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Are You Playing Russian Roulette?

By Emily Thomsen, Wellness Coach

Please consult your doctor before changing your diet or establishing an exercise program if you have been diagnosed with or suspect you might have diabetes.

Blindness. Burning, aching, numb, and tingling feet. Poor circulation. Slow-healing wounds, gangrene, and amputation. Even heart disease and death. These devastating complications accompany a disease afflicting nearly 21 million Americans — diabetes

But there is good news! Diabetes can be controlled—even reversed—with an active lifestyle and a healthy diet. It is said heredity loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

What Is Diabetes?
The body breaks food down into glucose. In response, the pancreas releases insulin that acts like a key to open the doors into individual cells and allow glucose in to become energy. Type 1 diabetes causes a key shortage, so insulin injections are necessary. Type 2 affects cell doors, making them difficult to open. Both scenarios result in raised blood sugar.

A genetic predisposition for Type 2 diabetes exists, particularly among Latin Americans, African Americans and Native Americans. But if your parents or grandparents have diabetes, don’t despair!
A study of the Pima Indians illustrates that family history does not guarantee your demise or health. One group of Pimas moved to southern Arizona while the other stayed in northern Mexico. Those in Mexico retained their active lifestyle and simple diet and experienced almost no diabetes. In contrast, the group in Arizona adopted a sedentary lifestyle and the typical American diet. By age 35, 50 percent had type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Facts:

  • Close to 21 million Americans have diabetes.
  • Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, thirst, fatigue, weight loss and hunger
  • Heart attacks are the leading cause of death among diabetics.
  • Diabetes can be controlled or reversed through lifestyle modifications

The Bullet
For years, people have assumed that eating too many sugary foods led to diabetes.

They were wrong.

Now before buying a cartload of snacks to celebrate, know that sugar does cause a spike in blood sugar. However, fat is what raises blood sugar long-term.

A group of healthy men ate a high-sugar diet for two weeks and then were tested to see how fast and high their blood sugar increased and how long it stayed increased. After 30 minutes, their blood sugars were around 130. After two hours, they had returned to relatively normal post-meal levels of about 115.

For the next two weeks, the same men ate a high-saturated fat diet consisting of double cheese pizza, steak, eggs, chocolate, cheesecake, and ice cream. (Would this be heaven or what?) This time, the glucose tolerance test revealed blood sugars of around 150 after 30 minutes, 180 after two hours. One even went as high as 286!

In another study, 80 type 2 diabetics, all on insulin, ate an extremely low-fat diet. After six weeks, 62 percent of them didn’t need insulin and the other 38 percent decreased their dosage. After five years, they all had reversed their diabetes completely.

While glucose needs insulin to enter a cell, fat goes straight in to the cell and plugs it up, so to speak, leaving glucose in the bloodstream. Meanwhile, the pancreas sees all the glucose and thinks there must not be enough keys so it produces more insulin. The cells see all the keys and think they don’t need as many doors. As a storage hormone, insulin turns instead to fat cells and opens those doors, storing glucose as fat rather than using it for energy.

At this point blood sugar can appear normal, but so begins a vicious cycle of fat storage, insulin resistance, more fat storage, more insulin resistance… This cycle can persist undetected for as long as 15 years until the pancreas finally says, “Enough! I’m tired of making so much insulin!” A key shortage occurs and insulin injections are necessary.

Dodging Bullets
A sedentary person’s cells don’t require much glucose, escalating the insulin resistance problem. But exercise uses glucose and makes the cells more sensitive to insulin, so blood sugar decreases. One study showed that as calories expended increased from 500 to 3,500 per week, diabetes risk declined by 48 percent.

To prevent or control diabetes, exercise regularly and eat primarily plant foods as close to their natural state as possible. Whole foods are naturally low in saturated fat, high in complex carbohydrates, and high in fiber with no refined sugar. Eliminate or limit animal products and processed foods. Avoid alcohol and caffeine: The body stores alcohol as fat; caffeine increases the amount of fat circulating in the blood.

If you persist at Russian roulette, you’ll eventually win. Remember, your heredity may load the gun, but only an unhealthy lifestyle will pull the trigger. Arm yourself now with the right kind of ammunition—an active lifestyle and a wholesome diet.

What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  Type 1 Type 2
Cause

Destruction of the pancrea's insulin producing cells because of:

  • A genetic predisposition
  • A viral infection
  • An abnormal reaction to a protein in milk

A genetic predispoition aggravated by :

  • Poor diet and
  • Sedentary lifestyle
Frequency 5-10% of diabetics 85-90% of diabetics



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