· 18 million Americans with diagnosed diabetes
· 5.7 million Americans with undiagnosed diabetes
· 157 million American adults with prediabetes
· 44.1 million estimated number of Americans who will have diabetes by the year 2034
Hopefully those numbers got your attention, because they should! While most of us realize that high blood sugar levels are caused by refined carbohydrates, a missing piece of the puzzle may be fats.
Recent research has strongly supported this theory. According to a study completed just last year, it was determined that those who cut out animal fats and stuck with a low fat vegetarian or vegan diet not only reduced their dependency on their diabetes medication but in some cases actually reversed their type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, there are now strong links with the popular diabetes drug Avandia to a 43 percent risk of heart attacks and a 47 percent increase in bone fractures.
How does blood sugar work in the body: There are specialized cells in the pancreas that can detect glucose (sugar) in the blood and will then produce out insulin. The insulin will then attach to receptors on the cells of your muscles and bring in the glucose to give fuel to the cells. With type 2 diabetes, the insulin cannot get that much needed glucose into the cells. The end result is excess sugar will build up in the bloodstream causing mayhem to the internal structures. At the same time, the muscles become fatigued and starved because it is missing this vital glucose.
What does this have to do with fats? Fats are going to interfere with the insulin's cellular signaling process. It has been shown that high levels of fat can drastically interrupt these signals and cause what's known as "insulin resistance". Additionally, excess stored fat will indirectly influence appetite and the metabolism of fats, cause inflammatory reactions and also disrupting the action of insulin. This in turn creates a vicious cycle of weight gain and increasing blood sugar levels.
So just how much should diabetics ease up on fat intake? While there is still much debate on this subject, it is known that eating a mainly plant based diet is probably the first huge step you can take. While some studies show that vegans are at an extremely low risk to develop diabetes, other evidence supports that there are many benefits to some animal products, such as Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3's has been shown to enhance insulin production and protect against heart disease.
My suggestion is to adhere to a raw based diet of plant derived foods and to just limit your animal products intake. You should probably limit your fats and oils to just 30% of your regular diet. Look for healthier fats such as the omega 3's and coconut and olive oils. In regards to carbohydrates, generally look for whole grains (i.e., quinoa, brown rice) and veggies loaded with fiber such as beans, lentils and sweet potatoes.
Some other smart habits for maintaining healthy blood sugar:
· Exercise on a consistent basis. This will help build lean muscle mass, which will have a direct action on insulin production.
· Get enough sleep: sleep deprivation will affect certain hormones that will control appetite and people with diabetes typically do not get over 5 hours sleep per night.
· Eat more fiber and keep your gums clean.
Some other considerations may be adding chromium as a supplement. Chromium helps out with the action of insulin and boosts fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Those on a high sugar and/or high processed food diet will usually show a deficiency in chromium. For those that have been diagnosed with prediabetes and have high blood sugar levels, a wise decision may be to toss your medication and completely eliminate sugar and processed foods in your diet and start taking a chromium supplement. You won't believe the beneficial effect that this may have on your system.