Sunday, September 22, 2019

Retrospective #218: “Diabetes Causes Nerve Pain”

Misleading advertising riles me all the time, almost as much as grammatical errors by news anchors, talk show hosts and United States Senators. And I am especially riled by advertising that claims that others are being misleading while being themselves misleading. They must think we’re all dummies!
My current (2014) favorite is a teachers’ union advocating for the Common Core curriculum. In it, an actor playing a teacher says (I’m paraphrasing), “Those opposed to the Common Core are misleading the public”; she protests, “Common Core does NOT tell teachers HOW to teach” (emphasis mine). “THAT is misleading,” she says. What she DOES NOT say is that Common Core DOES tell teachers WHAT to teach! THAT’S ITS PURPOSE. Grrrrrrrrr!
Another TV commercial I’ve heard over and over says “Diabetes causes nerve pain.” I guess it’s a scare tactic. You’re supposed to rush to your doctor and ask him to prescribe the drug that is being advertised. It unnerves me (hehe) to hear it. Diabetes does NOT cause nerve pain. Uncontrolled diabetes causes nerve pain and will eventually damage the microvascular system, specifically the tiny blood vessels in the extremities (legs usually), the eyes (the retina), and/or the kidneys. These complications can lead to amputations, blindness and end-stage kidney disease.
The mechanism is that when the blood supply is cut off to the tiny blood vessels, they don’t supply the nerves with the oxygen they need to receive and send signals; thus, you become insensitive to pain or injury to your feet. A cut or some other undetected injury of an uncontrolled diabetic can thus lead to infection, then gangrene and amputation.
Uncontrolled diabetes is the culprit, NOT diabetes. The point is that uncontrolled diabetes – am I repeating myself? – is what needs to be avoided – and “treated” when it’s encountered. The worst thing you can do is ignore a blood sugar that is not in control. Over a period of years, it will manifest itself. And you will likely die from it. And that’s scary.
Getting your blood sugar to the point where it never exceeds 140mg/dl at any point after a meal and returns to under 100 mg/dl (if you are pre-diabetic or a diagnosed Type 2) should be your goal. Any after-meal spike above 140mg/dl are going to damage your microvascular system, slowly but surely. And remember that an A1c of 7.0% (the ADA target!!!) is equivalent to an estimated Average Glucose (eAG) of 154mg/dl. If you have an average blood glucose of 154mg/dl (7%), just imagine how much of the time your blood sugar is above 140mg/dl. Now, that’s, really scary.
So, how to you “treat” uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes? Your doctor will probably start you on oral anti-diabetes meds and tell you to lose weight, probably on a low-fat, “balanced” diet. You’ll probably also need blood pressure meds, maybe a cocktail of them. Oh, and of course, a statin, to lower your Total and LDL Cholesterol (because statins will do that, although the benefit of doing so has not been shown). You should know that under this regimen, your Type 2 diabetes will be a “progressive” disease. That is, your condition will worsen; you will take more and more medication, ultimately leading to injecting insulin. And don’t forget the complications. They’re in your future too, including Macrovascular complications (e.g., CVD). This is getting too scary even for me. But there is an alternative. Interested?
YOU could treat your Type 2 diabetes yourself. That’s right, YOU. YOU can control your blood glucose simply by controlling the things you put in your mouth. The foods (and drinks) that make blood sugar rise ALL contain carbs. Carbs, both the simple sugars and the more complex carbohydrates (both processed and unprocessed), when digested, all convert to glucose, or “sugar,” in your blood. The hormone insulin transports and facilitates its uptake.
If you have T2 diabetes (or are prediabetic), your body has over time become resistant to insulin, so the glucose continues to circulate. In essence, you have become carbohydrate intolerant. To control your diabetes, you only need to limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat and drink. It’s that simple.
I’ve been writing about this subject for 10 years. I’ve been a Type 2 diabetic for 33 years, the last 17 eating Very Low Carb, (mostly) healthy foods. My Type 2 diabetes has not progressed. In fact, it has been in remission for 17 years. I am much, much healthier today that I was 17 years ago. You can be too, if YOU take charge of your diabetes health.

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