In this final article in our discussion of type 2 Diabetes, we will examine the effects of diet and nutrition as major contributors to this preventable disease.

In both the development and the treatment of type 2 Diabetes, nutrition is the key.  Poor nutrition is the great contributor to type 2 Diabetes, and proper nutrition begins to rectify type 2 Diabetes and bring the body back into balance, or homeostasis.  The body is awesome and phenomenal in that if a disharmony is not too far-gone, it will heal itself!

So let’s look at the nutritional aspect – what went wrong – and how to repair some of the damage in order to turn this type 2 Diabetes epidemic around.

Empty Harvest

Agri-BusinessIt all began with the Industrial Revolution.  The Industrial Revolution, which started toward the end of the 18th century in the United Kingdom, Western Europe and North America, is a period of history where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions, and continues to this day.  The Industrial Revolution is directly or indirectly responsible for some wonderful modern amenities, especially in the realm of engines, machinery, and computer/internet technologies.

Where agriculture and manufacturing are concerned, however, the quality of nutrition has changed dramatically in the following ways:

  • Farming has shifted from families and communities to huge agribusiness conglomerates
  • Agribusiness capitalism introduced the use of more pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to increase yield
  • Overuse of soil and non-rotation of crops created depletion of soil nutrients, therefore depletion of food nutrients
  • Deforestation, overuse of soil and use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides caused topsoil to be depleted – literally blown away with the wind
  • Capitalism in manufacturing food products stripped foods of nutrients in order to extend shelf life
  • Synthetic additives and chemicals were added to boxed and packaged foods to extend shelf life
  • Synthetic vitamins were added to boxed and packaged foods to prevent diseases caused by nutrient depletion

These and other repercussions of the Industrial Revolution are a direct result of what we’re experiencing today with the type 2 Diabetes epidemic.  In our society, we are programmed to be driven by convenience and taste.  We live in a society where good nutrition takes a back seat to our comfort and taste buds.  And our taste buds find lots of comfort in sweet and savory carbohydrates.

Foods That Contribute to Type 2 Diabetes

Let’s now take a closer look at what foods are contributing to this epidemic:

Carbohydrates – especially refined carbs is a main culprit.  Some examples include macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, pasteurized and bottled fruit juice, desserts, sodas, alcoholic beverages, bagels, etc.  The list is very long!  Suffice it to say that sugar, white flour, processed juices and sugary drinks and all other refined carbohydrates are great contributors.  Essentially, these foods turn into sugar and fat, throwing the digestive and endocrine systems out of balance to contribute to the development of type 2 Diabetes.

Fats – not so much naturally occurring fats for the most part, but those man-made, invented fats that the human digestion and metabolism simply don’t handle well.  These include margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils.  This last one, vegetable oils, requires a little further explanation.

Once oil is produced from a vegetable (for example, corn), that oil is very unstable and goes rancid very quickly.  In order to extend its shelf life, the oil is heated to very high temperatures and undergoes a chemical process in order to allow for an extended shelf life and “stability” of the oil.  But this and other unnatural oils will eventually be rejected by the body, and/or create a digestive/endocrine disharmony leading to type 2 Diabetes (or some other chronic illness).

Fake Sugars and Excitotoxins – these include high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, saccharin, splenda, MSG and texturized soy protein to name just a few of the more common ones.  These are essentially chemicals added to foods that replace real ingredients to extend shelf life and enhance flavor.  In addition, these create addictions to foods and can ultimately damage the body’s digestive, endocrine and nervous systems and seriously deplete the adrenals.

What To Eat

If you are diabetic, it all depends on what stage of the illness you are in.  Remember, everyone has a slightly different situation, so before embarking on changing your diet, please be sure to consult with myself or another qualified, licensed practitioner to find out what would be best for you.

That said, the following are some general recommendations:

Carbohydrates – Eat all the vegetables you want!  Focus on leafy greens, green vegetables and other colorful veggies that grow above ground.  Limit other starches like potatoes, bread and grains to no more than 2 small servings per day, or less than 60 grams per day.  Veggies should make up at least 50% of your daily food intake.  Fruit should be limited to one serving per day, eaten with some sort of fat in order to slow down the process of fruit sugar entering the bloodstream (see below).

Proteins – In moderation, but more than starchy carbs.  If you are vegetarian/vegan and diabetic (yes, there are many vegetarians/vegans who are diabetic, due to the high starchy carb intake), easy-to-digest nuts, seeds, fermented soy (tempeh, miso, natto), high quality organic cheese and small amounts of beans work well.  For omnivores, fish, eggs and fowl may be consumed.  Two to three servings of protein per day for all diabetics are generally advised.

Fats – These are also in moderation, but are vital, especially when consuming fewer starchy carbohydrates.  Fats are important for many reasons, the most important being that they are catalysts for balanced hormone production, and help reduce inflammation in all chronic illnesses.  Foods like avocado, butter/ghee, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and their butters, and high quality fish oils will provide the best fat that the body needs to help with the healing process.  No need to worry about gaining lots of weight when consuming these types of fats in moderation – the body will metabolize and burn these calories first when the diet is low in carbohydrates.

