Don’t let diabetes win. Fight disease with real foods, exercise.
I have worked with a number of clients over the years who struggle through the adversities of diabetes. Most of the issues that surround this disease stem from the individual’s lack of understanding of how to maintain good health with diabetes.
First, we need to note the difference between the types of diabetes. There two types: Type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes, and type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.
Type 1 (Juvenile-onset)
This type of diabetes occurs when your pancreas cannot function properly. The malfunctioning pancreas doesn’t have the ability to produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood sugar throughout the body. That is why this type of diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent.
Type 2 (Adult-onset)
This type of diabetes occurs when insulin cannot effectively transport sugar out of the blood to the cells of the body. This type of diabetes is also referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes. In others words, your pancreas is producing enough insulin to regulate the blood sugar in your body, but your body is not accepting the sugar that the insulin is trying to provide. When this happens, the body has become insulin resistant.
Both of these types of diabetes have a common problem — the regulation of body sugar throughout the body. The mechanism that is driving the problem is what separates them from one another. Let’s go back to the characterization of these two. Type 1 is juvenile-onset, meaning that it’s a genetic issue, similar to someone having a malfunctioning heart. It’s a mechanic defect that needs medical intervention to treat. Type 2 is adult-onset, meaning genetics are still involved, but the primary cause of this disease is behavioral. Diving even further into this, type 2 diabetes is caused by our lifestyle through overeating carbohydrates or what’s more commonly referred to as sugar.
Type 2 is my primary focus today, because I am noticing more people affected by this disease feel they have no control when in fact it is the exact opposite. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a behavior disease, and it is also classified as a chronic disease. If you are affected by this personally, then this is good news and bad news all at the same time. The good news is that you have control to either reduce how much diabetes will affect your life or reverse the condition completely. The bad news is it’s going to take some incredible discipline and physical action to be successful.
You’re reading that right: Type 2 diabetes can be reversed. What is the cure? Holistic nutrition and daily physical activity. The bad news piece of this comes from the amount of energy it is going to take to cure yourself. You will need to manage what you eat and rediscover food. You will need to find a professional who is going to help you start moving more and moving correctly. Remember, your body was made to move, and when it does, good things start to happen on multiple levels. Also remember that your body is a product of hundreds of thousands of years of genetic coding. It knows how to fix itself when given the proper tools.
If you are questioning your ability to overcome the obstacles of eating good real foods and exercising daily, then maybe we need to take a look at the consequences of not combating this disease.
● Amputation of limbs
● Loss of vision
● Immune system degradation
● Kidney disease
● Open wound abscess
These complications are primarily due to prolonged uncontrolled levels of sugar in the bloodstream. When sugar is abundant and left in the bloodstream for prolonged periods of time, it can cause microtears throughout the blood vessels, which in turn causes them to harden. The sugar can also affect small blood vessels called capillaries. This will decrease blood flow to certain areas of the body, causing tissue to die and resulting in amputations or loss of function. When the blood cannot reach certain parts of the body it will compromise your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. The decrease of blood flow makes it difficult for your body to heal open wounds.
These complications affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but the difference is type 1 is dependent on a medical intervention.Type 2 needs a medical intervention, but our behavior, when it comes to eating and moving, controls our ability to fight this disease.
Become a scientist of yourself by studying how foods affect your blood sugars. There are charts that can help you figure out the sugar toxicity, like the Glycemic Index. Also, take into consideration the glycemic load of foods. The Glycemic Index gives specific foods a 0-100 rating on how much it will make blood sugar rise. The higher the number, the more potent the food will be to your blood sugar. Glycemic load will take the information of the Glycemic Index and add the amount of grams you will be eating, then divide it by the amount of portions you consume. This isn’t a perfect system. Everyone processes food differently. In other words, what works for one person may not work for another. Discover for yourself how each meal affects you and start dialing in what foods are beneficial and which ones you should avoid in general.
Increase the amount of exercise you are doing daily. The more muscle mass you have the more sugar you will burn off. Exercise decreases insulin resistance and helps with the overall regulation of sugar throughout the body. When you use your muscles it creates an insulin-like effect, which reduces the need for insulin in general. This is a very good thing for those with diabetes, because insulin is the problem. If insulin can be bypassed all together, why wouldn’t you move more? When you increase your exercise, you will want to continue to monitor your sugar levels and make sure to have a diabetic-friendly snack available if levels get too low.
The final solution that will be presented is eating more mindfully. This means putting down the processed sugary foods that we all love and start eating REAL food — things that grow from the Earth, had a mom and aren’t poisonous to the body. This is the discipline part of the journey toward health and happiness.
What are your eyes worth? What are your hands and feet worth? What is your ability to live a full life free of the discomforts diabetes ultimately creates? When things get difficult, ask yourself those questions. This disease is conquered by the choices we make every day. Choose to live a healthy and happy life for the long term.
Diabetics’s Guide to Health and Fitness by Kris E. Berg, EdD
General Medical Conditions in the Athlete by Micki Cuppett and Katie M. Walsh
Physiology of Sport and Exercise 4th edition by Jack H. Wilmore, Davide L. Costill and W. Larry Kenney
— Drew Goodin,
masters of arts, Athletic Training Certified, CrossFit Level 2 Certified is owner and head coach at CrossFit Council Bluffs.