As the food industry started creating more processed foods we saw the rate of Type 2 diabetes starts to rise. Then, Americans were told not to eat fat and almost overnight there were thousands of processed foods on the shelves labelled “Lite, Low Fat, Reduced Fat, and Fat-Free.”
Why is this a problem? Because when the fat was removed, it was replaced by cheap carbohydrates, lots of carbohydrates. Currently, our country feeds itself primarily using carbohydrates.
This is a big problem, and only getting bigger. As stated earlier, the overconsumption of carbohydrates is primarily responsible for pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. So, these conditions are really dietary conditions and primarily due to the foods we eat on a consistent basis, year after year.
A vast majority of our foods are either carbohydrate-based like bread, pasta, candy and soda or they have sugars and other forms of carbohydrates added to them. Don’t believe me? Look at the ingredients list of snack foods, prepared foods, freezer meals, or other processed foods which have these healthy-looking labels.
Did you know there are over 50 different names for sugar added to processed foods? These have names like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, maltose, malt, etc. The point is this: sugars and other carbohydrates are the worst possible addition to pretty much any food and it’s killing us.
Currently, 80% of our foods have a form of sugar added to them. There are no essential carbohydrates or sugars humans need in order to survive however our bodies do require essential fatty acids from fats and amino acids from protein.
Our remarkable human metabolism allows us to eat essentially anything and convert it to glucose for our brain to use. Therefore, if we don’t even need to eat carbohydrates to survive but we end up eating enormous amounts of carbohydrates nearly every day, you can expect it’s going to be an issue, and it is. Long term consumption of high amounts of carbohydrates is toxic to your body.
Think of gaining weight due to a high intake of sugar and other carbohydrates like this: let’s say you have a sports car with a full tank of premium gasoline and even though you don’t need to, you pick up pieces of heavy firewood and load them into the back of the sports car as you drive around all day long.
You think “I might need this source of energy later so I’ll store it up.” But since you already have a full tank of higher efficiency premium fuel and the firewood isn’t even needed, all it ends up doing is adding a lot of extra weight to your sports car.
This ends up decreasing its fuel efficiency and prematurely wears out the various important parts like engine, suspension, tires, and ultimately doesn’t end up being an advantage or useful at all. In fact, it ends up being a significant disadvantage since your once agile, sleek sports car is now like a slow, tired, dump truck packed full of heavy, inefficient fuel it doesn’t even need.
This is what happens to our bodies when we consume high amounts of carbohydrates over the years and end up storing them as extra weight.
Unfortunately, the added weight to our “vehicle” also wears out our parts; except our parts are our hearts, lungs, hips, knees, backs, and everything else. Also, our parts can’t be simply replaced at the local repair shop when they prematurely wear out due to the extra wear and tear. When they’re damaged, they’re damaged.
Best to empty out the extra firewood and get your vehicle back to being sporty and agile to prevent a significant number of visits to your local “body shop” which is well-equipped with expensive hospital beds, operating rooms and dialysis machines!
However, it is important to note a person can be pre-diabetic or a Type 2 diabetic and not be considered overweight or obese at all. In fact, in my opinion, this is likely the single reason many people are not aware they are pre-diabetic or Type 2 diabetic since most people believe they have to be overweight or obese to have these conditions.
This is simply not true as I have many patients who are not overweight or obese and have pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. For this reason, I recommend an annual checkup with your primary care provider for appropriate preventative care and annual blood work.
Many people don’t understand the real issue when they are told they have insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes. What you need to understand is the body is metabolically able to deal with the high amounts of consumed carbohydrates for quite a while but eventually it becomes overwhelmed and it just can’t keep up. The result is pre-diabetes and eventually, Type 2 diabetes.
Here is a very basic analogy for Type 2 diabetes: imagine a house in the middle of the freezing arctic with subzero temperatures outside. To heat this house there is a furnace that has a set point of 70 degrees.
Currently, the home is warm and comfortable with everything running smoothly. Now imagine that some freezing arctic air starts leaking into the home. The air temperature drops below 70 degrees and the furnace kicks on to warm the house back up to its set point.
Now, let’s imagine the leak gets worse and blows in even more cold air into the house. Now the furnace has to work even harder to keep the temperature at the 70 degrees set point. And, for a while, the furnace is able to keep up and maintain the temperature in the home pretty close to the setpoint as long as it runs constantly. However, over the years as more and more cold air comes into the house, the furnace isn’t able to keep up and the cold air fills the home since the furnace isn’t able to pump out enough warm air.
In our bodies, the pancreas is responsible for maintaining our blood sugar set point by secreting insulin to deal with elevated blood sugar. However, when a person constantly consumes high levels of carbohydrates (cold air), the pancreas (furnace) has to work overtime to try and keep up with the onslaught of extra sugar in the blood and to keep the circulating blood sugar at the natural set point.
