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.

Use the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load as natural ways to improve your health.

Obesity is a significant problem in our society. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss is incredibly difficult for most people. A major cause of weight gain in many people is elevated insulin levels. As described in prior articles, insulin is the “get fat and stay fat hormone”. If your insulin levels are high you will gain weight, which tends to be deposited in your belly. This is the dangerous fat, which leads to many diseases. Furthermore, high insulin levels lock in the fat already in your fat cells making weight loss extremely difficult, even with exercise. The glycemic index and glycemic loads are tools you can use to help you decide which foods to eat to help lower your insulin levels. Lower insulin levels will lead to weight loss and help to maintain weight.

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes our blood sugar levels to rise and how persistent the blood sugar remains elevated. The glycemic index (GI) ranks food on a scale from 0 to 100. Foods with a high GI are quickly digested and absorbed, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. This leads to a large and persistent increase in insulin secretion. Insulin is the storage hormone that leads to weight gain and prevents weight loss. The foods that rank high on the GI scale tend to be high in processed carbohydrates and sugars. Pretzels, for example, have a GI of 83 and a baked potato without the skin has a GI of 98.
On the other hand, foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed at a slower rate and, subsequently, cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels. This causes low or minimal increase in insulin levels. Low insulin levels lead to weight loss. Low GI foods are typically rich in fiber, protein and/or fat. Examples of these include apples with a glycemic index of 28, unsweetened Greek-style yogurt at 11, and peanuts at 7. Keep in mind that a low GI doesn’t necessarily mean that a food is high in nutrients or healthy. You still need to choose healthy foods high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Following a low GI diet can make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, since these foods keep us feeling fuller, longer. Low-GI diets have also been shown to improve insulin resistance, and lower glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

One criticism of the glycemic index is that since the scale was created on a standard amount of carbohydrate per food (50 grams), it does not give people information about the amount of food they are actually eating. A common example is carrots. Carrots have a high glycemic index, but to get 50 grams of carbohydrate from carrots, you have to eat 4 cups of chopped carrot. Most people cannot eat this amount of carrots at one sitting. For this reason, the concept of Glycemic load was created, which takes serving size into account. Glycemic load (GL) is a formula that corrects for potentially misleading GI by combining portion size and GI into one number. The carbohydrate content of the actual serving is multiplied by the food’s GI, then that number is divided by 100. So for a cup of beets, the GL would be: 13 times 64 = 832 divided by 100 = a GL of 8.3. As a frame of reference, a GL higher than 20 is considered high, between 11 and 19 is considered moderate, and 10 or less is considered low.

If you are trying to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, lower your blood sugar, or lower you triglycerides naturally try to eliminate high glycemic foods from your diet. Many people are “carbohydrate intolerant”, that is their bodies cannot tolerate the large amount of simple carbs they are ingesting on a daily basis. A lower GI diet which eliminates many processed carbs from the diet is a good natural way to improve your health.

Click on these links to tables listing foods and their glycemic index/load:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Harvard Medical School


Dr. Greenberg Published in Arizona Republic

Dr. Greenberg responds to an article in the Arizona Republic which claims sugar is harmless. Click the link below to read his response. The article was published on Tuesday, February 18, 2014.


Plan ahead

Planning ahead is critical to avoid wrecking your healthy lifestyle by sudden moments of temptation. If you get hungry at home and a big jar of candy or cookies is steering you in the face, keeping to your diet becomes quite difficult. If you get hungry and are at the mall, you may be tempted to eat one of those gooey chocolate chip cookies which you can seem to smell throughout the entire mall. Those large soft pretzels always seem to be calling my name! Furthermore, if you are on a road trip and get hungry you may be tempted by a snack at a convenience store such as chips or candy. The key is to plan ahead. At home, make sure you have healthy low calorie snacks ready to eat. Have fruit and vegetables cut up and ready to eat. Get rid of all junk food snacks. Do not even have them in your house, or you will be tempted! If you are going to be out, make sure you have snacks with you. Apples, oranges, bananas, and carrots are easy to carry along. Bring a small bag of nuts to munch on. You do not want to be in a situation where you are famished and then make bad food choices that you later regret. It can get difficult on the road when you are traveling. It is possible to eat healthy on the road, but it make take some extra time and effort. Look for grocery stores or markets that carry healthier choices. With computers and cell phones, it is now easy to find healthier options that are convenient. Look for restaurants that have healthier choices. Avoid fast food restaurants. When traveling, pack snacks to bring along with you. Long car trips can make you hungry – avoid mindlessly eating processed carbs such as chips, pretzels and cookies. Traveling through airports can also be difficult, especially when you are short on time and there are so many convenient fast food restaurants on the way to your gate. Again, plan ahead. Either bring food with you or look for healthy alternatives. Look for maps of the terminals to help find healthier options. Do not give in to temptation. Going out to the mall or traveling do not have to result in poor dietary choices. Plan ahead. Eat ahead of time. If your stomach is already filled, you will be  less likely to make bad choices. Do not wreck all your hard work by a quick momentary lapse of discretion. The calories in those gooey cookies and large soft pretzels add up quickly!

