“Well my mom, dad, grandma, sisters and brother all have diabetes. So I guess I was just destined to have it as well”. This is an actual quote from an actual client. For a lot of individuals developing Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) seems like
something that is beyond their control and will just happen at some point in their life.
If you are one of those who feel T2DM is in your cards or are already struggling with T2DM listen up! For most individuals T2DM is both preventable and reversible!
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes develops gradually over time. Normally, the pancreas produces insulin to remove glucose from the blood when it is high. But over time the body can become desensitized to insulin’s effects. The more carbohydrates and sugar you eat, the higher blood glucose levels are more often. This leads the pancreas to produce more and more insulin and the body’s cells become used to these high levels of insulin and start to ignore the message from insulin, leaving you with elevated blood sugar levels. This is referred to as insulin resistance and is the starting point of developing T2DM.
The current standard of treatment for someone with T2DM is aimed at controlling elevated blood glucose levels through medication. Sometimes, the recommendation is given to change nutrition and lifestyle habits, but even those conventional recommendations don’t get to the root cause of the issue. Traditional diet advice for diabetics is carbohydrate counting, which is aimed at dividing the amount of carbohydrates consistently throughout the day at meal and snack time. This method is well intentioned, but these diets are often still high in carbohydrates, recommending that 45-60 grams of carbs be consumed at every meal and 15-30 grams at every snack. To put this in perspective, 4 grams of carbohydrate has the same impact on blood glucose levels as 1 teaspoon of sugar. So a meal containing 45 grams of carbs would be like eating about 11 teaspoons of sugar once it hits your bloodstream.
How Can I Prevent or Reverse my Diabetes?
Here are 3 changes I recommend to take control of your blood sugar destiny today!
- Opt for whole foods. You should start choosing whole or real foods when it is mealtime. Whole foods are just food that is as close to the form it is found in nature as possible. The more often you are choosing to eat vegetables, fruit, quality animal meats and healthy fats, the less often you are choosing foods that have a significant impact on blood sugars like breads, pastas, cookies and more. These foods are very carbohydrate dense and often contain added sugars, which contribute to the problem of elevated blood glucose.
- Balance meals to balance blood glucose. Every time you eat you should balance your meal with each of the 3-macronutrient categories: protein, fat and carb. Quality matters here so let’s take a look at quality sources for each of these categories (note, these are not comprehensive lists by any means). Protein should be coming from high quality animal sources like meat, fish and eggs to name a few. Fat should consist of “healthy fats” like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Carbohydrates are best from vegetables, fruit and some whole grains. Make sure you have each of these cateogies filled at mealtime an this will help slow the digestion and absorption of carbs and lessen their impact on blood glucose levels.
- Don’t overdo it. I’ve just explained that carbs turn to sugar in the blood stream, which directly impacts blood glucose, insulin and development of diabetes. You may be tempted to just eliminate carbs all together. Don’t! We need all 3 macronutrients to sustain our bodies and have the energy we need to make it through the day. Instead of eliminating carbs focus on choosing quality nutrient dense carbs as discussed.
The effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar is just one piece of the puzzle to solving diabetes. To help dig deeper and figure out what underlying causes need to be addressed specifically for you seek the guidance of a Functional Medicine doctor. At Premier Integrative Health our team is knowledgeable and supportive in helping you take control of your health. To learn more about how we can help transform YOUR health contact us to set up a free 20 minute consult.
Written by: Abby Stanley, MS RDN LD
Abby has recently joined the PIH team as a Functional Nutritionist. She is also the owner and CEO of Revive Nutrition Solutions, LLC. She loves helping others improve their health and life through nutrition an advocate for eating REAL food!