HEALTH IN BALANCE
Preventing and Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Health is all about balance. It should come as no surprise that diabetes is considered a disease of excess. While not all Type 2 diabetics are overweight (genes can play a role in the development of the disease), obesity and lack of physical activity are the two the most common causes of this form of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, data collected from United States diabetic adults from 2011 to 2014 showed that 87.7 percent were overweight or obese, and 40.8 percent were classified as physically inactive.
It all starts in the mouth, where the digestive enzyme amylase is secreted to start breaking down the carbohydrates we eat into glucose, the form of sugar that the body uses as a principal energy source. Although our bodies, especially our brains, require some glucose to function efficiently, sugar is highly caustic to sensitive tissues, like capillary linings, and needs to be cleared out of the circulating blood to prevent damage to those tissues. That’s why frequent uncontrolled high blood sugar in diabetics can result in peripheral neuropathy and retinopathy.
Insulin is the hormone that removes glucose from the blood by escorting it into cells for use as an energy source. The problem is that when we eat more sugar in any form, including simple carbohydrates like bread or pasta, the body will store the excess glucose in adipose tissue, as fat.
The Standard American Diet, or SAD, is comprised of far too great a percentage of sugar and other carbohydrates, and not enough protein. It doesn’t help obesity rates that highfructose corn syrup is added to so many foods. Why add it? It’s an appetite stimulant, and it’s addictive. The more of it we consume, the more we want, and the more we buy. The obesity epidemic continues to grow and, with it, the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
The good news is, both obesity and diabetes are often preventable and treatable.
Nutrition is a critical part of preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes, but what is a healthy, balanced diet? That depends on the individual, their lifestyle and other idiosyncratic factors, so specific dietary recommendations are best addressed in session with a qualified nutritional counselor. In general, a plant-based diet higher in protein and lower in carbs, sugar, salt and saturated fat than currently found in the SAD is a good starting point. Think, “eat lean and green.”
Also important is portion size. For most people, half our plate should contain green or other colorful veggies, and a quarter to a third should contain protein. But don’t forget the fats. Fats are tricky because of “good” fats and “bad” fats, and because anything good can be bad when not in moderation.
We need both omega-3 and omega- 6 fatty acids, and both are essential because we cannot produce them: we need them in dietary sources. Omega-6 fats are more common in most American fare, because they are in cooking oils, both corn and vegetable. Omega-6 fats are in nuts, seeds—including hemp, leafy greens and seafood. They tend to be more expensive and eaten less frequently. Further, we need these oils in the appropriate ratio if we want our bodies to act effectively.
A little dessert or treat is usually fine, as long as we don’t overdo it, and when we overindulge, it becomes important to get back on track. Thankfully, water covers a multitude of sinful indulgences. Water rehydrates cells and flushes harmful substances, like excess sugar, out of tissues. While it is possible to get too much of a good thing, even water, sipping water throughout the day is usually not deleterious.
Physical activity is as critical as nutrition, and most of us do not get enough. Even people in physically demanding jobs generally need a greater variety of activities than their jobs demand, in order to keep opposing muscle groups working effectively. Stretching, strength building and cardiovascular-revving activities that keep us moving and grooving are generally recommended, but they don’t have to be like work. Dancing, hiking, chopping wood and swimming are all excellent activities.
In the midst of this varied physical activity, don’t forget to rest. Adequate sleep and non-sleeping rest are necessary to rebuild and rejuvenate.
By following a healthy, balanced lifestyle, proper weight and body mass will typically normalize—and lifestyleacquired Type 2 diabetes can become a thing of the past.
Dr. Cory Schultz is a doctor of traditional naturopathy, specializing in weight management, cleansing and detoxification, nutrition and fitness, therapeutic massage and general wellness, with offices in Chicago and Ottawa, Illinois. For more information, call Dr. Cory at 312-848- 3987 or visit DrCorySchultz.com.Edit ModuleShow Tags