Category: Diabetes

Carb Addiction and Insulin Resistance

Woman raiding the refrigerator for sweets.
Photo by goffkein @ Freepik.com

If you are one who raids the refrigerator for sweet treats in the middle of the night you may be well on your way to a carb addiction and insulin resistance – if you are not already there.

If you are carb addicted, you cannot change your body’s predisposition to release too much insulin. You can look at this as being akin to your body being a loaded gun and your finger is on the trigger. If you are carb addicted, it is up to you to not pull the trigger, lest you cause harm to yourself in the process. You get this predisposition genetically from your parents,  however you can control this if only you will.

While your body might be genetically primed to release too much insulin which causes you to crave carbs, you can keep this under control if you know how. You do not have to be overweight simply because of your carb addiction and insulin resistance.

Constant Carb Consumption

Our largest problem with carb addiction comes from the frequent intake of carbohydrate rich foods. Everywhere we turn nowadays, we are faced with foods laden with added sugars which do not add anything to the nutritional value of the food. These foods only supply us with a burst of short term energy which causes us to crave more and more. Your cravings may be strong, but you do not have to open your mouth and insert the fork or spoon.

Eating these foods is a choice, no one can make you do this!

Thrifty Genes?

There are some in the nutrition and medical fields who believe we have what is referred to as a thrifty gene. It is believed that if you are born with this gene, the more often you consume carb rich foods, the greater your insulin response will be. The high level of insulin will cause you to crave more of the same foods.

The fundamental basis of the thrifty gene hypothesis is that, in our early evolutionary history, genes, that promoted efficient fat deposition would have been advantageous because they allowed their holders to survive during periods of famine. In modern society, such genes are disadvantageous because they promote fat deposition in preparation for a famine that never comes, and the result is widespread obesity and diabetes. (1)

As we continue to consume carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis, we will have a greater insulin response. This high level of insulin will cause you to crave more of these foods, but it is your choice whether you eat them or not.

When we consume carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis, our muscles and organs begin to become insulin resistant. When you are insulin resistant, the insulin and the blood sugar it escorts will be channeled away from your muscles and organs  and stored  in your fat cells.

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.

Insulin resistance syndrome includes a group of problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. It could affect as many as 1 in 3 Americans. You might also hear it called metabolic syndrome. (2)

In the first stages of insulin resistance, you will begin to gain weight easier. Later in insulin resistance, even your fat cells will become insulin resistant. The result of this is insulin and blood sugar will remain trapped in your bloodstream which is likely to result in adult onset type 2 diabetes. If you give in to eating foods high in simple carbs and added sugars, this cycle will keep repeating itself. The choice is yours to make whether or not you want to continue playing Russian Roulette with your health.

Thin people are not off the hook with this matter! 

If you believe that because you are thin despite eating carb rich foods that you have nothing to worry about – you are wrong!

You may have never struggled with being overweight or obese in your youth, but this does not  make you immune to insulin resistance. As we age, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. This is also  associated with senile skeletal muscle dysfunction. During skeletal muscle aging, mitochondrial dysfunction, intramyocellular lipid accumulation, increased inflammation, oxidative stress, modified activity of insulin sensitivity regulatory enzymes, endoplasmic reticulum stress, decreased autophagy, sarcopenia and over-activated renin-angiotensin system may occur. These changes can impair skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity and increase the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes during skeletal muscle aging. (3)

When our bodies are young, and thinner, simply growing older changes our metabolism which makes us more insulin resistant. As we age, insulin and blood sugar are channeled to our fat cells, thus weight becomes easier to gain than in our youth.

We all know someone  who has always been able to eat sweets all day long, every day, without gaining weight. Even though they might not be overweight, this does not mean they are not carb addicted. This occurs when the body continues to push through more and more insulin in an attempt to override insulin resistance. Your body works hard to push insulin and blood sugar to the muscles and organs which need it.

All of this extra insulin leads to more and more intensive carbohydrate cravings. In order to protect itself from these constant insulin insults to the body, it tries to protect itself by becoming more insulin resistant. Of course when this occurs, over time even the fat cells may shut down and the insulin along with the sugar it accompanies, get stuck in the bloodstream. In time, even though you may be thin, you still stand a good risk of adult onset, type 2 diabetes setting in.

Getting the Correct Balance

Cravings and weight gain are signs of insulin resistance no matter your size. If you want to live a normal and healthy life, you must take control of your intake of carbohydrates.

When you consume carb rich foods without the correct balance of protein and fiber, you are highly likely to set off an insulin imbalance. This is why we teach to cut out foods rich in simple carbs and added sugars. Our recommendation is that you eat only whole foods and as few processed foods as possible. You have control over what you eat – it is your choice to eat foods of inferior quality and substance. No one is force feeding you cookies and cupcakes.

When you have uncontrollable cravings for those innocent sweet treats of the past, you have a major problem which needs to be addressed. By following David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we can help educate you about weight loss, and how nutrition affects your body whether good or bad. Subscriptions are free and easy, you can receive all of our latest articles straight to your email in order to never miss a thing.

We all have choices to make in life. We can give in to our carbohydrate cravings and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to not do so. Choose wisely my friends, we are only blessed with one body and one life to live. Create your life and live it at your best.

 

(1) National Library of Medicine National Center for Biological Information

(2) WebMD

(3) https://dmsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13098-020-0523-x

Metabolic Syndrome, The Hard Truth

out of breath, overweight woman

As the years of our lives pass, it gets easier and easier to become a little over-weight, obese, or even morbidly obese. It may seem that just a few short years ago you were the high school star athlete or cheer leader. You were in top physical condition and a fine specimen to look at.

Then came the responsibilities of life, where you are raising a family and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, keeping the bills paid becomes a stressful focus. Sally has dance lessons, Johnny has his trumpet lessons, while the baby has colic and her constant crying is allowing no peace for anyone in the house.

Yesterday you were the picture of perfect health and fitness, today you look and feel like a busted can of biscuits. Your gut is hanging over your belt, unless you wear those stretchy pants where a belt is not required. You quit tucking in your shirts to hide said gut and you have also begun coordinating your clothing in order to not appear as fat as you have become. And yes, guys can be just as bad about this as the ladies. Well, guess what? You are not fooling anyone. If you are fat, you look fat no matter how you dress. But more importantly than your physical appearance, your health is what matters. Face it, if you continue your path to obesity with poor nutritional habits, your ability to care for your family and even yourself is going to become more difficult over time. You may find yourself making a choice between paying a utility bill this month or a co-pay at the doctors office in order for you to be seen for a condition that is 100% related to your poor dietary choices.

Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

In short, you are fat, out of shape and no longer a healthy individual.

Or for a longer explanation, you have a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (1)

The term Metabolic Syndrome is a medical diagnosis. What you do about this diagnosis is going to be a matter of personal choice. You can choose to continue with your poor nutritional habits of convenience foods that are packed full of simple sugars, high in fat, sodium and preservatives. This weak choice is going to lead to taking out the time for more doctor visits with blood labs possible each time, along with having to take medications to control the issues you suffer from. Unnecessary money and time being expended away from the larger responsibility of your family and home.

