03 May How to Tame Your Sweet Tooth
By Dr. Damon Daniels
Over the years modern society has made sugars available in many edible forms. Candies, Cakes, Pastries and high fructose drinks are easily available at a relatively low cost. In addition, the development of fast-food franchising has had an impact on the overall obesity rates in the United States of America. In fact some studies reveal that in the past 30 years more Americans are eating less food prepared at home while the percentage of foods eaten outside the home has increased.
The unfortunate consequence is that more Americans have developed a medical condition called “Pre-Diabetes”. Pre-diabetes is often referred to as borderline diabetes or a “touch of sugar” in laymen’s terms. In fact, approximately 86 Americans (1 out of 3) currently have prediabetes. In addition about 90% of those Americans don’t know they have it. The reason this medical condition is important is because about 20 -30% of pre-diabetics will develop DIABETES within 5 years of developing it.
The theory behind the cause of prediabetes is related to the body’s ability to balance a hormone caused Insulin. Insulin a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the main fuel of the body called glucose. Over time weight gain can cause insulin to be less effective at allowing the tissues of the body to use glucose. In other words, insulin unlocks the door to cells in the muscles of the body and the brain. When it can’t unlock the cells then glucose levels rise in the bloodstream. This is called “Insulin Resistance”.
How is prediabetes diagnosed?
Pre-diabetes occurs when the average blood sugars range between 100 – 125 mg/dl. Another test that measures blood sugar control is the Hemoglobin A1c test. This test give a single number that correlates to the average blood sugars over a THREE MONTH period of time. Pre-diabetics have a Hemoglobin A1c between 5.7 and 6.4%.
Can prediabetes be reversed?
Fortunately prediabetes can be reversed by targeting the underlying process of insulin resistance. The goal is to make lifestyle changes that will improve the ability of cells in the body to use Insulin. These lifestyle changes reduce insulin resistance and will help the body use glucose effectively. These lifestyle changes are as follows:
- Increase the amount of exercise in your lifestyle ( to include building muscle mass)
- Eat a diet low in simple carbs and high in healthy carbs, whole grains/nuts and healthy proteins.
- Consider adding the supplement Chromium to your diet
Several studies show that insulin resistance improves by up to 40% after someone exercises for 30 minutes. This improvement occurs within one hour of exercise. In addition exercise that includes building muscle mass is helpful to improve blood sugar control. In fact increased muscle mass decreases the risk of developing prediabetes. I would suggest an exercise regimen that includes a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training. For individuals who don’t exercise regularly I would suggest consulting with a personal trainer or exercise specialist to prevent injury.
Diet is a very important part of reversing pre-diabetes and insulin resistance. In general you want to have a diet that includes the following elements.
- Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables. ( Avoid starchy veggies like rice and potatoes
- Limit Simple Sugars ( i.e. sweets, candies, sugary drinks)
- Eat a variety of beans. They have a lot of fiber which regulates sugar levels
- Consume lean meats as a part of your meals. These include fish, chicken, and turkey
- Eggs are OK but limit to no more than 5-6 per week
- You can eat healthy oils. They include olive and canola oil. Oils from nuts are healthy as well. Be careful about the amount of nuts eaten because they can be high in calories
- Drink Plenty of Water. Water cleanses the system. Make sure your water is properly filtered as many water sources may not have the best purity.
Finally, consider adding the supplement Chromium in your diet. Chromium has been shown in some small studies to reduce insulin resistance. The dose can range from 500 – 1000 mcg per day. Please consult your healthcare provider to make sure that it is safe to take especially if you are on prescription medications.
Hopefully these tips will help you tame your sweet tooth and help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Remember moderation is key. In addition, exercise is a very important KEY in reversing prediabetes.