I’ve talked about the importance of the proper diet to manage diabetes quite a bit already, and you can bet that I’m not anywhere near finished with this topic yet, because it truly is that important. It’s certainly not the only thing but it’s certainly something that’s very important, and if we neglect this, we’re in a whole lot of trouble regardless of whatever else we do.
So I’m going to go as far as to say that dietary control is the cornerstone of successful diabetes treatment, although the foundation may be a better word to use here. It’s like building a house on solid rock versus sand, no matter how well built the house is, it is going to crumble if it isn’t built on a solid foundation.
It may be possible in theory to successfully treat diabetes without paying a lot of attention to diet, but we aren’t anywhere near close to being able to do that, and in order to do so, we’d actually have to come up with a cure for diabetes, as one of the features of diabetes is glucose intolerance, and that’s not all it is but that’s a big part of it, and if we could tolerate dietary glucose without any ill effects we would be cured.
We may be able to maintain good blood sugar for a time on medication eating all the carbs we want, but this is not what I am talking about here, I’m talking about doing so without making ourselves sicker and sicker, without making our diabetes worse and worse, in other words, seeing our disease progress.
What happens when we exceed our tolerance for dietary glucose by a good margin, well this stresses our glucose metabolism, and in particular, causes us to require more and more insulin over time to achieve blood sugar control. So as our control continues to diminish, we will need higher and higher levels of this hormone, and too high levels of this hormone is what caused this problem in the first place.
So to heal from this, we need to reduce our insulin levels, not increase them, and dietary control through eating to our tolerance is not only the best way to do this but is required to make any real progress with this.
Just reducing insulin by the way isn’t near enough, not that we really focus on this anyway, although there are some supplements that you can take to improve insulin sensitivity for instance, but the progress we make here really comes down to reducing our glucose load. Less insulin and the same amount of glucose isn’t the answer and in fact all that will do is drive our blood sugar higher.
There are two main sources of blood glucose and we want and need to focus on both, the first and most significant for a lot of type 2 diabetics is endogenous glucose, glucose made by the body and mostly secreted by the liver. The other source, and the one we’re looking at here, is exogenous glucose, from carbs in our diet.
You might have heard that protein is also a glucose source and it sort of is, but only to the point where it provides substrates for endogenous glucose, but it’s only one of several substrates, and the body has no trouble finding all the substrates it wants for this when it wants them.
So the body can make glucose from both protein and fat along with some other things, but carbs provide glucose directly to the body through digestion. So the big difference here is that endogenous glucose isn’t really that dose dependent, this operates more or less independently of diet, it’s the stuff that goes on even when we don’t eat for an extended period.
Dietary carbs though is definitely dose dependent, and if we’re looking to reduce our glucose load, this is the easiest thing to fix, as fixing excess endogenous glucose is a much more complicated affair.
What do you think will happen though it we are glucose intolerant and we consume too much glucose? Well this is going to put our blood sugar up too much, and in fact the way you tell if you are exceeding your capacity is to test your blood sugar after meals and see what happens.
What does happen though is blood sugar goes up too much if you eat the wrong things, but that’s only part of the problem, even if you use medications or even supplements to try to make up for this, well excess carbs also worsens insulin resistance, and there’s only so much you can do to combat this, and if you neglect your diet you are simply stacking the deck in favor of getting worse.
This is especially the case if you end up needing to increase insulin by taking meds or injecting, but even without this, you are increasing the need for insulin, and that’s the real problem. More insulin, whether it’s your own pancreas needing to secrete it or if you are injecting it, is a big problem indeed.
Now I’m not on here preaching a certain diet by the way and the amount of restriction you need to practice will depend. There are some people who do great on very low carb for instance and they then think that we all need to be on this diet but it really does depend on several things, and only one is one’s tolerance.
The main thing though is that we monitor how certain foods affect our blood sugar and not become lulled into a false sense of security, thinking we can eat this stuff and use meds to control our blood sugar, because that only works for a time and getting worse is inevitable, ask any doctor, however they generally don’t believe in following a diet based upon your glucose tolerance and that is exactly what the problem is. You can’t save yourself from the wrong diet, period.