Friday, June 21, 2019

Retrospective #126: Do You Live to Eat or Eat to Live?

I love to eat, and I used to live to eat, but I paid a big price for it. Over many years the way my body processed food changed. I developed a disregulated glucose metabolism. The carbs I ate, both simple sugars and so-called complex carbohydrates, were the only fuel my body was using for energy. Fat was stored away in copious amounts. I was a sugar-burner, running high on glucose to prevent and respond to “crashes.” And I became Insulin Resistant (IR).
The insulin my body made could no longer get nutrients into my cells. The fat I ate wasn’t burned for energy because my blood insulin was too high, preventing access to my fat stores. Year after year I got fatter and fatter.
I also became a Type 2 diabetic. I was diagnosed 33 years ago, but I was probably fully diabetic many years before that. Over the years, as I got fatter, my diabetes got worse – until 2002 when my doctor suggested that I try a Very Low Carb diet (20 grams of carbs a day) to lose weight. I lost a lot of weight and was forced to stop virtually all my oral anti-diabetes meds, dramatically raised my HDL, lowered my triglycerides, and lowered my blood pressure.
These are a cluster of risk factors known as Metabolic Syndrome, and they are all gone now! A doctor today would not know that I am (and always will be) a Type 2 diabetic. I am “in remission, clinically “non-diabetic,” but once you have Insulin Resistance, there’s no fixin’ it. You are carbohydrate intolerant for life. You have to live with it.
Accepting this fact is not as difficult as you might think. All you have to do is change what you eat. On a traditional, restricted-calorie, “balanced” diet, recommended by the medical establishment, the hardest thing about dieting is being hungry. Traditional “balanced” diets are just semi-starvation. You eat less than you body needs for energy balance, and your body reminds you of this frequently. If you are hungry, your body will tell you to eat because it doesn’t have access to your fat reserves. It is ‘available’ (around your waist) but this fat is not accessible to burn.
Why? Because, with high circulating insulin, due to IR, your body thinks glucose energy (from carbs) is plentiful, so it should preserve your body fat for leaner days (winter, famine, etc.) So, how then do you lower your circulating insulin? You stop eating most carbohydrates. Lower circulating insulin will signal your body to “release” your body fat to be used for fuel and you will not be hungry. Your body fat will be feeding your body. How cool is that?
So, as much as I love to eat, I now eat to live. I am currently eating less to lose weight. I eat very few carbohydrates (fewer than 20 grams a day), and I am not hungry. I let my body tell me when to eat. If I’m not hungry, I don’t eat.  Frequently I go from breakfast to dinner without any food at all. I eat a good breakfast: 2 fried eggs, 2 strips of bacon and a cup of coffee with heavy cream. If I do eat lunch, I eat a can of sardines. That’s all. Dinner is just meat, fish or fowl and a low-carb vegetable tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil. Easy weight loss without hunger!
All carbohydrates are alike to Type 2’s. That includes the “natural” sugars in fruit and the “complex” carbohydrates. If you’re a Type 2 and follow your doctor’s or dietician’s advice to eat a “balanced” diet with 45-60 grams of carb per meal, your treatment will progressively include more and more medications to control your blood sugar.
The ADA guidelines for “good control” call for an A1c of <7.0% and blood glucose level under 180mg/dl after meals. Unfortunately, damage to organs, nerves and arteries, particularly in the feet, kidneys and eyes, begins when blood glucose is above 140mg/dl. And heart attack risk steadily rises as the A1c level goes above 5.5%, for everyone, diabetic or not. The risk doubles with an A1c of 6.0%.
For diabetics in “good control,” as defined by the ADA, cardiovascular disease is almost a given. Heart disease is the most common cause of death for a diabetic. As heart attack risk rises, so does the risk of other conditions such as erectile dysfunction and many cancers (particularly colon, bladder, liver and breast, 4 of the most common cancers in the US), or one of many other chronic diseases of the Western Diet, including cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s).
This is the prospect you face: The medical establishment will tell you that T2 diabetes is a progressive disease. Rest assured; it will be if you allow them to treat you with a “one size fits all” “balanced” diet. But you do have a choice

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