Your other choice is to take personal responsibility for your health and to be proactive in doing something about it. If you are smart, you will clean up your diet and replace processed foods with healthy whole foods. You will eliminate simple sugar from your diet, and you will begin some form of exercise with your doctors approval. By cleaning up your dietary habits, your blood labs will normalize. By quitting refined sugar and other simple carbohydrates, your cravings for foods that contain them will subside. If you think eating healthy foods is too expensive, consider the reduction of monthly expenses when you no longer need to see your doctor regular and all of those monthly prescription refills you may have for blood pressure drug, statins, acid reflux etc… With the cost of medical care today, you could likely pay for at least a weeks worth of groceries with the medical expense savings alone.

Is exercise necessary to become healthy? What if I am in a condition where my ability to do so has become impaired?

Well. if you either cannot, or simply do not want to exercise, then you had damn well better be much stricter about your diet. That is a simple and plain hard truth my friends. This point is not even arguable on any level. Here is another truth, if you can move your body in any fashion, then you can begin doing something, anything to become more mobile. Even if you cannot walk, you can still do arm, abdominal and back exercises. If you are still capable of walking, then you can do the following:

  1. Walk briskly. Or, briskly for you.
  2. Put on some music and move your body with dance, Move your body around, shift your weight from one leg to another, lift your arms to the beat of the music. Look like a young child again, have fun with it.
  3. If you cannot jump rope, make believe you are by skipping in place.
  4. Get up and down from your chair 50 to 100 times.
  5. If you have stairs in your home, then walk up and down them several times per day.
  6. Try doing jumping jacks.
  7. Hop in a circle around a room in your home. Get your kids involved, the young ones will have a blast. Try hopping on one foot at a time for 30 second intervals.
  8. Rise up and down on your toes to work your calves.
  9. Stand on one leg and hold onto a chair or a wall for balance. Extend your free leg in front of you so the heel stretches out about 12 inches in front of your standing leg. Now bend your standing leg knee so you lower your body about 6 inches, and then come back up. Do this 25 times and then switch legs.
  10. Jog in place, picking your knees up higher each time and also extending the time you do this.
  11. You can pick and choose any of these simple exercises and do them as you watch television and your program is interrupted by a commercial.

Now of course if you are overweight and in poor condition, fatigue and soreness are going to be a limiting factor. But, these factors are only short term in nature. The objective is for you to work your way up with increased exercise. You may not be capable of running in a marathon next month, but you may find yourself at least able to walk in a 5k event. You can walk, do a few flights of stairs until you are fatigued. Take a rest and go at it again after a few hours. Build on the amount of time you can do this until you can go for a solid hour. The more out of shape you are, the more important it will be for you to exercise in short periods on a frequent basis. If you can only go at it for 5 minutes at a time, then plan your day to dedicate six five minute time frames to do your exercise. No excuses, just choose to plan and then commit. If you make regular exercise a habit, before you know it, you will find yourself far exceeding your original capabilities.

You can burn calories and fat with a variety of cardiovascular exercises, but if you want more bang for the buck, you must consider some form of strength training in order to increase your lean muscle mass. Some people will complain that they can not lose weight even when they have cut back on their food intake. Usually the problem is they are still consuming too many calories for their basal metabolic rate, still eating sugar and have very little lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the easier it is going to be for you to burn body fat. The way to address this is to go to our Calorie Calculator in our menu to find out your caloric needs and then consume a sugar free diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, along with performing strength building exercises. Your body needs the protein to not only maintain your lean muscle mass, but more importantly to increase it. As your body fat percentage comes down, you also need for your lean muscle mass percentage to rise. At David’s Way, we actually support working towards a healthy body fat percentage over a random number you might want to see on your bathroom scale.

Invariably, people who complain that their metabolic rate is slow and they have trouble losing weight no matter what they consume week to week have weak muscles and are poorly conditioned. When you perform strength building exercises, you are going to increase the density of your lean muscle mass which is going to raise your metabolism. Increasing your lean muscle mass can be done by anyone who makes the choice to do so. If you want to be healthy, this is imperative. This is why we encourage achieving a healthy body fat percentage over a number on the scale. You might lose 50 to 100 pounds, be thin and yet be what is referred to as “Skinny fat”. Your weight means little if your body fat percentage is still at an unhealthy level. If you are thin and also soft to the touch, then you are no healthier than you were when you were much heavier. You are only thinner, do not fool yourself that being able to wear smaller clothing now means you are in decent shape. Skinny fat is still bad for you.

Many, if not most who go about losing weight, lose lean muscle along with body fat. If you do not maintain what you have or build upon it, you can regain all of the weight you have lost and now have a higher body fat percentage than you had before losing weight. This is going to be detrimental to your metabolism. If you are a yo-yo dieter who does not build muscle too, then your metabolism is going to slow more and more with each weight gain. Exercise is going to facilitate your weight loss and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise is even better. Build up to it gradually, You have the rest of your life if you have made a decision to be healthy for the remainder of your life. Start slow and build yourself up, do not injure yourself. If you have the fortitude to begin living a healthy life, you will find the will to eat healthy and exercise.

Metabolic Syndrome may be a medical diagnosis, or maybe it is actually a politically correct and polite way of saying you are fat and out of shape. Either way, you can do something about it. And what you do, does not have to require expensive doctors visits and medications. If you make an intelligent choice, you will clean up your diet and begin an exercise regimen right away. This truly is a matter of personal choices and then sticking with it. You are likely to have a few saboteurs along the way who will try to derail you by getting you to “just eat a little cake” or what ever. People who will tell you how good you have done and then pester you to join them in poor food choices. When you stick to your decision to only eat healthy and remain committed to making time for exercise, some of the people close to you may get angry when you do not join them in unhealthy habits. Bear in mind, if these kind hearted folks really care about your health and well being, they will not try to sabotage you. Misery loves company and unhealthy people will try to drag you down to their level. Sometimes, being around a crowd that eats a lot of unhealthy foods and do not exercise is like finding yourself in a bucket full of crabs. Where the harder you try to climb out, the harder they are going to try to pull you back in. Do yourself a favor and avoid the crabs.

Life and how we live it is truly a matter of personal choices. Choose wisely, you only have one body and one life.

(1) http://www.MayoClinic.org

Genetics and Habits in Obesity

photo from pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3768146

Cause or Curse?

I first heard the phrase, “Generational Curse” about 20 years ago and had absolutely no idea about what it was supposed to be. Turns out that there were people around me who believed that bad traits passed from one generation to another by some mystical means other than just genetics.

What “Genetics” Will We Pass Down?

True, there are some tendencies that are familial. There are also some outright inherited maladies, but they are few and far between. Almost all of the negative health and life issues that we have are a direct result of the choices that we make, not genetics, and certainly not some mystical, spiritual curse. Believing this falsehood is simply an excuse to fail at achieving your goals. Believing this is an excuse to abandon all effort to be responsible for the health choices that you make. Mom became diabetic at age 40? If that’s the case, it’s 90-95% that Mom’s choices that caused it. (1) Make different choices.

I had an Aunt who died a terrible death from throat cancer. I loved her. She was my favorite Aunt. She smoked, a lot, and never quit. Do her children have a similar risk? Possibly, they also smoke and the genetics are secondary compared to that decision. Habits are sometimes “familial”. That is not the same as “genetic”. Bad habits that are passed down can cause death and disease. That does not mean that you are doomed to have those diseases. You can choose to avoid the bad habits that cause them.

Photo by beasty . on Unsplash

What Have You Learned?

There is a state of mind called “Learned Helplessness” that is believed to occur when someone is exposed to traumatic events that they cannot control. Over time, the individual “learns” that he cannot control events around himself and simply doesn’t try. Feeling that we can’t control traumatic events leads to loss of motivation to the extent that even when we are presented with the opportunity to change the course of our lives, we may not take advantage of the opportunity.

This “loser” state of mind cripples the individual in decision making because he feels that his decisions won’t make a difference. Feeling helpless in the face of trauma and unable, or unwilling, to change the course of action by deciding to take control, leads to depression in most people with learned helplessness. This is a deadly personality trait when we are faced with decisions concerning our health. Learned Helplessness is perpetuated in many families as an excuse for bad behavior. I have seen it in relatives and the families of friends.

Decisions, Genetics and Choice

In the original experiments on this topic, it was discovered that dogs who did not try to avoid negative stimuli had not, however, learned helplessness. They had not learned control. (3) The difference is profound. In order to “learn” helplessness, or the lack of control, we must first decide to take control and then be unable to do so. If an individual is afraid of failure simply because that’s all they have ever seen or been exposed to, then they have not made a decision to break that consecutive chain of failure, dysfunction and sickness that may have existed in their family for generations. They have not learned helplessness, they simply have not learned control.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

The Habits of Lovely Ladies

I remember when I actually believed that “skinny” girls were just genetically gifted. Never mind that my Mother, who was 5’7″ and about 110 pounds, ate very little and almost never sat down. For some strange reason, I ignored the obvious. Truth be known, it was easier to believe that she had great genes, that were somehow vastly different from mine, than to see the truth of the matter. While I would binge on brownies at every chance, she might eat one, maybe not even one. While I preferred the life of a sloth, she was a busy bee.

I have mentioned “Janice” a few times. She was a lovely girl, close to my age in my 20’s who had a rock star body. I assumed she had great genetics. While I struggled to fit into a size 12 or 14, Janice was a lithe size 5 or 7. Guess what. I finally ask her what she ate. She showed me a tray of freshly cut vegetables in her fridge and she told me that she ate those veggies all the time and seldom got hungry between meals. I was at her house for meals. They were healthy meals of grilled lean meats and veggies, fruit for dessert and no munchies at the parties unless you wanted the fresh veggies. She did not deviate and was not swayed by the negative comments of those around her concerning her diet. She was in control. So was my Mom.

Both Janice and my Mom had obese Mothers. They had made a conscious choice to take control, to do better than their upbringing. Genetics be damned.

What would your life be like if you decide, right now, to take control over the things that you have refused to exercise control over until this moment in time? Would you be different tomorrow? What about this time next year? Would you still eat the same things, smoke, drink alcohol and hang out with the same people? Remember, if someone doesn’t encourage you to be healthy, they are not your friend and do not have your best interest at heart. I challenge you. Exercise your ability to create your life and take control today.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Join us at our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Davidsway2hlth/ for more!

It’s Not My Fault, It’s Genetics

(1) https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-causes

(2) medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325355.php

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920136/

Fiber and Carbs, Make the Connection

Fiber and Carbs

Fiber and Carbs are important components of healthy nutrition. Yet many people have a total lack of understanding of their importance to our health. Accordingly, when it comes to nutrition, it seems carbohydrates are the least understood macronutrient.  There are simple and complex carbs which also include fiber and starches.

Exactly what is the difference in these carbs, and why should we care?

Simple carbs are sugar

Simple Carbs

Simple carbohydrates are sugar which we add to foods to make them sweeter and highly palatable. Common simple carbs added to foods include:

raw sugar

brown sugar

corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup

glucose, fructose, and sucrose

honey and agave syrup

fruit juice concentrate

Refined sugars are carbohydrates that have been stripped of all their nutritional value. Moreover, they are nothing more than empty calories which provide us a quick jolt of energy when we consume them. Refined sugars are digested quickly by our digestive tract which results in a rapid spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels after we eat.

In many countries around the world, sugar is a very large part of peoples total carb intake. Overeating and an increased risk of many diseases has been linked to the consumption of  foods which contain these refined sugars. Correspondingly, diets high in refined carbs also tend to be low in fiber which increases the risk of diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and various digestive problems

Besides being added to all sorts of processed foods, the main dietary sources of simple carbs are white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, and breakfast cereals.

Before you sit down with your next meal, think about your health implications !

fruits and vegetables

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are far superior to simple carbohydrates because they are higher in beneficial nutrients, and fiber which make them digest slower. This action helps with managing blood sugar spikes after meals, therefore, complex carbohydrates are ideal for type 2 diabetics.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol, .

The main sources of dietary fiber include:

fruits

vegetables

nuts

beans

whole grains

Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes.

Other high-starch foods are:

whole wheat bread

cereal

corn

oats

peas

rice

Contrary to what advocates of Keto will tell you, we need fiber and carbs in our diet. Complex carbohydrates are key to our long-term health, consequently, they make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. They can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.

What fiber does for us.

Dietary fiber is the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb, therefore, it isn’t digested by your body like proteins and fats. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.

Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.

  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Insoluble fiber is a benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.(1)

The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.

A high-fiber diet:

  • Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool. This is because fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
  • Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran can help lower total blood cholesterol levels. It does this by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels.  Fiber slows the absorption of sugar and helps to improve blood sugar levels. It is known that a healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, therefore you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. High-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and are less energy dense, which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food. We always advocate eating low calorie, nutrient dense foods at David’s Way.
  • Helps you live longer. You have a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers when you increase your dietary fiber intake. (1)

Hopefully this article will help you to better understand the ins and outs of fiber and carbs to a larger degree!

Kicking Sugar To The Curb

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/

Obesity and Insulin

We are often asked the question by people professing to want to lose weight how they can best go about it. It seems at times, that most are looking for some type of hack, or gimmick, which comes as no surprise when it appears that weight loss hacks and gimmicks are more prevalent than legitimate weight loss plans.

