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Understanding and Managing Type II Diabetes

Updated on June 6, 2017
Bitter melon
Bitter melon | Source

This discussion is intended almost entirely for non-insulin-dependent Type II diabetics. While some insulin-dependent diabetics may be helped by this discussion, regulating blood sugar by means of insulin injections is way above my pay-scale.

This article is an overview—an attempt to summarize what I’ve learned about managing Type II diabetes, both from much reading and research, and from personal experience.

What I’ve tried to do here is to summarize a large collection of information from many different sources, which I hope will be valuable to readers.

DIABETES: A MODERN EPIDEMIC

The chart at the right shows how the incidence of diabetes in the US increased from less than 1% of the population in 1958, to nearly 7% in 2009. Since 2009, the incidence of diabetes in the US has climbed still higher—in a chart that was already starting to look like it was going parabolic: A New York Times article dated September 9, 2013, stated that the percentage of the US population now suffering from diabetes is 11.3%!

According to IDF (International Diabetes Federation) President Pierre Lefebvre, “Diabetes is fast becoming the epidemic of the 21st century.” Perhaps surprisingly, this epidemic is worldwide. In the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East (as of 2006), 9.2% of the population was affected, and as of 2013, China’s diabetes rates passed those of the US: 11.6% of Chinese adults have the disease.

These figures are for percentages of diagnosed diabetes. Because type II diabetes can remain undetected for years, the prevalence of diabetes is likely far higher than figures indicate.

It is estimated that up to 27% of people in the US with diabetes (about 7 million) are undiagnosed. Further, it is estimated that more than a third (35%) of people over 20 in the US have pre-diabetes. These figures are truly alarming.

The ADA recommends that health-care professionals should assess patients for risk factors for diabetes, and test those whose risk factors are high. In my opinion, if testing for diabetes and pre-diabetes is not part of your annual physical check-up, you should ask your doctor to test for this. While my visits to the doctor were rare before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I suspect that a simple stick and testing with an ordinary over-the-counter glucose meter would have revealed elevated blood sugar for at least five years before I was diagnosed.

If you have several of the typical symptoms of diabetes, it might be worthwhile for you to purchase an inexpensive glucose meter and check your blood sugar. (See the section on Testing Your Blood Sugar for how to evaluate your test results.)

In addition to all these alarming statistics, many health-care professionals argue that the guidelines for diagnosing diabetes are far too lax.

“Years ago a committee of medical experts whose task was to decide how diabetes should be diagnosed decided it was better to avoid diagnosing patients with diabetes than to give them early warning that they were suffering pre-diabetic elevated blood sugars. As a result, these medical experts intentionally set the standards for diagnosing diabetes artificially high, so that most patients will not get diagnosed until their blood sugar reaches a level where they are in serious danger of going blind.

Their reasons for doing this made sense 25 years ago when these diagnostic criteria were originally crafted. At that time there was no treatment that could help people with early diabetes and a diabetes diagnosis could make it impossible to get health or life insurance. That made the experts conclude that an early diagnosis of diabetes was more likely to harm than help their patients and motivated them to set diagnostic criteria that would not diagnose patients until late in their disease process.” http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/14046782.php

Another factor in assessing pre-diabetes is that blood glucose levels in normal healthy people are far lower than you would expect:

“According to continuous glucose monitoring studies of healthy people, a normal fasting blood sugar is 83 mg/dL or less. Many normal people have fasting blood sugar in the mid-to-high 70s.

“[One] study showed that even after a high-carb meal, normal people’s blood sugar rises to about 125 mg/dL for a brief period, with the peak blood sugar being measured at 45 minutes after eating, and then drops back under 100 mg/dL by the two hour mark.” http://chriskresser.com/when-your-%E2%80%9Cnormal%E2%80%9D-blood-sugar-isn%E2%80%99t-normal-part-2

Truly “normal” blood-glucose levels are far lower than anyone would guess, based on standard diagnostics.

Increased incidence of diabetes 1958-2009
Increased incidence of diabetes 1958-2009 | Source

MY STORY

I ignored obvious symptoms of diabetes for years: fatigue, extreme thirst, frequent urination, and dehydration that caused my mouth to become so dry at night that it made me miserable. Fatigue was also making me miserable. I love gardening, hiking, swimming, and camping—with a little river-rafting thrown into the mix. Home renovation—made an absolute necessity due to living in a fixer-upper—was physically challenging work that I had always loved. I had less and less energy for any of these pleasurable and rewarding projects.

Oddly, while I knew I had many symptoms of diabetes, my denial was complete. I couldn’t have diabetes. I had been a nearly life-long health nut; I had made it a habit to eat a lot of whole grains and vegetables. Summer meals were often salads. While I did not make a special effort to avoid sweets, I have never had a sweet tooth, and a soda was a rare treat.

I did enjoy baking—especially homemade bread—and gooey desserts and fried foods were more frequent in winter, which tends to bring on calorie cravings. It seemed to me that I was far less indulgent than most people.

Diabetes couldn’t happen to me, right?

Sure, I was slightly overweight—maybe 20 pounds—but ignoring that is one of the rewards of growing older.

Then the dramatic weight-loss began. It was unintended. My pants and jeans became so loose that they were threatening to fall off. I was puzzled. Why did my clothes seem too big? Had I bought several outfits without trying them on first? For months, I was unaware that I was losing weight and thought I must have inadvertently bought clothing that was too big.

After a few months, I had a shocking realization: I was becoming emaciated.

As is not uncommon among undiagnosed diabetics who are experiencing alarming weight-loss, I began loading up on carbs to try to keep the weight on. I gobbled home-baked breads and even started drinking Coke—a recipe for making a diabetic very ill indeed. I became so exhausted that, when I visited a gardening friend, she asked if I “felt up to” walking outdoors to look at her garden. And I had to cut the visit short because of raging hunger. (At this stage of diabetes, the body is literally starving, due to its inability to metabolize food.)

After a couple of months of lying on the sofa and drinking Coke and orange juice “to keep my energy up,” the night came when I felt so ill that I went to the ER.

At the ER, I learned that my blood sugar had soared to 470. I was given an insulin shot and admitted, and spent nearly 48 hours lying in a hospital bed, feeling almost too weak even to read, and incredibly grateful to have three meals a day brought to me. I had been almost too weak to cook for myself for many weeks and had been eating mostly either prepared foods, or stuff right out of the box or wrapper. It had been awhile since I’d had a decent meal.

