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Type 2 Diabetes

The Epidemic

We are now seeing an epidemic in what used to be called adult-onset diabetes in infants.

Another old name for the disease was non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM, but you’re more likely to hear this terrible affliction referred to as type 2 diabetes.

In America alone, there were 17,702,000 cases in 2000, and there will likely be about 30,312,000 in 2030.

Diabetes rates soared during the noughties, and they’re not getting significantly better.

I believe the reason for this atrocity of public health is that people have been given bad advice.

But there is a way to turn this trend around. Now we know the true reasons for diabetes we can control it, and even reverse it.

The Symptoms

First let’s go over some of the signs that you might be pre-diabetic or fully diabetic. Do not freak out because you identify with one or some of the symptoms below – they are only an indication, a nudge to the potential for a problem.

  • Low energy levels, and fatigue, and regular extreme hunger and cravings, usually for refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
  • Extreme thirst, and frequent urination, particularly at night.
  • Regular infections and slow healing of wounds and cuts.
  • Recurring skin conditions such as thrush.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Constipation.
  • Cramps.
  • Thyroid dysfunction (which can come with it’s own set of difficulties).

Again, a person can have any one of these indicators, or even suffer from them all, and be in no danger of diabetes. They’re nothing more than signs of something that might be wrong with you, and the more of them you have together, the more likely that something might be type 2 diabetes.

A Word on Obesity

Many people mistakenly think that obesity is a symptom of diabetes, or vice-versa. In truth, they are separate diseases, with very similar root causes.

I advise getting tested for diabetes if you are overweight, or have been in the past, not because one causes the other, but because they are sibling conditions. In fact, if you have been overweight in the past and have recently dropped lots of weight without trying, but feel suddenly tired or have started exhibiting the symptoms mentioned above, that’s definitely a warning sign. You see, when diabetes fully sets in, the body sometimes loses a great deal of weight, in both fat and muscle mass.

Here’s a good TEDtalk I found that covers in personal detail the sort of misunderstanding and judgement that diabetics often suffer.

Getting Tested

There are a number of tests that may be run which together can confirm or deny the presence of diabetes.

A urine strip test can detect the presence of glucose in the urine.

A blood test is more definitive, detecting levels of glucose in the blood.

A fasting blood glucose test will show how much glucose is in the blood even when you haven’t eaten since midnight the night before. This is a highly definitive test of insulin resistance, which is the condition which gives rise to type 2 diabetes develops.

An HbA1c test is a more recent test that takes into account your blood sugar levels over the past two months. Glucose (a simple sugar molecule) binds a particular section of your red blood cells. We can measure the traces of this effect to uncover a sort of “recent history” of blood glucose levels.

The Root Cause

Type 2 diabetes is not something happens overnight. It’s a long processes of increasing insulin resistance in the body, until one day the pancreas shuts down its ability to produce the hormone insulin altogether, forcing you to inject it in order to continue functioning.

Let’s go into this in more detail.

Insulin Resistance

Hormones govern every process in the body, and insulin is one of the most important, because it deals with energy control and storage.

When there is too much glucose (a basic carbohydrate) in the blood, insulin secretion increases and encourages this energetic molecule to be taken up by various cells, such as fat and muscle cells.

So, after a meal, your insulin levels will naturally increase, bring the blood sugar level back down, and everything will normalize.

So what happens when your blood is packed full of glucose regularly, more than is natural. How does the body respond? By producing more and more insulin to compensate. Like anything in the body, over-exposure leads to numbness. Think of the tough fingertips of the guitar player’s hands. If you produce too much insulin every day, that over-exposure leads to cells becoming a little bit numb to the effects. They start becoming insulin resistant. –– while they used to be insulin sensitive.

Dietary Triggers

The one thing that triggers insulin secretion more than any other type of molecule, is carbohydrate. Refined carbohydrates cause levels to spike violently, because they pour through the gut lining and into the blood at a rapid rate.

Carbs are found in varying amounts in all vegetables, but in their unrefined state, they don’t produce the same response. In nature, carbohydrates are locked within a matrix of connective tissue and fibre, which slows the absorption of carbs into the blood.

Refined carbohydrate is very different. It floods the blood with too much sugar, and these sorts of products include anything that is either doughy or sugary, such as:

  • bread
  • pasta
  • cake
  • pizza
  • cookies
  • chocolate
  • sodas
  • candy
  • etc…

When you eat this sort of thing regularly and for long enough, you’re wearing down your body’s ability to control the violent spikes in blood sugar that they cause.

Eventually the damage may catch up with you.

DIY Nutritional Therapy for Diabetes

There are countless stories of type 2 diabetes being reversed that I would encourage you to research and get inspired by.

Be careful about taking everything you hear has worked as fact, though. Anecdotal evidence is actually quite weak, even though it’s the most inspiring. Read up on people who’ve reversed their type two diabetes (one great story can be found in the video at the top of this page), and then come back to the following principles, which are based on years of research and experience into this topic.

Low-Carb Diet

The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is over-stimulation of insulin over time, and refined carbohydrate spikes insulin like nothing else. It’s critical to get out of that sugary cycle of eat, spike, crash, repeat.

Cut out the “Dietary Triggers” listed above.

Note, this does not mean a no-carb diet. If you cut out all plants whatsoever and you have diabetes, you may run into problems. Instead, aim for a “natural-carb” diet. If you get all your carbohydrate from whole foods, you will end up eating a superbly healthy diet that will seem quite “low-carb” in comparison to the rest of America.

Don’t trust the Whole Grain!

You’ll probably hear the following weak advice, “Eat a balanced diet with lots of healthy whole grain.” You may even be encouraged to eat low-fat as well!

I get furious when I think of diabetic people being told to eat grain (whole or otherwise!), or to eat low-fat. It’s ludicrous.

Fat is the least insulinogenic macronutrient we have. This means that fat is very easy on your blood sugar levels. It hardly affects them at all.

Contrast this with whole grain bread, which pours glucose into your blood faster than sponge cake! White bread is even worse. Everyone would do well to avoid grain-based products, but for diabetics, it’s essential.

Conclusion: Eat plenty of healthy fats and protein for energy, cut down on processed foods, and cut out sugar and grains completely.

Physical Training

Destroying the insulin sensitivity of your cells is at the root of the problem, and exercise helps to re-sensitize them. When muscle cells use up their internal stores of glucose (carbohydrate), they upregulate the action of the insulin receptors in the cell walls in order to quickly replenish their stores.

Conclusion: Both cardio and resistance training will work just fine. If you’re lacking in time, opt for resistance training.

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