Possibly not as scary as the C word, but hearing a diagnosis of the big D or diabetes or even pre-diabetes from your doctor can send patients into a tailspin. Diabetes can be quite misunderstood, especially because there are two types – type 1 which typically happens in younger years, and type 2, which was once called late-onset diabetes, but they had to ditch that because kids now have type 2 diabetes. One of our lovely loyal listeners, Louise, reached out via email and shared that she’s 65 years old and might have type 2 diabetes. I’d hypothesize that she has insulin resistance which is also called pre- pre- diabetes. Louise asked if I had a podcast on managing this with food, and as we haven’t done a whole episode yet, here you go Louise – and quite literally every other person out there as new research shows that one in two people have insulin resistance, have been diagnosed with what used to be called late-onset diabetes, or are on your way there. Staggering numbers of people, across Canada there are 5.7 million Canadians living with diagnosed diabetes (type 1 or type 2 diabetes), however, there are 11.7 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes—a condition that, if left unmanaged, can develop into type 2 diabetes. Sadly Louise is now among those stats now, and many likely don’t even know that they have what’s called insulin resistance or pre- pre-diabetes. Weight management very much plays into this and the term “diabesity” has emerged to describe the continuum of health problems ranging from mild insulin resistance and overweight to obesity and diabetes. Quite rightly, Louise is asking the right questions of her pre-diabetes diagnosis because insulin resistance, diabetes, and the inflammation that comes from this mess of refined carbohydrates, eating too much sugar, starches, and packaged food is part of the cause of most heart disease, cancer, and premature death in the world. And it’s preventable. Yes, I said preventable. Even if your genetics are like mine, say that I’m genetically predisposed to diabetes, it’s possible to steer that trajectory right off the DNA path. I’m going to focus on doing all that I can to NOT fulfill what TheDNACompany.com/eatthis report told me could happen. For us women, especially those in the peri and menopause stage of life, guess what? We have more potential to be insulin resistant on top of all the other risk factors. Louise, you aren’t alone here. So today on EAT THIS with Lianne, pre-pre diabetes or insulin resistance, diabetes, and what to eat to avoid and manage it.
The benefit of listening to this episode is that I may be saying things that you haven’t heard from your doctor. Now I’m not saying to go against your doctor’s recommendation or seek medical help for this, you need to do that. What I’m saying is that there are many ways of managing health, and diabetes and blood sugar management or mismanagement is one that needs an overhaul from what has been historically recommended. All you need to do is to Google diabetes, which I did, but on YouTube, and there are doctors on stage doing TEDTalks about how NOT to follow what their colleagues and dietitians are telling you to do when they say to eat 45 – 55% of your meal as carbohydrates, 20-25% protein and the rest fat. In fact some doctors say that there is very little room for carbohydrates in the diet of a diabetic or even someone with insulin resistance.
Let me quickly take a step back for a moment before we get into the management of this, to explain what is insulin resistance and diabetes exactly – as in, how did you or Louise get here?
As described on the Canadian site diabetes.ca Diabetes is a disease in which your body either can’t produce insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas and its role is to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar must be carefully regulated to ensure that the body functions the way that nature intended. Too much blood sugar can cause damage to organs, blood vessels, and nerves, and too little leaves you with energy issues, dizziness, and headaches. Your body was built to find balance and insulin is there to take energy, carbs sugar that you consume in a meal, and shove it into cells to burn as energy. You can’t be walking around with high blood sugar levels all day long, so this is the natural process that your body does each and every day. If you don’t burn all that is shoved into your cells, it stores as fat. It’s to save it for later but these days, later often never comes as there’s another fresh meal, snack, or another food opportunity around the corner.
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood – as in it’s resistant to the effects of insulin. Your body, well your pancreas, ends up producing more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. Even if the cells are like, yea no, I’m not healthy enough to take this in, the pancreas keeps trying. And presto, you have insulin resistance. So that looks like high insulin but normal glucose, and then the body starts to get so resistant to the insulin that it can’t keep the glucose in control anymore. Ten or 20 years later, now the glucose levels start to climb, and that messes with everything. Also, note that high insulin increases hunger – and essentially it’s a fat fertilizer. So much more research is available about insulin resistance and how it’s a huge factor in heart disease, heart attack, high cholesterol, overall inflammation, and precursor to diabetes and even dementia, which is now called type 3 diabetes. Complications from diabetes includes kidney failure, amputation, and stroke. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?
Eating in a way that reduces blood sugar, also has the benefit of reducing inflammation and oxidative stress which helps to keep all your cells healthy. Remember that in insulin resistance, the cells aren’t healthy enough to accept the energy from food.
