Monday, April 29, 2019

Retrospective #73: Newly Diagnosed Pre-Diabetic or Type 2?


I wasn’t scared. I relied on my doctor, and I paid a price. I did just what my doctor told me to do. I took the pills he prescribed, and I continued going to see him regularly. I ate a “balanced” diet, as his staff nutritionist advised me to, and I tried to lose weight, as they both recommended. But my body didn’t want to starve, so when I ate less, it slowed down and I was tired and hungry until I ate again. The weight loss part didn’t work out so well.
The result: I continued to gain weight and over the years my diabetes got worse. As my blood “sugar” got worse, I was prescribed more types of oral diabetes medications and larger doses. Eventually, I was maxed out on two and starting a third. In those days (2002) the only option, when the third med failed to control my blood glucose, would have been to inject insulin. I was that close until, 17 years ago, I found another way. It was my doctor, actually, who found a way for me to both lose weight and manage my diabetes. My doctor suggested I try eating Very Low Carb.
With a new diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes today, if “diet and exercise” doesn’t work after one or two office visits, physicians frequently prescribe Metformin, and then, some start right in with injected insulin as primary treatment. That might be a good idea if you continue to eat a balanced diet.  It would scare me, though, knowing that there’s a much better alternative. You don’t have to do the same old, same old “restricted-calorie balanced diet” in which you starve your body and are always hungry. It doesn’t work, at least not for long. If you lose weight, you soon gain it back. And exercise just makes me hungry and justifies my eating more as a reward for “good behavior.” Geeez…
Alternatively, many patients who are newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes go home and immediately go on line to learn for themselves how best to treat their condition. They take charge of their own health. In doing this they avoid expensive medications and manage their diabetes through diet alone. I say “manage” because ONCE YOUR METABOLISM HAS BEEN DAMAGED BY BETA CELL LOSS AND INSULIN RESISTANCE, YOU WILL BE CARBOHYDRATE INTOLERANT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. You MUST accept this. If you want to manage this disease without drugs, or with just Metformin, and without the dreaded Microvascular complications (blindness, amputations and/or end-stage kidney disease), and Macrovascular complication (heart attack, stroke, etc.), you can do it, but you MUST make VERY dramatic changes in your diet. You must drastically reduce the carbs you eat at every meal.
Over the course of a few years eating Very Low Carb (+/- 20 net grams of carbohydrate a day), I managed to lose 170 pounds, all without hunger, because I was NOT starving my body. My body was getting the energy it needed from its own stored fat. Think about it. That’s what your body fat is there for, in the evolutionary sense.
I also needed much less medication. I discovered this in the first week. I had a few episodes of hypoglycemia (very low blood sugars). I called the doctor and he told me successively to lower or eliminate all the diabetes meds I was taking. This happened before I lost weight. And after I lost weight my blood pressure improved a lot (on the same meds), and my blood lipids (cholesterol) greatly improved too, especially my HDL and triglycerides.
The key to losing weight without hunger is getting ACCESS to your body fat. And the key to that is to not eat carbs. All carbs convert to glucose (energy). Glucose needs insulin to accompany it in the blood, so the pancreas secretes insulin and adds it to the blood. When the body perceives the insulin in your blood, it blocks the breakdown of body fat for energy. The insulin signals that you have glucose and don’t need to break down body fat for energy.
So, by eating a VERY LOW CARB diet, my body is happy. My DOCTOR is happy. I always have lots of energy, and I am much healthier than I was when I was fat and heavily medicated.
All I had to do was take charge of my health and use the internet and my glucose meter to learn what to do. Your meter and your scale will give you the feedback you need too. Just decide not to be scared and take control of your health and what you put in your mouth. It’s your life, after all.             

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