Diabetes – A Silent Killer

I hope you all enjoyed last week’s post 5 Exercise Myths – Busted and the post has helped to make your training routine even better.

This week I am back on the subject of health, specifically people who suffer from Diabetes.

It’s useful even if you don’t, because you may know someone who has it or you may get it in the future (statistically).

Having been in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years, I have learned lots.  To be perfectly honest I never thought I would be talking about some of the things in today’s article.

Its as controversial a discussion as ever, and I will be explaining to you why many people including some of my clients are going completely against government nutrition guidelines and their doctors advice.

Sound crazy?

Read on and maybe you will learn something completely new about diabetes.

I’m really interested to hear what you have to say, especially if you are a diabetic struggling to lose weight.

Comment below to let me know if you think I’m on the money or way off the mark?

Diabetes is a generic term used when a person’s blood sugar is above normal levels.

This raise in blood sugar is caused either by the pancreas not providing enough insulin or due to the cells not responding to the insulin produced. (called insulin resistance).  Tip – Exercising improves insulin sensitivity and reduces resistance.

About 3.8 million people in the UK have diabetes, but the charity Diabetes U.K. have made predictions that that could become high as 6.2 million by 2035/2036.

These figures do not include the many people who often go undiagnosed.  Its been suggested that including these undiagnosed people would treble the total figure.  It’s a can of worms the NHS don’t want to open as the costs could be huge.

Silent Killer

There are not many symptoms of having diabetes and people are often “picked up” as having it whilst having general check ups or treatment for other things.

That’s the silent bit.  It just creeps up on you and you can’t see it coming.

The most common physical symptom is actually being very thirsty.  Other symptoms include weight loss and loss of muscle bulk, tiredness and urinating frequently at night.  Symptoms which are so mild they are easy to miss, and even easier to ignore.

The easiest way to check if you are at risk is getting your blood sugars tested.

It can be done for free by the nurse at the surgery.

You can also do it at home, but you will need a glucose meter or a self test kit.

I have seen self tests for £5 on amazon, which have all the instructions and are easy to use.

The reading will tell you two things, what your “fasted” blood sugar actually is and if it’s normal or there is any reason to see a GP.  A GP will usually do at least two more tests to confirm that you have either pre-diabetes or diabetes.

There are three main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and the third is called gestational diabetes (during pregnancy).

This post is mostly related to people who suffer from type 2 diabetes or DIET controlled diabetes as it is often called.

People who suffer from type 2 diabetes do so because their cells fail to respond and use insulin properly, known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and around 90% of diabetes sufferers in the UK have type two diabetes. Obese people often suffer from type 2.

We are told by GP’s, health practitioners, government dieticians and many other people ‘in the know’, not to do certain things, so we listen and do what they say.

When I worked with GP referrals for 6 years, the recommendations that I used to see, given by the dieticians, to diabetics, were incorrect, but I did not know this at the time.

Now, if you are a diabetic, and have been given(and followed) this advice(high carb low fat), you would have more than likely gained weight, the opposite of your goal I would guess.

I’m not saying doctors recommend the wrong thing on purpose (they do what they are trained to do).

It would be a risk for a doctor to recommend to their patient to do something which goes against the normal grain, doctors back up all of the theories by saying it is ‘evidence based’ where in reality there is often a lot of evidence which also proves its ineffectiveness.

However at the very least I would think that the doctors and people who are there to help diabetics, need to take a second look at this area.  And fast.

It’s a messed up situation.

I would also say that you should never make any changes without first discussing things with your doctor or diabetic nurse.

So what are type 2 diabetes sufferers being told by their doctors?

They are being told that the best way to treat their condition is to follow a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat. On the NHS website it recommends that people who suffer from type two diabetes consume starchy carbohydrates with each meal!

What is wrong with this?

It has been suggested by more recent research, following a high carb, low fat diet leads to problems with blood sugar levels, and also people have to use more insulin (which is a growth hormone, especially for fat growth).

There is becoming an increasing movement which suggests that following a low carb diet is better for type 2 diabetes sufferers.

There are very few doctors who recommend this as it goes away from what they have been trained.

One doctor who isn’t afraid to go away from conventional advice is Dr Briffa. In many of his articles Dr Briffa goes against outdated conventional ways of dealing with health problems, especially diabetes.

Just so you know I’m not just making this stuff up and many other professionals share the same opinion, I have a few words from the main man Dr Briffa, he said when speaking about type 2 diabetes –

“This is a subject that is close to my heart, because I know only too well that this is a condition that so often responds well to the appropriate diet (in my opinion, that’s one low in carbohydrate). Yet, it is often the case that the dietary advice given to diabetics is woeful: diabetics are often encouraged to emphasise carbohydrate over fat, which almost inevitably ensures problems with blood sugar control and reliance on medication.”

In his article called “Diabetics appear to be very interested in low carb eating”.

Dr Briffa says

Diabetes UK gives diabetics incomplete and misleading information that is likely to make their blood sugar control harder and their risk of complications higher than they need be”.

Lastly I have a little story for you from Dr Briffa.

The article is about a man who suffers from type 2 diabetes, by adopting a low carb diet he personally showed great health improvements.

The man went to the doctors and this was his experience:

I had my 6 monthly diabetes check-up last Wednesday. The diabetes consultant was really happy with all of my figures on cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight (I’ve lost another 4 kg since February without really trying), kidney and liver function are excellent – in fact he was really impressed and asked me what I was doing to get these improvements.

