Diabetes type II or metabolic syndrome

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Points to consider in the treatment of Diabetes type II

Exercise and healthy RESTRICTED food choices (portion control) have been shown to be helpful to type II diabetics to keep blood sugar levels down.  In observing gastric bypass patients where portions for the first year are extremely restricted, the sugar levels in most individuals with type II diabetes return to normal levels within 48 hours of surgery (before they have lost any weight).  (this is likely a repercussion from anesthesia or surgery itself as other UNRELATED surgeries ALSO knock down the sugar levels for a month or so in many diabetics.  (regardless of what they eat)

What you may not have heard about diabetes type II

  • 33 percent of type II diabetics have never been fat i.e. unlike you hear on TV, obesity DOES NOT by itself cause diabetes TYPE II.
  • type II diabetes or insulin resistance is something you are born with
    • since treatment of type II diabetes includes addressing insulin resistance and cardio-vascular issues, all children with diabetes should be examined for insulin resistance and NOT JUST AUTOMATICALLY put on insulin, it being assumed that they have type I (or a dead pancreas).
  • If you don't have the proper genes, you could bury yourself in being fat or eating a lot of sugar and still you may not come down with diabetes type II
  • That being said, MOST people if they live long enough will get diabetes simply because the pancreas wears out.  The better your lifestyle, the longer it may take. Like a 95 year old friend of mine who has been slim all her life and exercises several times a week, was just diagnosed type II diabetes at the age of 93!
  • By the time most individuals are diagnosed type II diabetes, their pancreas is 75 percent dead.
  • In type II diabetics with insulin resistance,  the problem is with their muscle cells which do not easily take up insulin (a carrier for simple carbs) in the blood.  Cardio exercise depletes the muscle cells of glycogen or simple sugar and forces even insulin resistant muscle cells to take up insulin (and sugar) from the blood.  Cardio exercise is a DIRECT and IMMEDIATE aid to high blood sugar levels.  Type II diabetics should "indulge" regularly in cardio!
  • Insulin resistance is thought to raise the risk for other things like atherosclerosis and heart disease.  But again, the jury is still out on this... best to live healthy anyway.
  • You will hear that keeping your blood sugar level below 140 is "fine".  Ideally, try and keep your blood sugar levels below 120 and more ideally, below 110.  However, recent studies have suggested that low blood sugars may not be as important as previously thought.  Should be AT LEAST below 200...
  • Even if you are on no medications or oral medications you need to test your blood sugar levels once or twice each day. Once in the morning, at least.  If you are on insulin, you need to test several times a day.
  • Diabetes can be handled with life style changes and medication if you need it.  But it can get nasty if you do NOT change your lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels down, so DO NOT EVER underestimate what diabetes can do... treat yours VERY CAREFULLY.
  • The diabetes gene may have been an adaptation to being able to survive in a society where food is not plentiful and a person may only have enough to eat occasionally.   In other words, diabetes type II IS NOT A DISEASE.  It is a set of genetics which would work fine for most of your life, if you lived in the Amazon jungle but if you want to live in the USA you need to modify your lifestyle.

The healthy approach which may mean you can avoid medication for many years would be:

  • Daily cardio exercise of 1-2 hours - can be light cardio - this not only addresses sugar levels but also the other issues of diabetes type II like atherosclerosis and heart disease
  • portion control on all foods - counting points a la Weight Watchers works well and is simpler than counting calories.
  • restriction of sugar and saturated fatty food (but you don't have to give up sugary stuff and consuming foods with artificial sweetener is likely harder on the pancreas than consuming foods with sugar)
  • Test blood sugar with accurate meter, once or twice EVERY DAY and more if you think your sugar levels might be high (due to food indiscretion etc)
  • CoEnzyme Q10 is thought to protect the liver and also is supposed to protect the heart and lower the cholesterol
  • Approach statin drugs with caution (Lipitor etc). So far, no one has proven any benefit with them and lots of side effects have been discovered.
  • Flax seed oil (2 tablespoons a day - add to salad dressing etc) is very healthy and has helped some bring down the cholesterol levels of some individuals
  • Obtain your A1C (blood draw) every 6 months. More often if your blood sugar levels are not well controlled. 
  • Have a good Primary Care provider (PCP) WHO UNDERSTANDS diabetes
  • Reasonable calorie restriction can bring sugar levels down but this must been following health program guidelines (like Weight Watchers) and taking supplements and don't restrict below 1500 for men and 1200-1300 for women or else you might get sick or immune challenged.

And Last but not least....

  • Limit the following  - your body doesn't handle these well:
    • sugar
    • cake
    • doughnuts
    • fast food of any kind except meat
    • ice cream
    • artificial sweetener (quite a bit of research suggests that artificial sugar may raise the insulin levels (and sugar cravings) in everyone including diabetics
    • smoking
    • alcoholic beverages
    • pop or soda of any kind
    • junk food
    • transfat (what is in junk food which makes it taste good)