What is the number one cause of disease? What is the cure?

Diabesity is the leading cause of most chronic disease in the 21st century. Diabesity describes the continuum of metabolic abnormalities that ranges all the way from obesity to full blown diabetes. It includes mild blood-sugar elevation and insulin resistance. Those with diabesity are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.

Before a person becomes a diabetic, they go through a stage called insulin resistance. This means that their cells require more insulin than usual to force sugar into the cells. They have elevated resting blood sugars (greater than 100mg/dL. This problem is caused by many different lifestyle factors including physical inactivity, eating too many calories, high sugar and high starch snacks and meals, and a lack of dietary fiber. People in the insulin resistance stage complain of constantly being hungry, craving sweets, having trouble losing weight and enlarging bellies.

While there are some predisposing genes, diabesity and type 2 diabetes are almost entirely caused by lifestyle factors. Nutrition is the most important modifiable lifestyle factor. When your diet is full of empty calories and an abundance of quickly absorbed sugars such as liquid calories including sodas, juices, sports drinks or vitamin waters and refined or starchy carbohydrates including bread, pasta, rice and pastries, your cells slowly become numb to the effects of insulin. Your body thus needs more and more insulin to balance your blood-sugar levels. This leads to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and eventually full-blown diabetes.

Elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are the most important factors leading to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases. Increased levels of insulin, the fat-storage hormone, tell your body to lose muscle and gain weight around the belly. High insulin levels also drive inflammation and oxidative stress. These lead to many health issues including increased weight in the mid-section, inability to lose weight, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol), low libido, erectile dysfunction, infertility, joint aches and pain, hair growth in women, poor sleep, increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. These conditions are all directly caused and worsened by elevated levels of insulin and inflammation.

Since insulin resistance and diabesity are a direct result of poor diet and lifestyle, the condition is reversible in the majority of cases. Most people just need to eliminate the things that are sending their body out of balance and include what’s needed to help the body rebalance itself. For most, the interventions required are extremely simple and extraordinarily effective. Simply, eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates. Instead, eat whole real foods. These are foods without labels. Meals should include protein, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and beans. Regular physical activity is also important. Incorporate regular aerobic activities into your days. This means going for regular walks, swimming, playing tennis, or any other aerobic activity you enjoy.

You are responsible for taking back your health. No single change will completely allow you to take back your health. It is the hundreds of little choices you make every day that will transform your overall health and make a difference. Start making changes today and take back your health.

Insulin resistance – What is it and why is it so bad?

Insulin resistance is a condition characterized by an inability of the body to utilize the hormone insulin properly. When you eat, food is broken down into glucose to be used for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, tempers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream by helping glucose get into muscle, fat and liver cells. Insulin is a “key” that opens doors to the body’s cells, so glucose can enter. With insulin resistance, it’s like having locks that do not work. The keys won’t turn, and glucose can’t get into the cell. The pancreas, alarmed by the increase in blood sugar, cranks out more insulin. This cycle then feeds on itself, leading to higher and higher inulin levels in your blood.

 

People who have high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) in the body are called insulin resistant. This is because their pancreas continues to pump out more and more insulin in an effort to lower rising blood glucose levels. When an individual can no longer produce enough insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar, type 2 diabetes develops.

 

For those of you having difficult losing weight, high insulin levels make it very hard to lose those extra pounds because it “locks” the doors to fat cells.

 

Excess insulin is also highly inflammatory. As noted in previous articles, high levels of inflammation can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

 

An estimated one in three Americans is insulin resistant, a condition that puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and stroke.  Insulin resistance can be diagnosed based on medical history, risk factors, and lab tests. Abdominal obesity is a significant risk factor for insulin resistance. It is defined as a waist circumference of 102 cm (40 in) or more in men and 88 cm (35 inches) or more in women.

 

The following lab results suggest a diagnosis of insulin resistance syndrome:

 

  • A fasting glucose level between 100 and 124 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides of 150 mg/dl or higher.
  • HDL cholesterol of < 40 (men) or < 50 (women).
  • A blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher.

