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Managing Diabetes with Real Food

If this picture is a familiar activity for you and you have been following conventional health rhetoric about managing your diabetes, the following information may be of interest.

Medical “experts” recommend being under the care of a physician to take care of your disease. But are doctors really getting to the root cause of the disease? Is it just some unknown thing going on in your body that needs continual doses of insulin and other medications?

Common medical advice tells diabetes patients to eat a diet high in fiber and low in fat, with lots of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Patients are advised to watch portion control, carbohydrates, and calories that “result in excess fat and excess weight”. The philosophy is that avoiding sugar is just not possible and that calories from sugar are no different than calories from any other carbohydrate.

And apparently, eating more protein and fats is not advisable. You can continue eating your favorite desserts and other processed carbs as long as you “monitor your calories, carbs, and other key dietary components” and keep a regular check on blood glucose levels through blood glucose testing.

Here are the guidelines (source, Web M.D.):

  • Total fat consumption should be 25%-35% or less of total calories eaten per day.
  • Saturated fats should be less than 7% of total calories eaten in a day.
  • Polyunsaturated fats (from liquid vegetable oils and margarines low in trans fats) should be up to 10% of the total calories per day consumed.
  • Monounsaturated fats (derived from vegetable sources like plant oils and nuts) should be up to 20% of total calories per day eaten.
  • Carbohydrates should be 50%-60% of total calories per day eaten
  • We should eat 20-30 grams of fiber per day. These can be derived from oats, barley, psyllium, and beans.
  • The amounts of protein in the diet should equal about 15%-20% of total calories eaten per day.
  • Cholesterol content of the diet should be less than 200 milligrams per day

The claim is that saturated fats increase insulin sensitivity in the body, and therefore a reduction in fat intake is necessary.  But following these directives are not only keeping your insulin levels in a haywire state, but they are ruining your health. When you eat carbohydrates without protein and fat, and especially refined and processed variety, your blood sugar will  spike unnaturally high.

Here’s some evidence as to just how saturated fats are not bad for your insulin levels or diabetes, from Whole Health Source citing 5 studies conducted in 2008 that are “high-quality trials that used reliable methods of determining insulin sensitivity”.

Solutions for diabetes

Since not enough emphasis is placed on removal of processed foods, which greatly contribute to the Diabetic condition in the first place, we must return the focus back to eating real, whole foods. This is why people with diabetes, in general, continue to struggle and struggle with their weight and health.

There are some natural alternatives to taking care of your health and your diabetes. As diabetes is largely a modern disease that is caused by a combination of inactivity and consumption of processed, industrial foods, a return to eating a healthy diet should enable you to overcome your disease and lead a healthy life.

Here are the foods you should consider eliminating from your diet:

  • crackers
  • bread
  • pasta
  • bagels
  • rice cakes
  • packaged cereals
  • most breads
  • alternative grain products that are processed such as the above
  • industrial pasteurized/homogenized dairy products – especially low-fat and non-fat
  • processed (roasted, salted, coated) nuts and seeds
  • refined, vegetable oils like canola, soy, safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, and other vegetable oils
  • soy products of all kinds (except those that are fermented like miso and tempeh)
  • industrial meats which contain antibiotic, hormones, GMOs, pesticide and herbicide residues, and other chemicals
  • conventionally-produced fruits and vegetables

Basically, anything packaged, canned, or in a box should be suspect and probably eliminated from your kitchen and diet.

Here’s what you should include in your diet:

  • grass-fed, naturally and organically raised meats, pasture-raised poultry
  • raw milk and dairy (cheese, cream, butter) from organic or sustainable-raised, pasture-raised cattle
  • healthy seafood choices – wild caught salmon, farmed tilapia, mollusks like clams, mussels, oysters, squid, shrimp, octopus
  • organically-produced fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
  • raw nuts and seeds that have been soaked and/or sprouted
  • organically or sustainable-produced nut butters (avoid peanut butter)
  • natural, healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil, real butter from grass-fed cattle, tallow and lard from healthy beef and chicken (see above)

Obtaining regular stretching, movement, and exercise is important too. Here are some guidelines:

  • Focus on regular activity rather than length of time spent doing the activity. Intense physical activity will burn out your adrenal glands. If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, it’s certain that you are experiencing adrenal exhaustion. Start slow and work your way up gradually to more intense activity. Walking is the best thing for people who are healing from insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Do something you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle and interests
  • The best type of activity is something you can do outside. It allows you to get fresh air and sunshine (natural Vitamin D is very important for health), and gets you out of your everyday environment of the home or office.
  • Don’t focus on calories or fat intake as a method of losing weight. If you do, you will continue to struggle with weight issues. If you eat whole, healthy foods and obtaining regular activity in your schedule, your normal weight should be easy to maintain.

