that I highly recommend. We have the book in our office if you are interested in pursuing how to eat properly in more depth.
Yours in health,
Mark W. Earnhart, D.C.