After two days, I was sent home with a couple of prescriptions (Metformin and blood-pressure medication), a glucose meter, and a huge pile of dietary advice. The literature on the appropriate diabetic diet was full of pictures of glowing-with-health oldsters but, being a noob at this diabetic stuff, I could not understand the actual dietary advice.

During my hospital stay, I was told I needed to limit myself to five servings of carbs per meal. (One serving of carbohydrates equals 15 grams.) The hospital dietician advised me that I should limit carbs more strictly, once I got home: Cut it down to four servings of carbs per meal.

I found that, for me at least, four servings of carbs per meal (which equals 60 grams) was far too much if I hoped to maintain reasonable blood-sugar control. Indeed, this would be far too many carbs for most diabetics.

THE BASICS OF TYPE II DIABETES

Being diabetic means that your body has largely lost the ability to metabolize carbohydrates. In Type II diabetes, this is partly because your body’s cells have become insulin resistant.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin is the hormone that regulates the body’s carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Insulin is what enables the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. You can think of insulin as the “key” that opens the door to the body’s cells, so that the glucose in the bloodstream can enter and be used for energy production. One diabetes educator describes this as a condition in which the “locks” in the cells that are opened by insulin are “frozen” or “rusty.” This is part of the explanation for the fatigue diabetics experience; the glucose that is needed to provide the fuel for muscular activity can’t get into the cells.

Since blood glucose can’t enter the cells to be burned to produce energy, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing elevated blood sugar.

The body responds by producing more insulin—which is related to weight gain: “Once established, insulin resistance would result in increased circulating levels of insulin. Since insulin is the primary hormonal signal for energy storage into fat cells…IR stimulates the formation of new fatty tissue and accelerates weight gain.”

In other words, there is a good argument that diabetes and pre-diabetes cause weight-gain and obesity, rather than vice versa.

Insufficient Insulin Production Due to the Death of Beta Cells in the Pancreas

The pancreas responds to the elevated blood sugar by producing more insulin, but the body can’t make enough insulin to compensate for the cells’ resistance. The pancreas’s beta cells (the ones that produce insulin) gradually die of exhaustion, so that the body’s ability to produce insulin is eventually diminished.

Hence, if you are a full-blown Type II diabetic, you have two problems: Reduced insulin production caused by beta-cell death, and cellular insulin resistance.

According to doctors, prolonged exposure to blood sugars above 140 mg/dL causes irreversible beta cell loss.

As a side note: Some newer research indicates that many of the non-functioning pancreatic beta cells are not dead:

“A new study by Columbia medical researchers Domenico Accili and Chutima Talchai suggests that the disease progresses in a different way. In experiments on mice, the researchers have shown that worn-down pancreas cells do not typically die but instead regress to an earlier stage of their development, when they were undifferentiated ‘progenitor’ cells not yet capable of functioning in an adult body.”

“This appears to solve a mystery that had emerged in recent years. ‘When you look at a diabetic pancreas, you find very few, if any, dead beta cells, which are the ones that make insulin,’ says Accili, a professor of medicine, whose paper appeared in the September 14 issue of the journal Cell. ‘So the organ dysfunction is out of proportion with the number of dead cells. Nobody has had a plausible explanation for this.’” http://magazine.columbia.edu/explorations/winter-2012-13/hope-new-life-diabetic-pancreas-cells

Hence, there is some hope that these regressed beta cells could be revived. (More on this later.)

THE BASICS OF MANAGING TYPE II DIABETES

The first thing you need to do, if you are a newly diagnosed Type II diabetic, is to get your blood sugar down. You will not begin to feel significantly better until your blood sugar has been controlled at normal, or near-normal, levels.

The second thing you need to know about this process is that it will take time. Even with careful attention to your diet, the excess glucose in your bloodstream will take some time to be excreted by the body. In addition, it will take time for you to regain strength and energy, even after blood glucose is reasonably controlled. Prolonged elevated blood glucose has likely caused quite a bit of damage to your body—and probably was causing quite a bit of damage to your body for years before you were diagnosed.

At first, you will need to test your blood sugar frequently, until you have a good understanding of what foods, and what amounts of foods, are likely to raise your blood sugar beyond acceptable levels.

Once you’ve settled into a routine of healthy, low carb eating, you probably don’t need to be OCD about testing, unless you are introducing a new food. But it’s still good to test fairly regularly. Factors other than your eating habits (such as stress, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep) can also influence your blood glucose levels.

Achieving good blood-sugar control will take time. Feeling good again may take more time.

One diabetes educator, the woman who heads our local diabetes support group, told me not to expect instant results.

I told her plaintively, “I just want my strength and energy back!”

“It will probably be at least six months before you begin to feel well again,” she replied.

This woman, incidentally, is a huge diabetes success story: She has been able to control her blood sugar to well within the normal range. She lost nearly 100 pounds since her diagnosis and looks at least ten years younger than she did when I first met her about ten years ago—I guess that means she looks about 20 years younger. She is in her 50s and still full of energy and vitality.

As far as I’ve been able to discover, there is no real cure for diabetes. But if blood glucose levels are aggressively managed with diet, exercise, weight loss (if needed), and medications, you should be able to keep your blood glucose levels within the normal or near-normal range and prevent the disease from progressing.

Since there are devastating adverse health effects to out-of-control blood sugar, it’s well worthwhile to manage diabetes aggressively.

Source

Testing Your Blood Sugar

Use a glucose meter to test your blood sugar. The main measures of blood sugar are fasting blood sugar and “postprandial” blood sugar. These are the most common measurements that are used to determine whether you are diabetic.

Normal fasting blood sugar is between 70 and 100. If a person’s fasting blood sugar is between 100 and 125, they are considered pre-diabetic. If a person’s fasting blood sugar is 126 or higher, they are diagnosed as diabetic.

Post-prandial (after eating) blood sugar is measured two hours after eating. Normal after-eating blood sugar is 140 or less. The pre-diabetic range is 140-199. If your blood sugar is 200 or more two hours after eating, you are diagnosed as diabetic.

By testing both your fasting blood sugar and your after-eating blood sugar, you will be able to see your progress. You should probably plan to test your blood sugar at least twice a day, at first, and to keep a record of glucose meter readings. You may also want to keep a record of what you eat and how much you exercise, so that you can see how different types of foods and different levels of exercise affect your blood sugar.

You are probably safe in testing less frequently, once you have settled on a diet and exercise routine, and have established (by testing) that it is keeping your blood sugar within your target range.

Recommended target blood sugar ranges differ. The ADA (American Diabetic Association) suggests a fasting glucose range of 70-130, and and after-eating range of <180. The ACE recommends fasting glucose should be kept under 110 and an after-eating glucose should be kept under 140.

Your best bet is to work with your doctor in setting target blood-glucose ranges.


How to Test Your Blood Sugar

Test your blood sugar with a glucose meter, using it as directed.

Test fasting blood sugar as soon as you get up in the morning. As our local diabetes educator described the timing of the fasting blood sugar test, “After you get up in the morning and go to the bathroom, immediately wash your hands and test your blood sugar.” This is a first-thing-in-the-morning test.

Test post-prandial (after eating) blood sugar two hours after taking the first bite of your last meal.

Before testing your blood sugar, wash your hands thoroughly. I think it’s a good idea to dry your hands with a paper towel. Don’t touch anything after washing your hands. If you get anything on your fingers before testing—such a food residues that might be on a kitchen towel—your blood glucose reading will not be correct. Some people clean the finger they are drawing blood from with a cotton pad or cotton ball saturated with alcohol, instead of washing with soap and water.

You should keep a record of your blood glucose readings. It wouldn’t hurt to also record the time of day you tested, as well as the foods you have eaten.

If you can’t afford to buy endless numbers of test strips, one good strategy is to test only once daily, but at different times of the day and after different meals.

How To Get Your Blood Sugar Down with Diet

The first step to lowering and controlling your blood sugar to limit your dietary intake of carbohydrates. Foods that are high in carbohydrates are foods that contain sugars and starches. This includes all foods or beverages sweetened with sugar in any form, whether sugar, honey, corn syrup, HFCS, fructose, molasses, maple syrup, and other natural sweeteners.

Fruits with a high sugar content, such as oranges and bananas, should be limited. Sweet fruit juices—especially orange juice—even if they have no added sugar or other sweeteners, should be avoided altogether.

Limit or Eliminate All Forms of Sugar from Your Diet

Strictly limit sugar in any form. Diabetics rely heavily on artificial sweeteners. Opinions vary as to the healthfulness of the many artificial sweeteners available. I use stevia, because some authorities maintain that other artificial sweeteners are detrimental to health in one way or another. Other authorities point out that some studies showing that a particular artificial sweetener was harmful were financed by the company’s competitors.

Many diabetics find that they can tolerate small amounts of sugars. How much can you tolerate? This is a highly individual matter that depends on the severity of your diabetes, and also on your determination to maintain good blood-glucose control. The best—and only—way to know if you are able to tolerate small amounts of sugars is to test: Check your blood sugar one hour after eating sugar and decide whether the resulting blood sugar spike is within your target range.

Everyone is different.

Limit Your Carbohydrate Intake

Diabetics must learn to count carbs. Almost all packaged foods list the number of grams of carbohydrates per serving on their labels.

If your blood sugar was very high at the time you were diagnosed—or if your blood sugar is just plain high—you may want to limit carbs fairly severely, until blood sugar levels have stabilized within a reasonably normal range.

Read the labels of all packaged foods, so that you know how many grams of carbohydrate they contain per serving. Become informed about the carbohydrate content of foods that are unlabelled. You can find this information online, or you may want to purchase a book so that you have this information at hand.

How many grams of carbohydrates should you consume per meal, and per day?

This again is an individual matter. The only way to know how many carbs you, personally, can consume without spiking your blood sugar beyond your target range is by testing to find out.

In general, most diabetics can maintain their blood sugar at an acceptable level by limiting carbohydrates to two servings (30 grams) per meal. Give preference to foods that are not only low in carbohydrates, but that also have a low glycemic index.

The glycemic index of a food is the measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating them. It is measured on a scale of 1-100, in comparison to glucose, which has a glycemic index of 100.

Here is a link that provides a guide to the glycemic index of many foods:

http://www.webnat.com/articles/Glycemix.asp

Glycemic Index Reference Range


High glycemic index = 70-100

Moderate glycemic index = 50-70

Low glycemic index = <50

NOW THAT YOU KNOW YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO FOOD, WHAT CAN YOU EAT?


My initial reaction to the constraints of the diabetic diet was to conclude that I was allergic to food.

This is not true. You are allowed to eat.

Many foods have no carbohydrates at all. These foods are proteins and fats. You can eat unlimited amounts of meat—beef, fish, and poultry—eggs, and cheese. Fats also have no carbohydrates, although most dietary advice for diabetics suggests limiting fats. (More about this later.)

You should count carbs carefully, until you get a feel for the diet that works best to control your blood sugar. (Read the labels on all foods! Almost everything that has a label will tell how many grams of carbohydrates the product contains per serving.)

There are several schools of thought about the best diet for diabetics. Eventually, however, it is likely become clear that you do best when eating meals that consist of protein and vegetables. It is helpful if you eat a lot of vegetables raw. Dark green leafy vegetables—and dark green vegetables of all kinds—are you friends. Unsweetened fresh or frozen fruit, if it is relatively low in carbohydrates, is also fine in moderate amounts: Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are especially good.

Carb cravings are best satisfied with beans and other legumes. Black beans and chickpeas have an especially low glycemic index, but beans and legumes of other kinds (such as pinto beans, lima beans, and lentils) are also excellent.

While milk is a protein food, it is relatively high in carbohydrates, due to the milk-sugar (lactose) it contains. Low-fat and skim milk are higher in carbohydrates than whole milk. Heavy cream contains no carbohydrates.

Many diabetics substitute unsweetened almond milk for cow’s milk, because it is very low in carbohydrates. Since almost my only form of milk consumption is in coffee or tea, I use heavy cream instead of milk.

While potatoes are a vegetable, one medium potato contains 28 grams of carbohydrates, so it seems reasonable to limit consumption of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are considered a good choice for diabetics because sweet potatoes’ glycemic index is far lower than that of white potatoes (85 for white potatoes, 54 for sweet potatoes).

Raw unsalted nuts of all kinds are excellent for diabetics.

