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It’s Your Gut, Not Your Butt: Diabetes & Nutrition

20 J0000006UTC 2011

For real…sugar can make you fat, especially mixed with your stressful lifestyle. Sugar eaten for fatigue, depression or stress– a latte’ with extra vanilla syrup, a few thin mints from the freezer or an extra scoop of the best ice cream in the country– can hurt. It’s okay occasionally, eaten calmly and mindfully, after a real meal. Deprivation isn’t cool, but a spoonful of sugar will not help the medicine go down…

What goes on in the body after years of unbalanced, high stress, daily sugar-benders?

1. DYSGLYCEMIA or unbalanced blood sugar. Blood sugar, or glucose, comes from carbohydrates  (fruits, vegetables or grain– that means corn syrup, too). These are made of saccherides or sugars. Once eaten glucose is ushered into our cells by the hormone INSULIN via insulin receptors in our cells. When glucose enters cells it is used for ENERGY for walking, thinking and mountaineering. HYPERGLYCEMIA is high blood sugar: too much glucose available to cells. Insulin has to work harder and insulin receptors become overwhelmed. HYPOGLYCEMIA is low blood sugar, where not enough glucose available to cells and energy runs low. The body must draw on other energy reserves or reach for a do-nut, eventually resulting in hyperglycemia. When blood sugar is high we feel great, on a sugar rush; it drops equally low and we feel tired and crappy. Women are bitchy. Men are short tempered. We dose with carbs; sugar floods the blood stream and insulin bombards insulin receptors all over again.

2. INSULIN RESISTANCE. Once insulin receptors are swamped with too much insulin trying to usher too much glucose (blood sugar from carbs, remember?) than they can handle, they pull back, saying, “NO MORE GLUCOSE!”  and stop taking glucose into cells for energy. This results in a surplus of blood glucose waiting around to get into cells. Whether you were hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic to start with, you are now hyperglycemic. 

3. CENTRAL ADIPOSITY aka belly fat. The body has to store excess glucose somewhere and the easiest place is your belly. This is the most dangerous storage facility because of its proximity to the stomach, intestines, lungs, kidneys, breasts, uterus, prostate and liver. The main sign that a person is at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, and therefore Cardiovascular Disease, is central adiposity.

4. METABOLIC SYNDROME OR SYNDROME X aka pre-diabetes. This is the culmination of high fasting blood glucose (over 125), insulin resistance and mid-section obesity. Triglycerides (blood fat) begin to rise. Cardiovascular issues often arise. Cholesterol often elevates in an attempt to help heal tears in blood vessels and arteries. Exercise is labored. Sugar cravings abound but overall hunger subsides. Fatigue is ever-present. It’s hard to think and hard to act.

5. TYPE 2 DIABETES. Now declared an epidemic in America, this is characterized by compromised vision, thinking and excess urination (caused by crystallization of protein in small blood vessels), unplanned weight loss, tingling or numbness in extremities (lack of circulation) and slow in healing of infections, cuts and bruises. The body has been so burdened by excess sugar (fasting blood glucose over 150) that it can no longer perform its usual functions. Type 2 Diebetes is the #1 risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease (a wide variety of heart conditions) and the #1 killer in America, picking off an astounding 1/3 of our population.

Women always think it’s a fat butt that is so terrible, but it’s really the gut that will get you in the end. Now maybe you are wondering how to lose the inner tube– or how to suggest it to dear ‘ol dad as he is getting on up in years. If you go back to point #1, dysglycemia, the place to start is getting the blood sugar balanced. How do you do it? Simply put, less processed carbohydrates like Little Debbies, Mountain Dew, Cheddar Bunnies and even my vice, organic white corn tortilla chips; more lean protein (lean, hormone-free beef, fresh fish, legumes, nuts, cottage cheese), healthy fats (avocados, olives, fish and nuts), vegetables (leafy greens, full rainbow of colors), fruits (especially low glycemic berries and cherries) and whole grains instead of processed ones (brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat). Stay tuned for how to start with breakfast…

Till then, chow down!

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