What is Diabetes?
Diabetes does not discriminate, assess your bank account or ask you if you want it. It can strike anyone, any time. And it does. If that is not bad enough, the numbers are increasing each year dramatically. About 6% of the South African population – about 3.5 million people – suffer from diabetes, and 5 million more are estimated to have pre-diabetes – when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered as diabetes. Most cases of pre-diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed.
So really what is diabetes?
Diabetes is when you have raised blood glucose levels, much higher than normal for a long period. A reading higher than 7.8(mmol/L) 140mg/dL, 2 hours after a meal, is a clear indication of pre-diabetes or insulin resistance. 7.8 – 11.1 Diabetes.
What does that mean?
What happens is that once you have eaten, your blood glucose levels go up, your body responds by secreting insulin (From the pancreas), which then acts like a key to unlock the cells, then guides the blood sugar or glucose into cells. However, your cells (storage) fills up. The cells then respond to protect itself by stopping access for the blood glucose (the key stops working). This action is called insulin resistance. Therefore the blood glucose stays in the bloodstream much longer; as a result, this gives you a higher blood glucose reading.
Then what happens when the cells refuse to take in more glucose, and the body now has high blood glucose levels? The body responds by secreting more insulin. Then the cells fight back even harder, and the body secrets more and more insulin and the cycle gets out of control.
Conclusion – Diabetes is when your insulin is ineffective in doing its job, and you have excess glucose or sugar in the bloodstream.
Types of Diabetes
- Type I – Insulin dependent
- Type II – non-insulin dependent diabetes
- Type III – Dementia & Alzheimer’s is regarded as Type III
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
“Juvenile diabetes” or Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children, but can develop at any age. It is the more severe form of diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
What happens is the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign and destroys them. This attack is known as “autoimmune” disease.
Type 1 diabetes means you are dependent on insulin for the rest of your life because you are not producing any insulin. Low carb and type I diabetes, see here what this doctor and mother did for her type I diabetic son:
Medical ketogenic diets are not to be used by Type I diabetics, it can induce ketoacidosis (caused by the absence of insulin) in type I diabetics. Seek the help of your medical professional to guide you with the correct use of low carb diets.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
The most common form of diabetes is called type II, or non-insulin dependent diabetes. It typically develops after age 35. However, a growing number of younger people are now developing type II diabetes. “Four times as many people have Type II diabetes today as 36 years ago, according to the World Health Organization.
In 1980, 108 million people were diagnosed with diabetes worldwide. By 2014, the figure was 422 million people worldwide.” Today(2019) it is a staggering 692 million. That is 9,2% of the world population.
In simple terms, one out of 10 people has diabetes, and it is developing at much younger ages. The numbers are growing faster over shorter periods. And these are only those who we know of. Many go undiagnosed and untreated.
Type II diabetes is where people still produce insulin. Often, it’s not enough. And sometimes, the insulin will try to serve as the “key” to open the body’s cells, to allow the glucose to enter. But the key won’t work. The cells won’t open, and this is called insulin resistance. The insulin produced is ineffective.
Often, type II diabetes is associated with people who are overweight, with a sedentary lifestyle. We now know this to be false and inaccurate. It should be associated with high carbohydrate diets, overeating wheat products, the chemicals & preservatives added to our foods.
Treatment focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels are still high, oral medications are used to help the body use its insulin more efficiently. In some cases, insulin injections are necessary (adding insulin on top of insulin). And we now know this to be more harmful than helpful.
We are now able to manage type II diabetes with diet, in some cases, even reverse it. Even with type II diabetes, any diet changes should be monitored by your doctor to adjust medication or advise you.
What causes type 2 Diabetes?
A continuous rise in blood glucose, cells become resistant, insulin becomes ineffective, and this process is type II diabetes.
What Is Type 3 Diabetes?
Mental disorders such as dementia & Alzheimer’s are considered to be type III diabetes because the brain becomes insulin resistant, and can now only function on ketones.
Understanding what diabetes is now, why should we be so afraid of diabetes or raised blood glucose levels?
Type 2 Diabetes Can do serious damage.
It’s a leading cause of blindness, kidney damage, amputation and heart attacks.
There are many more, but I think let’s stick with these, for now, they are vital to life.
Diabetic retinopathy involves changes to retinal blood vessels that can cause them to bleed or leak fluid, distorting vision. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults.