Yes, you should count carbs and measure portions—as some say, in direful tones, “for the rest of your life”—you could largely forget about this, PROVIDED you eat only foods that have no carbohydrates, are low in carbohydrates, and have a low glycemic index.

What does this mean? This means you essentially eat what is called the Paleo diet, which consists only of foods that would have been eaten by your stone-age ancestors: meat (and other proteins like eggs and cheese) and vegetables—non-starchy vegetables. This diet would also include nuts, unsweetened fruits, and legumes. Unsweetened Greek yogurt is much lower in carbs that other yogurts, and could also be included.

The Paleo diet is inherently very low in carbohydrates, and some argue that diabetes has become so prevalent is because the humans evolved on a diet of meat and wild fruits and vegetables—a diet that was very low in carbohydrates and sweets—and that our bodies can’t handle the modern diet, which is overloaded with carbs and sweets.

If you have ham and eggs or bacon and eggs for breakfast, you will have eaten a no-carb breakfast. If you have a ham and cheese omelet for breakfast and include onions and peppers in the omelet, the carb load of this meal will be very low.

If you have a piece of meat or fish for lunch or dinner, paired with raw or cooked vegetables, this meal would be very low in carbohydrates. For example, two cups of green beans contain only 24 grams of carbohydrate (less than two servings), and the meat or fish contains none at all.

If you have no more than 30 grams (two servings) of carbohydrates per meal, and no more than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, you should be doing fine. On a Paleo diet, this is pretty easy to do. If one meal contained no carbs, you could enjoy the allowed 30 grams of carbs later, as a snack of nuts and fruit or yogurt and fruit, or as a mid-afternoon salad, or a snack of raw vegetables with hummus or cheese.

If you are a vegetarian, a diet consisting of lots of vegetables, along with eggs, cheese, unsweetened Greek yogurt, and legumes will also work. The book The End of Diabetes, by Joel Fuhrman, is an excellent guide to vegetarian diabetes control. (Fuhrman’s diet does allow occasional fish.)

My opinion of Fuhrman’s diet: I found it provides very good blood-sugar control. As long as I could stick to it, I was able to keep my blood sugar in the normal range. However, I was only able to stick to this diet during the summer months. During cold weather, the body’s calorie needs are much higher, and I found that I needed to switch to a diet that included meat, fish, and more fats. Fuhrman’s diet restricts fats severely, which is perhaps the biggest problem of staying on this diet. (It makes it hard to get enough calories.) The book focuses heavily on weight loss, which is unhelpful for the thin, underweight, or even emaciated diabetic. I think it is a good approach for the overweight diabetic, especially if they live in a warm climate. If you are an underweight diabetic, you can modify this diet to include more fats (and perhaps more animal proteins) to assure that you get enough calories.

Fuhrman’s diet could be considered a kind of modified (and mostly vegetarian) paleo diet. There’s little in the diet that would not have been eaten by our Stone Age ancestors, but at the same time it prohibits or restricts many of the things they would have eaten, such as animal fats and meats other than fish.

One of the best things about Fuhrman’s approach is that involves eating lots of vegetables. This means you are eating a lot of nutrition-dense foods, and since that’s about all you are eating, you scarcely need to count carbs.

My approach is to limit carbs to two servings (30 grams) per meal or less, to almost completely avoid grains, to eat lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of legumes, nuts, and low-carb fruits—but to eat as much of the protein foods as I seem to need to meet calorie needs. I do not limit fats, though I think it is critical for diabetics to consume only healthy fats. (See the discussion about fats below.)

Like everyone else, I cheat once in a while. Sometimes the desire for polenta or a real sandwich on real bread is overwhelming—and few of us will turn down a slice of the cake at our daughter’s wedding.

But this is an approach that I have found is do-able. Whichever approach you choose to the diabetic diet, eat lots of vegetables! This will provide the nutrients that will help heal your body of the damage diabetes has already caused. My chiropractor once made what I consider a very profound statement: “Give your body what it needs and it will heal itself.”

What You Shouldn’t Eat

You know you shouldn’t eat sugar, but here’s something else you shouldn’t eat, or should very severely limit: Almost all grains. Avoid wheat, corn, and oats, especially—including all products that are made from them, or in which they are an important ingredient.

Wheat, especially, is a BIG culprit in elevated blood-glucose levels. Why? Wheat—even whole wheat—is almost pure carbohydrate. What’s worse, the glycemic index of wheat is higher than the glycemic index of table sugar. If you don’t believe me, check out the above link listing the glycemic index of common foods. Whole wheat bread has a glycemic index of 69. White bread has a glycemic index of 70. Bagels (which I loved) have a glycemic index of 72. Common table sugar has a glycemic index of 65.

If you are eating wheat in any form, you might just as well have a candy bar instead—or just eat out of the sugar bowl.

But…but…but…. Humans have been eating wheat for thousands of years, right? The armies of ancient Rome are said to have subsisted largely on wheat. Yet it is only in modern times that the incidence of diabetes is becoming epidemic.

The reason is this: Modern strains and hybrids of wheat bred since around 1950 have a far higher glycemic index than earlier strains and hybrids of wheat. While modern wheat can be up to ten times as productive, per acre, compared to older forms of wheat, these advances in productivity have come at a high cost. (For a really full discussion of this issue, read Wheat Belly, by William David, MD.)

In my very humble opinion, our current epidemic of diabetes may be partly the effect of the ubiquitous modern wheat in our diets, with a glycemic index that it higher than table sugar. It is probably also largely responsible for current levels of obesity.

It is my belief that diabetics should avoid modern wheat and modern wheat products altogether, and should severely limit other grains, such as rice, cornmeal, and oats. While these last have a lower glycemic index compared to wheat, they are pure carbohydrates, and you are likely to find that they cause blood-sugar spikes. Testing your blood sugar after eating these grains is your best guide to your body’s ability to tolerate them.

As with all things related to diabetes, tolerance of many foods differs among individuals, and it is up to everyone to decide on their own blood-sugar target range. It’s often good to decide on the target range with the help of your physician or endocrinologist, but it’s ultimately up to you.

But there is one thing you can do, if you find it intolerable to completely eliminate wheat from your diet. Switch to wheat products made from ancient strains of wheat, such as einkorn wheat, kamut, and spelt.

