Trying to manage Diabetes is like trying to manage your vehicles oil leak. You know you have a leak but you don’t fix it. So you keep adding oil to manage the leak. It keeps leaking and you keep adding. Until one day, your vehicle breaks down and your engine block breaks. Managing your oil leak, like managing your Diabetes, will only get you so far. Isn’t it far better to try to fix the problem before your car, or your body, breaks?
If you are among the millions of Americans with Metabolic Syndrome, you are at risk of developing Type II Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular disease. You wake up one day and accept your grim reality and decide to you want to make meaningful lifestyle changes. So, what’s your first step?
Perhaps, go see your Doctor. Bad news. You learn that you’re probably diabetic, have high blood pressure, and suddenly realized there’s a tire attached to your waist. You’re Doctor puts you on Metformin, an Ace Inhibitor, Furosemide, and tells you to eat better. You leave the office knowing you are in good hands because your Doctor said so and your diabetes is being “managed”. Life is good again. But is it really?
What is managing Diabetes? Typically, it means 3 things:
- What can be done to prevent complications?
- Managing insulin dosages and home blood glucose monitoring.
- Information about nutrition and exercise to further compliment blood sugar control.
Healthcare Practitioners (your family Doctor) most likely uses the advice of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Guidelines to help educate you on preventing complications. They will discuss meal planning and lifestyle changes. All well intended stuff. Except for one major flaw. Looking at the ADA site, your Doctor is probably still basing their guidelines to include a diet fairly high in carbohydrates and sugar substitutes. You might ask what’s wrong with that?
If the goal is to just manage your diabetes, that is, to keep your blood sugar in between, let’s say 90-120mg/dl, then figuring out how many carbs you can eat per meal, per day, to include artificial sweeteners as a sugar replacement isn’t necessarily bad advice. Then again, are you trying live with diabetes or cure yourself of it? Is it even curable? Read on.
Part of all diabetes management will include some degree of home monitoring and insulin dosage management. Based on your blood sugar of x, you will give yourself an insulin dose of y to keep your blood sugar in a prescribed range. Great. Where’s my croissant and diet soda? You are well on your way to being a good Diabetes manager.
Complimenting with nutrition and exercise
Now that you are managing your Diabetes quite well, it’s time to make some changes in the kitchen and add some exercise. Another great piece of advice. But, like I said earlier, if that advice is based on what the ADA recommends, all the food consumption contributed to you becoming diabetic in the first place are still fair game, albeit different forms of it (grains, pastas, artificial diet drinks).
With exercise, something is probably better than nothing, especially if your definition of exercise is getting up to find your TV remote. So perhaps you start walking a few times a week? You lose a few pounds from the increased activity and minor changes in diet and life is good.
Until, 12 weeks later, something happens and you put the weight back on plus a few extra, get frustrated, and go back to Panera. Wondering the entire time that it was all for nothing and injections and medications are a curse you should just live with for the rest of your days.
If this is you, then I believe you can be helped.
I am not going to give you medical advice or instruct you to stop taking your medications. That is between you and your Doctor. However, I will tell you that there is a difference between managing your Diabetes and taking full and unequivocal ownership of your Diabetes to help find real measurable solutions to help prevent the disease. How does one go by doing that? By applying evidenced based lifestyle interventions that have been shown to work.
For that let me refer to a 2016 study that went against conventional wisdom to help show diabetes can not only be reversed, but how their methods substantially improved patient outcomes across all metabolic syndrome risk factors. It also happens to be the same methods we use successfully at Wolf Den Strength. No coincidence there.
Here is what they did in a nutshell:
- Followed 372 participants (mainly women) in two rural primary care practices (139 at S1 and 233 at S2 respectively) with a mean age of 52
- Participants were instructed to avoid sugar and refined carbs altogether and eventually consume a diet high in dietary fat (mono, saturated, poly). Ordinarily, participants in a Diabetes Prevention program are instructed to avoid food rich in dietary fat.
- Avoid participating in moderate to vigorous exercise until weight loss goals were obtained
- Over 90% had a high waist circumference
- Average BMI of 37 kg/m², consistent with a high prevalence of obesity
- 57.6% at S1 began the intervention with Metabolic Syndrome
- 12.9% at S1 began the intervention with Type II Diabetes (T2DM)
- Program length at S1 was determined by the participant’s progress toward their weight loss goals. Program length at S2 was 3 months.
Here’s what happened:
- 372 participants had weight loss greater than 12% (Diabetes Prevention Program goals are only 7% of initial body weight)
- Among 119 participants at S1, blood triglycerides decreased by 34%
- Among the Diabetic participants, HbA1c decreased by a mean of 0.5%
- A reduction in the use of oral Diabetic medications
- A reduction in the use of insulin
- A reduction in the use of anti-hypertensive medications
- A reduction in the use of cholesterol lowering agents
- Improved control of hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar)
- Improved control of hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Improved control of dyslipidemia (High level of LDL/Low Level of HDL)
- Improved mood
- Continued improvements in all factors the longer the participants participated in the group
As you can see, in the context of this study, the results are astonishing. The studies’ processes are in stark contrast with the current recommendations as set forth in the ADA for Diabetes management.
Are you starting to see the big picture? The old food pyramid is dead and gone.
Which one of these food pyramids guide your choices?
Take note of the stark difference between the old Diabetes food pyramid above (which is the current ADA recommended diet plan) and the NEW diabetic food pyramid below that your Doctor probably has little knowledge about that actually works. The differences are stunning.
At Wolf Den Strength, we follow similar guidelines for our clients who elect to participate in weight loss and/or diabetic management. Slowly, over time, we use a well-documented formula to decrease a member’s carbohydrate intake, while increasing their dietary fat and protein intake with a healthy dose of fiber from green leafy sources and increased water consumption.
Here’s just a few results of what we’ve experienced:
- One member reduced their HbA1c from 11 to 5.9 in less than 6 months
- One member has lost over 55lbs in 6 months
- One member lost over 45lbs in 5 months
- Another decreased their LDL 80 points
- A reduction in the necessity to use anti-hypertensive medications
- A reduction in the necessity to use oral diabetic medications
- Improved mood
- A decrease in joint pain
- A decrease in lower back pain
I can go on and on with the benefits members have experienced over the course of time. Perhaps it might be time to start questioning conventional advice and explore different avenues or disease prevention and management. If what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked, there is probably a good reason for it.
If you are looking to lose weight, consider the information I’ve offered above. Ask questions. Seek alternatives to the status quo. A little outside-of-the-box thinking might get you farther than you’ve ever gone before. Diabetes, and its consequence of heart disease, is considered a preventable disease. Once you are considered pre-diabetic or have become diabetic, there are avenues to help you go beyond mere management and begin to minimize and reverse its devastating effects. The decision is yours to make.
As always, your questions/comments are welcome.