In Part 8 we left off talking about our second M of managing diabetes effectively, which was Dr. Hite’s response to the question of how we are to manage our blood sugar. We need to focus on a lot more than just managing our blood sugar though so I wanted to talk about this a little more before we move on.
In a real sense, a diagnosis of diabetes really is just a term for a certain degree of hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, and if your blood sugar goes above a certain amount, at any point, you are diagnosed. However this diagnosis just doesn’t go away when you drop out of the diabetic range, it remains.
So we’re not cured at this point, we could say we’re managing it, but then we have to wonder what we’re really managing, as there are things behind all of this of course, which we could just call insulin resistance, although it’s a particular kind of insulin resistance that does us in here, the kind that our bodies make way too much extra glucose.
So this type of insulin resistance causes high blood sugar, and therefore if we want to treat this we need to manage not the high blood sugar itself but the insulin resistance. If we just lower blood sugar and ignore insulin resistance, we may just end up making the insulin resistance worse, and this is actually what happens typically
So to say the least this is an important distinction to make, and while it is an oversimplification to just describe our disorder as insulin resistance, that will do fine for the purposes of this particular discussion, looking at the basics here as we are in this series.
Our second M is manage, and we spoke about managing our diet as being part of this, and this being more than just eating a well balanced diet as they call it. We require a different sort of balance than a non diabetic would, and balance here means balancing macronutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and given that we are prone to ill effects from levels of carbohydrate that non diabetics can handle, we’re going to particularly need to watch our intake with this, and tailor our diet with blood sugar management as well as the management of our condition, insulin resistance, in mind.
If someone has celiac disease, they are intolerant to gluten, and we wouldn’t want to be telling these folks, well just eat a well balanced diet, they have gluten sensitivity and therefore must limit their intake of this if they don’t want to be hurting themselves on purpose. Our sensitivity is a carbohydrate sensitivity, and we have a certain tolerance for this, some have a higher tolerance than others, but in all cases it’s reduced.
So we need to reduce our intake to correspond with what would be best to manage our condition, and this can be a little complicated, but it starts with accepting the fact that this is an issue for us and then looking to manage it accordingly. This management is fundamental to our treatment in fact, the cornerstone of it to be sure.
This alone makes diabetes stand out from other conditions, and with a lot of other conditions, just about all of them, people just give the management of their diseases over to others pretty much. With diabetes though you are left to manage at least a significant portion of it yourself, and a big part of this is managing your diet.
This is especially true since just about all of the advice you will get from health care practitioners concerning diet is simply terrible. We’ve gotten a taste of this from the remarks and the approach of our friend here, Dr. Hite, a certified diabetes educator, but the education these people give you on diet is based on misinformation and is pathetic actually.
This one size fits all approach, founded on myths, and not even coming close to accounting for our disease or looking to manage it properly, dooms us to failure if we follow it. There are a lot of diabetics these days though who have gone out and learned for themselves on the internet and have found advice that is actually helpful to their condition, and it need not be too complicated either, things like eat to your meter for instance, and it doesn’t get much simpler than that.
So you decide what you can and can’t eat by checking its effects on your blood sugar. Something that puts you up a lot is bad, something that puts you up less is better. A lot of this is just common sense though, certain foods just aren’t blood sugar friendly, especially high starch meals which are mostly carbohydrate and not much fat and protein, and the balanced diet idea here does come into play, and as a rule we want to balance all three in a meal, with lots of protein and fat.
So the carbs get turned down, the protein and fat get turned up, and this achieves the balance we need to manage our diabetes. The reason why fat bothers diabetes by the way is in the presence of high insulin levels, ones that a high carb diet provide, and our insulin can also be kept too high by medicating it too high, but high insulin and high fat don’t mix, high fat and high carbs don’t mix, but lower carbs and high fat is actually the ideal balance, producing the best results.
Insulin levels are normalized by this, and insulin resistance is reduced as a result. Remember, we got insulin resistance from too much insulin over time, and while it’s certainly challenging to heal from this, the first step is to remove the insult, the cause, the excess of this hormone, and you can’t get there eating a diet which produces too much of it.
Most people have high insulin levels these days, about 80% of adults at last count, and this is a real disease we’re talking about here, with wide spread consequences beyond diabetes. It also causes obesity, and there are so many overweight people these days compared to days gone by, the majority of people are overweight now, and the main reason is that their insulin levels are driven up by eating more carbs, both in terms of the total amount and the percentage of calories from carbs.
So yeah, we eat too much, but we eat too much carbohydrate in particular. So the average person needs to cut back if they don’t want to get and stay fat and get a bunch of other things from this, but we in particular have been touched even more by this disorder and we can afford to fool around and get this wrong a whole lot less, because the health consequences are even more significant if we continue to fail here.
We’re still talking about manage here and we’ll resume that in part 10.