Here is a comparison of the glycemic indexes (taken from the above link) of ancient versus modern wheat:

White wheat flour = 85

White sandwich bread = 85

Spelt bread = 50

Spelt, einkorn = 40

Kamut flour = 45

As you can see, one of the chief characteristics of these ancient forms of wheat is their far lower glycemic index. The glycemic index of einkorn wheat is low enough that it is nearly down there with black beans, which have a glycemic index of 35.

If you feel that you must occasionally indulge in pasta, you can purchase einkorn wheat pasta at most health food stores. Spelt flour is available at my local health-food store. Einkorn, spelt, and kamut flour can be purchased online.

You can use these ancient-wheat flours to make baked goods, such as pie crusts and waffles. There are many recipes online for preparing baked goods with ancient flours. But do check the carbohydrate load per serving, and don’t overindulge.

Of the three most commonly available ancient-wheat flours and products, einkorn wheat seems to be the best choice. Einkorn wheat is Stone Age wheat—the original ancient and completely unhybridized form of wheat eaten since remotest antiquity. But bear in mind that your Stone Age ancestors probably did not eat a lot of it, because it was very labor-intensive to gather and thresh. It was probably eaten as an infrequent treat, or added in small amounts to soups and stews, and probably eaten mainly in winter—which is when carb cravings strike even us modern people.

If you decide to indulge in pasta or other products made from these ancient forms of wheat, be sure to test your blood sugar afterward. Everyone is different, and if you find that these foods cause a blood-sugar spike, you should probably either refrain from eating them or reduce the portion size.

Incidentally, many (but not all) people find that getting “off wheat” (especially modern wheat) leads to effortless weight loss. Many others find that mysterious health problems mysteriously clear up.

EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS FOR BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL

Exercise is essential for controlling type II diabetes. Exercise can even lower blood sugar rapidly, and some members of my diabetic support group have reported heading off blood-sugar spikes by taking a brisk half-mile walk—often around the mall.

Exercise improves your muscles’ responsiveness to insulin and they absorb more glucose from the blood. Consistent exercise also builds muscle mass, so that you have more muscle tissue for burning glucose as energy.

The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly—in other words, two and one-half hours. This comes to a little about 22 minutes per day. The benefits are not just a short-term reduction in blood sugar: Blood sugar drops after exercise and remains lower for the next 24 to 48 hours.

One of the best forms of exercise for diabetics is walking, so no gym membership or home gym equipment is needed. Many cities and even small towns have trails for walking, hiking, or bicycling, and these outings can be enjoyable and even sociable.

Losing weight is good because it makes it easier for diabetics to control blood glucose levels. The heavier you are the greater the body’s insulin requirements. Your doctor can help you set weight-loss goals.

WHAT CAUSES INSULIN RESISTANCE AND TYPE II DIABETES

Diets High in Refined Carbohydrates

The modern diet is high in sugar and carbohydrates from refined grains, with the additional problem that modern wheat has a very high glycemic index, as detailed above. The theory is that the resulting blood-sugar and insulin spikes eventually cause pre-diabetes and diabetes: The human body simply cannot handle these foods.

Genetics

There appears to be a genetic component, in that some human genetic groups have very high levels of diabetes. Among the Pima Indians, for example, 50% of adults have diabetes. The theory is that of the Pima adapted to a lifestyle that demanded vigorous physical activity, while at the same time caloric intake was often limited. Hence the theory that the Pima—and other genetic groups to a greater or lesser degree—developed a “thrifty gene.” One view of the “thrifty gene” is that it causes the body’s cells to become insulin resistant in order to maintain blood glucose levels.

Perhaps, like me, you are somewhat suspicious when illnesses are attributed to genetic causes. However, veterinarians are of the same opinion as doctors, in this case: “Certain breeds of horses such as Morgans, Arabians, Peruvian Pasos, Paso Finos, as well as ponies, may tend towards insulin resistance as a genetic adaptation to sparse vegetation. The problem is exacerbated by domestic lifestyles with insufficient turnout and exercise and by feeding practices that are not appropriate for them, i.e. too high in carbohydrates. Horses have evolved to be active and moving the majority of the day and did not evolve to eat the levels of grain that are commonly fed.” http://www.balancedequinenutrition.com/IRArticle.html

According to Wikipedia, “Ponies and breeds that evolved in relatively harsh environments, with only sparse grass, tend to be more insulin resistant, possibly as a survival mechanism.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminitis

So insulin resistance in horses, as with the Pima, is associated with a genetic adaptation to calorie restriction, which becomes a problem when these animals are fed excessive carbohydrates (often grains) and are not allowed enough exercise.

As with insulin-resistant humans, “Insulin resistant horses tend to become obese very easily and, even when starved down….” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminitis

The suggested management for horses, as for humans, is: 1. Minimizing the sugar and starch level in the horse's total diet (including that in hay) and maintaining a healthy and appropriate body weight. 2.Optimizing nutrient levels and their balance (especially magnesium, chromium, zinc, and biotin can positively affect insulin resistance). 3. Increasing activity and exercise. http://www.balancedequinenutrition.com/IRArticle.html

So you can see that diabetes management in horses is about the same as it is for humans.

Lack of Exercise

The same “thrifty gene” that maintains blood sugar levels during food scarcity is also suspected to maintain blood sugar levels during physical exertion. Thus, the “thrifty gene” is thought to predispose people to develop elevated blood glucose if they don’t get enough exercise.

Diets High in “Bad Fats”

Joel Fuhrman, in his book, The End of Diabetes, lists four ways in which fats inhibit normal blood-glucose metabolism:

  1. Free fatty acids released from the fat cells causes insulin resistance in liver and muscle (lipotoxicity).
  1. Excess circulating fats in the bloodstream blocks insulin binding on the outer membrane of cells and interferes with normal muscle cell function and energy production.
  1. Fat cells produce binding proteins that attach to the insulin hormone, blocking its activity.
  1. When cell membranes are impregnated with bad fats, the insulin-binding sites are distorted, impairing insulin from binding to the docking station on the cell membranes.

Cell membranes are mostly made up of fats. The fats of the cell membrane give the cells their boundaries and structure; they are the barrier between the water-based bloodstream and the fluids inside the cell. Insulin receptors are located on the cell membrane. The fats you eat have a direct effect on your cells because they become your cell membranes.