 

The good news is that insulin resistance is reversible. Losing weight is the best natural way to treat insulin resistance. Many people think they need to lose large amounts of weight (50lbs or even 100lbs) to reverse insulin resistance. This is not necessarily true. Losing even small amounts of weight (15-20lbs) can significantly lower blood sugar levels and insulin levels. The best long-term diet or life style is one that is low in sugar, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. Simple carbs such as bread, rice, flour, pasta, and cereals are quickly turned by the body into sugar and thus raise insulin levels. Eating complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are slowly digested and do not raise insulin levels. Complex carbs tend to have a lot of fiber, which will help lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Your daily goal should be at least 30 grams of fiber a day. (See prior article on fiber.) Combining protein and healthy fats with your meals will also slow down digestion of sugars and help keep your insulin levels from rising too much. Finally, aerobic exercise is also a great way to burn off extra glucose in your blood stream and lower your insulin levels naturally. Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and rowing for 20-30 minutes at a time 4-5 times a week can significantly lower both blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

 

 

How Much Sugar is too Much?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate found naturally in many foods, including fruits and grains. If the only sugar we consumed were in natural, whole foods, we’d all be okay. Unfortunately, the average American diet is full of refined, nutrient-depleted foods and contains an average of 20 teaspoons of added, refined sugar every day. Refined sugar overworks the pancreas and adrenal glands to keep the blood sugar levels in balance. When you eat sugar, it is quickly absorbed into your blood stream in the form of glucose. This puts your pancreas into overdrive, making insulin (which carries glucose to your cells to be used for energy) to normalize blood sugar levels. But this rapid release of insulin causes a sudden drop in blood sugar. In reaction to the falling blood sugar, excess adrenal cortisone is stimulated to raise blood sugar back to normal. A constantly high intake of simple dietary sugar keeps this roller coaster going and eventually overworks or “burns out” normal pancreas and adrenal function leading to adult-onset diabetes, hypoglycemia, and chronic fatigue. I hear all the time from patients that they do not eat junk food. They wonder why they should be concerned about sugar consumption. Unless you’re eating a diet entirely made of whole, unprocessed foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and grains), you’re probably eating more sugar than you think. Usually, much  more. Sugar, in its many forms, is added to virtually every packaged food product you’ll find at the supermarket – not just the sweet stuff.  Don’t be fooled by the ingredients list. Sugar has hundreds of pseudonyms and manufacturers have gotten very good at hiding them from consumers. (See below for list.) Because ingredients are listed from most to least amount, often several different types of sugars will be in the middle of the list. If all sugars were required to be listed together, sugar would be the first ingredient. To find out how much sugar you’re actually taking in, check the labels of the foods you eat. Make sure you look at serving sizes and multiply appropriately. 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar for women a day and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of sugar a day for men.Many people ask about “natural” sweeteners. Don’t be fooled, these “natural” sweeteners are only marginally better than plain white table sugar and dietary intake of them should be limited. I have enclosed below a list of names that sugar goes by on labels. Look for these names when looking at labels. Manufacturers try to be tricky. Do not be fooled. Take control of your weight and health!

 

Agave nectar
Barbados Sugar
Barley malt
Beet sugar
Blackstrap molasses
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane crystals
Cane juice crystals
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn syrup
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup solids
Crystalline fructose
Date sugar
Demerara Sugar
Dextrin
Dextran
Dextrose
Diastatic malt
Diatase
D-mannose
Evaporated cane juice
Ethyl maltol
Florida Chrystals
Free Flowing
Fructose
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Galactose
Glucose
Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Granulated sugar
Grape sugar
Grape juice concentrate
HFCS
High-fructose corn Syrup
Honey
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Lactose
Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltose
Mannitol
Maple syrup
Molasses
Muscovado sugar
Organic raw sugar
Panocha
Powdered sugar
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice Syrup
Sorbitol
Sorghum syrup
Sucrose
Sugar
Syrup Syrup
Table sugar
Treacle
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar