I want to continue the theme of the last newsletter by looking at another under-reported epidemic that is affecting us as a nation. Most of us know that heart disease and cancer are the top two killers in this country. The incidence of diabetes has increased nearly 50% since 1983 and tripled since 1958. Depending on the source, diabetes is ranked as the 4th or 6th leading cause of death. The number of children and young adults developing diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. Most of the meteoric rise in the incidence of diabetes is related to our Standard American Diet (SAD). We eat too much sugar, trans-fats and processed food. Kids are raised on sodas instead of water and the caffeine in coffee is hard on both our pancreas and adrenals. The Standard American Diet has increased obesity in this country and in Colorado, our obesity rate has doubled in 7 years and we have always been the leanest state in the Union!
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes used to be categorized as Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1) or Adult Onset (Type 2). Now they are categorized based on the use of insulin, Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) and Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). IDDM in children is where the pancreas cells stop producing insulin altogether and the exact cause is unknown. It has been attributed to an autoimmune disorder where there is a genetic breakdown and the body destroys its own pancreas. Other theories include environmental poisoning by chemicals and pesticides that destroy the islet cells of the pancreas. Some attribute it to an insidious infection that went undetected in the body and others blame it on eating foods you were allergic to that caused the immune system to attack cells in the body similar to the allergic foods. This is known as molecular mimicry and is gaining acceptance as the cause for many autoimmune conditions. The Type 2 was known as Adult onset because it was more related to being overweight and eating too much sugar. Type 1 is insulin dependent and Type 2 starts out as NIDDM but may progress to IDDM eventually. Insulin is a double-edged sword for it is a savior to people whose bodies stopped making it but it is also very damaging to the body over a long period of time. The high blood sugar levels are also very damaging to the body and cause arteriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. Blindness, loss of circulation in the feet and nerve damage are also consequences of diabetes.
When you eat, the pancreas releases insulin in response to a rise in the blood
sugar levels. The primary role of insulin is to allow the glucose in your
blood to enter into the cells. Insulin resistance means that the receptors
on cell walls have become resistant to the effects of insulin. The cells don't
allow the glucose to pass into the cells and the blood sugar levels remain
high. The pancreas monitors this high blood sugar level and produces more
insulin to combat this apparent lack of insulin. The extra insulin does finally
work to get the glucose into the cells but eventually the pancreas will not
be able to keep up with the demand and blood sugar levels get out of control
and you eventually become a diabetic. There are several theories as to why
the cells become resistant to insulin, but a diet of sugar-laden, highly processed,
caffeinated and trans-fat containing foods is the theory most prevalent. We
each consume about 3 pounds of sugar a week on the average. Caffeine stimulates
both insulin and cortisol from the adrenals, which make our body's store fat
instead of burn it. Trans fats were unknown in our food supply until the late
30's but now they are in practically every product that comes in a box, can
The majority of this sugar consumption is because people are addicted to sugar and not just lazy eaters. In the book Potatoes Not Prozac, Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons talks about sugar sensitivity and its control over people. She helped alcoholics over-come their cravings, severely depressed and anxious patients recover, helped the obese to lose weight, etc., all by addressing their sugar sensitivities. Below is her quick test for determining if you are sugar sensitive:
___ I like sweet foods.
___ I eat a lot of sweets.
___ I am very fond of bread, cereal, popcorn or pasta.
___ I now have or have had a problem with alcohol or drugs.
___ One or both of my parents are/were alcoholics.
___ One or both of my parents are/were especially fond of sugar.
___ I am overweight and don't seem to be able to easily lose the extra pounds.
___ I continue to be depressed no matter what I do.
___ I often find myself overreacting to stress.
___ I have a history of anger that sometimes surprises even me.
She says if you checked 3 or more you are sugar sensitive. She also has a more extensive test in the book if you aren't sure where you stand. She asserts that you can be addicted to sugar because of the drug effect it has on certain people. If you are a sugar sensitive person on a high carb, low fat diet, you are making your condition worse. Sure you will love eating all that pasta, bread and low fat, highly sugared treats, but it is making your insulin levels skyrocket. If you are on a low enough calorie diet you will even lose weight. Unfortunately, most of that weight will be muscle and in the end you will gain all your weight right back when you start to eat decent sized meals again. As I've stated in earlier newsletters, these types of diets have added to the rising obesity rate in this country.
In 1988, Dr. Gerald Reaven came up with the name Syndrome X to cover a group of symptoms that were plaguing many people. Truncal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL's, blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure were all part of the Syndrome X symptoms. The new name is hyperinsulinemia, which means that your pancreas is producing too much insulin for what it needs to get the job done. This condition is the precursor to NIDDM and the real reason why the incidence of diabetes has increased so much in recent years. Insulin sensitivity is what all low carb diets like Atkins' or the "No Grain Diet" addresses. Getting your insulin under control will help you lose weight and prevent you from developing diabetes. If you are insulin sensitive you need to add fat to your carbs to keep your insulin reaction down. For instance, eating berries with natural whip cream, cashew butter on your apple and butter on whole grain bread will all lower the insulin reaction of the carbohydrate foods eaten. It flies in the face of everything we have been taught about eating healthy over the past 3 decades from the high carb, low fat proponents. It also makes for tasty treats!
Every person who has any of the above symptoms should get their fasting insulin levels checked by a blood test. Fasting insulin test should be under 4 even though the lab normal is 10. Your fasting glucose should be under 100 while the lab normal can run as high as 140. Also a hair analysis or the "My Diagnostics" urine test I mentioned last newsletter, can help you see how well your various organs are functioning. Insulin resistance and NIDDM respond to dietary changes, vitamins, exercise, various herbs and minerals. Gymnema sylvestre is an herb from India that can help kill the sugar cravings and normalize your blood sugar and insulin levels. Even cases of IDDM have responded to gymnema and has reduced or eliminated the persons need for insulin. The important thing is to take steps early before you completely wear out your pancreas and become another diabetic statistic.