According to one explanation of diabetes, “Unsaturated fats, like the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, are needed for your cell membranes to have the correct shape and ability to communicate. When you eat saturated fats, or trans-fatty acids, these fats also become part of your cell membranes, but they are more rigid and don't function like unsaturated fats. Research studies of cells in a culture dish, in which they can be seen under a microscope, show that saturated and trans-fats in the cell membrane make the cells less able to communicate and respond to signals; it's like the cell membranes become brittle.” (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=19&tname=faq)

Other authorities point out that studies showing the adverse effects of saturated fats were flawed: “There is no question but that the trans fats have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the incidence and treatment of type-2 diabetes. The saturated fats, on the other hand, have no effect when appropriate comparisons are made. Very good studies indicate that trans fats interfere with insulin receptors and therefore [cause] insulin resistance. The saturated fats do not….

“Type-2 diabetes did not exist 100 years ago when our diets were very rich in saturated fats. Type-2 diabetes appeared when trans fats came into the diet, and has become epidemic as people are eating more and more foods containing trans fats. And since we know that trans fats interfere with insulin receptors in the cells, it is clear that the blame lies with new industrial fats, not traditional saturated fats.” (http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/do-saturated-fats-and-trans-fats-cause-type-2-diabetes)

As you can see by comparing the opinions quoted above, there is disagreement as to the role of fats vis-à-vis insulin resistance at the cell-membrane level. I could list many more links to articles that take one side or the other in the debate over dietary saturated fat and its role in diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

You could say that there is no consensus on this. If you read extensively about diabetes in relation to fats, as well as sugars and other carbohydrates, you will be sure to notice that human metabolic processes are very complex—frankly far too complex for me to understand. The lack of consensus among health authorities on these matters suggests that, in many ways, the dysfunctions of human metabolism are poorly understood all the way around.

Hence, the decision about dietary fat intake—and the types of dietary fat you choose to consume—is your call. I am not qualified to offer an answer, and your decision can only be based on who you choose to believe.

But here is my opinion—and I have to stress that this is merely my opinion and nothing more: It is very clear that authorities on both sides of this debate agree that trans-fats should be avoided. I also feel that it would be wise to avoid all the “new industrial fats,” and that the only fats you should consume are those that were in use prior to the mid-1800s.

The reason I place the time frame in the mid-1800s is that it was during the latter part of the 1800s that manufacturers of dietary oils began selling cotton-seed oil labeled as olive oil. You can read an interesting story about this in Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, which is the earliest account of the sale of “new industrial fats” that I am familiar with.

What fats, in my opinion, should you consume? Well, the dietary fats that were consumed prior to the onset of our current epidemic of diabetes were lard, butter, animal fats in general, olive oil, coconut oil, and flax-seed oil. My opinion is that all other dietary fats and oils should be avoided, including all of the heavily processed vegetable oils, such as peanut oil, soy oil, and canola oil. I don’t know that all of these are necessarily bad, but only that epidemic rates of diabetes have followed their introduction.

There are some claims that diabetes can be reversed by consuming dietary oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax-seed oil. And, indeed, if insulin resistance and diabetes were entirely caused by deformation of the cell membranes caused by a diet of unnatural industrial fats, a person could theorize that eating a diet of healthy fats would ultimately (over a long time) allow the cell membranes to be rebuilt along normal lines.

Is there evidence to support this idea? Sadly, not much. And we can also see that some animals are prone to developing insulin resistance, when (as far as I know) they have not been fed any of the “new industrial fats,” but rather have simply been allowed to consume excessive carbohydrates. (See above on genetics.)

There are, however, studies that show that insulin resistance is helped by consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Mysterious Substance Produced in the Duodenum that Signals Body Cells To Become Insulin Resistant

According to Wikipedia: “It has long been observed that patients who have had some kinds of bariatric surgery have increased insulin sensitivity and even remission of type 2 diabetes. It was discovered that diabetic/insulin resistant non obese rats whose duodenum has been surgically removed also experienced increased insulin sensitivity and remission of type 2 diabetes.

“This suggested similar surgery in humans, and early reports in prominent medical journals (January 8) are that the same effect is seen in humans, at least the small number who have participated in the experimental surgical program.

“The speculation is that some substance is produced in that portion of the small intestine that signals body cells to become insulin resistant. If the producing tissue is removed, the signal ceases and body cells revert to normal insulin sensitivity.

“No such substance has been found as yet, so its existence remains speculative.”

The phenomenon of people being cured of diabetes as a result of bariatric surgery remains a mystery.

Okra flower
Okra flower

FOODS AND NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS THAT HELP CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR

There are an amazing number of herbs and foods that lower blood sugar, as well as ones that are especially beneficial to diabetics in other ways. I am listing only a few of the best known.

Foods:

Green beans and zucchini are foods that can lower blood sugar. One of my books on natural healing suggests drinking the broth from cooked green beans and zucchini to control diabetes.

According to one online source, “The skins of green bean pods contain substances that are related to insulin, making them another great choice for natural diabetes treatments. Place about 4 cups of green bean pods and about a gallon of water and cook them until soft. Strain the pods from the liquid and drink 3 cups a day with your meals. One cup is supposedly equal to one unit of insulin.”

Garlic is another food item that helps control blood glucose. Eat lots!

Yet another food that is gaining attention for its ability to lower blood sugar is okra. This is a new one on me, but there does seem to be evidence that okra lowers blood sugar. The most recent claims that I’ve read suggest cutting the tops and bottoms off of two-four raw okra pods, and also cutting them in the middle, and soaking in water overnight. You drink the water in the morning.

There are many claims of remarkable results—and if the results are half as good as claimed, you should test your blood sugar faithfully throughout this experiment. Some people are claiming it is a cure.

If you are new to being diabetic, I should probably mention that claims of cures should be viewed with great skepticism. Many foods lower blood sugar. This does not mean that they cure diabetes. (I am trying it, though!)

Will frozen okra from the grocery store work? I can’t seem to find anything out about that.

Since fresh okra is not readily available all year round, you might consider growing some. Okra is one of the most easily grown of all vegetables, tolerating neglect and poor soil. A small patch will often produce several years’ supply.

