Diabetes - how to prevent the complications
With my co-author Craig Robinson, I have now written a book on the prevention and cure of [Type II] Diabetes - please see "Prevent and Cure Diabetes - delicious diets not dangerous drugs"
Diabetes is Greek for "passer through". One of the early symptoms is peeing a lot. This is because the blood sugar runs high, sugar spills over to the urine and takes water with it. Sugar in the urine can be tested for by multistix urine testing. Suspect Type II diabetes when there is:
- Thirst and peeing excessively
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tendency to skin infections
- A long history of sugar addiction
There are two types of diabetes:
Type I diabetes
Type I diabetes usually starts in childhood (and, incidentally, has been linked to the consumption of dairy products and lack of vitamin D). In this condition the body makes antibodies against its own insulin-production islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. This type of diabetes is associated with low or no output of insulin and the sufferers require insulin injections to be well. Insulin injections are life saving and must be continued for life under specialist direction. See Autoimmune diseases - the environmental approach to treating.
However, by far and away the commonest type is
Type 2 diabetes
In type II diabetes we see insulin resistance - that is to say, there may be normal or high levels of insulin in the blood stream, but the body does not seem to respond to this. Type II diabetes is the inevitable result of people eating Western diets and leading Western lifestyles. Indeed, the figures are that by the year 2030, 50% of the population will become diabetic. Western diets and lifestyles cause this for four reasons.
- Persistent organic pollutants (POPS).
- Insulin resistance may also be caused by poor micronutrient status. Modern processed foods grown on land in which there is no recycling of nutrients will be micronutrient deficient. Micronutrient deficiency will result in insulin resistance. See Nutritional Supplements
- The wrong sort of exercise. See Exercise - the right sort.
Control of blood sugar
Blood sugar level is controlled partly by sugar coming into the blood stream from eating sugar and carbohydrates, partly by sugar released from the liver from the breakdown of fats and proteins, partly by how much sugar is burnt up by exercise, and partly by insulin produced in the pancreas. So there is a balance of:
- Increasing Sugar - Sugar in Diet vs Exercise - Decreasing Sugar
- Increasing Sugar - Sugar from Liver vs Insulin - Decreasing Sugar
From an evolutionary point of view, our diets used to be very low in sugar and we exercised much more. Insulin was just used occasionally as a "fine tuning" control. Nowadays we have high carbohydrate and sugar diets, and do not exercise enough or get the right sort of exercise and so we rely more and more on insulin to do the job. No wonder that after a lifetime of abuse insulin resistance develops. This causes the commonest type of diabetes, i.e. Type 2 diabetes. It can be controlled by reducing the sugar intake and using drugs to control insulin sensitivity. It always amazes me that exercise is not advocated as a way of keeping blood sugar down - most diabetics are unaware of this important fact.
Nutritional approach to treating Type 2 diabetes
Every person eating a Western diet is either pre-diabetic or diabetic. Because of their high carbohydrate content, Western diets pre-dispose to diabetes and the facts are that by the year 2030 50% of the British population will be diabetic as a result.
The dietary advice for diabetics given to British patients by most NHS dieticians is little short of appalling. They continue to prescribe high carbohydrate diets to their patients and concentrate on regulating the diet with respect to when carbohydrates are eaten instead of the correct change in the diet to reduce carbohydrate intake to a low glycaemic index diet. No advice is given about micronutrients, nor diet nor detoxing.
Allergies to foods are common and the stress response to an allergic reaction is often to release insulin - see section on Allergies.
So the diet that diabetics need to eat is the Stone Age Diet, which is of low glycaemic index and avoids the major allergens. More often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
Indeed diabetics need to do all those things that I advocate for otherwise healthy people to allow them to stay fit and slow the ageing process, but they need to stick to the regime more assiduously. Diabetics and pre-diabetics tend to run high blood sugars, these sugars stick to other proteins and fats to create AGEs (advanced glycation end products) which accelerate the normal ageing process.
So the nutritional approach to treating type II diabetes is as follows:
- See The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health
- Eat a Stone Age Diet. The emphasis needs to be on a low CHO diet. More often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
- Take my standard regime of Nutritional Supplements
- See Hypoglycaemia - the full story and Low glycaemic index diet. Hypoglycaemia is a pre-diabetic condition. People with type II diabetes must have had years of hypoglycaemia because that is why they eventually switch into diabetes. So all the treatments for hypoglycaemia also apply to diabetics. The switch from hypoglycaemia to diabetes is simply a symptom of insulin resistance developing - all the other metabolic issues are the same.
- Get a good night's sleep on a regular basis.
- Exercise and activity - this burns up sugar in the blood and helps to reduce blood sugar levels. This is another important reason for making breakfast the most important meal of the day because morning activity burns up sugar. The problem with eating a large meal at night is that one does not exercise afterwards and blood sugar levels remain high. Indeed many insulin dependent diabetics have to take most of their insulin at night. See Exercise - the right sort
- Detox - There was a fascinating paper in the Lancet which looked at levels of toxins in the blood of people throughout the population. What they found is that people with the highest levels of toxins were 38 times more likely to have diabetes than people with the lowest level of toxins in their blood. (Please see Persistent organic pollutants and the burden of diabetes ) The suggestion in the paper was that toxic stress is a far better predictor of type II diabetes than being overweight! (being overweight is a long term symptom of high carbohydrate diets, a tendency to hypoglycaemia and carbohydrate addiction). So it may well be, although as yet it is unproven, that doing a good detox regime may also improve diabetic control. see Detoxification and Detoxing - Far Infrared Sauna (FIRS).
- Ensure good antioxidant status - see Antioxidants. Running a high blood sugar creates free radicals and pro-oxidant stress - indeed this is the mechanism by which AGEs (advanced glycation end products) are produced.
- Diabetes is a major risk factor for arterial disease. Therefore one must also look at the other possible risk factors for arterial disease and address those in order to minimise one's chance of this complication developing. See Ischaemic Heart Disease
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