Beverages – Water is the beverage of choice, though unsweetened herbal or green tea may also be consumed.

Other Considerations

  1. Find out if you have any food sensitivities or food allergies.  If so, you will want to eliminate those foods from your diet (at least for a while).  If you’ve been eating foods to which you are sensitive, these may have created the problem and may be key in addressing the disease, or even reversing the damage.
  2. Nutritional supplementation and/or herbal medicine are often necessary to help heal the digestive/pancreatic/endocrine systems.
  3. Cleansing the liver and other organs and pathways of elimination are vital to achieving and maintaining balance in the body.  Similar to the oil change that we do for our cars, cleansing the liver can be revitalizing, giving the body more energy, enhancing sleep, and allowing the body to more efficiently absorb nutrients.

Turn The Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic Around For Future Generations

There are several things that we each can do to turn this epidemic around and eradicate type 2 Diabetes.  Our future generations will thank us for it!

  • Eat organic!  Whether fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs or other animal products, this gives a message to those who produce the food that a) we insist on healthy foods that are non-GMO, free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides; and that b) there is proper attention and respect being paid to the soil and to the earth.
  • Eat locally grown foods.  Shop at your local farmer’s market and support the smaller farms.
  • Start composting and growing some of your own food.  You can do this even if you live in an apartment!  Alternatively, join one of the many community co-ops that are sprouting up where you can rent a small plot of land that will allow you to grow food.
  • Stop eating boxed and refined foods.  Prepare your own meals as much as possible, preferably from scratch – even if it’s just once a week!
  • Eat to live, rather than live to eat.

In Part One of this extended article, we outlined some of the various elements that make type 2 Diabetes a mosaic of chronic illness. We examined how each organ system plays a part in type 2 Diabetes, and how each organ system is affected by type 2 Diabetes.

In this 2nd part, we will outline and briefly examine some of the causes of type 2 Diabetes.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

There are several very important causes of type 2 Diabetes which must be addressed in order to successfully prevent, treat, reverse and ultimately eradicate the disease. Addressing only one of the causes may bring some improvement, but often will not bring the complete results sought after. Some of the causes of type 2 Diabetes include:

  • Poor Nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Iatrogenic
  • Stress

Let’s take a look at and examine each one of these causes:

Fast FoodPoor Nutrition – This is indeed a major key both in the development and in the treatment of type 2 Diabetes. It is a well known fact that poor nutrition in the form of too many refined foods, packaged foods, fast foods, junk foods, white flour and sugar contribute greatly to the development of type 2 Diabetes. In addition, the advent and widespread consumption of hydrogenated oils and trans-fats further add to the break-down of the digestive system in general and the liver/pancreas complex in particular.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800’s, foods have been increasingly produced in the world-wide marketplace to encourage maximum production, extended shelf life, and enhancement of taste – for maximum financial benefit of all the industries involved: agribusiness, meat, poultry, dairy, etc. In addition, topsoil and nutrient depletion of the soil is a result of poor standards of food production. This is a major factor in the upward worldwide trend of type 2 Diabetes, making nutrition a vital cause of the illness.

Genetics – Western science has asserted that genetics can play a factor in the development of type 2 Diabetes. There is a certain genetic factor prevalent in some ethnic groups, including those of Asian, African and Native American descent. This genetic factor may increase the chances of developing type 2 Diabetes. Interestingly, this gene seems to be most prevalent in individuals of Asian descent. According to the American Diabetes Association, Asians who follow a traditional Asian diet do not tend to develop type 2 Diabetes despite the fact that they seem to have a certain protein that shuts down the insulin receptor, creating insulin resistance. So despite the fact of genetics playing a role in the development of type 2 Diabetes, it is promising to note that the actual onset can be avoided through proper diet and other measures.

The bottom line is that I do not consider genetics to play a major role in the development of type 2 Diabetes, as this can be largely controlled with dietary elements and good nutrition.

Sedentary Lifestyle – The human body is designed for balanced periods of movement and non-movement. In today’s society, the scales have tipped way too far to the side of non-movement. Our sedentary lifestyle of watching TV and the widespread use of electronics has become a significant factor in the skyrocketing numbers of those with type 2 Diabetes – especially among youth and young adults. There are several reasons why exercise/moving the body is vital:

  • Increases blood circulation
  • Tones the vascular system
  • Tones the muscles
  • Strengthens the functioning of the organs
  • Allows the body to utilize energy and burn fat more effectively
  • Moving the body is crucial in preventing and treating type 2 Diabetes.

Iatrogenic – This is a term that means that an illness is developed or caused by Western allopathic medicine. There are certain medications that can actually contribute to or exacerbate type 2 Diabetes.

One such category of medications is statin drugs that lower cholesterol. This is not to say that you should stop taking your statin drug – at least not without the close supervision of your doctor. But it does become somewhat of a “Catch 22,” because once type 2 Diabetes or even pre-Diabetes is discovered, many doctors will automatically prescribe a cholesterol-lowering statin drug along with any blood sugar lowering medication.

