While working with doctors in the ’90s, I specialized in diabetic care. “Joe,” a 55-year-old overweight patient was a Type 1 Diabetic. He had been injecting insulin shots for over 40 years. Joes’ obesity didn’t allow insulin to reach his insulin-responsive muscles and was in danger of losing a limb. Through a better diet and daily exercise, he lost 75 pounds in 14 months. His blood sugar levels stabilized and I was extremely proud of his dedication to healthy habits.
One day in my office, he asked, “Ellie, can I tell you something?”
Immediately I thought, “Oh great, he’s decided to stop coming in.” What he said was even worse.
“I took myself off insulin two weeks ago,” he quietly stated.
For a Type 1 Diabetic, this was unheard of! I surmised that his body must have been delivering some insulin or perhaps he had been misdiagnosed 40 years ago. (I do not recommend any diabetic discontinuing insulin without a doctor’s approval!) Still two years later, he was still maintaining his weight loss and insulin stability.
In the twenty years since, diabetes has increased to epidemic proportions in this country. More children than ever have this disease. Why?
For one thing, we have become a Fast-Food-Nation with all its fatty selections. Surprisingly, fat is more detrimental to the diabetic than sugar. Fat clogs the arteries which stresses the body, which raises insulin. There are basically only three food groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Since carbs produce glucose, most diabetics avoid carbs but reach for sugar-free items which are loaded with fat. A practical diabetic diet should consist of 50% complex carbohydrates, 25% good lean protein and 25% beneficial fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts. Avoid any chemically processed food. Make lean pork, sirloin, chicken, eggs, turkey and fish your preferred meat options.
The best habit diabetics can incorporate into their daily routine is routine. A diabetic needs to live a disciplined life. Eat systematically to keep blood sugar levels stable, meaning same time each day, every day: 8am, 10am snack, noon, 2pm snack, 6pm and always incorporate a small protein rich snack before bedtime.
Moderate exercise is essential on a routine basis to avoid nerve damage and establish ways to release life’s stresses which raises insulin levels. The hormone epinephrine, created for the human “fight or flight” reaction, increases fatty acid production while shutting off insulin while under stress. Constant stress upsets pancreatic balance and solicits diabetes.
Certain foods regulate insulin:
Chromium. Chromium is like the doorknob which allows insulin to flow slowly into your system. Some foods containing this are mushrooms, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, turkey, shellfish, garlic, apples and basil. Add garlic to as many foods as you can; pasta sauces, pork loin, chicken, breads,
The antioxidant lipoic acid, contained in spinach, potatoes, broccoli, liver and red meat, fights premature aging of the arteries (aging arteries makes the heart pump harder, increasing stress.)
Cinnamon allows your fat cells to recognize and respond to insulin more efficiently. Put it in cereals, over whole grain toast and fruit. Along with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, I place about a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in my coffee as well. Makes the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted!
The best foods for a diabetic contain fiber. Fiber allows insulin to be dispensed more slowly into the blood stream. Diabetics however should avoid fruit salads since it’s too much sugar at one time. Fibrous foods mean fresh fruits with skin, vegetables, whole grains, cereals with 5 grams of fiber, nuts, seeds and herbs. Eat sensibly, your health depends on it!
“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,” Exodus 23: 25