The kidneys’ job is to filter your blood. They remove wastes, control the body’s fluid balance, and keep the right levels of electrolytes. All of the blood in your body passes through them several times a day.
Blood comes into the kidney, waste gets removed, and salt, water, and minerals are adjusted if needed. The filtered blood goes back into the body. Waste gets turned into the urine, which collects in the kidney’s pelvis — a funnel-shaped structure that drains down a tube to the bladder. Each kidney has around a million tiny filters.
You could have only 10% of your kidneys working, and you may not notice any symptoms or problems.
If blood stops flowing into a kidney, part or all of it could die. That can lead to kidney failure.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. Signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in how much you urinate
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
- Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific; which means they can also be caused by other illnesses. Because your kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.
Why would amputation be necessary?
In some cases, diabetes can lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD causes your blood vessels to narrow and reduces blood flow to your legs and feet. It may also cause nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, which could prevent you from feeling pain.
If you can’t feel pain, you may not realize you have a wound or ulcer on your feet. You may continue putting pressure on the affected area, which can cause it to grow and become infected.
Reduced blood flow can slow wound healing. It can also make your body less effective at fighting infection. As a result, your wound may not heal. Tissue damage or death (gangrene) may occur, and any existing infection may spread to your bone.
If they can not stop the infection or the damage is irreparable, amputation may be necessary. The most common amputations in people with diabetes are the toes, feet, and lower legs.
What is the link between diabetes, heart disease, and stroke?
Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease.
People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes
Conclusion – Diabetes can leave you disabled, on dialysis, prone to having lots of surgeries & endless medications, and cause death.
The real question should be – what raises blood glucose levels?
The simple answer here is – carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels.
Carbohydrates are turned into glucose by the liver. –
The body breaks down or converts most carbohydrates into the sugar glucose. Here glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, and with the help of a hormone called insulin, it travels into the cells of the body.
However, the amount of glucose needed by the body to function very well is merely a teaspoon. This small amount of sugar or glucose, the body (using the liver) can produce it’ self. So there is no need to add more sugar or glucose.
But, our dietary guidelines insist that we eat carbohydrates as a staple food source. To top it off, we are lead to believe that it is ok to eat sugary chemical-based sweets, treats and grain filled frankenfood if we do so in MODERATION. It’s like telling an alcoholic that a drink in moderation is fine!
Once you are overweight, unable to walk or do simple tasks, it is overdue time to cut out as much sugar or glucose as possible. It is the only way to recover, and it is an ongoing process.
Also, watch my video on “Stop the war on obesity and fight the cause”:
So now, it should make sense that we are pushing up our blood glucose levels with each meal. Well, then just maybe, by WHAT we eat we should be able to control your blood glucose levels. Right?
The good news! Yes, we can.
Have you ever tried to reduce your carbohydrates intake? Do you think this is possible? Having been there myself, I know what a humongous task this could be. How on earth do you feel full, stay satisfied and be able to function without these:
- Maze meals (mielie pap)
- All baked goodies (flours and grains)
- Breakfast cereals
- Cakes, cupcakes
And that is just to name a few.
Well, this may sound like the end of the world, but we have come a long way, and there are some amazing new recipes waiting for you to try.
How do we control our blood glucose through food?
The latest hype is the Keto diet, Low carb diet, LCHF diet and Banting diet. These four options drastically reduce the carbohydrate intake to its minimum. This reduction in carbohydrates is why so many people are having such great success in losing weight and correcting their health issues and regaining control of diabetes.
Are these a good option?
Let’s first get clear on what these diets were meant to be. There are so many versions of these diets out there, and the information is getting twisted into shortcuts that, either do not work or they are extremely unhealthy.
- Some of the commonalities in the healthy versions are-
- Low in carbohydrates
- No sugars (the sweet stuff)
- No processed foods
- No preservatives
- No GMO
- No MSG
- No soy
- No legumes
- No wheat or grains
- Add healthy fats
- Add whole vegetables
For health reasons, not just to be picky.
I prefer to take my client’s current health levels and goals into consideration, to work out a strategy within the low carb regime, which will give them the best outcome. Not everyone fits into a narrow box, and each person has their environment and special situations which need to be taken into consideration.
Conclusion – Diabetes is caused by a continuous rise in blood glucose levels. The cause of raised blood glucose levels is high carbohydrate foods. High carbohydrate foods are avoidable. Therefore, blood glucose levels can be kept low.