Blood sugar medications are another category that can actually exacerbate type 2 Diabetes by creating another type of “Catch 22” situation for the patient. In this case, the medication may create the problem of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, prompting the person to quickly eat something sweet (candy, orange juice, etc.) in order to offset the effects of the medication.

This, in the long run, can be counter-productive, and for most people becomes bare-bones management of type 2 Diabetes, rather than actual treatment and reversal of the disease.

Again, simply stopping the medication(s) without a concrete plan and close supervision from your doctor is not advised, as it can cause more harm than good if you are already taking medications.

Stress – This includes worry, emotional upheaval and long-term depression. It is said that stress is the cause of all chronic illness, including type 2 Diabetes.

Think about it: how do you feel when you are happy, playful and carefree? By contrast, how do you feel when you are angry, fearful, frustrated or sad? These latter negative emotions, if held onto long-term, affect the body in non-optimal ways. Stress affects:

  • The entire digestive system, including the pancreas and liver
  • Sleep patterns
  • Hormone secretions, including the adrenals, thyroid and sex hormones
  • The nervous system
  • The immune system

This area of stress can perhaps be the most challenging and complex area to overcome in the treatment of type 2 Diabetes.

In part 3 of this extended article, we will discuss an optimal multifaceted plan for the treatment of type 2 Diabetes, focusing on nutrition and stress reduction.

Spoonful of SugarIn 1900, the average American consumed the equivalent of 4 pounds of sugar per year. Today, that number is 150 pounds per person per year, or about 3 pounds per week – and is steadily climbing! In 1900, incidences of type 2 Diabetes were rare. Today, just over 100 years later, type 2 Diabetes has inundated the world in record-breaking numbers and in epidemic proportions. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2030, about 8% of the adult population will be Diabetic, and the mortality rate of those with type 2 Diabetes will have doubled from that of the year 2005.

Originally a disease of the affluent, people around the world and of all walks of life are developing this illness – an illness that is largely preventable.

It is my intention and a primary goal of mine to do whatever I can to eradicate type 2 Diabetes. I want to let you know how this has happened, and what we can each do to reverse this crazy disease that is wreaking havoc in our societies.

Type 2 Diabetes is an illness that represents what I call a “mosaic” of several disharmonies. This article will outline those various disharmonies.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body has trouble processing sugar in the blood. Normally, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that serves as a catalyst to remove sugar from the bloodstream, and places the sugar into the tissues, which is in turn used by the body for energy (or stored as fat if the energy is not used).

But when too much sugar and starch (which also turns into sugar) is consumed, the pancreas and digestive system can’t process it all. The tissues become resistant to allow the insulin to process the sugar. This is what is known as insulin resistance. Therefore, the sugar remains in the blood, sending blood glucose levels higher and higher. Type 2 Diabetes occurs mostly in adults and seniors, but is increasingly occurring in children as well.

When there is too much sugar in the bloodstream, all of the body’s main organ systems may be affected. Let’s take a look at each system:

  1. Cardiovascular – glucose in the bloodstream causes inflammation of the vessels, causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Over time, continued high blood sugar readings will affect the blood circulation in the extremities, causing numbness, tingling and eventual necrosis in the feet and hands, as well as erectile dysfunction, impotence and blindness.
  2. Gastro-intestinal – aside from gas, bloating, and elimination problems, the most obvious thing that relates to type 2 Diabetes is weight gain. Sugar turns into fat when not used as energy – and so weight gain occurs in 85-90% of type 2 Diabetics, with the bulk of the weight gain occurring around the waistline.
  3. Kidneys – these react by trying to filter the sugar out of the body, so people with high blood sugar will find themselves urinating more often. The body becomes dehydrated, so then the person will become thirsty. On top of that, the average Diabetic will not crave water, but rather something sugary and/or dehydrating, like soda, lemonade, juice or beer.
  4. Lungs – in Chinese medicine, the lungs regulate the releasing of fluids via perspiration. Diabetics will tend to have more spontaneous sweating, day and night. This will further deplete the body of vital fluids.
  5. Endocrine – when there is an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, all aspects of the endocrine system are out of balance. The endocrine system comprises glands like the pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenals and thyroid, releasing hormones that regulate every day bodily functions. The pancreas and liver are also integral parts of the endocrine system. They communicate closely with the other parts of the endocrine system as well as the brain. For instance, insulin, released by the pancreas, is a hormone of the endocrine system. Other hormone imbalances occur when there is an imbalance with blood sugar. The symptoms of these can be many, for example, insomnia, undue fatigue, the inability to lose weight, or cravings for sweet foods.

Many people have imbalances in one or more of these vital body systems, but never stop to think that it may have something to do with high blood sugar. It is wonderful to know that by normalizing blood sugar, many of those other symptoms may recede, allowing the body to become balanced once again.

I am excited to bring this leading edge information to you about blood sugar and type 2 Diabetes, and how to avoid it, control it – and yes – possibly reverse it!

This article is the first of a series on type 2 Diabetes. The next article will offer information on the causes of type 2 Diabetes. Part 3 will examine what to do to treat and possibly reverse Type 2 Diabetes.