Let’s get into diet, shall we? Low carb helps to give glycemic control, increasing fat which for so many of us, especially in Louise’s generations who ditched the fat because of the recommendation to and link to it causing heart disease – which is now debunked, goes against all that you grew up doing. I know you bought all those low-fat yogurts, low-fat milk, and all the packaged foods stating LOW FAT, but you know what? Low-fat foods don’t taste any good, so they had to add sugar so anyone would eat them. And guess what? Those high-carb so-called healthy foods are in part driving the insulin resistance situation.
Overall, think of yourself as carbohydrate intolerant. It is kind of what’s going on here. Your body can’t deal with them. If you’re someone who was told to increase your fiber from whole grains, not white rice, bread, or flour and has all the fiber like beans too, that also added to this situation, especially when still eating the typical 50-55% carb recommendation. So let’s flip the script on this then, shall we?
Dive into eating a lower or low-carb diet. And really reducing or ditching anything with flour and hidden sugars or added sugars. YOu have to become a great label reader or better yet, ditch the foods with labels. Low carbs for some can look more like Keto, although research states that you don’t need to go all the way to Keto for success. It doesn’t work for everyone. My DNA results showed that my ability to digest fat, as in a Keto diet, is not great, so no, Keto is not for me as a way to steer away from diabetes.
Low carb can look like working towards 20% of your daily carb intake; that’s grains and carb-rich foods from starches or sugars as well as anything in a bag that has a barcode or a box. Your carbs need to be replaced by fruits and vegetables. And lots of them. Think leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, squash, peas, green beans, onions, garlic and ALL of the mushroom kingdom that I talked about in episodes 131 and 132. Your plate can look like more than half veggies and some fruit, then fat and protein in thirds or thereabouts, and that 20% sliver of carbohydrate, if at all.
Fats like avocado, olive oil, butter, and coconut milk from a can, nuts, seeds, high-fat yogurt, sour cream, and milk if you tolerate it. Eggs – let’s be specific, egg yolk is excellent. Fish comes in here – tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon.
You have to nail breakfast – wilted greens, a couple of eggs, and a pile of mushrooms. Avocado on the side if you like. When I work with clients, getting breakfast right is key. I have a recipe in my book for an almond flour-based pancake that keeps people going until lunch and beyond. Almond and coconut flour anything is your new BFF if you want to bake and eat muffins, cookies or that kind of thing.
Lunch can be soup made with meat broth, a recipe in my book Sprout Right Family Food, and coconut milk with a pile of veggies like squash, greens, ginger, and turmeric. More recipes are in my book for soups too.
Dinner can look like fish, meat, high protein beans like edamame, with more veggies, greens and fat-rich dressing if a salad or something like that.
An apple and almond butter is a glorious snack. Are you getting the idea? Look up low carb diets and find a few new recipes to try.
This is an evolution, not an overnight move to ditch all those packages in your cupboard. You got here eating a diet that isn’t working, so back away from it over the next weeks to months, otherwise you’ll give up.
Remember that eating more fat takes away hunger, gives you more energy, and the brain works better, it’s a win-win-win-win-win.
This is a non-negotiable. You have to move. Even a 30-minute walk can help. Go walk after dinner and it’ll bring your blood sugar level down. Vigorous is the key to effective exercise that helps balance blood sugar and lower insulin levels. Swing your arms as you walk. If you’re going to go for it, get your heart rate up to 70 – 80% of its maximum capacity for 60 minutes, up to six times a week. Track it with your watch, Oura ring, or whatever you have to see where you’re at. Pick up some weights, as heavy as you can handle without injury and keep pushing towards more, look on YouTube for a HITT class that’s short and intense. Hire a trainer to give you a program and get your form right so you don’t injure yourself. There is no excuse for not exercising in some way. Also exercise is a great stress buster.
As soon as you have a crappy night’s sleep, don’t sleep enough, or pull an all-nighter, what happens, your blood sugar is all over the place and you eat more refined, sugary and packaged food. Sleep is one of the best remedies for belly fat, insulin resistance and helping your body to repair itself.
Get a hold of your stress
Meditate, BrainTap, rest, sleep, journal, talk to a therapist, who in your life is stressing you out and what can you do to create some distance. Carve out any way to mitigate the stress that just won’t let up. Although it seems impossible, believe me, I live this every day, we have to find a way. That could look like yoga and breathing every morning, and or before bed. Get that yoga mat down on the floor before bed, put out your clothes so you trip over them on the way to the bathroom first thing. If you’re stressed, your blood sugars going to shoot up so this is key to managing your blood sugar levels too.
Supplement-wise, including berberine, curcumin, and cinnamon also has been shown to do something, vitamin D, B vitamins and alpha lipoic acid, omega 3, my omega boost, and specific Physica remedies of Jambola. Pancrea LF. Glicopan-Tox. That I’ll add to my site if you’re interested.
There’s a lot here Louise, so thank you for instigating this conversation. To sum up, I love what Michael Pollan said: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” and you’ll be on your way.
Asking questions and giving answers.
You ask, we answer.