Similar to the furnace, the pancreas simply can’t keep this up forever and the blood sugars start to consistently exceed the natural set point. This is essentially pre-diabetes.
At this point, if the carbohydrate intake is reduced to correct the situation, then the pancreas is able to manage this and things might be able to return back to normal.
However, if consumption of high amounts of carbohydrates continues long term, then various medications and eventually insulins will be needed to reduce the blood sugar and provide enough insulin to deal with the high levels of carbohydrates, this is Type 2 diabetes.
So, to avoid burning out the pancreas like an overworked furnace, keeping the carbohydrate intake low and allowing your body to maintain its natural set point is the key to overall health and can prevent you from developing pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Currently, about 48% of adult Americans are either insulin resistant or have Type 2 diabetes. This is 1 in 2 of us and it’s insane. So, if we know eating high amounts of carbohydrates is toxic then why do the current dietary guidelines still recommend around half of our daily nutrition be from carbohydrates? It seems crazy because it is.
Also, most patients I see in the clinic believe these conditions are permanent and progressive once they have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and Type 2 diabetic.
This is completely false. Since these conditions are primarily due to eating moderate to high amounts of carbohydrates, then significantly limiting or completely avoiding carbohydrates should reverse the process, which it does. Again, mild blown.
Here’s another analogy: let’s say you encounter a person in a bar who is drunk. What caused them to become drunk? Did the glass bottle do it? The bar? Their metabolism? Their family history? Their bone structure? Their work? Nope, none of these caused them to become drunk.
They became drunk because they consumed a moderate to the high amount of alcohol. That’s it. So what simple advice would you give someone who doesn’t want to get drunk? Your common sense advice would be: don’t consume moderate to high amounts of alcohol.
Following this logic then you should also tell a person who doesn’t want to become pre-diabetic or Type 2 diabetic to avoid moderate to high levels of carbohydrates, right? Right. And it works. It’s the exact same cause and effect scenario. If you consume the cause, then you’ll develop the effect.
Here’s another analogy: the toxic level of carbohydrates in your body when you are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic or Type 2 diabetes is similar to being exposed to something like poison ivy. By exposing your body to poison ivy (carbs), your body reacts with a rash (chronic, high blood sugars) which requires you to use medication (metformin, insulins, etc.) to treat the rash as long as the rash is present.
So, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply remove the poison ivy (carbs) from our body so the rash (chronic, high blood sugars) goes away and we no longer need daily rash medications (metformin, insulins, etc.)? It seems pretty simple to me because it really is.
If you reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat then these conditions will likely significantly improve, completely resolve, or at the very least, not progress and become worse. When a Type 2 diabetic starts a low/no carb nutrition plan, they are removing the carbohydrates which then reduces the amount of medication they need to use since their blood sugars are consistently lower.
Type 2 diabetes medications function to reduce the level of blood sugar however they don’t prevent the sugar in the blood from being elevated in the first place.
This is the main issue. So with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes medications, they don’t actually treat the cause which is moderate to high carbohydrate consumption, they treat the effects which are chronically high levels of blood sugar.
This is why there is nothing to “cure” with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The way to get rid of these conditions is to simply stop consuming the cause which is giving you the effect. If you want to avoid becoming drunk, then avoid moderate to high amounts of alcohol. If you want to avoid becoming pre-diabetic or Type 2 diabetic, then stop eating moderate to high amounts of carbohydrates.
So when I indicate you can “reverse” pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, this means you can reverse the situation which is causing you to have pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, thereby lowering your blood sugars and possibly not having these conditions in the future.
Finally, by saying pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is reversible or can be improved, I’m not saying the damage from these conditions can be simply returned to normal or made perfectly healthy again.
The damage is usually permanent however doing anything you can to slow or reverse the progression of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is absolutely worth your time and effort. Also, many Type 2 diabetics have been on moderate to high levels of insulin medications for many years or even decades.
When a person has been on insulin for this long it is not something that can be modified or reversed as easily, but it can be done. In this situation, however, reducing or eliminating the consumption of carbohydrates under the care of their primary care provider or diabetes specialist is completely worth looking into and may prevent further damage to their body.
Please note: If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and take medications for this, check with your healthcare provider before adopting a low/no carb nutrition plan as all of your current medications are specifically titrated to your usual carb intake.
Suddenly reducing your carb intake can throw your blood sugars and insulin response into chaos. However, being aware of the carbs you eat and slowly limiting these foods will reduce your blood sugars and your values will trend lower, which is a good thing.
