Diabetes

Focus on Diabetes

Diabetes, a modern epidemic? Yes. An incurable disease? Maybe not…\"Diabetes\"

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 20 people in the UK have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Of those 90% have type II diabetes and only 10% the ‘incurable’ type I.

Our pancreas produces the hormone insulin – necessary for keeping our blood glucose levels stable. Insulin’s action is to transport excess glucose into storage, keeping blood glucose levels safe – just enough, but not too much, as excess will cause damage.

What happens exactly when someone becomes diabetic?

With Type I the pancreas stops producing insulin completely. With Type II diabetes some insulin is still produced but does not work properly, either because there is not enough of it or because of what is called insulin resistance, which prevents the insulin from doing it’s job.

What is insulin resistance?

Think of insulin as the guide that escorts glucose to it’s storage sites. Insulin knocks on the door of the site and makes sure the glucose is safely delivered. Now with insulin resistance all goes well till they get to the door. Insulin knocks, and knocks, but there is no answer, the door will not open.

What happens next is a build up of glucose in the blood stream. The pancreas keeps producing insulin in a desperate effort to get rid of the excess glucose but it is to no avail. Blood levels of both glucose and insulin sore.

Insulin resistance can be experienced even if you are not diabetic. In fact the road to diabetes starts with insulin resistance. Type I diabetes is the end point where the pancreas is simply completely exhausted, having been trying to produce so much insulin for so long. The system just crashes. Type II diabetes is everything in between.

Metabolic Syndrome

Diabetes is one of the diseases that comes under the umbrella term Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X along with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. There are a number of defining features of Metabolic Syndrome from a nutritional perspective.

1. A high intake of sugar

2. A high intake of damaged omega 6

3. A deficiency of undamaged omega 3 and 6

4. A lack of dietary vegetable fibre

5. Mineral & vitamin deficiencies

The trouble with sugar

What is sugar? 50% glucose = the fuel of every cell of our body. 50% fructose = fruit sugar which can only be broken down by the liver.

Fructose – taken out of the context of a whole fruit becomes very problematic. It is similar to ethanol – the sugar in alcohol – in that it can only be metabolised by the liver and it’s by products are an ugly bunch. One causes high blood pressure. Another causes insulin resistance, and lastly about 30% of it ends up as VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) – the worst kind of cholesterol.

When we eat sugar we overload our blood stream with glucose, which has to be stored, but we have also overloaded our liver with fructose which will cause insulin resistance.

All type II diabetes could be improved with a better diet as many suffers well know. What is amazing is that a handful of type I diabetics have had their condition reversed through diet.

Diabetes & Diet

I’m going to have a quick rant here as I find it extraordinary that when people are diagnosed with diabetes that they aren’t assigned a dietitian to work with them. Some Diabetics I have met have never even been offered an appointment with a hospital dietitian. To me this is extraordinary because most diabetes is caused by poor nutrition and can be improved with changes to the diet.

Sugar is a major causative factor in diabetes and metabolic syndrome but by no means the only one.

A misunderstanding of fats and oils is another key issue. We have been sold the untruth that saturated animal fat is a danger to health and although it is best to eat saturated fats in moderation, they can by no means do the harm that vegetable oils do.

Most vegetable oils did not even exist 100 years ago. Now they adorn our supermarket shelves glistening in rows of plastic bottles. These oils, designed for cooking, are nothing short of a health catastrophe. The simple problem being they overload the diet with damaged omega 6 which causes inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is the watch word in almost all modern chronic diseases and diabetes is no exception.

If you wish to help control your diabetes through diet then you have to kick the sugar into touch, along with the refined vegetable oils and anything that is cooked in or with them, that includes most bought baked goods, deep fried foods and pastries (unless made with real butter).

When it comes to fats and oils we have it all wrong. Most of us are not eating enough healthy fats and oils and too much bad fats and oils. I recommend butter, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil for cooking and hempseed, flaxseed and extra virgin olive oil for dressing foods. Udo’s Choice oil is an excellent option to ensure you are getting the correct balance of omegas 3 and 6.

One of the best ways to help a diabetic condition is to increase your intake of fresh raw foods. In fact that goes for almost all health problems but especially auto-immune disorders. Too much cooked food can cause the immune system to treat the food as an invasive force instead of nourishment. However if we eat at least 50% fresh raw foods we prevent this happening – the immune system calms down.

Fresh raw foods (especially salads and vegetables) are full of living components like enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins, most of which are easily destroyed and can only really be found in fresh foods. These nutrients are vital to the function of every aspect of our body and essential for cleansing and balancing the body. They also provide vital minerals like magnesium, needed for correct insulin function.

Georgie Wingfield-Hayes

Nutritionist

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