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Diabetes Care: A Common Sense Approach

08 Oct

My last three blogs have been dedicated to diabetes and helping you get a practical perspective on how best to manage blood sugar based on what you can control. I’d like to explain how I came to these suggestions and describe how this all fits together. It is quite simple and centers around the 5 stages of diabetes, http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/suppl_3/S16.full. It is seldom mentioned that there are five stages. People typically talk about diabetes and do not realize that there are stages to this condition.

Stage 1, insulin resistance: Blood sugar levels seem normal because the pancreas balances high blood sugar by releasing higher amounts of insulin.

Stage 2, blood sugar levels rise: The pancreas has difficulty keeping up with the demand of producing more insulin to maintain normal levels of blood sugar. The pancreas becomes fatigued from overworking and it puts out less insulin, blood sugar levels begin to rise.

Stage 3, high blood sugar: Damage to the pancreas begins, insulin output does not match blood sugar so blood sugar levels rise more quickly

Stage 4, Damage to the pancreas is established and it is difficult to lower blood sugar without medication

Stage 5, the pancreas produces too little or no insulin and you will likely need to use insulin to survive

Current diabetes test standards do not include measuring insulin levels, despite the fact that high insulin levels would detect diabetes in the first stage. My suggestions are aimed at identifying diabetes as early as possible, stage 1. So, you can start changing your lifestyle and food habits early enough to stay healthy and control blood sugar forever. You have the power to reverse diabetes at least throughout the first four stages.

It is important to know that (stage 1) when insulin levels are high, maintaining weight and blood sugar can be difficult. Insulin is a fat storing and blood sugar regulating hormone. If someone has high insulin levels, it is much more difficult to lose weight than for those who do not have high insulin levels. High insulin levels can affect appetite, http://thyroid.about.com/library/news/blhormonediet.htm. If you are hungry you are likely to eat more. Eating more affects both weight and blood sugar.

As soon as you eat a food that is categorized as a starch, carbohydrate or sugar, your body responds by releasing insulin. If you choose to minimize these foods you can support your pancreas by giving it time to rest. This rest will be a big pay-off to you because your blood sugar will remain within normal range.

Here’s my problem with eating a diet containing 60% of calories from white rice, bread, potato, cold cereal, non-fat yogurt, pasta… your blood sugar will spike and remain high at least 60% of the day. A balanced diet for diabetes, in my opinion, is balancing foods so that you eat less carbohydrates to rest your pancreas and keep insulin levels down so you can reach your weight and health goals:

• 15-20% carbohydrate (non-starchy vegetables*, low carb dairy-cottage cheese, greek-yogurt, high cocoa chocolate, low carb fruits avocados, lemon, coconut, peach…, steel-cut oatmeal)
• 30% protein
• 50% healthy fats (nuts/seeds, olives, olive, coconut and other healthy oils) this also accounts for the fat from the protein you eat.

*The reason carbohydrates are low is because non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and do not contribute to a significant portion of total calories even though you can eat 7-10 servings, a lot of veggies that provide fiber, antioxidants…without a lot of blood sugar impacting carbohydrates.

You can get a detailed description of healthy food suggestions in my book, The Stubborn Fat Fix: http://www.amazon.com/Stubborn-Fat-Fix-Metabolic-Exercise/dp/159486828X

Once your diet and health is on track, you may find you can eat a balanced diet that divides carbs, fat and protein equally. You decide what you eat, how much, if you are active or whether you allow stress to get to you. If your hard efforts are not getting you the results you think you should get, medication is an option, however, it should NOT be a drug that makes the pancreas work harder by producing more insulin. In order to preserve the function of your pancreas, speak with your doctor about insulin sensitizing medications.

The key to good health is almost entirely up to you. You must make responsible food, exercise and lifestyle choices. Your doctor and health care professionals can only do so much. Be good to your body and your body will be good to you.

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2 responses to “Diabetes Care: A Common Sense Approach

  1. Wesley Nally

    December 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I had fun reading this post. I want to see more on this subject.. Gives Thanks for writing this nice article.. In Any Case, Im going to sign to your rss and I wish you write great articles again soon.

     
    • valerieberkowitz

      December 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks Wesley. I spent a few weeks writing on diabetes and it is a topic of interest. I will continue to write about diabetes and am very glad you enjoyed reading this post.

       

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