Cinnamon:

Cinnamon is one of the most common natural supplements taken by diabetics to help control blood sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A 2012 review of several recent studies concluded that the use of cinnamon had a potentially beneficial effect on glycemic control. One study published in 2009 found that a 500 mg capsule of cinnamon taken twice a day for 90 days improved hemoglobin A1C levels.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/FAQ-20058472

Studies also show that cinnamon both reduces blood glucose and improves blood lipid profiles of diabetics.http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215.long

How much should you take? In some studies, up to 6 grams (about one teaspoon) of cinnamon was administered per day, which lowered blood sugar more than smaller doses, and in a shorter amount of time, but the usually recommended dose is one 500-milligram capsule twice daily. While cinnamon is relatively safe, there are some concerns that some people might be allergic to it or have other adverse reactions.

Gymnema sylvestre:

This one is pretty exciting! This plant has been used in India, in Ayurvedic medicine, for nearly two millennia, to treat diabetes. Clinical trials of G. sylvestre in India have shown that it reduces blood glucose significantly, so that medications could be reduced. Five of the 22 patients were able to discontinue medications completely and use G. sylvestre alone for blood-sugar control.

Even more interesting is that insulin levels in these patients increased while taking G. sylvestre. Researchers believe that this is a result of the regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnema_sylvestre

In a study in which alloxan was administered to rats to induce diabetes (alloxan induces “chemical diabetes”in a wide variety of animal species by damaging the beta cells of the pancreas), it was found that administering G. sylvestre both reduced blood glucose and “significantly decreased total cholesterol and serum triglycerides and significantly increased HDL-cholesterol level.” http://www.idosi.org/gjbb/gjbb4(1)09/6.pdf

G. sylvestre is available in capsule form at most health food stores, and the suggested dose will be found on the bottle, although from what I’ve seen, suggested dosages vary somewhat. This is probably because little human research has been done.

Bitter melon
Bitter melon | Source

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia):

Bitter melon is a popular food ingredient in China, South Asia, and India, but it has also long had a place in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of diabetes. It also has a long history of use for diabetes in China, where it is mentioned in texts nearly 500 years old.

It has been called “plant insulin” or “poor man’s insulin.” While there seems to be a great paucity of research on the effectiveness of bitter melon for diabetes, it is widely used both in the US and around the world for the treatment of diabetes. The department of Health in the Philippines has recommended Bitter Melon as one of the best herbal medicines for treating diabetes.

In a study published in Chemistry and Biology, researchers isolated two of the plant’s glycosides and found in animal studies that these two compounds…boosted the speed with which both normal mice and mice with diabetes cleared injected glucose from their bloodstream. David Moller, vice president of the division of endocrine and cardiovascular research and clinical investigation at Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, Indiana, US, remarked that 'The potency of those molecules is particularly impressive.” Some of the compounds in bitter melon are active at minute doses.

At present, we seem to have to rely mostly on anecdotal evidence of bitter melon’s effectiveness—although the anecdotal evidence is impressive.

Bitter melon is available at most health food stores. If you are interested in growing the plant in the garden, seeds are available from jlhudsonseeds.com.

Fenugreek:

Fenugreek is used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to help control diabetes.

“In one study, researchers in India found that adding 100 grams of defatted fenugreek seed powder to the daily diet of patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes significantly reduced their fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and also lowered total cholesterol, LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides.

In another controlled trial, incorporating 15 grams of powdered fenugreek seed into a meal eaten by people with type 2 diabetes reduced the rise in post-meal blood glucose, while a separate study found that taking 2.5 grams of fenugreek twice a day for three months lowered blood sugar levels in people with mild, but not severe, type 2 diabetes.”

It is believed that fenugreek is helpful because it is rich in soluble fiber, which means it slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

The main problem with using fenugreek is the amount you must take to reduce blood glucose seems like a bit much—100 grams being equal to almost 7 tablespoons, and 15 grams (per meal) being equal to a tablespoon. It is probably impractical to take fenugreek in capsule form, because of the quantities involved, but it might be useful if combined with other foods, or to take mixed with water.

This one is not one of my favorites, but it is traditional, and I think it could be useful to take with a meal with an unusually high carb load. (We are all human, and this can happen.)


Turmeric
Turmeric | Source

Turmeric:

Turmeric is said to be highly effective in preventing diabetes when given to pre-diabetics. In a study in which pre-diabetic participants took 250 mg of turmeric a day for nine months, none developed diabetes, but 16.4% of the control group that took no turmeric developed diabetes. Turmeric is also valued for reducing inflammation and oxidation that leads to diabetes and heart disease.

One study showed that turmeric significantly reduced blood sugar in rats with alloxan-induced diabetes, as well as reducing oxidative stress.

This is an all-around valuable remedy that has dozens of uses in natural medicine: It is loaded with antioxidants and phytonurients, and is antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-glycemic.

In Ayurvedic medicine turmeric is used to treat diabetes, and is especially suggested for prevention as well as treatment for diabetic eye disease.

I take turmeric daily, as best I can manage. I’ve found that rather small daily doses of turmeric quickly cure the common diabetic problem of “frozen shoulder”—a kind of arthritic condition of the shoulders in which there is pain and loss of flexibility. My experience is that as little as one-half teaspoon of turmeric a day resolves this problem almost completely in just a day or two. Turmeric is claimed to greatly help arthritis, as well.

The only hitch to this is that turmeric is only really effective when consumed with fat of some kind, or with a food that contains at least a little fat. Taking capsules doesn’t do much good. While one way to take turmeric is to mix it with whole milk or cream, to me it seems easier to melt a stick of butter and mix about a tablespoon of turmeric into it, and then set the butter aside for flavoring vegetables or other foods. While this will sound yucky to some, I also sometimes add a small amount of this turmeric-butter to coffee. It goes pretty well with coffee, and it’s an easy way to get it down. (Actually, diabetics should probably not drink coffee—or not much—as it is hard on the kidneys. But I, like everyone else, am imperfect.)

Turmeric could also be mixed with olive oil for dressing salads, or could be mixed with salad dressings that contain fats or oils.

You should definitely look for ways to work turmeric into your daily diet.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar is a commonly available food item that has numerous health benefits when taken daily, but it is also useful for diabetics. A 2007 study of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%. While this is a rather small study, and the reduction in blood glucose may seem unimpressive, other studies have also shown apple cider vinegar to improve insulin sensitivity.

Apple cider vinegar is easily included in your diet. Olive oil and vinegar make a nice salad dressing.