Hacks and gimmicks may work in the short term, but they will always lead you to failure in maintaining weight loss. They fail you because they are not nutritionally sound. They fail you exactly because hacks and gimmicks are for the short term fix, when what you need is a life long solution! There are no short cuts to having a fit and trim body with a healthy percentage of body fat. Nutritional habits need to be a permanent lifestyle, and not something you just want to get through. It is a sad state of affairs when so many people either do not care what is making them fat, or simply just do not know the cause of their obesity. I blame this largely on our education system where nutrition and health are not subjects taught as they used to be when I was in school. This ignorance of basic nutrition is causing a significant rise not only in obesity, but Type 2 Diabetes too. Sadly, we now have children with Type 2 Diabetes when it used to be that you only heard of adults getting it.  More and more people are developing type 2 diabetes during youth. This trend is growing across all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

34.2 million Americans—just over 1 in 10—have diabetes.

88 million American adults—approximately 1 in 3—have prediabetes.

Nearly 20 percent of children and adolescents are obese, a percentage than has more than tripled since the 1970’s. The recent rise in type 2 diabetes is directly related to the rise in obesity rates in the United States.

Our message is SIMPLE!

Quit eating refined sugar, foods with added sugars, and simple carbohydrates except for fruit.  Cut out processed foods as much as you can, and when you cannot avoid a processed food, be sure to make choices that do not have added sugars, unhealthy fats and preservatives. By doing this and only eating whole foods that are nutritionally dense, you will manage to lose weight down to a healthy level of body fat as long as you are not consuming in excess of your daily needs in calories.

The main obstacle we encounter when telling people to quit eating sugar and simple carbs is society’s ignorance of sugar’s effects and their tendency to ignore what it is they do not want to hear. It is not rare that a person who is obese will also be addicted to sugar and simple carbohydrates. They do not want to hear they need to give up that which is making them fat. The addiction to sugar is really no different than the alcoholics addiction to alcohol. Putting it bluntly, if you are not in the frame of mind to give up sugar in order to improve your weight and health, a half hearted effort at weight loss will only result in failure, more obesity, and at some point a poor nutrition related ailment such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome to name a few.

Insulin

Insulin is created and secreted by the pancreas which stores about 200 units of the hormone. People of a healthy weight and good dietary habits will secrete about 25 to 30 units of insulin per day. You might think of insulin as being like a broom, as it sweeps glucose, amino acids and free fatty acids into cells where they are stored as fat and glucose to be used later.

For those at a healthy body fat percentage, blood sugar levels  do not vary much because of the harmonious and compensating actions of insulin and glucagon which is also created by the pancreas. Insulin keeps blood sugar from rising too high, while glucagon prevents blood sugar from falling too low. A healthy and nutritious diet keeps these hormones in harmony with each other. Humans can actually survive without glucagon, but must have insulin on order to survive. For the diabetic, what they need to know and understand is insulin given by injections is not nearly as efficient as the pancreas in supplying a steady stream of insulin for your body’s needs. When you become obese, you stand the risk of becoming insulin deficient or your body becomes insulin resistant. Either way, you are jeopardizing your health and well being. I want to emphasize,

“YOU ARE JEOPARDIZING YOUR HEALTH”.

No one is doing it to you!

After you have consumed carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks down the food. The blood in your intestines will absorb the digested food and as a result your blood sugar will rise. This action stimulates the release of insulin from you pancreas which causes glucose to be stored as fat. Once the blood sugar, or glucose has dropped too low, glucagon is secreted which converts the stored fat into glucose and restores your blood sugar to a normal level. When these two hormones get out of balance, people tend to become obese. Obesity causes increased insulin production as a result of excessive stimulation of the pancreas through over eating. Over eating most often occurs through an over consumption of sugar and simple carbs which only serve to make foods calorie dense and low in nutrition.

Increased insulin levels promote the storage of sugar as glycogen in both the liver and muscle. After proteins and fats are ingested, insulin promotes the storage of protein in muscle and fat in fat cells as triglycerides. Because insulin also prevents the breakdown of glycogen and triglycerides, it becomes almost impossible to lose body fat when your insulin levels are elevated.

Insulin also activates the enzyme, lipoprotein lipase that promotes the removal of triglycerides from the bloodstream and their position in fat cells. Insulin also inhibits hormone sensitive lipase that breaks down stored fats. The net result of these two activities is an increase in stored fat that results in your increased weight and obesity. Insulin is a major hindrance to fat breakdown and is a major facilitator of fat storage. When you are munching away on those cupcakes with icing piled sky high, you are causing your pancreas to pump excessive amounts of insulin. Over time, you may quit producing insulin, or you may become insulin resistant which is a condition where your body has a decreased response to insulin and your fat cells, liver cells, and muscle cells are now insensitive to the circulating insulin in your system.

Obesity is the most common cause of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Whether you want to admit it or not, the power is in your control to not be afflicted with either condition. Yet many refuse to give up their sweet treats in exchange for good health. Obese people without diabetes usually have elevated insulin levels with normal blood sugar levels. However, the obese person with high insulin levels may be well on their way to becoming diabetic. What occurs is their pancreas becomes exhausted from constant stimulation by glucose and will eventually fail which results in diabetes. Obese individuals will also often have elevated insulin levels in both the fasting and fed states. These people will also often have elevated lipoprotein lipase levels which is important in the storage of fat. The result of which is the obese individuals are metabolically ready at all times to store fat from everything they consume. It is not rocket science why an obese individual with an elevated insulin level can not lose weight. But, there is something that can be done about this through first making the personal choice to stand with a strong resolve to do so.

What can be done?

  1.  Get more sleep. A good night’s sleep is important for your health. Several studies have also linked poor sleep to reduced insulin sensitivity. For example, one study in nine healthy volunteers found that getting just four hours of sleep in one night reduced insulin sensitivity and the ability to regulate blood sugar, compared to getting eight and a half hours of sleep.
  2. Exercise more. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity. It helps move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, which lasts 2–48 hours, depending on the exercise. A study of overweight men with and without diabetes found that when participants performed resistance training over a three-month period, their insulin sensitivity increased, independent of other factors like weight loss.
  3. Reduce stress. Stress affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. It encourages the body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode, which stimulates the production of stress hormones like cortisol and glucagon. These hormones break down glycogen into glucose, which enters your bloodstream for your body to use as a quick source of energy. Unfortunately, ongoing stress keeps your stress hormone levels high, stimulating nutrient breakdown while increasing blood sugar. Stress hormones make the body more insulin resistant.
  4. Lose weight. Excess weight, especially in the belly area, reduces insulin sensitivity and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes who lost 5–7% of their total weight over six months reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 54% for the next three years.
  5. Eat more fiber. Fiber can be divided into two broad categories — soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber mostly acts as a bulking agent to help stool move through the bowels. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is responsible for many of fiber’s associated benefits, like lowering cholesterol and reducing appetite. Several studies have found a link between high soluble fiber intake and increased insulin sensitivity. For example, a study in 264 women found that those who ate more soluble fiber had significantly lower levels of insulin resistance. Soluble fiber also helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, which have been linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include legumes, oatmeal, flax seeds, vegetables like Brussels sprouts and fruits like oranges.
  6. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in plant compounds that help increase insulin sensitivity. But be careful not to eat too much fruit in a single sitting, as some types are high in sugar.
  7. Watch your intake of carbohydrates. Carbs are the main stimulus that causes insulin blood levels to rise. Reducing your carb intake will help increase insulin sensitivity. That’s because high-carb diets tend to lead to spikes in blood sugar, which put more pressure on the pancreas to remove sugar from the blood. Spreading your carb intake evenly throughout the day is another way to increase insulin sensitivity. Eating smaller portions of carbs regularly throughout the day provides the body with less sugar at each meal, making insulin’s job easier. This is also supported with research showing that eating regularly benefits insulin sensitivity. The type of carbs you choose is also important. Low-glycemic index (GI) carbs are best, since they slow the release of sugar into the blood, giving insulin more time to work efficiently. Carb sources that are low-GI include sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and some varieties of oatmeal.
  8. Quit eating sugar and or foods with added sugars! There’s a big difference between added sugars and natural sugars. Natural sugars are found in sources like plants and vegetables, both of which provide lots of other nutrients. Conversely, added sugars are found in more highly processed foods. The two main types of sugar added during the production process are high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, also known as sucrose. Both contain approximately 50% fructose. Many studies have found that higher intakes of fructose can increase insulin resistance among people with diabetes. The effects of fructose on insulin resistance also appear to affect people who don’t have diabetes, as reported in an analysis of 29 studies including a total of 1,005 normal and overweight or obese participants. The findings showed that consuming a lot of fructose over less than 60 days increased liver insulin resistance, independent of total calorie intake. Foods that contain lots of added sugar are also high in fructose. This includes candy, sugar-sweetened beverages, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Obesity and insulin levels are within your control if you make the choice to do something about both. We know that insulin is an important hormone that has many roles in the body, and that when your insulin sensitivity is low, it puts pressure on your pancreas to increase insulin production to clear sugar from your blood. Low insulin sensitivity will result in chronically high blood sugar levels, which are known to increase your risk of many diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to naturally increase your insulin sensitivity.

You just have to decide which is more important, a cupcake or your health and well being.

Choose wisely!

Keep Yourself In Balance

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As so many are now days, there is a strong possibility that you are addicted to carbohydrates. You may or may not even know this, but either way, there are a few things you really need to understand about your blood sugar levels and how it can be directly affected by the kinds of food you consume each and every day, and how often during each day you might eat them. You might even think this does not apply to you since you eat a wide variety of foods during the course of your day, but have you ever spent any time reading food labels to know that your variety is indeed a variety? There is a strong possibility that all you consume has the same base ingredients of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives.

Every day we do different acts which really require little to no thought. We brush our teeth, shower, dress ourselves and eat our meals while never considering all the combinations of simple thoughts and motor skills which go into these daily tasks. We often just go through our days on auto-pilot and hope that we can make it through to sundown without any calamities. We go through our day without ever thinking about our vital life functions including our control and regulation of our blood sugar. We have numerous basic functions of life that are all on automatic. That is, until we make poor life choices and thereby throw a wrench into the cogs of the precious life we have been blessed with. Then we are seeking medical attention for medicines and treatments which could have been avoided simply through better life choices. You are responsible for your health, your doctor is not.

When life is grand, and we do not have a care in the world, our body still needs to be properly taken care of through good nutrition and exercise in order to keep all of our working parts in fine order. The most basic elements of day to day living depend on this. There are actions happening in our body’s that require no conscious thought, such as what happens when we eat. As we chew our food, saliva is released to help break it down into simple absorbable elements. When we eat sugar laden foods or any type of high carbohydrate foods that tastes sweet our body releases insulin into the blood stream in anticipation of the coming food energy. This energy is broken down into simple sugar (glucose) which is then absorbed into our blood. The more sugary the foods, the more rapidly the sugar is absorbed into our blood. Our blood sugar, insulin and glucagon must be kept in balance, but unfortunately, too many of us never even attempt to maintain any semblance of balance. For this, we have the current obesity epidemic. When you do not maintain a balance with these basic elements, as your blood sugar continues to rise, you will feel weaker, hungrier, moodier, and less motivated unless the motivation involves eating more crap food. This is why we say to only eat complex carbs and zero sugar. Complex carbohydrates (starches and soluble fiber) take longer to be broken down into sugar in your body. The fiber element acts as a braking mechanism to keep your blood sugar and insulin under control.

When you consume a high carbohydrate diet, especially one of simple carbs, your insulin helps to move the blood sugar to different parts of your body, where it is used or stored away. As our blood sugar rises, our insulin opens our individual cells up in order for the blood sugar to bring them energy for growth, repair, and to allow them to accomplish the work they are designed for such as the contraction of our muscles. Our insulin then signals our liver and muscles to store away a small portion of the remaining blood sugar for future use. This remaining blood sugar is converted to first, blood fat, and then it is stored into our body as the fat in our fat cells. Because of the lack of balance which comes from undisciplined eating, we are a now a nation predominately populated by over weight or obese individuals. We must keep our body in balance in order to function as healthy beings. You might believe your gut is posing no problems for you, but aesthetics aside, you and I both know this is a bullshit way of thinking.

You should know there are functions within your body that take place without your control, except for you being able to control what it is you put into your mouth. You have control over the balancing act that must be maintained.

When your blood sugar levels begin to drop over time or from activity, your liver makes a small reserve available for your body’s use. As the liver’s stores begin to be depleted, rising levels of the hormone glucagon begin to signal fat cells to open and contribute to your energy needs. This action is what burns off your body fat. If your blood sugar level seems to never drop because of the sweet treats you eat continuously during the day, your glucagon never gets the opportunity to open your fat cells for energy, therefore you will continue to remain obese. It matters not who or what you are, this is very basic human biology that you cannot ignore without health consequences at some point in your life. Sadly, these consequences that used to only be seen in adults, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are now being seen in children.

When you eat an excess of simple carbs and sugar laden foods you will continuously have high insulin levels which lead to intense cravings for more sweet foods. The more you give in to this, the more imbalanced your body will be. If you continue to give in to the cravings, you will likely find yourself with type 2 diabetes.

While we recommend you to still consume complex carbohydrates, we are adamant that you should quit eating sugar and simple carbs all together. The only caveat to this is fruit. Fruit is a simple carb, but as there is a fiber component to it, fruit does not pose the same problems as simple carbs without fiber. Know that as with any type addiction, an addiction to carbohydrates will take about ten days, give or take a few, to get past. Once you get past the cravings which come from simple carbohydrates, it becomes much easier to control your appetite. If you maintain a diet during weight loss that is higher in protein while still consuming complex carbohydrate foods, you will find yourself staying satiated much longer through out the day than you would when eating sugary foods. While you will still get hungry, the hunger will be more of a mild annoyance than a bothersome craving.

