Diabetes is a prominent and problematic condition in the United States. The National Diabetes Statistics Reports estimates the diabetes affects over 30 million people in America alone.
Other studies show that prediabetes, a significant indicator and contributor to diabetes, is present in approximately one quarter of Americans. Without taking action to resolve their condition, those with diabetes and prediabetes are at significant risk of even greater health issues. However, through effective treatment and lifestyle changes, including optimization of dietary and nutrition practices, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to alleviate or reverse their condition entirely.
The Components of Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition that influences the amount of glucose present in the bloodstream. Glucose is a form of sugar used by cells and tissues throughout the body as a primary fuel source. As such, it is important to maintain the appropriate levels of glucose because deficiency or excess can cause major bodily malfunction. Diabetes causes glucose levels to increase and remain at an unhealthy value, which can cause a wide range of issues such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, metabolic syndrome and more.
Another important element of diabetes is insulin regulation. Insulin is a hormone produced primarily by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar by facilitating the conversion and transport of glucose. Type 2 diabetes triggers insulin resistance, which causes cells and tissues to become less responsive to the important regulatory hormone. This forces the body to produce additional insulin to simply maintain a healthy glucose level. If the body continues to compensate for the lack of receptivity, systems tasked with insulin production become overtaxed and exhausted resulting in limited insulin production, a decline in insulin levels, and an increase in circulating blood glucose. If left unchecked this can lead to seemingly uncontrollable glucose levels and severe health issues.
How Diet Influences Diabetes
The types of foods we consume have varying degrees of influence on circulating glucose levels. Therefore, our eating habits play a substantial role in the development and continuation of conditions such as diabetes. Carbohydrates and simple sugars increase glucose levels dramatically, proteins have a moderate impact, and fats cause the smallest amount of change. In addition to spiking glucose levels, consumption of simple carbohydrates also increases insulin production. As insulin levels rise, so too does the risk of diabetes. Because of this, those who consume primarily carbohydrates and sugary foods are far more likely to develop diabetes when compared to those with a more balanced diet.
Is It Possible to Reverse My Diabetes?
Many incorrectly believe that is an incurable condition. However, studies show that effective lifestyle and dietary changes can actually reverse type 2 diabetes. According to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that over 90 percent of all cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable through dietary and lifestyle improvements.
The key to reversing diabetes is weight loss and resolving insulin resistance. Unfortunately, these are two opposing forces. Poor insulin response causes the body to hold on to fat and greater prevalence of insulin increases hunger. Because individuals who are overweight typically have elevated levels of insulin, they often suffer from a vicious cycle of hunger and weight gain that further worsens insulin resistance and contributes to diabetes. This is part of why weight loss is particularly challenging among insulin resistant individuals and diabetics.
Watch as Dr. Holtorf discusses the possibility of reversing type 2 diabetes.
Creating a Diabetic Diet Plan
An important component of any diabetic diet is limiting the consumption of foods that are quickly converted to glucose. One simple way of identifying such foods is by checking its glycemic index (GI). The GI indicates how quickly sugars and starches within certain foods impact blood glucose levels. It is essential for those with diabetes to avoid consuming foods with a high GI. Some examples of high GI foods include simple sugars like white flour and white breads. Refined sugars such as these are converted immediately to glucose, which can cause an unwanted spike in glucose levels.
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not necessary for a complete well-balanced diet. Especially when considering a diabetic patient. Carbohydrate consumption is the single greatest contributor to blood sugar increases. Therefore, eliminating carbs from your diet, or cutting them as much as possible, is the best way to begin reversing diabetes. Removing carbs decreases glucose and prompts a reduction in insulin levels. These actions can have a profound effect on diabetes.
Although it may seem counter intuitive to weight loss, consuming more fat has been shown to be an effective component of diabetic diet plans. Fats have the smallest impact on glucose and by extension insulin. Replacing the bulk of your caloric intake with healthy fats as opposed to carbs helps normalize glucose and insulin thereby allowing for easier weight loss.
Helping You Defeat Diabetes Through Proper Nutrition
Those who are interested in reversing their diabetes and acquiring greater overall wellness should consider utilizing nutritional counseling or a nutrition coach. Holtorf Medical Group has recently begun offering nutritional services such as these from a certified Health and Nutrition Coach.
The Holtorf nutrition plans outline the ideal nutrition and lifestyle habits to help patients achieve their individual health and wellness goals. One on one interactions with our nutrition professionals helps ensure that the entirely customized nutrition plan covers all relevant topics including weight loss, anti-inflammatory and autoimmune diets, ways to combat metabolic syndrome, and more.
The nutritional services offered by Holtorf Med include information and discussion on many important topics including:
- Detoxification and the importance of reducing inflammation
- Exercise planning and habit building
- Food knowledge and how to become a healthier consumer
- Meal ideas, recipes, and, food prep
- Reducing medication through healthy alternatives and self-care
- Supporting internal systems
- Ways to improve waist size
Each of these practices can be incorporated into daily life to improve overall wellness and even reverse chronic conditions such as diabetes!
1. ADA Staff. “Diabetes Basics.” American Diabetes Association.
2. Colberg, Sheri R et al. “Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement.” Diabetes care vol. 33,12 (2010): e147-67.
3. Hallberg, Sarah J. et al. “Effectiveness and Safety of a Novel Care Model for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes at 1 Year: An Open-Label, Non-Randomized, Controlled Study.” Diabetes Ther (2018) 9: 583.
4. Stanhope, Kimber L. “Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy.” Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2015;53(1):52-67.
5. Cefalu WT, Stephens JM, Ribnicky DM. “iabetes and Herbal (Botanical) Medicine. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 19.