Before we proceed on the topic of Type 2 diabetes, please read my page on Insulin Resistance HERE. These concepts are very important prior to a discussion of Type 2.
So, we have all heard it before “Type 2 diabetes is a chronic, progressive, irreversible disease.” I’m here to tell you that does NOT have to be true. The problem is, Type 2 is predominantly a lifestyle disease that needs lifestyle management. If you manage your Type 2 with medication only, that statement is true. Your diabetes will typically progress, and get worse and worse by the year. Your needs for medication will likely increase. However, with lifestyle management, Type 2 is ABSOLUTELY reversible for many people. (Is Type 2 Diabetes Reversible? HERE). The key is treating the root causes of the disease, both high blood sugars and insulin resistance. Right now, medication is aimed mostly at attacking only the high blood sugars. This does little to reverse the underlying insulin resistance.
What is the most logical way to decrease insulin levels in the body, thereby reversing insulin resistance? By restricting foods that cause the need for insulin to begin with. Yes, there are other ways that insulin is raised. Insulin resistance can be tied to factors such as lack of sleep and stress, or other medical conditions. While correcting these things are important, the greatest factor requiring excess insulin is consumption of processed and refined carbohydrates. How much carbohydrate do we really need?
You have probably been told that they body requires 130g of carbohydrates daily for proper brain function. This is not true. (Interesting article HERE) In fact, would you be surprised to know that there is NO essential level of carbohydrates in the diet? Yes, the body needs some glucose, but it DOES NOT need carbohydrates to supply that glucose, particularly sugary, starchy, processed, refined carbohydrates. The body is perfectly capable of producing all of the glucose it needs from non-starchy vegetables and protein. The body can also use fat as an alternative fuel source.
“There are no essential carbohydrates. There are essential fats and essential proteins, but if you never had any carbohydrates again, you would survive.” – Dr. Mark Hyman. Does this mean that I advocate NO carbohydrates? Not at all! No carbohydrates means no vegetables. I certainly don’t endorse that. However, the amount and quality of the carbohydrates is extremely important.
If you only think about watching the NUMBER of carbs you eat, you are missing half the point. If you are going to be reducing a source of potential nutrients, then focusing on the QUALITY of carbs is important. Say for instance, you chose to eat 50g of carbs per day, but you chose to “spend” them on bread and pasta. What are you missing? A HUGE source of nutrients you could have received from better quality carbohydrates. Choose the most nutrient dense carbs you can find. Quality carbs are usually those found in nature, those which derive much of their carb content from fiber and those which have very little effect on blood sugar. For me, good quality carbs are predominantly non-starchy vegetables, but also nuts and nut butters (in moderation), certain types of full fat dairy and some low sugar fruit (if you can tolerate it). For those needing to improve blood sugar control, focusing on carb quality is extremely important, as poor quality carbs typically raise blood sugar significantly. So focus on both QUANTITY and QUALITY for optimal health. That still doesn’t answer the question, “how much?”
That question is different for every person. I have seen a new thinking come about and it is one that I completely agree with, and that is “eat to your blood glucose monitor.” In other words, what I commonly recommend is to test before and at 1 and 2 hours after each meal. If you see blood sugars out of target range, I suggest examining the meal just consumed, identify the carbohydrate portion of the meal, and cut the portion down, or cut it out. If the food you are eating takes your blood sugar out of range, continuing to consume that food will require more medication and will progress your diabetes. In my opinion, NO food is worth medication. Medication comes with side effects. And over time, medications become ineffective, requiring increasing doses or additional medications. I suggest that when you see BG numbers within target range after a meal, create a list of “safe” foods and design your menu around these foods.
What does monitoring the amount and quality of carbohydrates accomplish for Type 2 diabetics? Many are able to reduce or eliminate medications. As noted above, this can actually help reverse the disease process, rather than progress it. Teaching diabetics to focus on a diet low in quality carbohydrates, with moderate proteins and higher healthy fats, is the key to lifestyle management of diabetes.
Please enjoy this presentation by Dr. Sarah Hallberg, Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician, Board Certified in Obesity, Board Certified in Lipidology, Founder and Medical Director of the Indiana University Medical Weight Loss Program. Dr. Hallberg also has a master’s degree in exercise physiology.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Begins With Ignoring the Guidelines: Video HERE
Here is her follow up interview: Video HERE
Let me say that personally, I consume no more than 50g of carbs per day. Often, I aim for 30g per day, reserving any more than that for a special occasion. I have done this for nearly eight years. (So if the 130g rule was true, I’d be brain dead by now…lol!) In addition, I focus on the quality of the carbohydrates I consume, obtaining these mostly from non-starchy vegetables, nuts, dairy and small amounts of low sugar fruits. This allowed me to completely reverse my diabetes, going from an A1c of 6.3% to 5.0% without taking ANY medications. In addition, it caused a weight loss of 80 lbs. As a side benefit, it also reversed my high blood pressure, completely normalized by cholesterol levels, rid me of a 20+ year history of reflux and significantly improved my mood and sleep habits. (Read my story HERE and in my free e-booklets HERE.)
What do I consider target blood sugar ranges? “Diabetics are entitled to the same normal blood sugars as non-diabetics,” Dr. Richard K. Bernstein. My personal target blood sugars are 70’s-80’s fasting and <110 post meal. I prefer that my blood sugar not be over 110, however, this is because I am only 49 and have decades to try to keep diabetes at bay. (Diabetes runs strongly in my family. Therefore, I prefer to be conservative.)
I think an occasional increase of up to 120 for a special occasion, is ok for most people, as long as it is infrequent, and brief. Studies show a significant increase in heart, kidney, and neurological disease risk, as well as mortality when A1c climbs from 5% (average blood sugar of 97) to 6% (average blood sugar of 125, see HERE). A common understanding in the medical field is that blood sugars over 140 (A1c of 6.5%) are causing damage to vital organs. Why then, would the ADA consider an A1c of 7% (average blood sugar of 154) controlled? A blood sugar that is causing damage to major organs is controlled? And why are many being told that blood sugars up to 180 after a meal are “normal.” There is a HUGE difference between what is “normal” and what is “safe.” Yes, many people with diabetes have blood sugars up to 180 after meals. Just because it is happening to many people with diabetes, that means it is considered normal?? People with diabetes dying of heart disease is also “normal.” It is happening every day. This mentality has to stop. This is why there is no advancement being made in halting Type 2 diabetes. (Read my article “Diabetic Normal Blood Sugar is NOT Mormal Blood Sugar HERE.) Those with Tyle 2 should be encouraged to modify their lifestyle to reduce or eliminate these life threatening risks, as they are COMPLETELY avoidable.
This is how I reversed my journey to Type 2 diabetes.
My free e-booklet
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For this free e-booklet on Reversing Type 2 diabetes
Courtesy of Sweetlife Diabetes Centers
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Low Carb for Diabetics HERE
LCHF – Why? HERE
LCHF – How? HERE
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