It is never too late to start taking care of yourself

Many people seem to feel that they are too old to start taking care of themselves. They say, “It is too late.” “It is too hard to change.” “It will not make a difference at my age.” These are all excuses. Many smokers feel that since they have smoked for so long, there is no point in quitting. I have seen many long-term hardcore smokers (40-50 years) who have been able to quit. It was not easy but they were able to do it. And you know what? They found that they started to feel better. They had less shortness breath and better exercise tolerance. Food started to taste better. It clearly was not too late. The same goes for one’s diet and weight. Sally was a feisty 76 year old widow. She was 75 pounds over weight. She was a diabetic and hypertensive on multiple medications. She was chronically tired. It was an effort just to get off the couch. She felt like pill time was another meal due the large handful of medications she was taking. She lived alone and never felt like cooking just for herself. She had multiple aches and pains that made getting out of bed painful. Her arthritis was getting worse. Her PCP told her she might soon need insulin for her diabetes. One day she decided that she had had enough. She did not want to live this way anymore. She started to change her diet. She started to increase the number of fruits and vegetables she ate every day. She stopped eating sweats. She increased the fiber in her diet to help her feel full. She started walking. Initially it was hard. She could only walk for 5 minutes. Soon she could do 10 minutes. Eventually she built up to 30 minutes. Slowly, the weight started to come off. It was slow, but steady. She lost 5 pounds the first month. She slowly started to feel better. She started to have more energy. Her shortness of breath improved. Her mood improved. She continued to watch her calories and her weight slowly continued to decrease. Before she knew it she had lost 25 pounds. Her blood pressure dropped. She was able to come off one of her blood pressure medications. Her blood sugar also dropped. She no longer needed insulin. Her PCP stopped one of her diabetes medications. People started to notice. They started to comment how good she was looking. She was able to get some nicer fitting clothing. She also noticed her aches and pains were improving. Her hips and knees both started to feel much better. Her mood was continuing to improve. She was feeling happy. Her entire life was changing – at age 76! It is never too late. She made a decision to live a new life. She was focused on overall good health. Good health is something we earn, especially as we get older. Making a commitment to maximizing your quality of life as you age is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Start today. Make a commitment to improving your health and your life. It is never too late!

What Step Forward Did You Take Today?

What steps forward did you take today to improve your health? Your goal should be continuous improvement. Small steps everyday will lead to big changes over time in your health and fitness. For example, cutting 100 calories a day from your diet can lead to a 10 pound weight loss over a year. What did you do today? Did you exercise? Did you try a new vegetable? Did you try a new healthy recipe? Did you not eat that dessert? By making continual small changes, new habits over time will be formed. The goal is to develop new healthy habits that become automatic. Reading these posts are not enough! You need to use the information to make changes in your life. Go back and read old posts. Review the information. Do something today! There is nothing you can do about yesterday. It is in the past. Tomorrow is always in the future. Today is the only day you can effect right now. Action is the key. Commit to making small changes everyday. Before you know it, major changes such as weight loss or lower cholesterol levels will manifest themselves. Do not procrastinate anymore. Seize the day!

Want to lose weight? Make sure you get enough sleep.

Most people do not think about their sleep habits when evaluating their health. Adequate sleep is critical when trying to lose weight, maintaining your weight and improving your overall health. Recent evidence suggests that your sleeping habits influence both your ability to lose weight and your tendency to eat more. People trying to lose weight were more likely to lose ten pounds when they slept between six and eight hours a night. People ate an average of nearly 300 calories more when they were sleep-deprived compared to when they were well rested. The calories overwhelmingly came from junk foods like ice cream and fast food. Other research found that among adults younger than 40, those who typically slept for five hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat. Another study found dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who only got 5.5 hours of sleep. These studies only scratch the surface of the research linking your sleeping habits with your body weight. What is the connection?  It is likely the effect of altered metabolism, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals you are full) falls, while ghrelin (the hormone which signals you are hungry) rises. In one study, researchers found that people who slept only four hours a night for two nights experienced an 18 percent reduction in leptin and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin This combination leads to an increase in appetite. As mentioned above, people ate 300 extra calories when they were sleep-deprived. Furthermore, sleep-deprived people tend to eat more sweet and starchy foods, as opposed to vegetables and proteins.  Sleep deprived people tend to crave sugary treats such as ice cream and candy. These sugar cravings may stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, your brain starts searching for carbohydrates to keep going. Increased intake of simple carbs (highly processed foods) leads to increased insulin levels and weight gain. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, and consistently give in to these sugar cravings, you will virtually guarantee weight gain. Other consequences of too little sleep include: high blood sugar levels/insulin resistance, an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, depression, accelerated aging, and an increased risk of cancer. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? If you feel well-rested and are able to wake up in the morning with no problem, you’re probably doing just fine in the sleep department. But if you’re fatigued, nodding off or yawning throughout the day, and just want to go back to bed when your alarm clock goes off in the morning, your sleep schedule may need some adjusting. Adults tend to need between six and eight hours of sleep every night. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Some people feel rested on as little as five hours a night, while others need as much as nine or ten in order to feel their best. The amount of sleep you need can also drastically change depending on circumstances. For example, most people need more sleep when feeling ill, or during emotionally stressful times. Pregnant women also typically need more sleep than usual during the first trimester. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. And don’t think you’re going to meet all of your sleep needs by sleeping in for one morning on the weekend.  Chronic lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. You cannot skimp on sleep during the weekdays, thinking you’ll “catch up” over the weekend. What’s needed is consistency, and when it comes to sleep, routine is the word. Good sleep habits are critical to your long-term health. Make sure you get a good nights sleep to improve your weight and overall health.