Yes, you CAN reverse Type 2 Diabetes!
Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions. There are 3.9 million people living with diabetes – 90% of those of being affected by Type 2 diabetes and one in THREE UK adults has prediabetes, the condition that precedes diabetes.
World Diabetes Day – November 14
Every year, on 14th November we mark ‘World Diabetes Day‘, a global event which increases awareness about diabetes. It comprises hundreds of campaigns, activities, screenings, lectures, meetings and more – and is proving internationally effective in spreading the message about diabetes and raising awareness for the condition.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2018 is The Family and Diabetes.
The aim is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, as well as promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.
As an Ambassador for the Public Health Collaboration, I’m committed to supporting the effort to educate on the healthy diet and lifestyle changes which will not only support those diagnosed with pre/diabetes (and yes, even reverse the condition) but also the whole family too.
Diabetes and blood sugar
Our standard Western diet of refined grains and processed foods overwhelms us with carbohydrates. Refined grains and processed carbohydrates need little digestion, so are very quickly converted to sugar and absorbed into our bloodstream.
The blood sugar ‘spike’ that follows signals ‘danger’ to our body, which quickly produces the hormone insulin to pull the sugar out of the bloodstream and push it into our cells, so that it can be used for energy.
This is no problem when everything is working well… but for those with Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or significant abdominal obesity, this is not good news.
Most people think of Type 2 diabetes as a blood sugar regulation problem, however the main cause – and the driver – for this condition is insulin resistance.
Consuming too many refined carbohydrates raises our insulin levels for lengthy periods and our cells start to become resistant to the effects of insulin, opening the door to diabetes. The more resistant the cells become, the more insulin we produce in an effort get the sugar out of the blood. The problem is that too much insulin is toxic to the body.
- causes water and salt retention, which causes raised blood pressure
- increases risk of atherosclerosis (“furring of arteries”) and cardiovascular disease
- increases VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), a damaging type of blood fat
- can drive the growth of certain cancer cells
- can predispose women to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) by causing the ovaries to produce more testosterone
- significantly increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes
The only way to effectively reverse Type 2 diabetes (or even pre-diabetes) is to deal with the underlying insulin resistance. Trying to control blood sugar levels (with medication) without addressing the insulin levels will only treat the symptoms not the root cause.
“It is similar to using a bucket to remove water from an overflowing sink rather than actually turning off the tap!”
No one dietary approach will suit everyone. Some of us have a much better tolerance to carbohydrates, while many will not and will experience rapid blood sugar spikes.
However, it is becoming clear that for many of us, cutting back on and replacing certain carbohydrates with natural, healthy fats will help keep our insulin levels (therefore our blood sugar) stable.
But while many approaches (low carbohydrate/ketogenic) consider pre/diabetes to be primarily a diet-related disorder, others (like Dr Rangan Chatterjee) see it just as much a lifestyle-related disorder. I’m firmly in the Chatterjee camp.Most people think of Type 2 #diabetes as a blood sugar regulation problem, however the main cause - and the driver - for this condition is #insulinresistance. Click To Tweet
For those with a high risk or diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, or those with significant abdominal obesity, there are two immediate priorities:
PRIORITY #1: STOP adding fuel to the fire by limiting or avoiding foods that increase insulin production
– AVOID PROCESSED & PACKAGED FOODS (high calorie but low/no nutrients)
– AVOID/CUT BACK ON REFINED GRAINS & FLOUR PRODUCTS
- low-fat junk food (highly processed, nutritionally worthless)
- refined carbohydrates (white/beige foods)
- polyunsaturated vegetable oils
– AVOID POLYUNSATURATED VEGETABLE (like sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed oils)
– COOK WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOODS FROM SCRATCH
PRIORITY #2: START making lifestyle changes so regain insulin sensitivity.
– MOVE YOUR BODY EVERY DAY
– GET MUCH BETTER SLEEP
– MANAGE YOUR STRESS
– BUILD YOUR SOCIAL CONNECTION
– CREATE A SUPPORTIVE HOME ENVIRONMENT
And here are Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s 11 ways start reversing the effects immediately:
(with my emphasis)
- Avoid ALL refined carbohydrates. That means no pasta, rice or bread (even wholegrain bread will spike your insulin)
- Avoid ALL added sugar. If your body is already in a state where you cannot process carbohydrates and sugars properly, you are going to have to take steps to fully eliminate all sugars, at least in the short term.
- Avoid ALL sweet drinks. It is best to stick to water, tea, coffee.
- Do not be scared of good quality, healthy, natural fat – avocados, olives, almonds etc. Don’t worry about this causing you to put on weight. A study published in 2003 showed that people who supplemented their diet with almonds lost more weight than those who supplemented with so-called “healthy, complex carbs”.
- Do not waste your energy counting calories. Concentrate on the quality of the food that you are eating and the calorie control will take care of itself.
- FEED YOUR GUT BUGS, not just yourself. There are trillions of bugs that live in your gut – their health is critical in determining your health. Many studies show links between the state of your gut bugs (your microbiota) and Type 2 diabetes. Start improving the health of your gut immediately by eating five servings* of different coloured vegetables each day. The non-digestible fibre in vegetables is the preferred food for your gut bacteria and when your gut bugs are happy, you will be happy. The wider the variety of colours, the more phytonutrients you will be getting.
- Do my 5-minute kitchen workout once a day. This could be before breakfast, lunch or dinner – whatever works for you.
- If you like to snack, keep some high-fat, healthy snacks with you, such as olives, nuts or hummus. When you snack on refined carbohydrates such as biscuits, you go on a blood sugar rollercoaster that results in you feeling hungry shortly after. Fats, on the other hand, will keep you fuller for longer.
- Include high-quality protein and fat with EVERY single me This helps to stabilise your blood sugars and promotes satiety and fullness, making it less likely that you will want to reach for dessert after your meal.
- Eat your meals sitting down at a table. Eating on the sofa while watching TV encourages a mindless form of eating – this can lead you to eat higher quantities than you otherwise would. If you sit at a table and concentrate on what you’re eating, you are more likely to enjoy your food, feel satisfied at the end of your meal and eat less.
- Consider a form of regular fasting such as intermittent fasting or time-restricted feeding (TRF). TRF means eating your calories during a specific window of the day and choosing not to eat food for the rest. It’s a great way to reduce insulin levels in your body and help undo the effects of chronically elevated levels.
*If you’re not used to consuming lots of fibre-rich foods, I’d strongly suggest starting slowly with increasing fibre; give yourself a chance we to build up your gut microbes’ capacity to deal with the fibre to avoid abdominal discomfort.
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