Type 2 Diabetes is looming as the biggest epidemic and public health issue in human history. Close to 300 million people are affected worldwide and another 150 million forecast to be diagnosed by 2030.
Dr Mark Hyman uses the term “diabesity” to describe the continuum of health problems ranging from mild insulin resistance and being overweight, to obesity, and diabetes.
Diabesity is the underlying cause of most heart disease, cancer, dementia and premature death in the world.
Whilst Type 2 Diabetes is commonly associated with being overweight please don’t think that you’re immune to the “disease” just because you might be thin.
High insulin levels are a precursor to inflammation, high blood pressure, poor sex drive, increased risk for cancer and depression, and you don’t have to be overweight to be suffering from any one of them.
It’s at this point that I’d like to reframe the word “disease” and categorise Type 2 Diabetes as a symptom or the body’s state of dis-ease due to lifestyle choices, after all even science shows diabetes and obesity is 100% preventable and reversible with comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
It is also important that we are clear on what dietary choices contribute to diabesity and contrary to what many people are still told by their doctors, it is not through the consumption of quality, cleanly sourced saturated fats and grass fed animal based products.
All the metrics related to diabesity, such as high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, and clotting, are being scientifically linked to the consumption of processed carbohydrates, grains, added sugar, and denatured vegetable oils and trans fats.
Added sugars being the greatest concern, particularly high fructose corn syrup that can cause fatty liver disease independent of excess weight, obesity, or Type 2 Diabetes.
Since fructose is handled by the liver in the same way the liver handles alcohol, excess fructose produces similar symptom’s as alcohol abuse: hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL, obesity, cirrhosis and insulin resistance.
According to sugarscience.org an independent research facility set up by a team of health scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), 74% of all packaged food contains added sugar and 36% come in the way of liquid sugar through soda’s, sports drinks, cordials and fruit juices, with growing evidence that is it the most dangerous way to consume added sugar.
Depending on your drug of choice (which soda /pop you drink), it’s easy to down 9 -14 teaspoons of sugar in a single 330ml soda – over twice as much sugar than in an apple, only with no fibre, vitamins, minerals or enzymes to help metabolize the sugar.
The average Australian consumes 192 teaspoons of sugar a week, that’s 960 gr of sugar per week, a little over 27 teaspoons a day.
The World Health Organization recently published their guidelines for sugar intake and recommended that reducing one’s daily intake to 25gr or 6 teaspoons a day would provide significant health benefits.
When you look at how much sugar is in everyday foods that are considered “healthy”, its no wonder people are so challenged with reducing his or her intake. Take Kellogg’s raisin bran crunch, which has 20 grams of sugar per serving (1 cup).
That’s 4 tsps. of sugar and who seriously sticks to the 1 cup serving size? An average bowl of cereal is about 2 ½ cups, that’s 10 tsps. of sugar before you add in the sugar from the lactose in the milk that goes on top.
Not to mention the very addictive quality of sugar that stimulates a dopamine response in the brain with every bite and you have a recipe for a habit that the food industry have made near impossible to quit.
With all this said I have helped numerous clients and families reverse their diabetes, restore healthy liver function and stabilize their blood sugars by focusing on simple nutritional and lifestyle changes.
Here Are Some Of The Recommendations I Start Coaching My Clients On Along With Some Examples:
1. Quit the sugar; if you can’t go cold turkey then gradually reduce it on a weekly basis. For example if you take 3 tsp. of sugar in your tea or coffee then reduce it by increments of ½ tsp. so 2 ½ tsp. in each cup each week until you’re taking none.
If you start your morning with a glass of OJ, a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal, then start the day with a couple of boiled or scrambled eggs with toast and gradually replace the toast for some steamed vegetables and tomatoes and ditch the OJ.
If lunch tends to be a sandwich then drop the bread and have more of the filling, be it chicken and salad or ham, cheese and salad or tuna and salad. If dinner is usually pasta with some sugar laden sauce then choose some clean pasture fed meat or chicken or fresh fish with fresh vegetables and or salad.
Choosing liquid sugars and processed carbohydrates full of empty calories and devoid of nutrients, creates high insulin levels, eventually leading to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
Whole, unprocessed real food balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver function. Keep it simple and choose a rich variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, plenty of omega-3 fats, coconut oil and olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Choose clean pasture fed meat and poultry and fresh wild caught fish. Whole, real foods turn on the right gene messages, promote a healthy metabolism, reverse insulin resistance and diabetes, and prevent aging and age-related diseases like cancer, obesity and heart disease.
2. Get the right movement; Repetitive movement such as running or aerobics can lead to muscular imbalances and related injuries.
Contrary to popular belief, weight resistant or anaerobic exercises are more effective at burning fat than aerobic or cardiovascular exercises.
It is well known that muscle weighs more than fat, and that anaerobic exercise, like resistant weight training, increases your muscle mass which in turn increases your resting metabolic rate, which results in weight loss.
Resistant weight training, when performed correctly, lowers cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone) and increases your repair, growth, reproductive and ant ageing hormones.
Excessive aerobic exercise for prolonged periods however increases cortisol while decreasing your repair, growth, reproductive and ant ageing hormones.
This increases the overall stress levels of the body, destabilising blood sugar levels, promoting insulin resistance, which inhibits the body’s ability to lose fat. Women especially become even more efficient at holding fluid and storing fat when they are stressed!
3. Learn tools to manage your stress; Exposure to periods of prolonged stress actually elevates blood sugar levels, increasing levels of insulin. Cortisol becomes pro inflammatory and suppresses the immune system.
This drives metabolic dysfunction that leads to the energy slumps followed by the sugar or carb fix, followed by the energy slump and this yo-yoing eventually leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, and eventually Type 2 Diabetes.
The links between stress, weight gain, mental disorders, and blood sugar imbalances show that managing stress becomes a critical component for reversing obesity and diabetes. Taking a yin yoga class or learning to mediate is just a couple of examples for what is available to you to help elevate stress levels.
4. Sleep your way to health: Research shows that sleep is the chief anabolic (healing) force available to a person. It’s free and when both the quality and quantity is in balance then you have the healing advantage no money can buy.
Insufficient quality and quantity of sleep will elevate cortisol levels, impacting the ability to stabilise blood sugar levels that can lead to insulin resistance. Going to sleep by 10 pm and rising by 6 am or with the sun has a positive effect on every system of the body, especially the hormonal System.
For a better night’s sleep, minimise your exposure to bright lights, especially fluorescent lights and EMF’s for at least 2 hours before bed. Light stimulates cortisol production, which suppresses the release of melatonin (the body’s sleep hormone).
If you don’t have dimmer switches, Use candles or lamps with low wattage light bulbs.
Avoid stimulants like a workout, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and nicotine or action/thriller movie too close to bed as they all stimulate an increase in cortisol levels.
5. Drink adequate amounts of quality water between meals. Water provides the energy and information required for all biochemical reactions to take place. Water is therefore a vital component to reversing insulin resistance and maintaining overall hormonal and metabolic balance.
The ideal amount is based on your body weight. This formula comes from the research by Dr. Batmangheildj in his book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.
Calculate 0.033 x kg (your body weight) = the amount in litres you need to be consuming per day, before you take into account exercise or consumed stimulants that dehydrate you like coffee, tea, sugar, alcohol, soft drinks and processed foods.