Simple, I said, I’ve stopped eating wheat in all its forms and grains in general, I avoid rice and all potato products. I eat animal fat and the only oil that I use is extra virgin olive oil. Breakfast is typically a one-egg omelette and with a small amount of bacon, smoked salmon or Parma ham. I have spinach or other leafy greens and tomatoes. Lunch is often not taken as I do not feel hungry until 6.00 pm when I have my evening meal. Another small portion of meat and plenty of veggies. The only fruit that I have are a few blueberries, wild strawberries (when they are available) and raspberries – and I mean a few.

I sleep better than ever, don’t feel tired and have lost weight. I really ought to exercise though, that is the only flaw in my regime.

“No, you MUST eat some carbohydrates” he said.

“I do, I told you, I eat plenty of vegetables.” I said.

“No, no, starchy carbohydrates, you NEED them”

“Why do I NEED them?”

“For energy, your body needs carbohydrates for energy” came his concerned reply.

“How do you think that I’ve managed to survive since you last saw me then? And, you told me how pleased you were with all of my readings – doesn’t that suggest that I’m doing fine without refined, starchy carbohydrates?”

He had no reply other than to repeat to me that I MUST eat carbohydrates for energy.

I told him that the bullsh*t that he’d been taught by the food industry-research funded nonsense that the Government taught him is causing all of the major health problems that he has to deal with every day.

I also said that I throw a fat-fuelled log onto the fire in the morning rather than the carbohydrate kindling throughout the day to keep me provided with energy and avoid the feeling of hunger. Again, nothing seemed to penetrate that simple head of his; it was full of the guff that he’d been taught not to question.

That was quite a strong piece but it backs up what I am saying about the health and nutrition advice we are given today. It takes a brave person to question their doctor, they are there to help us, but just by asking more questions and suggesting different things we could start to make a difference.

You can read the full article containing that story here.

?Did You Know?

Before modern medicine, back in the old days, before insulin injections were discovered, diabetes was treated with a……(drum roll) low carb diet.

The doctors back then, who were true masters of their trade if you ask me, took a logical view that if diabetics couldn’t control their blood sugar levels, then they should not eat any sugar or starchy carbohydrates.

It makes sense.  However….

“Common sense is not always common practice”

They replaced that logical approach with the one we currently have.

More and more diabetics are discovering the massive benefits that low carb eating can have on their health

Dr Spence a regular contributor to the British Medical Journal questions the wisdom of doctors who recommend various different medications to lower blood sugar levels when there is no evidence that this leads to health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease or death.

I have mentioned in several articles the big benefits of consuming fats and for diabetics it can be great too. It can give you great amount of energy so you don’t need carbs to do this. Fats also leave you full for longer, carbs can often leave you unfulfilled and therefore much more likely to overeat and snack.

From what I have found, a diet made up of quality eggs, fish, meat, nuts, seeds, good oils, and vegetables, fruits and plenty of green leafy vegetables, I believe is the best way to control blood sugar levels and reduce the negative effects associated with type 2 diabetes.

It seems as if more and more diabetes sufferers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the results they get when following their doctors advice and are trying a different approach.

A diabetics aim is to to reduce levels of HbA1c (glycosylated haeomglobin).

This HbA1c reading is an indication of overall blood sugar levels over a three month period.  People who follow a high carb diet normally have very high levels of HbA1c.

Here is what one man had to say about his results on a low carb diet:

‘I’ve been a Type 2 diabetic for 10 years now, but my HBA1c results are consistently non-diabetic normal (around 5.5%) The reason is that I keep carbs to the absolute minimum – about 40-50 grams a day, mainly from vegetables. The great thing about this approach is that as well as keeping blood sugars low, it also reduces most of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Health professionals are stuck with a 40-year old policy based on the theory that fats were the big danger, and that advising diabetics to make carbs the main element of every meal would reduce fat consumption. There was at the time no scientific evidence to back this assumption, and every major trial since then has failed to support it.’

Diabetics can’t handle sugar so why are they being advised to eat a diet rich in sugar? It doesn’t make sense.

More and more people are starting to adopt this way of thinking and hopefully it can have a massive positive effect on how people cope with diabetes.

If you want to hear what other diabetics are doing then go to the forums on this site, its amazing, loads of real people, helping themselves and each other, through personal experience.  www.diabetes.co.uk. NOT to be confused with Diabetes UK.

This forum thread in particular is interesting, diabetics are talking about what they are told to do and what they actually do.

Does eating less carbs help control of type 2 diabetes?  The research would suggest so.

One study, for instance, found that a low-carbohydrate diet over 6 months allowed more than 95 per cent of type 2 diabetics to reduce or eliminate their medication entirely(1).  (wow ;-))

Any problems with low carb diets?

Some people may suggest that if a diet is low in carbohydrate then it must be higher in fat and this will in turn cause problems, leading to diabetes.

However even if a diet is high in fat, as I have said many times before, its been proven that fat does not make you fat (or affect your blood sugar levels as acutely as sugar and starches), this applies even for saturated fat.

The types of fat which cause all the problems are any poor quality fats (from hormoned and pesticided sources),  hydrogenated fats and trans fats.

(Low carb diets and carbs in general, for NON-diabetics are subjects for another article.)

Remember you should always ask your GP or diabetic nurse before making any major changes.

Please share your experiences by commenting below, especially if you are a diabetic (type 1 or 2).

Thanks for reading,

Richard

 

Reference:

(1) Westman EC, et al. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism 2008;5:36

 

2 thoughts on “Diabetes – A Silent Killer”

  1. Hi Rich

    I have had read many of your articles over the last few months, but this one really applies to me. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year, and went on a high fat low carb diet. After three months I had lost almost 4 stone and my HBA1c results had changed from 50 down to 38 making me a non diabetic in just the 1st three months, I

    1. Hi Valley Boy,

      Thanks for that awesome comment.

      Its nice to hear from someone who has actually reversed it.

      Well done keep up the good work.

      Rich

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