Chronic, elevated blood sugar damages all of the smallest blood vessels in the human body. Can you guess where the smallest vessels are found and which diseases they can cause when they’re damaged? These tiny vessels are found in the heart (heart attack), brain (stroke), kidneys (high blood pressure, dialysis), genitals (erectile dysfunction), eyes (blindness), nerves (nerve damage and burning), hands and feet (cold, poor blood flow). Do you happen to know any friends or family members who might have one or several of these conditions? I thought so…
Damaging Effects of Insulin Resistance, Pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes:
Heart Damage – A diabetic is 2-3 times more likely to die of heart attack or stroke. These are the leading causes of death in diabetics. Chronic, elevated blood sugars are toxic to the blood vessels, which supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart and also increase your blood pressure. Both of which are 1-2 punches to your heart and brain. The phrase “what could possibly go wrong?” applies here.
High Cholesterol – Eating a lot of carbohydrates also increases the triglycerides in your blood which increases your total cholesterol and greatly increases your chance for artery-clogging plaque formation. Do you know the fastest way to improve your cholesterol numbers? Reduce
your carbohydrate consumption and your triglycerides will probably drop like a rock! So, isn’t it interesting that decreasing consumption of sugars and carbohydrates decreases your cholesterol and decreases your risk of heart disease? Feel free to go online and search for more information on this as it’s eye-opening.
Kidney Damage – Your kidneys filter blood. Diabetic nephropathy is the result of damage to your kidneys from chronically elevated blood sugars. Think of it like this: your kidneys act like noodle strainers to filter out the wastewater from our blood. When a person has diabetic kidney damage, it’s as if they have small carbohydrate noodles clogging the drain holes. As more damage occurs and more holes become clogged, the wastewater can’t filter through the kidney and their blood becomes increasingly toxic. If you don’t want a “No Expense Paid Trip to Dialysis Three Times a Week,” then lower your carbohydrate intake and protect your kidneys.
Eye Damage – Diabetic eye damage causes loss of vision and puts you at higher risk of cataracts and glaucoma. There are various treatments that can help, however, once you lose your vision, you can NEVER get it back. One of the saddest situations to deal with in healthcare is treating someone who is losing or has lost their vision due to completely preventable causes. Their level of regret is palpable and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Diabetic Neuropathy – Your entire body depends on a wiring system that uses nerves to take electrical signals to and from every part of your body in order to function correctly. Chronic, elevated blood sugar causes these nerves, especially the smallest ones, to become damaged (seeing a pattern yet?). People with diabetic neuropathy literally suffer day and night with burning, stinging and the feeling like their hands and feet are on fire. This is an incredibly common condition in the United States and requires costly medical care. The nerve damage also causes a lack of sensation or numbness which causes sufferers to lose their ability to sense damage or injury to their skin. This causes people with poorly controlled diabetes to require surgical amputation of toes, feet, legs and hands due to chronic diabetic ulcers. It’s essentially “whittling” away from body parts every several weeks to months as the toxic sugar levels cause tissue death. I was involved in these procedures for many years as an orthopaedic surgery physician assistant. I’ll never forget the awkward irony when a patient had literally snuck a doughnut into the surgical suite to eat while we were amputating his toes. He was completely unable to mentally link the habit of eating sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods and losing his limbs. Since he had completely lost feeling in his feet he figured he could stay awake during the amputation and eat his doughnut. As I think about it now, maybe he had actually made the connection but felt it was too late. Either way, please avoid the scalpel by reducing your carbohydrate intake, lowering your blood sugars and preventing this horrific, stomach-churning scene.
Stomach Gastroparesis – This occurs when the nerves controlling your stomach are damaged and your stomach is not able to move food through which causes delayed emptying. This condition can result in heartburn, reflux, bloating, stomach spasms and nausea.
In summary, if you do nothing else for yourself regarding improving your nutrition, do this: Significantly decrease the amount of carbohydrates and processed foods you eat. Strive to eat fresh, whole foods in their original form and avoid “foods” packaged in cardboard, plastic, or metal. Eat fresh and avoid packaged “food” as your life depends on it because it does.
I have also reviewed a lot of dietary supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.
Links between obesity and type 2 diabetes
It is well-known that people with excess weight around their stomachs (abdomen) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are overweight or obese.
According to studies, abdominal fat causes fat cells to release ‘pro-inflammatory’ chemicals, which may impair the body’s ability to respond to insulin by disrupting the function of insulin-responsive cells.
This is referred to as insulin resistance – a trait characteristic of type 2 diabetes.
Central obesity, where the waistline is large, is a particularly high-risk type of obesity due to excess abdominal fat.
There is a strong link between obesity and type 2 diabetes – without a healthy diet and adequate exercise, obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes in a relatively short amount of time.
The good news is that you can improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce your risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, by losing even a small amount of weight.
However, it becomes harder for you to lose weight as you get older. As you age, you lose muscle. This has a greater impact than simply losing muscle definition and tone. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, having less muscle makes it harder to burn the calories you consume.
So, you should make time for regular exercise to strengthen your muscles. Apart from that, you might also consider taking some supplements to support weight loss.
Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.
While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read the Resurge reviews.
In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications, pregnant or have any health concerns.