I am sitting in the Chedi Hotel –Oman and I’m looking around me at the people staying in the hotel while I am writing this week’s newsletter. As I look around, the hotel guests are all expats, slim and healthy. With a few exceptions, no -one is very over weight or obese. Many are doing laps in the pool, working out at the gym and taking good care of themselves. They are all getting some good vitamin D which I did too. When I look at the food they have ordered, the majority have chosen fish and salad with a glass of wine and water. An interesting observation when I compare it to a previous newsletter I wrote “Does taking an insulin shot mean that you can eat to your heart’s content?
The diabetes summit lasted one week, it was such an eye opener for me and I learnt a lot from it. I learnt about what tests everyone should be running and which are more accurate than the standard blood tests that our conventional doctors run. I learnt what drives insulin resistance and how we need to look at every individual as a unique case and of course, the importance of hormones at play and stress.
It was led by a diverse group of 21 functional medicine MD, researchers, doctors who specialize in diabetes, nutritionists, dieticians, naturopaths, fitness trainers all under one umbrella focusing on how, why and what causes Diabetes and how to help cure it, manage it and help prevent it.
There is a lot to cover but I will try to summarize it as best as I can. I have divided it into two parts. Part two will be covered in the next newsletter because I don’t want the article to be too long. I will keep it as short as possible.
Let’s begin with what they had to say:
Diabetes has become the modern world’s new plague. Lots of people are now diabetic, and there are some serious complications associated with it such as heart attacks, strokes, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and memory loss.
There are two kinds of diabetes: Diabetes type 1 which occurs most commonly in children when an auto-immune disease destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This only represents 5% of all diabetes cases. The other 95% is Diabetes type 2 “adult onset diabetes “which we are seeing more frequently in children, young adults and adults.
Conventional doctors look at diabetes as a genetic link and mostly diet and lifestyle induced. They treat it by taking drugs and tell you to control your blood sugar intake. This approach is considered a progressive degenerating disease. i.e the diabetes gets worse over time because you are not addressing the root cause of what is causing your diabetes in the first place. You are not changing it or putting it to a halt as you will find outlined below. Rather you are just buying time for your problem to worsen.
The tests functional medicine doctors recommend everyone to do are:
The “Fasting insulin test” and HbA1C (Average fasting glucose over 4 months) and not to rely on the fasting blood sugar. Why? Because fasting glucose is the last marker to rise. Any number over 90 is considered to be pre- diabetic. But doctors will tell you it is ok and will let you off the hook and tell you to control your sugar intake until they see you next time.
The next time you visit them, if the number has risen, then you are in trouble because by then you are officially diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic, pending on your numbers. You will be put on medications such as “Metmorphin” to control your insulin. If you had checked your fasting insulin in the first place, you could have avoided being put on the drug. This is a 3- hour test, and is the most accurate because the patient drinks a liquid of glucose every hour and their insulin is checked every hour and registered. A value over 5 is indicative of insulin resistance.
The talk in this summit looked at Diabetes as a complicated issue that had roots in many things other than just genetics, or caused by high blood sugar. This approach does not work for everyone. We must take into consideration what drives the insulin in each person in order to address the cause and be able to take action to lower it naturally.
The new thing I learnt and I am sure many of you have not heard of is something called “The Thrifty Genotype” this plays a very big role in controlling our storage for energy, our fat cell activity and our famine for survival.
The body is very smart, it consumes food and converts what it needs immediately into nutrients that are needed to feed the cells. Whatever is left, is stored as fat cells in our abdomen. There we have lots of hormones that control appetite and they release compounds that are very sensitive to insulin.
These hormones are:
- Leptin, which controls appetite.
- Insulin, that controls our blood sugar
- Adiponectin, which is not heard of often, helps insulin work better.
- Resistin which blocks the reaction of insulin
We always want Adiponectin to be higher than Resistin.
Now I will put everything together for you.
When we have good blood sugar levels. We are eating a diet high in fiber, vegetables, good fats and lean protein. The Adiponectin is high and the Resistin is low. When we gain weight the ratio changes and Resistin becomes higher, which means poor control of appetite and blood sugar, because we are eating more refined foods and sugar.
The ability to regulate our food intake is very complex and that is why the hormone Leptin, mentioned above is very important in influencing our appetite but the real driver controlling our appetite is Blood sugar.
When our blood sugar drops it sends a signal to our brain that we are starving, the brain sends a message to the pancreas to produce insulin. These have to bind to receptor cells to allow the channels of glucose to open in the cells so that sugar enters the cells to provide energy. When this goes on and on for a very long time, the cells get full and they can’t take in any more and so kick the the insulin receptors out and don’t allow them to attach any more. Fast forward, we are nibbling all day long with the wrong types of foods. The pancreas gets tired and exhausted it stops producing insulin and we end up with insulin resistant.
When this happens, we have a lot of insulin roaming around in the blood and not binding to the cells, so they end up not doing their job, triggering the brain to think that it is in starvation mode why because there is no energy reaching the cells. The hormones send a signal that it wants to eat, the yoyo effect kicks in along with the survival hormones that are trying to protect us.
Conclusion: we need to keep the thrifty genotype and the Adiponectin and Resistin in balance or else we are in trouble. So rather than taking medication we need to get to the underlying issue by fixing the hormone signaling first, then we will not be hungry. Adding exercise to the routine will also help you kick start loosing weight.
By reducing our stress levels. Implementing good sleep and food Hygiene. Eating lean organic pasture raised animal protein. Consuming lots of fiber. Keeping processed foods and sugar to a real minimum. Reducing alcohol and enjoying life, this will increase our Adiponectin and get our hormones in balance again thus controlling our insulin hence blood sugar.
With this, we end part one of this week’s newsletter. Stay tuned to part two were we will discuss the other issues that contribute to the root cause of your diabetes.
Small Changes For a Healthier “U”