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Diabetes and Prediabetes - 5 Simple Steps to Let Go of Your Fears. Podcast Episode 19

With Prediabetes and Diabetes on the Rise, 5 Things You Must Know

  • More than 100 million U.S. adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Worldwide there are 422 million people with diabetes. With 1.6 million deaths a year directly attributed to diabetes.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 four adults living with diabetes don’t know they have the condition. That’s 7.2 million Americans. Only 11.6 percent of adults with prediabetes know they have it.
  • It’s important to raise awareness of diabetes.
  • Left without intervention, prediabetics is likely to develop diabetes within 5 to 10 years.

Are You at Risk of Diabetes?

You can get screened for diabetes and prediabetes. If you have risk factors such as having a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactive and overweight. I recommend that anyone over the age of 40 should be screened.

Risk Factors Include:

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Increased insulin levels
  • Problems losing weight despite calorie restriction
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating often
  • Feeling hungry even after a meal
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Tingling pain or numbness in hands/feet

A woman holding an ice cream #diabetes #diabetessymptoms #diabetesdiet #prediabetes #diabetesmanagement #diabeteseducation #diabetesquotes #diabetescauses #whatcausesdiabetes  #whatisdiabetes #diabetesprevention #preventdiabetes

Complication of Diabetes

Left untreated, diabetes can cause complications to the heart, kidneys, nerves, and eyesight can occur. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blindness and amputation, and death.

The complications that this disease can cause are devastating.

We have the power to stop it by eating a healthier diet and adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

The WHO (World Health Organization) says “Type 2 diabetes can be prevented". Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes”.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus - What is it?

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease related to insulin and glucose metabolism. Either your body cannot properly use the insulin it produces (insulin resistance) or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin.

What Does Insulin Do?

Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (a type of sugar) we have in our blood.

Glucose comes from foods and drinks that contain carbohydrates.  Some sources of carbohydrates are very high in sugar. Such as table sugar and bread. Others have fewer carbohydrates such as vegetables.

Each time we eat, glucose is released into the blood. It is released in various degrees depending on how much carbohydrate the food contains.

When the amount of glucose in the blood starts rising, insulin is released from our pancreas. Its the pancreas' job to take the glucose out of the blood and bring it to our muscle cells.

Our muscles use glucose as fuel.

If the muscles already have enough glucose and don’t need the more, insulin will bring glucose to our liver and fat cells. It will store the excess glucose for later use, either as glycogen in the liver or as fat on our bodies.

We’ll talk about this later, but insulin is a hormone that can make us gain weight and store fat around the belly.

In the case of diabetes, glucose will stay in the blood and cause our blood sugar to rise.

High blood glucose levels are toxic.

High glucose damages organs, blood vessels, and nerves. If insulin isn’t working, our cells don’t get the fuel they need to function correctly.

These two problems cause the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Prediabetes

  • Fatigue - especially after a meal
  • Cravings
  • Weight gain around the gut
  • Difficulty losing weight

Prediabetes is a medical condition where the blood sugar level is above normal, but still below the threshold of diabetes.

I sometimes explain to my patients that prediabetes is like the very early stages of diabetes. Not fully there yet, but you're on your way.  

If you make no changes to improve your health, diabetes will be in your future.

Let’s start at the beginning of the process….how do things start to go wrong?

The starting point is our diet. Our Western diet is high in processed carbohydrates. This means our glucose levels are often higher than they should be.

A woman picking up a doughnut #diabetes #diabetessymptoms #diabetesdiet #prediabetes #diabetesmanagement #diabeteseducation #diabetesquotes #diabetescauses #whatcausesdiabetes  #whatisdiabetes #diabetesprevention #preventdiabetes

It Starts with High Carb Intake

When I say high in carbs, I mean that 60-70% of our calories come from carbs.

Cheerios for breakfast, a cookie as a mid-morning snack, a sandwich for lunch, chocolate bar in the afternoon, pasta for dinner, and maybe sugary popcorn at night.

We talked about how foods containing carbohydrates will trigger the release of insulin.

Gradually Your Insulin Levels Go Up - Hello Prediabetes

The more carbs you eat, the more insulin your body has to produce.

In individuals who eat a diet high in carbs over several years, we see their insulin level rising above the normal range.

So, even if these people don’t have a medical condition yet, and are seemingly healthy, they are putting themselves at risk in the long term.

Remember how I said insulin has 2 functions.

  1. It regulates your blood sugar levels.
  2. It's your fat storage hormone.

Let’s say you eat a piece of cake. A large shot of glucose is sent into your bloodstream. You get a high dose of insulin. The insulin will sweep up the glucose and deliver it to the cells of your working muscles for energy.

