Sunday, April 04, 2010

Risk factors in developing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes

Improper diet and lack of exercise are major risk factors in developing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Prolonged stress and too high proportions of carbohydrates (carbs) in the diet also contribute to blood sugar problems. The problem carbs are excess levels of sugars – especially simple sugars - and starches. Complex carbs from vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains and beans are used to fuel brain activity and other body functions without excessively elevating our blood sugar. Fiber content will also help the ability of food to make us feel full. Fiber also helps to slow the introduction of other carbohydrates into the bloodstream, reducing blood sugar “peaks” after a meal. Another bonus of whole foods is that fiber can absorb cholesterol-containing bile salts, a key way to dump excess cholesterol from the body.

Eating a diet composed largely of processed/refined foods means that the carb level is probably too high while nutrients that help us to deal with blood sugar (B vitamins, fiber, chromium, etc.) are stripped from our food supply. This leaves us defenseless against weight gain, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and elevated stress hormones.

Many of us are literally drowning in excess empty calories that affect our metabolism. But skipping meals doesn’t help, nor does eating meals that lack adequate protein. Both habits discourage calorie burning.

Spikes in blood sugar are the main enemy of dieters and those with blood sugar control issues. Elevated blood sugar triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which makes us fatigued after a meal. If this happens too often it can create insulin resistance, eventually causing a loss of blood sugar control that can result in Metabolic Syndrome. This is a pre-diabetes condition defined as a combination of two or more of these symptoms: insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, abnormally high insulin levels, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (the "good" cholesterol), and hypertension (high blood pressure). Metabolic Syndrome increases belly fat and is a step towards developing adult-onset diabetes.

Your options are greatest when you first discover that your blood sugar has gone out of balance. If you wait until after you're on insulin or other medications, any natural means for improvement in blood sugar control could cause a dose of medicine to become an overdose. It is very important that your physician knows if you are going to try to control your blood sugar naturally, and that you test your blood sugar levels every time before taking medication in order to avoid dangerous interactions.

Going on a low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diet is the next step. The worst carbs are the simple sugars, found in processed foods, sweets, table sugar and soda pop. Processed grains and starchy vegetables are sometimes a problem, especially in excess. Flours (especially white flour) are more of a problem than whole cooked or sprouted grains. Even carrot juice is high in sugar!

If you tend to have weight gain and blood sugar problems in middle age, the good news is that you are genetically programmed to survive a famine. The bad news is that it's a prolonged feast which can kill you! Portion control and exercise are important for your health. Controlling stress will also help your sugar balance.

The balance of nutritional components within a meal regulates fat storage and fat burning. Try to balance each meal using the ZONE diet, where at least 30% of the calories in every meal are from protein, about 30% from healthy fats and about 40% from complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits or vegetables. This balance will minimize blood sugar increases. Blood sugar spikes can lead to more fat storage and less fat burning, especially without enough protein to start the calorie burning cycle after a meal.

To improve the insulin response that moves sugar out of the blood and into cells for fuel instead of turning into fat, supplements of Omega-3 fish oil (or flax oil for vegetarians), Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium may be helpful. Phase 2®, from a white kidney bean extract, will block some digestion of starches to sugar and therefore effectively lower your carb and calorie intake. Antioxidants of all kinds are very protective for people having blood sugar issues.

Take a good multiple vitamin with a fat-containing meal to enhance absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients. If you take green foods or other nutritionally dense dietary supplements, also take them with a meal to help increase the total nutritional value of that meal.

1 comment:

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