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Dodging Diabetes

20 J0000005UTC 2011

I should be doing my homework right now. But instead I am sitting around on the computer, listening to birds mate out in the yard. My homework is about pre-diabetes, the part where the body’s cells are numb to insulin so they can’t take blood sugar in to be turned into energy. It’s actually a really big problem. Bigger, say, than me not wanting to do my homework.

I chose to highlight insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome or syndrome X) because a) a lot of people in our culture are already experiencing it because of the way we eat and drink and because of the ingredients in our food system;  b) it’s easy to become insulin resistant through slacking off for a couple decades of poor diet and lifestyle choices; and c) if you know you are insulin resistant, it’s fairly easy to reverse– rather than becoming diabetic, which is the almost inevitable alternative and much harder to reverse. The best idea? Don’t become insulin resistant in the first place.

But how? What kinds of things can you eat in your daily meals to promote stable blood sugar and sensitive hormone (yes, insulin is a hormone) balance for good cell and body health?

1. Good, clean protein, especially at breakfast and lunch. Norwegians have something right when they eat fish for breakfast. And when I was in the Yucatan, I ate chicken in the morning. These kinds of a.m. foods break our fasting from the night less drastically, providing a nice, even burn of energy to get the day started. Not so much the croissant.

2. Cinnamon. Use up to a tablespoon or two a day on all those sugary items you are not able to give up yet. It has a stabilizing effect. I like lots of it in my oats and millet and we even had it on flourless chocolate birthday cake!

3. Dark green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine lettuce, arugula and even broccoli. These are chock full of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and balance out acid-forming and inflammatory animal fats often over-consumed in the U.S.

4. Vegetable fats like avocado, olive, coconut and their oils and fish fats from wild, cold-water fish. These help stabilize glucose (sugar) and keep Omega-6 (which tend to be inflammatory) fatty acids in check. Add greens to anything. Try cooking with coconut oil and using extra-virgin expeller pressed olive oil to make fresh salad dressings. Put avocado on anything!

5. Green tea. A great substitute for coffee, green tea has 30% the caffeine, promotes natural weight loss, helps abate high blood sugar levels and is full of antioxidants for cellular health. If you love your coffee, do one cup of that, and one of green tea.

Let’s leave it at that. I was going to say what to leave out of your meals to keep your insulin nice and sensitive, but we’ll save that for another time. For now, just enjoy a lean bit of steak on a big bed of sauteed kale topped with sliced avocado and sea salt followed by a blended frozen banana topped with slivered almonds and cinnamon with a cup of green tea.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anji Redmond permalink
    20 J0000006UTC 2011 1:09 am

    Just saw this one – some how missed it earlier.

    BIG issue for insulin resistance is not only what you eat (though I know this is the substance of your blog) but exercise is HUGE in reversing and preventing insulin resistance. Also, eating smaller more regular meals to avoid sugar spikes. My insulin resistance was pharmaceutically induced (as it can be with many people with out really knowing it) and once it happens it is really tough to stop. I may not be the best example however since I struggle with eating regularly and exercising is a lot harder since I put on so much weight so fast. Having been at both ends of the spectrum (very underweight to being overweight) it is VERY hard to carry extra weight and not get discouraged when it feels like your body and mind is conspiring against you. I’m always reminded of the imagery – you’ve picked up a frozen 20 LB turkey, now imagine carrying at least that around with you all the time.

    Just some – these are my experiences – sharing. Good topic. And something so many need to know about. Type II diabetes is so preventable – but you need to know the steps and take them (literally!)

  2. 20 J0000006UTC 2011 1:17 am

    Thank you for such a great reply and all the good info. It is a huge issue, and I’m only coming at it from one angle– other perspectives are so helpful!

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