Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance….. If there is one area of health care that I want to leave my stamp on, this very well might be it. Or, perhaps thyroid disease….but we’ll save that for another blog post.
As a Registered Dietitian that spent years working in a hospital, I was appalledat how newly diagnosed diabetics were handled in the hospital. They would receive this new and scary diagnosis, a slurry of doctors, nurses, social workers, discharge coordinators,etc…were coming into their room and bombarding them with information. They were handed new prescriptions, possibly taught how to prick themselves daily or inject insulin, they were given a few pieces of paper with do’s and do nots and then right before they were to walk out of the hospital, in walked the dreaded Dietitian (that would be me….I hated my job). We were often the last people called in as they were packing up their bags and gathering their belongings. We had a few pieces of paper that had antiquated information and guidelines on it and had to hurry to give them the basics and send them on their way. I was lucky to have 10 minutes with them. Most of them were so overwhelmed by everything and anxious to leave the hospital that it was a one-sided discussion.
Granted, most people are not newly diagnosed in a hospital setting…..but, many are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, handed a prescription, told to follow up with a Diabetes Coordinator (if they’re lucky), and sent on their way.
They are told to eat whole grains and very low fat items, drink smaller amounts of juice, check their sugar levels, and learn to live with this condition.
It. Is. A. Broken. System.
So there’s the doom and gloom….but, guess what? There is hope and there is a LOT you can do to reverse diabetes. Yes, I said REVERSE it. It’s not your sealed fate.
So, read on dear friends…..
Dietary Recommendations to Reverse Diabetes:
Eat In a Way That:
balances blood sugarreduces inflammation and oxidative stress
improves your liver detoxification (this is key)
What Did She Just Say? Translation:
High in fiber
Rich in colorful vegetables (and some fruits)
Low in sugars and flours
Low in glycemic load (the impact it has on raising blood sugar levels)
This means plenty of omega 3 fats, olive oil, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Here are more specifics. (taken from Dr. Mark Hyman’s page. Not going to reinvent the wheel):
Eat protein for breakfast every day, such as whole omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, or nut butters.
Eat something every 4 hours to keep your insulin and glucose levels normal.
Eat small protein snacks in the morning and afternoon, such as a handful of almonds.
Finish eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bed. If you have a snack earlier in the day, you won’t be as hungry, even if you eat a little later.
Controlling the glycemic load of your meals is very important.
You can do this by combining adequate protein, fats, and whole-food carbohydrates from vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit at every meal or snack.
It is most important to avoid eating quickly absorbed carbohydrates alone, as they raise your sugar and insulin levels.
Two handfuls of almonds in a zip-lock bag make a useful emergency snack. You can eat them with a piece of fruit. Remember, real food is the best.
What to Eat
Choose from a variety of the following real, whole foods:
Choose organic produce and animal products whenever possible.
Eat high-quality protein, such as fish – especially fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, sable, small halibut, herring, and sardines – and shellfish.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sable contain an abundance of beneficial essential fatty acids, omega-3 oils that reduce inflammation. Choose smaller wild Alaskan salmon, sable, and halibut that are low in toxins. Canned wild salmon is a great “emergency” food.
Eat up to eight omega-3 eggs a week.
Create meals that are high in low-glycemic legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans (try edamame, the Japanese soybeans in a pod, quickly steamed with a little salt, as a snack). These foods slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which helps prevent the excess insulin release that can lead to health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
Eat a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables teeming with phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, which are associated with a lower incidence of nearly all health problems, including obesity and age-related disease.
Eat more low-glycemic vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Berries, cherries, peaches, plums, rhubarb, pears, and apples are optimal fruits. Cantaloupes and other melons, grapes, and kiwifruit are suitable; however, they contain more sugar. You can use organic frozen berries (such as those from Cascadian Farms) in your protein shakes.
Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries (these are rich in polyphenols), dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes, and nuts.
Eat more antioxidant-rich foods, including orange and yellow vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, etc.), anthocyanidins (berries, beets, grapes, pomegranate), purple grapes, blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cherries. In fact, antioxidants are in all colorful fruits and vegetables.
Include detoxifying foods in your diet, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese broccoli), green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa.
Season your food with herbs such as rosemary, ginger, and turmeric, which are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and detoxifiers.
Avoid excessive quantities of meat. Eat lean organic or grass-fed animal products, when possible. These include eggs, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, buffalo, and ostrich. There are good brands at Whole Foods and other local health-food stores (also see mail order sources).
Garlic and onions contain antioxidants, enhance detoxification, act as anti-inflammatories, and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
A diet high in fiber further helps to stabilize blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and supports a healthy lower bowel and digestive tract. Try to gradually increase fiber to 30 to 50 grams a day and use predominantly soluble or viscous fiber (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit), which slows sugar absorption from the gut.