The problem is when the muscles aren’t working very hard (i.e., you’re sitting on the couch, at your desk, at the dinner table, etc.)…

Insulin Stores Excess Glucose as Fat

When that happens, the muscles say ‘no thanks’ to the offer of more energy. They don’t need it, PLUS their back up stores are already full. Insulin then moves on to store that energy (glucose) as fat.

It tends to store the fat around the abdominal area, causing us to have belly fat.

Glucagon is Like the Opposite of Insulin

Glucagon helps us burn fat.

When your blood sugar and insulin levels are constantly high from eating, we prevent a hormone called glucagon from being fully active.

When we're hungry and don’t eat, glucagon breaks down our glycogen and fat stores. It prevents us from getting low blood sugars by increasing them.

Glucagon is our fat-burning hormone.

However, if our blood sugar and insulin level is already higher than normal, glucagon will not get released. We’re then unable to burn those fat stores.

For these 2 reasons, a diet high in carbs causes us to gain weight. That’s why people who are looking to lose weight are often offered a low-carb diet.

What Happens if We Consistently have High Glucose and Insulin Levels?

After months or years of eating a diet high in carbs and experiencing an increased level of insulin, our body can develop a condition called insulin resistance.

What is Insulin Resistance?

While insulin is a crucial hormone, too much of it can be dangerous for the body. For example, too much insulin would cause your blood sugars to fall too low, which can cause death. Yikes!

Your Cells Stop Responding to Insulin

Therefore, as a defense mechanism to high levels of insulin, your body starts responding less to insulin as a way to protect itself from low blood sugar.

Our body starts to resist insulin and doesn’t allow it to do its job.

A closeup of a cupcake with pink icing #diabetes #diabetessymptoms #diabetesdiet #prediabetes #diabetesmanagement #diabeteseducation #diabetesquotes #diabetescauses #whatcausesdiabetes  #whatisdiabetes #diabetesprevention #preventdiabetes

Our Body Works Hard to Keep Things Within Normal Ranges

When you think about it, the human body is extremely smart. It has thousands of mechanisms to maintain a certain level of equilibrium.

For example, when you’re too hot, you sweat to bring down your body temperature. When you’re cold, you shiver, your body hair raises up creating goosebumps to help insulate and warm you up. These are examples of the body’s adaptation to short-term changes.

Eventually, Your Body Sets a New “Normal”

However, when the body is exposed to a “stressor” over a longer period of time, the it will adapt itself to create a new state of balance for this “stressor” to become less of a problem.

In other words, your body created a new “normal”.

Notice how people living near a train track or airport rarely notice the sounds of trains or airplanes anymore? To them, it’s just “white noise”. Their bodies have adapted to this very loud noise and it has become part of their new “normal”.

Your Cells Stop Responding to Insulin

In the case of insulin resistance, your body and cells simply start responding less well to the effects of insulin.

As a consequence, your cells don’t let in the glucose that the insulin brings to them. If the glucose stays outside of the cells and inside the blood, your blood sugar rises.

In Response, Your Body Produces More Insulin

To overcome this insulin resistance in your cells, your pancreas pumps out more insulin to push the glucose into the cells, which only provides a temporary solution.

As your insulin levels in your body continue to rise, your body will eventually develop a new state of balance or, a “new normal”. Meaning your cells will develop a new resistance to this higher dose of insulin.

And so the vicious cycle continues. Your pancreas has to work harder and harder.

Your Pancreas Eventually Gives Up and Stops Producing Insulin - Hello Diabetes

After working overtime for several years, the pancreas calls it quits and starts producing less insulin.

As you can guess, this is bad news and your blood sugar levels will rise even more than before.

If it hasn’t already, this is when your blood glucose reaches the threshold for prediabetes or diabetes.

Then, full-blown diabetes….

Here is a quick explanation of oral and insulin medications. We’ll come back to diet later on.

  • Most oral medications are focused on bringing your blood sugar down. They do this by preventing your body from breaking down its glucose storage and releasing it into your bloodstream, or by helping your pancreas produce more insulin.
  • If oral medication is unable to bring your blood sugar down to a certain range, insulin injections are often prescribed to supply the insulin your pancreas isn’t able to provide.
  • Unfortunately, medication doesn’t address the root cause which is your diet and lack of exercise. It only deals with the symptoms, which is high blood sugar.

Prediabetes and diabetes don’t always have very specific or well-defined symptoms.

This is one of the reasons why the condition can go unnoticed for years. It's often found by your doctor “by mistake” on a routine blood test.

