Obesity, Diabetes and Glycemic Stress

iStock_000016945377MediumIn Canada, one out of every four people are diabetic or pre diabetic. And two out of every three Canadians are overweight or obese. We have a tsunami like wave coming that will devastate our health care system. And it’s all so preventable.

And while Canadian waists are expanding, so are fad diets. Canadians pay billions of dollars each year for diet programs, diet books and diet pills — all with scant evidence that they work. The typical scenerio goes like this: Start dieting. Lose 30 pounds.Stop dieting. Regain 40 pounds. Repeat.

The good news is, losing weight and avoiding diabetes does not require strict calorie counting, depriving yourself or adhering to complicated charts. The key is controlling blood sugar levels.

The most potent drug you put into your mouth can be the food you choose to eat. When you eat carbohydrates that release their sugars into the blood stream very rapidly, they are referred to as high glycemic. This rapid blood sugar can overstimulate the release of insulin that drives blood sugar into the hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) range. This stimulates the release of stress hormones that will drive your sugar back up to normal but leave you with an uncontrollable hunger.

Here is how it works. Many people do not realize they are on a blood sugar roller coaster…..their blood sugar spiking and falling rapidly throughout the day. The brain pays close attention to this cycle. When blood sugar falls, the brain sends out powerful messages designed to bring your blood sugar back to appropriate levels. “Eat” the brain demands. This is what we recognize as food cravings. So the appetite needs to be corrected. Suppressing appetite is ineffective and short term. The long term solution is blood sugar balance.

Following a high glycemic meal the blood glucose level quickly rises, which initially causes the beta cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin drives the glucose into the cell to either be utilized or stored as fat. The blood sugar will usually drop precipitously and actually get too low. This is called functional hypoglycemia. The regulatory responses of the body will then kick into action, which leads to the secretion of glucagon, adrenaline, cortisol, and growth hormone in an attempt to counteract the actions of the insulin in an attempt to get the blood sugars to rise again. We have all experienced a time in our life when this has happened to us personally. You get very weak and shaky and can hardly think. Your appetite greatly increases and even after your blood sugars are back into a normal range, you still feel like you must eat something. In fact, you tend to crave high-glycemic foods and the cycle starts all over again.

When high glycemic carbohydrates are consumed, blood sugar rises rapidly. But because of the tremendous release of insulin by our pancreas, these blood sugars drop very rapidly. The drop in metabolic fuels (glucose) two to four hours after a typical meal results in increased hunger and food intake as the body attempts to restore these low blood sugars. Studies are consistently showing that the amount of food an individual consumes after a high glycemic meal is 50% greater than that following a low glycemic meal with the exact same amount of calories. This increase in hunger following a high glycemic meal usually stimulates the individual to eat high-glycemic foods—the cycle simply repeats itself. Since insulin is our storage hormone, it will drive the sugar into the cell to be utilized or stored as fat. When you begin to develop insulin resistance, the muscle tissue is the first to become insensitive to our insulin. This means that most of the sugar goes directly into our fat cells to be stored as fat. Even though you may not be eating any more calories, you start gaining weight like you never have before in your life. In turn, if you begin one of these popular modern weight loss programs, you simply cannot lose any weight.

When you eat a low glycemic meal, none of this happens. The blood sugar will rise slowly and there is a nice balance of insulin and glucagon secretion. Your blood sugar stays in a very normal range and you are able to concentrate better and you feel better. You don’t develop the rebound low blood sugars and you do not crave food, especially the high carbohydrate foods.

So again, it’s not about cutting calories. It’s about paying attention to the type of calories you are taking in, and making sure they are unprocessed, low glycemic calories with lots of fiber. The Glycemic Index is the key. Eating high glycemic carbs only spikes the blood sugar, producing insulin bursts, and the insulin busily converts the excess blood sugar to fat. Thus………gaining weight seemingly mysteriously.

Elevated blood sugar spikes following a high glycemic meal have also been shown to create significant oxidative stress and inflammation of the lining of the artery. Elevated glucose causes oxidation of lipids, proteins, and DNA as well as causing inflammation in the artery. High glycemic diets lead to hyperglycemia, which causes insulin resistance. Once insulin resistance has been present for several years, the beta cells of the pancreas finally wear out and just can’t produce these high levels of insulin needed to control blood sugar. The insulin levels begin to drop and the blood sugars begin to rise. Eventually, the patient becomes diabetic. Researchers are finally beginning to realize that it is the hyperglycemia due to the high glycemic diet that is the real problem. Before, the researchers and the media felt the tremendous increase in the number of diabetics was because everyone was becoming overweight. However, now they note that it is the resultant insulin resistance from hyperglycemia that is causing both the tremendous increase in obesity and diabetes.

For too long we’ve underestimated not only the power of food, but the delicate balance that must be kept in order to keep our hormone systems running smoothly. Researchers are finally realizing the undeniable health dangers of high-glycemic carbohydrates and insulin resistance. People have focused for so long on the fat in our diet and basically felt that carbohydrates were the healthy alternative. There are good carbohydrates, good proteins, and good fats. You simply need to combine these good foods in each and every meal or snack with the focus being on not spiking the blood sugar. It is the initial rapid rise of our blood sugar following a high glycemic meal that creates all the danger to our health.

You do not have to starve. You can eat the exact same amount of calories in each and every meal or snack. You simply have to choose eating healthier foods. This primarily means avoiding white bread, white flour, pasta, rice, and potatoes along with all other highly refined starches and processed foods. Replace these with whole grain breads (contains the entire grain), whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, red potatoes (these are lower glycemic), and whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The goal is to eat for hormonal control (not spiking the sugar)—not calorie control. If these healthy eating habits are combined with a modest exercise program and high-quality nutritional supplements, you will see a significant weight loss (if you need to lose weight).

While it is good to check on Glycemic index tables, there is a more convenient way to make smart food choices and avoid Glycemic Stress. In her article, “The Diabetic Diet”, Dr. Joyce Johnson shows how foods are basically classified into three categories: Water, fire and coal.

Fire Foods are those foods with a high GI. In addition, these foods also have low fibre and protein. This category includes white foods like white rice, white pasta, potatoes, white bread, and mostly baked goods. This category also includes many processed foods. Foods under this category should be limited.

Water foods are considered free foods. This means you can eat these foods liberally. This food category includes all fruits and vegetables.

Coal foods have a low GI and high protein and fibre. Under this food category, one can find nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, seafood, and lean meats. White food replacements like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread also belong in this food group.

So to lose weight and avoid diabetes, it is as simple as limiting the fire foods.

My product partner, USANA Health Sciences has made all of this easy with a 5 day detox/cleanse program call RESET. What it does is offer certified low glycemic meal replacements that in effect breaks the bad (high glycemic) carb addiction, and resets your metabolism to lose your appetite for sugary empty calories.

Watch this short video how RESET can get you started on the fast track to eating low glycmic, high fibre carbs to help you avoid Glycemic stress, move away from a pre diabetic state, and release fat.

Be Well

Ken Waite

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