Suffering obesity and all the ailments which accompany it are a matter of your personal life choices. You, and you alone are responsible to maintain the balance that your body requires for optimal health. It is not anyone else’s fault when you contract type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome. It is all on you and the responsibility to get well if you have fallen to these conditions are not your doctors responsibility to repair. It will only be your own blood on your own hands when your health goes south on you.

Live well, keep yourself in balance.

Check out and like our David’s Way to Health and Fitness Facebook page, or become a member of our support group which is also linked to this page. As with the website, we are totally free and look forward to seeing you there!

Why Gamble with Diabetes?

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

Are you a gambler? Do you love the thrill of placing a Vegas bet on the craps or card tables? How much are you willing to gamble at a time? Would you be willing to bet your home on a sure bet? Or are you more of a small time gambler who see’s no harm in the benign scratcher tickets and occasional Powerball game. You know, nothing harmful ever comes from scratching tickets at the local convenience store. Heck that $20 purchase of tickets is going to actually pay off big time one day, right?

How about gambling with your life and or your health? We see this every day when smokers walk out to smoking areas and light up their cigarettes. To a non-smoker, those types are a special fucking kind of stupid aren’t they? After all, we are only gifted with one set of lungs when we are born. How many roll the dice with alcohol by taking their first drink while knowing that it affects some to the point of losing everything. You have likely seen hobo’s panhandling on street corners for enough scratch to purchase a bottle of Wild Irish Rose to swill down under the bridge with Ol Smokey and their pal affectionately referred to as Zoo Breath. Yeah, those bums gambled and lost with that one didn’t they? Of course, we are all better than those stew bums, right?

We can all take relatively safe gambles with our lives, and not have to pay the Piper for several years. Hell, most of us live for today and cannot fathom the future 30 years later when we can not see past the ends of our own noses. It’s not like we are playing Russian Roulette with a .357 Magnum when we bite into a Snickers Bar. Or are we…

Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family. Family members on both sides have suffered it, therefore it is only prudent that I do everything I can in order to avoid it myself. Knowing that it runs in my family, it would be a dick move if I throw caution to the wind and gamble on my life that I can eat tons of sugar and carbs and never get it myself. For all my reasons “Why” for losing weight and committing myself to a life style of health and wellness, avoiding Type 2 Diabetes ranks right there at the top of the list for living the way I do. It is why I promote a diet high in protein and low in carbs. Complex carbs only. No sugar or processed foods. Avoiding those foods are now just a part of my lifestyle which has been given the title David’s Way by my friend.

WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES

Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.(1)

You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, type 2 diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese. Diabetes is more common in people who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

Physical inactivity and certain health problems such as high blood pressure affect your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant. (1)

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • feeling tired
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart disease.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, including

  • overweight and obesity
  • not being physically active
  • insulin resistance
  • genes

(1) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

On Weight Watcher’s social media Connect, I have responded to people who have trouble with losing weight by telling them they should quit sugar all together. It is unbelievable how pissed some of them get when I make this suggestion despite the fact it will work for them if only they try. Hell, their panties can get in such a twist, you would think I had barged into their home and removed every source of their sugar. Because sugar is seen as a food source which is added to just about everything now days, many can not see how harmful it can be for some folks. Not just in the problems which stem from obesity, but the even uglier problems which can be prevented just by not eating sugar and by watching your intake of even complex carbohydrates.

If you look at the top causes of Type 2 Diabetes, you will see that being over weight, obese and not being physically active are the top causes. Fixing the third item will help to fix the first two, but is not enough by itself if you still like to indulge in sweet treats on a regular basis. You can not outrun or out work a bad diet as a permanent fix to being over weight or obese. You have to fix your diet and mind set first and foremost. If you need a reason, just look at those feet afflicted with diabetic ulcers with the understanding that your diet can either cause the same for you, or it could correct this course before you get there by simply eating whole and healthy foods and cutting out sugar and processed foods from your diet. Every time you stick a spoonful of sugary crap in your mouth, you are gambling that you will never be stricken with that horrible condition.

Besides ugly ulcers on your extremities which can often lead to amputations, are pints of your favorite ice cream or Little Debby Cakes, worth your eye sight? Do you value your vision enough to clean up your diet? The above pictures are eyes with Diabetic Retinopathy. When your child or grandchild looks into your eyes, do you care if these eyes are what they peer into? Would you ever want to gaze into your child or grand children’s eyes and see these looking back at you? Probably not, but if you do not fix your diet, quit or at least greatly reduce your sugar intake, and increase your physical activity, those eyes might just become your reality. Bad things happen to all of us, not just the other guy.

The costs of Type 2 Diabetes to us personally and financially are devastating to our lives and causes preventable heart ache and stress. Nobody need suffer from Type 2 Diabetes if only they eat healthy whole foods and incorporate vigorous exercise into their lives.

According to American Diabetes Association:

The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017 is $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity.

The largest components of medical expenditures are:

  • hospital inpatient care (30% of the total medical cost),
  • prescription medications to treat complications of diabetes (30%),
  • anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies (15%), and
  • physician office visits (13%).

People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year, of which about $9,601is attributed to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for 1 in 4 health care dollars in the U.S. and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes.

Indirect costs include:

  • increased absenteeism ($3.3 billion) and
  • reduced productivity while at work ($26.9 billion) for the employed population,
  • reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.3 billion),
  • inability to work as a result of disease-related disability ($37.5 billion), and
  • lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($19.9 billion).

Diabetes Costs in Specific Populations

  • Most of the cost for diabetes care in the U.S., 66%, is provided by government insurance (including Medicare, Medicaid, and the military). The rest is paid for by private insurance (60%) or by the uninsured (2%).
  • People with diabetes who do not have health insurance have 60% fewer physician office visits and are prescribed 52% fewer medications than people with insurance coverage—but they also have 168% more emergency department visits than people who have insurance.
  • Total per-capita health expenditures are higher among men than women ($10,060 vs. $9,110).
  • Total per-capita health care expenditures are lower among Hispanics ($8,050) and higher among non-Hispanic blacks ($10,470) and among non-Hispanic whites ($9,800).
  • Compared to non-Hispanic whites, per capita hospital inpatient costs are 23% higher among non-Hispanic blacks and 29% lower among Hispanics. Non-Hispanic blacks also have 65% more emergency department visits than the population with diabetes as a whole.
  • Among states, California has the largest population with diabetes and thus the highest costs, at $39.47 billion. Texas ($25.60 billion), Florida ($24.80 billion), and New York ($21.23 billion) round out the top four states in terms of total annual cost.

(2) American Diabetes Association

I can not imagine any caring individual wanting to burden their family with these problems, nor can I see anyone truly wanting to risk this for themselves. Yet, every time we indulge in unhealthy eating practices, we take a huge gamble that at some point this will be our lives and not just the life of the other guy. When you take your little girl down to the Dairy Queen on a hot summer day, it is inconceivable that anyone would want this for their sweet child, yet as a society, our children are being lead down this path every day when we feed them sugary foods that might taste really good but have zero nutritional value to man kind.

