How I tackle things
NOTE: How I decided to tackle it. Me, my choice - following much research!
There are different types of diabetes.
Treatments vary according to personal needs. And everyone is different.
Some people try to tackle T2 diabetes with diet and exercise.
But - some people DO need medication – Type 1 Diabetics for example who don't produce insulin.
There is NO single solution.
One thing that seems undeniable is that an improved diet plus exercise help.
I have Type 2 diabetes - which is the most common form.
I believe I am doing what is right largely because it is helping me as it has helped many many others.
BUT before you follow the same regime please consult your professional care team.
Don't follow me blindly, make an informed decision as to what is best for you.
I'm aware of the dangers of not getting on top of my T2.
It's time for my new health regime.
What are my aims?
To lower my blood sugars.
To lose weight
To try and stay off diabetes medication
To try and finish this box of wine I've just bought
I want to achieve these aims through diet combined with exercise.
The primary source of glucose in our bodies is through the food we eat.
Let me try and explain a bit about this.
When we eat carbohydrates they are broken down in our body and turned into sugar / glucose which is released into the blood stream.
In a non-diabetic, healthy person, when glucose is present, the pancreas produces insulin.
The insulin helps the body turn glucose into energy. It can be described as a key that allows glucose (energy) to enter our cells. It also helps the body store glucose in the liver (and fat cells) for future use. In other words, if our body has more sugar than it needs, it is stored. During times of fasting (between meals) or when we are taking exercise we need more energy, the liver releases the glucose back to the blood stream.
In a T2 diabetic the problems are two-fold:
Firstly the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin and secondly our body's cells don't react properly (called insulin resistance).
My cells are therefore unable to accept sugar (or a limited amount only) from the limited insulin I do produce.
This leads to too much sugar in my blood stream or hyperglycaemia.
High levels over time can cause blood vessel and nerve damage (among other things).
Another thing my nurse told me is that, as a T2, I'm probably producing some insulin, but not enough. Over time basically my pancreas has got worn out trying to cope with all the excess sugar. All of which I've been generating by eating and drinking too much crap (language - sorry).
Oh, but hang on!
I've just found out that producing too much insulin can cause problems too, including T2 diabetes.
In other words my cells are insulin resistant (or a bit 'rusty' as I've heard them described) so unable to accept glucose properly.
So, I now have glucose, AND the insulin I've produced to cope with it, BOTH sloshing around my blood stream!
So, what to do? I have to simplify this!
I decided that the answer to both the above scenarios is to drastically reduce my sugar intake.
This will do two things:
1) Reduce the excess amount of glucose in my blood (and liver and fat cells), which will....
2) Reduce the amount of insulin I need to produce
I'm going on a low carbohydrate / high fat diet – known as LCHF.
From day one I cut out potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, sugar, orange juice, beer and sugary drinks.
Breakfast cereals are out too – Weetabix is a definite no no – very high. (Surprising eh?)
That's just for starters! This, let me tell you, is after 57 years of having these goodies as part of my staple diet – a large part.
This is going to be a bit of a test!
So what the hell can I eat?
Basically anything with little or no carbohydrate.
For example: meat, fish, cheese, butter and eggs all have which have no carbs. Above-ground vegetables, nuts, most of which have very few.
In fact I've come across various lists and there is actually masses to eat.
There are numerous websites offering fabulous low-carbohydrate recipes and tips. Have a Google.
On my regime I'm allowed bacon and eggs for breakfast but not cornflakes!
I'm allowed wine and spirits (in moderation because they'll make me put weight on and fall over) but not beer.
Actually, this doesn't sound so bad all of a sudden.
Hang on, you're asking, what's all this LCHF about?! Sounds like a cranky fad?
OK, more explanation required. This is my take on it, bearing in mind I am diabetic........
I have put weight and I have contracted diabetes (though the two are not necessarily linked).
There is more than one way to eat badly.
Those wishing to lose weight have (blindly in many cases) followed whichever 'money-spinning / fad / celebrity' diet is shouted loudest from the pages of web sites or magazines at any given moment in time. (These usually have photos of beautiful people standing before an azure sea on the front – so they must work).
So, I wanted something, based on research and personal testimony that would suit me.
I came across LCHF only because I am diabetic and was looking for a way to lose weight AND reduce my blood glucose levels .
LCHF largely eliminates starchy / sugary foods - consequently they won't be turned into glucose in my blood.
We have been told for years that a healthy diet is low fat, high (moderate) carbohydrate.
This has been laid at the door of a man called Ancel Keys, who was a physiologist from Minnesota.
He started a number of studies in 1947 (including 'The Seven Countries Study') to examine the relationship between dietary habits and heart disease,
Throughout my (limited) research Ancel Keys has been blamed by many for the obesity explosion in the US.
His conclusions appeared to show a relationship between high fat and raised cholesterol and heart disease.
His studies have since been regularly criticised by doctors and health experts.
But, in the interests of impartiality.....
Though his conclusions are almost certainly wrong, his being wholly discredited may be harsh as the following may indicate:
However, his conclusions, backed by some powerful people (with vested interests) are now being widely disputed.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the advice we've been given is flawed and that the real culprit for an ever increasing number of chronic diseases worldwide, including cancers, strokes, heart disease and diabetes, is SUGAR.
No, I wasn't aware it was quite so dangerous either.
Excess sugar can cause all sorts of problems, including diabetes.
Now I've been diagnosed T2 it's doubly important that I manage it properly.
My personal conclusions:
It does seem to be the case is that diets containing too much sugar, unhealthy fats and highly processed food has caused huge problems for the past 5 decades and is still doing so..... and that
Low fat, high carbohydrate and low cholesterol is not necessarily good for us.
(I'll re-visit cholesterol- later with some surprising findings)
So, why haven't we heard about all this? Well, there is a growing body of information is out there, yet national guidelines still appear to advocate the 'Healthy Plate', too many carbs and all. However, gradually the message appears to be changing.
Changing guidelines is like trying to turn a super-tanker. It will take time. (Remember when smoking was a 'relaxant' and quite acceptable?)
There are numerous vested interests who don't want to see things changed – the massive sugary soft-drinks industry, cereal producers and producers of refined vegetable oils for example.
We've seen in recent years the addition of 'Zero' and 'Sugar free' soft drinks. That wouldn't happen without a valid reason. But there are still huge amounts of 'full fat' sugary drinks consumed. Just look at loaded supermarket trolleys.
Refined vegetable oils are a less well known problem, palm or corn oil for example. They contain, among other things, high levels of omega 6, too much of which is very bad.
I believe problems here are particularly bad in America where they have a heavy reliance on highly processed oil in food production.
Anyhow, the point of all this seems to be that things are on the change and whether or not we are diabetic, there are changes afoot.
The other thing that can be the result of a poor diet and resulting metabolic disorders is inflammation - or inflammatory disease.
Inflamation is something we all need. It's what happens to cure a bleeding cut, repair tissue or fight an infection.
It's part of the body's healing process and immune system - a natural defense.
However when inflamation becomes chronic it has been linked to conditions such as bowel disease, some types of arthritis, cardio vascular disease and diabetes.
Poor diet is widely believed to be a contributory factor for infammatory disease.
Healthy folk with no metabolic problems may not be affected by eating a poor diet – at least for a while.
But please check that there is not something going on unseen.
Simple tests may save you much heartache.
Next: One Month On