How do I know any of this is true?

Almost 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with insulin-resistance. I had a broad panel blood test done to determine what was causing my health to be in such a poor state. One of the main problems discovered was that my blood-sugar levels were really out of whack. Insulin-resistance is a precursor to Diabetes. Yes, there are people in my family with Diabetes. All of them are on medication. I didn’t want to end up on medication too.

So I followed the advice of my practitioner and eliminated processed foods from my diet. I started eating a lot more proteins with real saturated fats and a lot of vegetables as well. Now whenever I do have anything refined it is few and far between. I’ve eliminated grains from my diet. Grains are inflammatory and can contribute greatly to insulin resistance and blood sugar issues, as well as other health issues such as weight gain, heart disease.

Did you know that even soaking and sprouting grains doesn’t eliminate all the phytic acid present in grains? That’s right, minerals can still be leached from your body when you eat sprouted/soaked or fermented grains. If you’ve had digestive issues, this is an even bigger problem. Also, grains are not the same as they used to be in the historical past. They’ve been hybridized and contaminated by GMOs. For more information read The truth about wheat and grains – are they good for your health? And, listen to my interview on Liberation Wellness with Kevin Brown on this important topic.

Last fall I had another blood screening done…and my blood sugar levels have returned to normal. No more insulin resistance!

Want to see what kind of foods I keep in my kitchen? Read my Kitchen Staples post.

For more insight about being nutritionally fit, and putting more emphasis on eating well to maintain your health and your weight, read Are You Nutritionally Fit?

For more information on types of healthy foods, read How Well Do Know Your Food? Find Out!

For more information on fats and health, read The Importance of Dietary Fats.

17 replies on “Managing Diabetes with Real Food”

Thank you for a comprehensive, clear approach to dealing with high blood sugar and high insulin. Many people will benefit from this information. I will encourage my clients to read this, so they know there are more people, and more organizations that recognize the ADA may not have it exactly “right” when it comes to sound life-long nutritional strategies.

Cheryl – thanks for your comments, I appreciate them and I hope this is helpful to your clients. I had someone else today on FB ask about sharing it with some of her clients too, and I sincerely hope this information gets out to more and more people. Diabetes is not a disease that just comes about and must be managed by medication. Yes, some people are born with genetic issues and they cannot properly manufacture or regulate their insulin levels, but the majority of these situations can be mitigated by proper diet, and especially one that adheres to the principles of whole foods, traditionally-based eating.

This appears a bit misleading as the photo shows someone injecting what would be assumed to be insulin and in my experience, is used only by Type 1 diabetics. The body of the article gives advice that is generally reserved for Type 2 diabetics where controlling their diabetes is possible with diet and exercise and if meds are prescribed they are generally oral.

My youngest child (of seven) developed Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed in Dec.’08. None of my other children have any blood sugar issues and none, including the diabetic, are overweight in any way.

Our diet isn’t perfect but the bulk of it is raw dairy, lots of high-quality butter and coconut oil, wild-caught salmon and shrimp, grass-fed beef, organic chicken and home-grown eggs, organic fruits and veggies, kombucha, yogurt, soaked nuts and seeds, etc…

I think the issue is much more complicated, especially for Type 1 diabetics, whose pancreas has basically just closed up shop and does not manufacture insulin anymore, than just a high quality, nutrient dense diet, and exercise, can fix. We are working on it though…

Beth – I know people who use insulin who are Type II Diabetic, and I wanted to draw attention to the fact that even if you aren’t on medication, poor diet and lifestyle can eventually lead to being put on medication by a doctor, especially if the person is not mindful of their habits and diet. Doctors are quick to use medication and surgery for health problems, and are especially un-knowledgeable as a whole, about the important role nutrition plays in the human body. Right now, Diabetes is one of the most common and widespread health problems, and people are developing it at younger and younger ages. Awareness of what’s causing it and focusing on natural solutions for it and other health problems is the key to learning how to get to the root of the problem and keep it under control.

There is a widespread misconception that Diabetes cannot be controlled by diet and many people simply subjugate themselves to going on medication rather than understanding that real foods with real fats and avoiding processed foods and other toxic substances can be the real key to avoiding Diabetes in the first place.