Friends reading this, know that if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, there are things you can do to improve your quality of life. Quit eating sugar, and or drinking alcohol. Get on a proven weight loss program, and commit yourself to not losing weight so much as just living a healthy life style. The weight loss will come if you make this commitment. Next, get your ass moving with some kind of exercise. Create a plan for exercise and stick to it. Create a long term goal with as many short term goals as you need to get to the long term one. Be specific in what you are going to do. Do not say I will walk more, or I will try to lose weight. That is too vague to be of any good. Say I will walk briskly 15 minutes a day, or I will walk briskly 2 miles per day 4 days a week. With weight loss, I will lose how ever many pounds you need to lose. Lets say 50 for the long term. But in the short term, break that down to 5 pound incremental short term goals and only concentrate on those until you get to your long term goal. Learn to make your world small in order to reduce stress which leads to binge eating. The less mental clutter in your life, the less stress you will have in order to fully commit yourself to a life style of health and wellness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Type 2 diabetes is a damn serious condition, yet it is not uncommon to encounter people who have it which act as if it is of no true concern to them. At least in the moment that is. It is astounding to see how for some, the prospect of a high carb meal far outweighs their overall concern for the very real harm that increase of blood sugar is doing with in their body. I have personally known diabetics that will monitor their blood sugar and then proceed to consume a carbohydrate rich meal, or go out for a night of drinking. This is ignorance in the least, and stupidity at the worst. Sadly, most of the people I have known who do not take their diabetes seriously, are the most surprised when they begin losing their toes, feet and or vision. This is a real and common issue that I do not always have much sympathy for. Afterall, if you know the risks of continuing an unhealthy diet, yet proceed to do so anyhow, it is your fault when you begin losing body parts and vision. You have to take personal responsibility for your health and wellbeing as no one else is going to do it for you, and that includes your doctor. Your doctor may give you medications, but it is up to you to actually do what is right for yourself.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

I can live without a toe. I could survive just fine with a modern style leg or foot prosthetic. But, I can not imagine living the rest of my life blind, can you?

Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects your eyes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).

In the beginning stages, diabetic retinopathy may not cause you to experience any symptoms or you may only experience mild vision problems.  Eventually, it can lead to your blindness. Diabetic Retinopathy can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication. When you continue to eat a high carb diet as a diabetic, you really need to ask yourself if what you are about to consume is actually worth your vision tomorrow. If a high carb snack is worth blindness to you, then knock yourself out I guess, just do not whine about your condition when it actually has a negative impact on your life. You did it to yourself!

Diabetic Retinopathy is caused over a period of time when too much sugar in your blood leads to the blockage of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, thereby shutting off the blood supply to them. As a result, your eyes attempt to grow new blood vessels. The problem is, these new blood vessels don’t develop properly and can easily leak.

Think about this the next time you are snarfing down an extra large value meal with a milkshake or soda at your local fast food joint.

Can you imagine losing the ability to look into the eyes of your loved ones?

Would you miss this emotional connection with your children or grandchildren?

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Early diabetic retinopathy. In this more common form — called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) — new blood vessels aren’t growing (proliferating).When you have NPDR, the walls of the blood vessels in your retina weaken. Tiny bulges (microaneurysms) protrude from the vessel walls of the smaller vessels, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina. Larger retinal vessels can begin to dilate and become irregular in diameter, as well. NPDR can progress from mild to severe, as more blood vessels become blocked.Nerve fibers in the retina may begin to swell. Sometimes the central part of the retina (macula) begins to swell (macular edema), a condition that requires treatment.
  • Advanced diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can progress to this more severe type, known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this type, damaged blood vessels close off, causing the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina, and can leak into the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye (vitreous).Eventually, scar tissue stimulated by the growth of new blood vessels may cause the retina to detach from the back of your eye. If the new blood vessels interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, pressure may build up in the eyeball. This can damage the nerve that carries images from your eye to your brain (optic nerve), resulting in glaucoma. (1)

Poor control of blood sugar and high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing Diabetic Retinopathy. Anyone who has diabetes can develop this condition and the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing it becomes.

 Complications of Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to serious vision problems:

  • Vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels may bleed into the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye. If the amount of bleeding is small, you might see only a few dark spots (floaters). In more-severe cases, blood can fill the vitreous cavity and completely block your vision.Vitreous hemorrhage by itself usually doesn’t cause permanent vision loss. The blood often clears from the eye within a few weeks or months. Unless your retina is damaged, your vision may return to its previous clarity.
  • Retinal detachment. The abnormal blood vessels associated with diabetic retinopathy stimulate the growth of scar tissue, which can pull the retina away from the back of the eye. This may cause spots floating in your vision, flashes of light or severe vision loss.
  • Glaucoma. New blood vessels may grow in the front part of your eye and interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, causing pressure in the eye to build up (glaucoma). This pressure can damage the nerve that carries images from your eye to your brain (optic nerve).
  • Blindness. Eventually, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or both can lead to complete vision loss. (1)

Diabetes doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a loss of your vision. By making the choice to take an active role in your diabetes management, you can go a long way towards the prevention of complications.  Regular eye exams, good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, and early intervention for vision problems can help prevent severe vision loss. Once you get this terrible complication from diabetes, you are not going to get over it, there is no cure. Surgery often slows or stops the progression of diabetic retinopathy, but that is a best case scenario as it’s not a cure.

Manage your diabetes.

Make healthy eating habits and physical activity part of your lifestyle! Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.

Monitor your blood sugar level.

You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — more-frequent measurements may be required if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar. But do not be a fool and use a good reading as justification to eat or drink those high carb foods you know that you should avoid!

Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test.

The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people, the A1C goal is to be under 7 percent.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed too, but not always.

If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit.

 Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including Diabetic Retinopathy.

Pay attention to vision changes.

Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.

(1) MayoClinic.org

Pregnancy and Diabetes

Sad But True

I will never forget one specific day in nursing school. I was assisting with a woman in labor and the fetal heart rate kept climbing. I went to the Charge Nurse repeatedly to report my findings and she said “Okay.” as she sat quietly and read a magazine. Although I continually prodded her to take action, she did not. After a couple of hours, that baby was stillborn. The nurse was fired and appropriate legal action ensued. I had done the right thing but she had not. She was a nurse with an advanced degree and she did nothing to intervene in this situation. That was a long time ago and even as a student nurse, I knew that the mother and the baby were at risk when I read the chart. The mother was diabetic and as a result of the elevated blood sugar, the baby had grown excessively to 11 pounds. There wasn’t enough room for the baby to move around during labor and the cord had gotten wrapped around his neck which led to suffocation.

