Blood Sugar and Diabetes
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is very common in the American population. Our diet of highly refined, sweet, and starchy foods has created a reduced ability to process carbohydrates and has put a burden on the pancreas and adrenals. Years or decades of unaddressed hypoglycemia often creates insensitivity to insulin an the inability to get sugar efficiently into the cells, leading some to diabetes. For a hypoglycemic, a few simple and easy changes can have a dramatic effect for them: 1) eating some protein, fiber, and/or good fats with meals and snacks, 2) avoiding highly refined and sugary foods, 3) addressing sugar processing and cravings with nutritional supplements, and 4) eating healthy meals and snacks frequently.
Type II diabetes is one of the most common diseases in America. Fortunately, it is one of the most reversible and manageable. Unfortunately, most people do not know this. Even the American Diabetes Association website has circulated (in my opinion) irresponsible information. Most diabetics themselves know that sugar and foods that turn to sugar rapidly (bread, refined carbohydrates, starches) contribute to diabetes. However, I found the following information directly from the American Diabetes Association website in their FAQ section:
"Can I eat foods with sugar in them? For almost every person with diabetes, the answer is yes! Eating a piece of cake made with sugar will raise your blood glucose level. So will eating corn on the cob, a tomato sandwich, or lima beans. The truth is that sugar has gotten a bad reputation. People with diabetes can and do eat sugar. In your body, it becomes glucose, but so do the other foods mentioned above."
In their defense, the website then goes on to explain about moderation. "Eat too much, and 1) you'll send your blood glucose level up higher than you expected; 2) you'll fill up but without the nutrients that come with vegetables and grains; and 3) you'll gain weight." I don't disagree with this, but get the next part of the ADA's website, "So, don't pass up a slice of birthday cake. Instead, eat a little less bread or potato, and replace it with the cake. Taking a brisk walk to burn some calories is also always helpful."
Instead of explaining how corn, bread, even beans can be problematic for diabetics, they say that they are all good foods. They do not take the quality of the carbohydrate into consideration at all and consider high fiber and nutrient rich beans in the same category with cake – and instead of limiting both – they say both are good foods. Also, most people don't know what moderation means, and many don't exercise. It is irresponsible to tell people what they want to hear and is not doing them justice. They (ADA) assume all carbohydrates are equal and allow a great proportion of carbohydrates in the overall diet. Many holistic nutritionists feel that liberal amounts of bread and potatoes are not good choices either, so substituting cake for bread or bread for vegetables or whole grains is not a healthy alternative.
Even those with type I diabetes can greatly improve the quality and longevity of their lives with good nutrition. Richard Bernstein has a wonderful book for type I diabetics called Diabetes Solution.
You can change
Often, years and years of high sugar and carbohydrates created the diabetes, and making fundamental changes from these old ways are necessary. You can significantly impact hypoglycemia and diabetes with diet, and type II diabetes can be fully reversible (assuming you address it early).
This means focusing on vegetables, protein, good fats, and moderate consumption of whole grains. Avoiding processed foods, high flour and sugar foods, and refined carbohydrates (such as bread, pastries, pasta, white rice, high sugar foods and drinks). Additionally, review the suggestions above for hypoglycemics as they apply to diabetes as well. To determine the frequency and types of carbohydrates that are best for you, it is important to see a holistically-oriented nutrition consultant. Ask if they believe there is a difference in the quality of carbohydrates, whether they believe processed carbohydrates are more detrimental than whole grain, and whether they believe diabetes is "manageable" or "potentially reversible."