Beth – I apologize, my computer submitted that last comment before I was able to continue my response.

Type I Diabetes is definitely a different issue, but I believe that if you are eating healthy foods such as the ones you and I mentioned, there is a high probability that you will need less insulin medication or conventional medical intervention.

I believe a family like yours would be in the minority of people who have Diabetes, whether it is Type I or II, or some other degenerative condition, and eat such nutrient-dense foods. And the instances of Type I Diabetes are fewer and further between than the average newly diagnosed case of Type II Diabetes, which is rampant in our population due to the abundance of and convenience with which processed foods are available.

No one has a perfect diet, but I just want to impress that if people generally stick to a 85 percent (or thereabouts) diet of real, whole foods and avoid processed foods, generally speaking diseases like Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer (which can all be connected with one another and can go hand in hand) have a much more difficult time of developing in the body.

I have had gestational diabetes several times, and was able to control it through diet each time (so far!). I’ve found a food log to give invaluable feedback, as well, because I’ve found even some “real foods” can whack things out if I’m not careful. Each person is slightly different, but if you are doing fingersticks and monitoring your sugars several times a day you’ll be able to customize diet even further, just for you, with even better results.

Milehimama – thanks for your comments, I am glad to hear you were able to control your gestational blood sugar issues through a good dietary plan.

It’s true, our bodies are all different from one another, and to some extent, our health condition, metabolic/blood type, and types of food we consume all have a great impact on how our health condition improves or declines. I think using the glucose monitor to determine which foods to eat or avoid is a great idea when you are experiencing ups and downs in your blood sugar levels throughout the day that are not solved simply by eating three regular meals with the kinds of foods most people would eat – barring all processed foods, of course.

Rainie! I am so happy you were able to reverse your situation using diet and it reminds me of the quote attributed to Hippocrates, “Let food be thy Medicine!” I will be sharing this on my thoughts on friday link love post…again…of course! You get your own section now! 🙂 Hugs. Alex

Thanks, Raine, the article is a good one. I’m contemplating sending it to my Dad, who recently jumped from insulin-resistance to the Big “D”. Sadly, he is a processed food-aholic and would most likely just disregard the information; possibly even getting annoyed at my seeming knowledge on the subject. It’s truly amazing how few people realize the connection between the food their putting in their mouths and the disease that shows up in their bodies. All we can do is keep writing, keep cooking, and keep hoping, eh? Thanks again, and glad to hear your health has benefitted from good ole’ Dr. Price.

Raine, my family are fellow real-food eaters. Hubby, who most of the time doesn’t eat what we eat but prefers his super-processed carbs, has just had a BAD blood panel and is freaking out. He has a one-week follow-up at the doctor. THIS WEEK he’s eating what the rest of us eat, taking a daily walk in the sunshine and skipping his 3AM quart of cold cereal. YAY! I don’t know if a week is enough to make a change in his blood work, but I think the doctor will let us try diet and exercise changes first.

Do you have any words of wisdom regarding coconut? I think the low-carb thing might go over better if I could give him some coconut pancakes or muffins occasionally.

Peggy – you are fortunate not only that your husband is willing to try a different way of eating and also that your doctor is open to this method rather than immediately using drugs (of course if it were me, I’d avoid the doctor in the first place! 🙂 ). But I think your husband will be pleasantly surprised at the change in his health if he sticks to what you described. Best of luck to you and I’d love to hear what happens down the road with your husband’s new-found diet and lifestyle habits.

Last winter we had terrible, long periods of clouds and cold without sun, and I spent many days holed up in the house because I wanted to avoid the cold. I had some severe health issues that started up in January of this year – panic and anxiety issues that made me jittery most of the time and kept me from sleeping for nearly 3 months. I thought I was going to lose my mind, and I was incredibly depressed. Eventually I started GAPS in May and this has helped tremendously. But I also made sure I got outside as much as possible and got exposure to the sun. I worked my way up as I tend to sunburn easily in the beginning of the season, and eventually I had long periods in the sun nearly every day. I can’t tell you how much this helped my health and my mood in general.

This winter I’m bundling up and going outside rain or shine daily with our dog, whom we recently adopted in August. I think it’s already made a huge difference. We’ve had quite a bit of calm, sunny days and I know the cloudy days are coming soon, but I think just getting outside and getting exposure to solar rays, even on the days where it is not actually sunny are incredibly important.

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