Our unrelenting consumption of sugar, whether it’s an obvious component of a bag of sweets or hidden way down the ingredients list in our supermarket wholemeal bread, sets us off on a blood-sugar roller coaster. If you start the day with foods that are either high in sugar or are converted in your body to sugar (foods like white bread and breakfast cereal), your blood sugar soars and you go into a fuzzy high. Two to three hours later, however, it crashes. Then you’re craving sugar again.
If we don’t get our sugar consumption managed properly, there’s a serious risk we’re going to end up damaging our health. There’s a strong likelihood we could even end up with type 2 diabetes. The important thing to know about this disease is that by the time you end up with a diagnosis, things would have been going wrong in your body for several years already. It’s not something like a chest infection, in that you have it or you don’t. The formal diagnosis comes only when you pass a certain arbitrary point along a scale. This, in a nutshell, is how it works. One of the body’s key functions is to keep blood sugar within a tightly controlled range. When you consume sugar or foods that are quickly converted to sugar, such as most supermarket bread and bagels, your body pumps out a tiny dose of a hormone called insulin to bring your levels back to normal. The problem is, if we’ve been abusing this system for a long period of time, our bodies become resistant to this tiny dose of insulin, needing more and more of it to have the same effect. In high amounts, insulin is toxic. Your body is now poisoning itself. When this poisoning gets to a certain level and your blood sugar can no longer be adequately controlled, we call it ‘type 2 diabetes’. But that’s just the end stage of a long process that’s been going on for years.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
There are many factors, in addition to excessive sugar consumption, that contribute to the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- Too much highly processed food
- Physical inactivity and low muscle mass
- Sleep deprivation
- Persistently high stress levels
- Disturbed gut bug ecosystem
- Low levels of vitamin D, usually caused by lack of sunshine
- Environmental toxins
Many patients will have more than one contributory factor, which is why a 360-degree approach to health is so important. If a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes has already been made, there are some special dietary considerations that should be followed. Diabetics have a relatively low tolerance of carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates. Periods of fasting can be very helpful in reducing insulin and sugar levels.
Note – if you are type 2 diabetic and on medication, you must consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet such as prolonged fasting.
A great many of us, after years of gorging sugar and junk, have unknowingly become insulin resistant. This means they’re already insulin resistant, to a certain degree. They’re being poisoned, they just don’t yet realize it. But sugar’s doing more than just giving us type 2 diabetes. As we have just learned, sugar increases our insulin levels and one of insulin’s main roles is to direct fat storage. It tells our bodies to hold on to fat by storing it, so more insulin means we’re heavier. Chronically raised insulin levels have been associated with:
- Increased levels of VLDL – a particularly harmful form of cholesterol
- Raised blood pressure owing to increased retention of salt and water
- Increased breast cancer risk
- Raised testosterone levels in women, which is associated with conditions such as polycystic ovaries
Try to purge your house of all sugars, both hidden and obvious. We all crave sugar. So what do you think is going to happen when you come home after a bad day at work, stressed out? If that packet of biscuits or chocolate is sitting in the cupboard, do you really think willpower will be enough? Every day, every week, every month? Hell, no! You will crack.