When insulin resistance is advanced you're at the prediabetes/diabetics stage. At this point, you can experience symptoms such as having blurred vision, feeling very thirsty and urinating often.

A woman using a glucometer to measure her blood sugar #diabetes #diabetessymptoms #diabetesdiet #prediabetes #diabetesmanagement #diabeteseducation #diabetesquotes #diabetescauses #whatcausesdiabetes  #whatisdiabetes #diabetesprevention #preventdiabetes

Prevention of Prediabetes and Diabetes

You can prevent diabetes. Imagine being able to turn diabetes symptoms around with some simple diet changes.

Here's how -

1. LIMIT CARBOHYDRATES BY LIMITING PROCESSED FOODS

  • Before I go on, let me state that carbs aren’t the devil. Your body needs them to thrive! However, the number of carbs that the standard North American diet provides far exceed our real requirements.
  • The latter usually contains simple carbs that are digested very quickly by the body and raise the blood sugar significantly. To make things worse, they are often devoid of any nutrients.
  • If you’re just starting out, the simplest and best thing you can do is to limit processed foods.
  • Focus on eating whole foods that include lots of green vegetables, berries, legumes, and whole grains like quinoa. They provide you with the carbs you need but are full of fiber and vitamins.

2. AVOID ADDED SUGAR (PROCESSED AND NATURAL)

  • The second most important thing you can do for your prediabetes to cut down on added sugar. This means both processed sweeteners like white sugar and natural sugar like honey.
  • By cutting down on processed food, as suggested in step 1, you will also be cutting down on added sugar. Double win!
  • While honey is better than white sugar, in terms of nutrients, it still raises your blood sugar and stresses your pancreas. This is why I recommend using fruits like berries to sweeten your food.

3. EAT MORE FIBER

  • Consuming high-fiber foods help regulate insulin resistance. Some examples of foods rich in fiber are green leafy vegetables, artichokes, peas, Brussels sprouts, avocado, legumes, beans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and quinoa. These high-fiber foods are also rich in minerals and vitamins.
  • A simple trick to eating more fiber is to fill your plate at least halfway with fresh vegetables.

4. EAT HEALTHY FATS

  • Not only do healthy fats trigger little insulin production, but they also keep you full for a longer period.
  • While reducing carbs, it is important to balance your macronutrients with either protein or fat. If not, you’ll be in a calorie deficit (because you cut down on carbs), which will leave you feeling hungry all the time and unbalanced.
  • Most people eat enough protein (20% of their caloric intake), therefore I often suggest people eat more plant-based fats like olives, avocados, nuts, and flax seeds. It keeps them full and it doesn’t dramatically raise your blood sugar and insulin levels.

5. MOVE YOUR BODY

  • The more active you become, the more “sensitive” your cells become to insulin’s action. Why? Because your cells will be using its internal storage of glucose to function. Your muscles will require the glucose from the blood that insulin is bringing to them, and let it in.
  • This allows your blood sugar levels to go down and the pancreas to not have to pump so much insulin to “force” the glucose into your overstuffed cells.
  • Therefore, being more physically active helps bring down your blood sugar and your insulin levels.
  • What about people who have diabetes? Can it be cured?
  • There’s definitely a debate around this in the medical community.
  • Some people say it can be fully cured, and others believe it can be managed with lifestyle habits without pills. The debate is that those people remain at higher risk of re-developing diabetes if they’re not careful.
  • Regardless, the fact that it can be managed with lifestyle habits is the most important thing to be remembered.

 

About Julie Doan

  • I help women with prediabetes and diabetes improve their diet, lose weight and lower their blood sugar. My goal is to help them reduce the number of pills they take and prevent the progression of their condition.
  • I chose to help women with these metabolic conditions because as a pharmacist, I know that pills can only do so much.  Improving your overall lifestyle habits is really the key. My time spent working with patients who had very advanced stages of diabetes and suffered from kidney failure and heart disease broke my heart.  I want to help prevent as many people as possible from developing this horrific disease.
  • Each time we prescribed a pill or insulin, it was only a matter of months before the medication would wear off.  Soon, a higher dose was needed, or another pill. Having only medication in my arsenal, I found myself frustrated and unable to really help my patients long term.
  • I knew I needed more tools in my toolbox to help people. I became interested in holistic nutrition and preventive medicine.  This combination of conventional medicine and pharmacy, mixed with my knowledge in holistic health has been the missing piece to the puzzle.  I'm now able to help men and women with, or at risk of, diabetes stay off medication altogether.


How to Find Julie Doan

Connect with Julie on instagram here.

Read her blog here

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