Risks

  • Women with uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Managing your blood sugar reduces this risk but when blood sugar is uncontrolled, there is a greater risk of both.
  • Premature birth- Women with diabetes are more likely to go into preterm labor.
  • Birth defects are more common in diabetic mothers. Close regulation of the blood sugar before and during early pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of birth defects, especially those of the brain, spine and heart.
  • Excess fetal growth-Persistently high blood sugar levels allows extra glucose to cross the placenta and that can cause the baby to be much larger than usual. When the baby is too big it makes a vaginal delivery difficult, increasing the likelihood of a cesarean delivery and increases the risk of the baby being injured during birth.
  • Urinary Tract Infections and yeast infections are more common in diabetic mothers. Achieving a stable blood sugar can help you to avoid these conditions and help to protect you from kidney disease.
  • Hypoglycemia can develop in the newborn baby of a diabetic mother because the baby may be producing too much insulin in utero. Good blood sugar management can help prevent this and also help ensure that the baby has healthy calcium and magnesium levels. (1)

Resolution

If you are diabetic, work with your doctor to develop a plan for a healthy pregnancy. If you are not diabetic, take action to avoid becoming diabetic, especially if you are planning on having a baby. Adult-onset diabetes, or Type 2, is considered preventable. Lose excess weight, get active and eat a healthy diet that consists of whole foods. Avoid added sugars, other simple carbs and processed foods that supply low quality nutrition. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Go to our Home Page to get started on the road to being healthy. Being overweight or obese is also linked to gestational diabetes that can occur during pregnancy because your body can’t make enough insulin to accommodate the changes of the pregnancy. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also contribute to the formation of this dangerous disease. While there may be a genetic tendency to develop gestational diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight before and after conception, eating well and exercising regularly can all reduce the risk.

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-diabetes/art-20044621#:~:text=Keeping%20your%20blood%20sugar%20in%20range%20reduces%20your%20risk%20of,Prevent%20complications%20for%20baby.

Artificial Sweeteners Effect on Insulin and Blood Sugar

A couple questions I get asked from time to time is about artificial sweeteners effect on insulin levels and do they have any impact on blood sugar. This topic has been brought up by a few people who believe that artificial sweeteners are just as bad, or possibly worse than refined sugar for diabetics. So let me delve into this…

Artificial sweeteners effect on blood sugar.

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, low-calorie sweeteners or nonnutritive sweeteners do not affect your blood sugar level. In fact, most artificial sweeteners are considered “free foods” — foods containing less than 20 calories and 5 grams or less of carbohydrates — because they don’t count as calories or carbohydrates on a diabetes exchange. If you are diabetic you can use most sugar substitutes  including:

Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)

Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)

Sucralose (Splenda)

Stevia (Pure Via, Truvia)

However, you need to always bear in mind that other ingredients in foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect your blood sugar level. You still need to fully read food labels if you have concerns about your blood sugar. Because of the misperception that foods are healthier when they are sugar-free,  some people end up consuming more than they should and still have weight problems as a result of this. A good many sugar free sweet treats are still void of any real nutritional value and are full of empty calories.

But what about sugar alcohols effect on blood sugar?

Sugar alcohols are a category of sweet carbohydrates. Since sugar alcohols are partially resistant to digestion, they act like dietary fiber. As the name implies, they are like hybrids of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules, yet they do not contain any ethanol. Sugar alcohols are safe for people who misuse alcohol.

Several sugar alcohols are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. However, most are processed from other sugars, such as from glucose in cornstarch. Because sugar alcohols have a similar chemical structure as sugar, they activate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue. Unlike artificial and low-calorie sweeteners, sugar alcohols do contain calories, just fewer than plain sugar

Most sugar alcohols have a negligible effect on blood sugar levels. In the case of erythritol and mannitol, the glycemic index is zero. The only exception is maltitol, which has a glycemic index of 36. However, this is still very low compared to sugar and refined carbohydrates. For people with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or diabetes, sugar alcohols, with the exception of maltitol can be considered excellent alternatives to sugar.

Sugar alcohols are not artificial sweeteners. They are popular as low-calorie sweeteners, yet the main problem with sugar alcohols is that some of them can cause digestive problems, especially when consumed in large amounts. Your body cannot digest most of them, so they travel to the large intestine where they are metabolized by your gut bacteria. If you eat a lot of sugar alcohols in a short period of time, you may experience gas, bloating and diarrhea.

I personally use a lot of Swerve products which is a brand name for Erythritol which is generally considered one of the healthiest sugar alcohols. Erythritol is calorie-free, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels and is far less likely to cause you any digestive upset than the other sugar alcohols.

Artificial sweeteners effects on insulin.

We know that blood sugar levels increase when we eat foods containing carbohydrates. When digested, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels rise, our body releases insulin.

But, what about when we consume artificial sweeteners?

There is a response known as cephalic phase insulin release which is triggered by the sight, smell, and taste of food, as well as chewing and swallowing. This response causes small amounts of insulin to be released before any sugar enters our bloodstream when we begin eating.

Depending on the type of sweetener, the effect of artificial sweeteners on insulin levels appears to be variable:

Sucralose

Scientists believe sucralose causes insulin increase by triggering sweet taste receptors in the mouth which can cause cephalic phase insulin release. In one study, 17 people were given either sucralose or water and then administered a glucose tolerance test. Those given sucralose had 20% higher blood insulin levels. (1)

Aspartame

Aspartame is perhaps the most well-known and most controversial artificial sweetener. Studies have not linked aspartame with raised insulin levels. (1)

Saccharin

Scientists have investigated whether stimulating the sweet receptors in the mouth with saccharin leads to an increase in insulin levels and have had mixed results.One study found that mouth washing with a saccharin solution (without swallowing) caused insulin levels to rise. Other studies have found no effects. (1)

Acesulfame Potassium

Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K) can increase insulin levels in rats. One study in rats looked at how injecting large amounts of acesulfame-K affected insulin levels. They found a massive increase of 114-210%. However, the effect of acesulfame-K on insulin levels in humans is unknown.(1)

The bottom line on artificial sweeteners:

 Sweeteners are among the food additives that create a considerable amount of debate. Artificial sweeteners are considered to be potential high-consumption food additives because of their use in products consumed in large amounts, such as soft drinks, and ‘‘tabletop’’ sweeteners. Although the scientific evidence indicates that the sweeteners permitted for food use are safe, some individuals and organizations remain skeptical about long-term health risks due to their consumption . Studies of artificial sweeteners have had mixed results, with some indicating that people using them eat fewer calories and lose weight or maintain a stable weight. However, in a few studies, artificial sweeteners were associated with weight gain, which might increase the risk of developing insulin resistance which is a condition where the cells in your body do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

Artificial sweeteners have been declared safe by regulatory bodies in the US and Europe. Although they might not be exactly healthy, they are still a far better choice than refined sugar. If you consume them as a part of your diet, there is no good reason for you to refrain from their use if in moderation.

(1) Healthline.com