Low carb diet and diabetes
Posted: 03 May 2013
Our Standard Diet is Making Us Fat
We eat far too much sugar, far too many carbs (which, as we’ve seen, turn into sugar) and far too many calories. Couple this with the fact that our sedentary lifestyle creates very little demand among the muscle cells for “fuel” (sugar).
Many of us have much more sugar floating around our bloodstream than we could possibly use. The pancreas tries desperately to keep up with the increased demand for insulin which is needed to bring blood sugar back down to normal.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The pancreas might manage to secrete enough insulin to keep blood sugar from being in the “diabetic” range, but the cost is a high level of insulin, which keeps fat from being “burned” (it also raises blood pressure). Your blood sugar may stay just under the cutoff for a diabetes diagnosis, but your high levels of insulin (and the inevitable inability of the cells to “listen” to insulin) classify you as “pre-diabetic”.
In some cases even that extra insulin that the pancreas labored to produce can’t manage to get blood sugar down into the relatively “safe” (or non-diabetic) range. At this point, with elevated insulin and elevated blood sugar- you’ve got full blown type ll diabetes.
Once you understand this, the importance of diet and exercise become very clear. Your diet needs to be one that doesn’t send your blood sugar through the roof. And exercise creates a natural demand from the muscle cells for sugar, therefore helping to reduce blood sugar naturally.
Low-Carb Diets Work for Diabetes…and Weight Loss!
In my opinion, the absolute best strategy for treating (and preventing!) diabetes is a controlled carbohydrate diet. Why? Because of the three “macronutrients” in every diet- protein, carbs and fats– the one that raises blood sugar the most is carbohydrates. Protein raises blood sugar and insulin a bit, but not nearly as much as carbs do. And fat raises it not at all.
That’s why a low-fat high-carb diet is precisely the wrong way to go when you’re dealing with diabetes.
Now this view is controversial (though becoming less so, particularly in view of mounting research showing the positive effect of low-carb diets on blood sugar and insulin). There have been successes with conventional low-fat diets, but they are nearly always loaded with fiber and vegetables (the so-called “low-glycemic” carbs), not with the processed carbs and sugar that are rampant in the conventional American diet. But reducing carbohydrate intake (especially from sugars and starches) virtually always normalizes insulin metabolism, and helps bring blood glucose (sugar) under control.
What is Exactly Constitutes “Low-Carb” These Days?
The following guidelines are adapted from the (sadly) out-of-print masterpiece, “Diabetes: Prevention and Cure” by C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD. I’ve modernized them slightly, but the essence of her recommendations are hard to improve upon.
- Limit carb consumption to fruits and vegetables.
- Eat no pasta, bread, noodles, macaroni, rice, cereal or crackers.
- Eat absolutely no sugar or sugary foods. “If it’s sugar-sweet or made of wheat, don’t eat”, she says.
- Don’t drink fruit juices, except for a little in blender drinks. Eat the whole fruit.
- Don’t eat meals or snacks composed mainly or wholly of carbs, especially at breakfast and late at night. Meals and snacks need to be a balance of protein, carbs and fat.
- Eat copious quantities of fresh non-starchy vegetables (first choice) and fruits (second choice).
- Don’t drink alcohol. “Alcohol, like refined sugars and starches, forces you to cannibalize your body’s nutrient stores just to metabolize it”.
- Always consume your daily protein requirement. Donald Layman, PhD, one of the premiere researchers in the field of low-carb diets, routinely puts everyone on a diet of 125 grams a day of protein (along with 60 grams of fat and 100 grams or less of carbs, mostly from vegetables and fruits).
- And, of course, start exercising. Every single day.
Remember, a controlled carb diet doesn’t have to be extreme. Most Americans eat over 300 grams of the stuff on a daily basis. You should get huge benefits if you can cut that to 100, though some people may find that they need even greater restriction.
Taken from an article by nutritionalist Jonny Bowden.