Use extra virgin olive oil, which contains anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants, as your main cooking oil.
Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, including raw walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin and flax seeds.
And yes … chocolate can be healthy, too. Choose only the darkest varieties and eat only 2 to 3 ounces a day. It should contain 70 percent cocoa.
Decrease (or ideally eliminate) your intake of:
All processed or junk foods
Foods containing refined white flour and sugar, such as breads, cereals (cornflakes, Frosted Flakes, puffed wheat, and sweetened granola), flour-based pastas, bagels, and pastries
All foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
All artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Sorbitol, etc.) and caffeine
Starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips
Processed fruit juices, which are often loaded with sugars (Try juicing your own carrots, celery, and beets, or other fruit and vegetable combinations, instead)
Processed canned vegetables (usually very high in sodium)
Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (which become trans fatty acids in the bloodstream), such as most crackers, chips, cakes, candies, cookies, doughnuts, and processed cheese
Processed oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and canola
Red meats (unless organic or grass-fed) and organ meats
Large predatory fish and river fish, which contain mercury and other contaminants in unacceptable amounts, including swordfish, tuna, tilefish and shark
Dairy — substitute unsweetened, gluten free soymilk, almond milk, or hazelnut milk products
Alcohol — limit it to no more than 3 glasses a week of red wine per week
Exercise to Reduce Blood Sugar:
Get moving people. Exercise is critical for the improvement of insulin sensitivity. It helps reduce central body fat, improving sugar metabolism. Regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of complications, and even help reverse it.
Ideally you should do 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking after dinner is a powerful way to reduce your blood sugar.
If you have severe insulin resistance or diabetes, more vigorous exercise is often needed. Look into interval training, strength training, or work with a personal trainer to create a plan suitable for you.
Supplements that Can Help Reverse Diabetes
Nutritional supplements and herbal medicine can be very effective here. Here is a complete list (thanks again, Dr. Hyman—I agree with everything on here!)
One word of caution here. There is a big difference in quality out there. I highly recommend working with a trained herbalist/nutritionist/physician to guide you here. Our office offers phone consultations to help guide you in the right direction as well.
A multivitamin and mineral.
Calcium and magnesium and vitamin D.
Fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg) a day improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
Extra magnesium (200 to 600 mg a day) helps with glucose metabolism and is often deficient in diabetics.
Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg day) is very important for proper sugar metabolism.
Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) are important in helping to reduce and balance blood sugar.
B-complex vitamins are important and are part of a good multivitamin. Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) are especially helpful in protecting against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
Biotin (2,000 to 4,000 mcg a day) enhances insulin sensitivity.
I also encourage people to use alpha-lipoic acid (300 mg twice a day), a powerful antioxidant that can reduce blood sugar significantly. It also can be effective for diabetic nerve damage or neuropathy.
Evening primrose oil (500 to 1,000 mg twice a day) helps overcome deficiencies common in diabetics.
I encourage people to use cinnamon as a supplement. One to two 500 mg tablets twice a day can help blood sugar control.
Other herbs and supplements that can be helpful include green tea, ginseng, bitter melon, gymnema, bilberry, ginkgo, onions, and garlic..
Banana leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa) can be an effective herb. Take 24 mg twice a day.
I recommend konjac fiber, such as PGX (WellBetX), four capsules 10 minutes before meals with a glass of water. This helps reduce blood sugar after meals and improves long-term blood sugar control while reducing appetite and cholesterol.
Stress and Blood Sugar:
There’s that word again. Stress. We know it’s bad for us. Stress plays a dramatic role in blood sugar imbalances. Do what you need to do to lower stress: it’s essential to your health. Try yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, massage, hot baths, etc….
I’m not a doctor. You need to work with your physician to find a plan that works for you. Here’s what Dr. Hyman has to say about these.
“These are the main classes:
The biguanides, especially metformin (Glucophage), is one of the best medications to improve insulin sensitivity. It can help lower blood sugars by improving your cells’ response to insulin.
Thiazolidinedione drugs are a new class of diabetes medication and can help improve uptake of glucose by the cells by making you more insulin-sensitive. They also reduce inflammation and help improve metabolism working on the PPAR, a special class of cell receptors that control metabolism. They can cause weight gain and liver damage. Thiazolidinediones include rosiglutazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos).
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose and miglitol, which can help lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates in the intestines, reducing the absorption of sugar after meals. And there are newer medication on the market every day.
Older medications include sulfonylureas include glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride. I strongly recommend against these medications because they only reduce your sugar in the short term and cause further insulin production, which actually worsens diabetes over the long term. They have also been linked to high risk of heart attacks, which you are trying to prevent. They treat the symptoms rather than the cause.”
These guidelines will change your health, your weight, and your blood sugar levels quickly. You can take back your health!