Diabetes rates are skyrocketing. This year, nearly 1 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes in the USA alone. Complications from diabetes lead to heart attacks, strokes, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and memory loss. The #1 cause of death for people with diabetes is from cardiovascular disease.
There are two types of diabetes, which are totally different issues. Type 1 diabetes occurs most commonly in children when an auto-immune disease destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires insulin therapy, but fortunately, type 1 diabetes represents only about 5% of all diabetes cases.
The good news is that 95% of diabetes is type 2 and is highly related to lifestyle choices. We used to call type 2 diabetes “adult onset diabetes”, but now we see it in children, young adults, and adults. Almost 20% of people over age 65 have type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle choices are so important in preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes that I hesitate to call it a disease at all. A better description is that if someone has type 2 diabetes, then they have a lifestyle that doesn’t match their genetic needs; change their lifestyle and their diabetes problem usually goes away.
Since the early 1990s, I have offered programs that have helped thousands of patients bring their blood sugar levels back to normal. Even patients who started my program while on insulin with advanced diabetic complications have become medication-free and achieved normal blood sugar control.
So What Changes Have Helped Reverse and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?
There is no single choice and no magic bullet to correct this problem. But the combination of three activities is remarkably helpful:
- Add activity daily
- Avoid refined carbs and sugars
- Eat more smart foods
But let’s hit the highlights of what you need to do to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes starting today.
Daily activity is essential. You may wonder, why I start with activity instead of food. Let’s start with what causes this problem in the first place.
When you eat food, the food energy is absorbed into the blood stream primarily as sugar (glucose). Ideally, this energy source becomes stored in your muscle cells as glycogen, packed away as energy for your next work out. The problem is that if you keep eating, but you don’t get up a sweat, the muscle cells become overloaded with glycogen, and basically there is no more room at the inn to store any more. Insulin is a hormone that normally pushes this glucose into muscle cells. When muscle cells shut their doors and don’t respond, your tissues become resistant to insulin’s message to store energy. Your fat cells can store some of the excess blood sugar, but only a limited amount at each meal. If you continue to eat without burning away glycogen in your muscles, the energy next travels to your liver and is stored as liver fat (fatty liver is the result), plus converted into artery clogging triglycerides. Eventually, insulin becomes less and less effective at storing energy, which we call insulin resistance. At some point in time, blood sugar levels jump into the “high blood sugar zone”, and your body becomes ineffective at lowering blood sugar after you eat. High blood sugar levels accelerate every aspect of aging—your brain shrinks, your arteries grow plaque, your cancer risk grows and your health falls apart.
So if the first step that leads to insulin resistance and blood sugar level is excessive glycogen storage in muscle cells, then removing glycogen through exercise is an incredibly effective way to bring blood sugar regulation and your health back to healthy and normal. Most normal people need at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day to deplete sugar stored in muscle tissue. For people who have high blood sugar levels and very abnormal insulin resistance, I recommend two 30-minute work outs per day for the initial 2-4 weeks to jump start normal blood sugar regulation.
Avoid Refined Carbs and Sugar
The second treatment is to decrease blood sugar from entering the blood stream. The simple way to do this is to avoid high glycemic load foods. Glycemic load refers to the amount of sugar that reaches your blood stream from one serving of a specific food. In my book, Smart Fat (pages 84-93), I have a detailed section on how to avoid foods that cause a jump in blood sugar levels. The simple way to avoid a jump in blood sugar levels is to eliminate all sugar, grains, and anything made with flour from your eating plan. Nearly all grains have a fairly high glycemic load even in their unprocessed form, and grinding grains into flour makes them far worse. So for people with high blood sugar levels, avoiding sugar and grains can make a dramatic difference. A few other high glycemic load foods that should be avoided are: potatoes, bananas, dried fruit, and fruit juice.
Eat More Smart Foods
So what should you eat? There are hundreds of delicious options to consider and all the recipes in The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up and Smart Fat would be great to help lower blood sugar levels. The focus is to eat every day at least:
- Five servings of smart fat (One serving is ½ avocado, 1 ounce of nuts, 1 tablespoon of olive or nut oil, 1-2 tablespoons of coconut products, 1 ounce of dark chocolate, and 4-5 ounces of cold water fatty fish)
- Five servings of clean protein (grass-fed beef, cage-free and organic-fed poultry and eggs, wild fish, beans, organic soy products, and organic yogurt and kefir.
- And ten servings of low-glycemic fiber (from vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and dark chocolate)
- Plus, add extra spices and herbs for flavor and to lower inflammation.
The reality is that you can prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and also help your heart, brain, and waistline by adding smart foods and following these simple concepts every day.
I wish you the best of health!
Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS
DR MASLEY RECOMMENDS TWO UPCOMING SUMMITS:
My friend and colleague, Dr. Brian Mowll, created the 2016 Diabetes World Summit to help you and those you love regain control of blood sugar to prevent complications and optimize health. The 2016 Diabetes Summit experts will share their tips, strategies and secrets for controlling and reversing type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome to help prevent complications and optimize your health.
I am one of the 30+ speakers scheduled for this wonderful event. Register here for FREE!!
My friend and co-author on my new book (Smart Fat), Dr. Jonny Bowden has created a summit to help you lose fat. This summit gives you an opportunity to learn what the most heralded health experts in the world agree (and disagree) about, so you can determine what makes the most sense for your personal health – because health is ALWAYS personal.
The Truth About Fat Loss will include the world’s top experts discussing:
- The psychology of weight loss
- Gluten and other food sensitivities
- The role of stress
- The microbiome and what it means to your waistline
- And so much more!
I am one of 30 plus speakers discussing how to lose body fat and keep it off.
- #1: The Truth About Fat Loss by Jonny Bowden, PhD
- #2: Why the LA Lakers Drink Bone Broth by Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND
- #3: What Research Really Tells Us About Weight Loss by Sayer Ji, Founder of GreenMedInfo