Calamus Root:

Calumus root is a relatively little-known Native American diabetes remedy. It is somewhat unpleasant to take, being very bitter. One way to take it is to chew the root, but the taste is so bitter that you are likely to give up on this idea quickly. It can also be made into a tea, by adding to a pot of water and simmering for about 20 minutes. The tea is far less bitter, but tolerable.

I have found that drinking the tea makes me feel better—a generally feeling of improved energy, to be specific. This stuff is worth a try, if you are willing to go to the trouble to prepare it, and you can get it down. Other pleasant-tasting herbs, such as mint, could be added after it is done simmering and you have removed it from heat, to improve the flavor.

Omega-3 fatty acids:

Diabetics almost always have elevated levels of “bad fats” (triglycerides) and low HDL levels—a situation that is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids improves this lipid profile: They reduce serum lipids and lipoproteins, impair platelet aggregation, increase cell membrane fluidity, and lower blood pressure in humans. There is also some evidence that omega-3s reduce inflammation in the body.

Good sources of omega-3s are flaxseed oil, flax-seed, fish oil, and chia seeds. Supplementing with these foods (or taking fish-oil capsules) is likely to lead to a pleasant surprise the next time your doctor reviews your lipid profile.

One tasty way to eat chia seeds is in a “smoothie.” Here is one version that can be varied endlessly: In a blender, mix 2 cups of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa power, and 1 tablespoon stevia.

This smoothie could also include unsweetened Greek yogurt, peanut butter or some other nut butter, fruit, a splash of vanilla, or some cinnamon or other spice. Or it could be made with almond milk.

Magnesium supplementation: According to Wikipedia, magnesium supplementation “contributes to improve insulin-mediated glucose uptake.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance

Diabetics are likely to be magnesium deficient, and in fact magnesium deficiency is one of the predictors of type II diabetes.

Vitamin D:

There are many supplements that are suggested for diabetics—too many to discuss here. (You should definitely take a good multivitamin daily, for starters.) However, Vitamin D seems to deserve some kind of special mention.

There are some indications that Vitamin D can prevent diabetes, and one study showed that Vitamin D increased insulin sensitivity by 54%. Animal studies have shown that Vitamin D is a basic factor needed for insulin secretion. http://www.dmsjournal.com/content/5/1/8

Vitamin D has also been shown to help depression and neuropathic pain in diabetic women. This is good stuff to take!

OTHER SUSPECTED CAUSES OF DIABETES

Alloxan:

Alloxan, the same agent that is used to induce diabetes in laboratory animals, is found in bleached white flour. This gives you another reason to avoid wheat and wheat products.

Agricultural Chemicals:

Pesticides and other agricultural chemicals that contaminate our food have been implicated as possible causes or contributors to the current diabetes epidemic. Researchers found, during a 20-year study, that blood samples from people who became diabetic showed higher levels of certain pesticides than levels found among the general population. The chemicals “in this study are known endocrine disruptors, and there is increasing evidence that they interfere enough with the body's metabolic and digestive systems that they could cause conditions like diabetes, which is considered an endocrine disorder. In a 2009 statement from the Endocrine Society, a panel made up of academics, government researchers, endocrinologists, and other medical professionals concluded that, ‘Based on the links between endocrine disruptors and disturbances of reproduction, metabolism, and links to adult dysfunctions and cancer, it is reasonable to propose a connection between endocrine-disrupting compounds and diabetes as well as pre-diabetic disturbances.’”

There is some evidence that your endocrine system is under attack from the food supply, in more ways than one.

SUMMARY

The way I look at it, if you can control your blood sugar within a normal or near-normal range through diet, exercise, and some natural supplements, your diabetes is as good as cured—even if this involves using some medications. (There is always the possibility of reducing or getting off medications, as long as you continue to test your blood sugar faithfully.)

While this does not mean that you will ever be able to return to your former diet, why would you want to? If you can cure the body of the damage done by years of poisoning it, why would you want to go back to consuming the poisons that made you sick in the first place? It is becoming clear that no one can eat our modern diet without severely damaging their health in one way or another, so it is probably unreasonable to hope for a “cure” for diabetes that would allow you to do so.

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    • blueheron profile image
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      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Love you, sweetheart!

    • blueheron profile image
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      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Hello, Wren! Goldenrod is such a perfect name. So glad to see you on here!

    • goldenrod profile image

      goldenrod 3 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the article, Mom! It was really helpful for me to understand diabetes better, and I am glad you shared your story. it touched that soft spot in me. Love you! Take care! -Wren

    • blueheron profile image
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      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Thanks VVanNess! Diabetes is less common among younger people, of course. I think many young women first hear about diabetes when they are pregnant and told they have gestational diabetes--which seems to show a greater likelihood of getting plain old diabetes later in life.

      I wish I could tell you that being informed could help you help others at some point, but almost everyone--maybe especially diabetics--is resistant to changing their diet. Such suggestions often make people a little angry. This is one reason that doctors tend to give out more pills than diet and exercise advice. So few people will listen.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Very informative article. I don't have diabetes or know anyone that does, but this certainly helps me to understand it better.

    • blueheron profile image
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      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Thanks WiccanSage! Your strategy is the same as mine. I try very hard to avoid grains in all forms. I don't test enough to know whether einkorn wheat is a problem for me--though it does have a low glycemic index. I also try to avoid potatoes--which is very hard for me, since they are one of my favorite foods.

      I presented the information on "bad fats" out there because it is much discussed. I don't think anyone really has the answer.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      This is an awesome intro for someone trying to make heads or tales of diabetes. My husband and I both come from diabetic families. I agree so much about moderating the carbs though, I find that really is the key to controlling blood sugar. Except on special occasions we just don't bring bread (except for sprouted wheat), rice, pasta, noodles, breakfast cereals, potatoes, corn, etc. in the house. We also don't do juice & soft drinks. It's made managing diabetes a lot easier because almost everything has a low glycemic index in the house so we don't get a lot of blood sugar spikes. And it makes holiday baking & meals when we'll actually put mashed potatoes out on the table an extra treat, lol. This is a great hub, voted up & shared.

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 3 years ago from Alabama

      My mother has type 2. This was a very informative hub and I'm very impressed. I will definitely share it and also show it to my mom.

    • blueheron profile image
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      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Thanks! This one was a lot of work! (But a labor of love.) Now you know everything about it that I know.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This is an excellent overview of Type II diabetes that includes dietary tips for controlling blood sugar. Voted up.