The Epidemic of
Type Two Diabetes
How to Get Rid of the Spare Tire
Currently, we have an epidemic of Type II Diabetes in the United States which affects 6 per cent of the population (16 million people) and is projected to grow to 10 per cent within a few years. This is a problem which affects adults as well as school age kids. With the kids, the problem is so bad that the State of Connecticut recently outlawed junk food and soda pop vending machines from local schools. Many other states are considering similar legislation. We will examine the cause of our epidemic of Type II diabetes and what choices we can make to avoid this disease.
Lets assume you have just eaten a nice piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. This meal contains a huge load of refined sugar which is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, raising your blood sugar to a high level. The Pancreas responds by secreting Insulin into the bloodstream, which is the major hormone involved in moving sugar out of the blood and into the cells. Insulin is a messenger which circulates to all the cells of the body giving them the message to open trillions of tiny doors in the cells, saying "let the sugar in, please". Another message tells the cells of the body to convert the newly arrived sugar into fat, hence the "spare tire" of belly fat.
If you are eating refined sugar products in junk food throughout the day, then you are probably running high Insulin levels all day long. A funny thing about hormone messages is that if the message is sent too often, the receptors in the cells becomes unresponsive. This is called "Insulin Resistance" in which the Insulin Message is simply ignored by all cells of the body. The constant high insulin level does a few more things that you should know about. It causes the liver to manufacture more triglycerides and cholesterol and may trigger high blood pressure. Secondly, another switch is turned on that causes Chronic Inflammation throughout the body. Thirdly, Insulin is a storage hormone, so it tells the machinery of the cell to store the excess glucose as body fat, thus creating the "spare tire" effect in the belly. Losing this extra body fat is a matter of controlling insulin levels with a low glycemic (sugar) diet, not a low fat diet.
Our current war on dietary fat in America was led by dietitions and government bureaucrats who have no understanding of the hormonal impact of our food choices. This type of is incorrect thinking is based on politics rather than science. The average percentage fat in our diet is lower than it was 50 years ago, yet we have more obesity now than ever before. Experts are now realizing that the enemy is not dietary fat, the real enemy is excess insulin provoked by a high carbohydrate diet.
Risk factors for type II Diabetes include high sugar diet, inactivity, obesity, and family history of diabetes. The Glucose-Insulin Tolerance Test can provide predictive testing years in advance of actual full blown diabetes disease. If your doctor tells you that your fasting blood sugar is above 125, then by definition, you have Adult Onset Diabetes (also known as Type II) Diabetes. If your fasting blood sugar level is above 100, then you may be Pre-Diabetic.
Conventional medical treatments are designed to raise the already high insulin levels in order to lower blood sugar. As you might have guessed by now, this can actually worsen rather than remedy the problem.
How does one get rid of the spare tire, improve Insulin Resistance and prevent Diabetes with all of its horrendous complications of renal disease, heart attack, stroke, visual impairment, and peripheral neuropathy?
Number one, keep blood insulin levels low by eliminating refined sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Examples are the Zone Diet (Dr. Barry Sears) and the South Beach Diet (Dr. Agatson) which emphasize vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. See my web site for the reading list.
Both diets follow a Glycemic Index food chart which tells you how much blood sugar the food item produces. Try to avoid the high Glycemic foods such as candy bars, soda pop, junk food, cookies, cakes, chips, and ice cream. We love to eat these foods and we sometimes have "sugar cravings". Dont worry; it only takes about a week of abstaining from sugar for the cravings to go away. Be careful with refined Carbs such as pasta, and white bread. These are also "High Glycemic" because rapid absorption raises the blood sugar same as eating pure sugar.
Number two, reduce your weight with an exercise program. Get up and go out and become more active. This will burn off the belly fat and improve insulin resistance and this will also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. If you havent been exercising lately, first check with your doctor for a treadmill test to see how much exercise you can tolerate.
Number three, there are some nutritional supplements which can help. For example, DHEA is a nutritional supplement at the health food store which was studied by Dr. Villareal at Washington University in St. Louis.
He published his findings in the prestigious medical journal, JAMA on Nov 10, 2004. In the study, he gave 50 milligrams of DHEA to 56 elderly men and women and used MRI scans to measure the "spare tire" belly fat.
After the DHEA treatment, he found a 7 to 10 percent reduction in belly fat and significant improvement in Insulin Sensitivity.
In women, DHEA can cause unwanted facial hair growth, so it is best to work with a knowledgeable physician who can test your DHEA level and recommend the proper dosage. There is an inexpensive test for DHEA which can be done at home by filling a small plastic tube with saliva and mailing it into the lab. It is hard to say how much longer DHEA will be available over the counter, since there is pending legislation in Congress which would make DHEA a controlled substance.
Number Four, 1 to 2 teaspoons per day of pharmaceutical grade Omega-three fish oil is recommended by Dr. Barry Sears who claims that it improves insulin sensitivity.
Number Five, an important mineral called Chromium which is included in most multivitamin preparations improves insulin sensitivity. Chromium picolinate is very safe and not to be confused with the toxic tetravalent chromium 6 which leaked into the groundwater near Hinkley, California in 1996 from the Electric Company's Power Station. This was highlighted in the movie "Erin Brockovich", starring Julia Roberts.
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