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Posted: Feb 25, 2012
Last week, we discussed how allowing baby steps into our diabetes management plan can help us overcome some of the fogginess, and the fear, that a diabetes diagnosis can bring. We even went ahead and took our first baby step by discussing "What is Diabetes?" This week, I'd like to visit a few of the steps that we can take with all the knowledge and information that we gained by simply knowing what diabetes is, and learning about the basic problems and challenges that it can present.
If my readers might recall, we went into a little bit of detail about the basic concept of glucose. Glucose, is a type of sugar in which the body turns ALL the food that we eat (and not just sugary foods); it is the body's main source of energy. Nearly all (about 98%) of all the carbohydrates we consume will get turned into glucose, compared to 58% of proteins, and around a 10% of fats.
This basic piece of information is the most powerful weapon we have against controlling high blood glucose levels.
Because carbohydrates are the biggest contributors, by far, to our blood glucose levels and needs, it is paramount that we manage, and control their consumption with some care. By controlling our carbohydrate consumption levels, we are essentially, controlling our blood glucose levels.
Now, carbohydrates and starches may bring some confusion to persons trying to manage diabetes, and often... for the wrong reasons. Dietitians, nutritionists, and TV personalities love to focus on the roles of "good" and "bad" carbohydrates in our diets, and will always outline that we, as diabetics, need to focus on consuming good carbohydrates, instead of "bad ones..." and that's not a bad thing, in and of itself. (If we consume too many "fast burning", so called "bad" carbohydrates, we'll be left unfulfilled, and hungry, and often, with roller-coasting blood glucose levels.) But something folks always fail to mention is that, at the end of the day, it is not so much the quality of the carbohydrates we are consuming, but the AMOUNT of them.
Most Americans consume a seriously disproportionate amount of carbohydrates in their diets, and while some might argue that the average person needs to consume a diet that consists of 60% carbohydrates, the average American consumes much, much more than this. If, for example, we are consuming double the amount of recommended carbohydrates, and replaced all of those with supposed "good carbohydrates" (which we will discuss later), it won't negate that we were still consuming double the amount of recommended carbohydrates! We will still have high blood sugar... even if those carbohydrates were slower burning.
So, how do we know how to make proper carbohydrate meal choices? What are our best alternatives?
The truth of the mater is that there is NO diabetes diet out there. There is no real truth set in stone that says you have to follow any one person's plan to the letter; even a dietitian's plan. Your best guides in making meal planning decisions will ALWAYS be your glucose meter, moderation, and your own body.
Which brings us to our second baby step: Using Our Glucose Meters.
Yes, that's right. We learn all of the information we need, and much more, one meal at a time, and one event at a time, with our glucose meters.
I will note now that this is a lot more testing than the 1-2 strips a doctor, or insurance company, may allow for you, if you have Type 2 Diabetes. This is an expensive disease, and one in which you might have to invest in some extra, out of pocket, testing strips in order to help you make future confident decisions about your management, particularly, if you are not under any medications. Don't despair, though, bargain department stores often have some affordable, and generic, meters and strips. (By FDA standards, ALL meters must be within the same percentages of accuracy, regardless of brand, so they are no less reliable than more expensive ones... though this might be a topic of argument for many.)
Set a Blood Glucose Goal
Most American and worldwide diabetic guideline organizations, including the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, recommend that diabetic patients keep their blood glucose levels at below 140 mg/dL (7.69 mmol/L) or less, 2 hours after meals, and below 110 mg/dL (6.04 mmol/L), fasting. These guidelines might be different for you, if you are pregnant, or if you have other health issues or complications that might make it risky to reach for these levels. When in doubt, always consult with your Endocrinologist, or your medical team.
Make meal decisions that help you reach these goals
Data is Power.
We have just examined a few of the baby steps that we can take to help us attain proper DATA, to make powerful decisions in our daily diabetes management routines. (Of course, this information is very basic, and it does not account for the impact that your medications, or insulin regimen, might have. If you are learning to manage insulin, it might be advisable to make an appointment with a Certified Diabetes Educator, or CDE, as well as investing in the book "Think like a Pancreas," by Gary Scheiner.)
Try applying some of this knowledge, perhaps with just ONE MEAL a day. Visualize it!
What baby step will we discuss next week? Stay tuned to find out!
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Blog: Doris' Blog
Posted: Dec 22, 2008
According to an article in the recent edition of Good Housekeeping magazine, a recent study was conducted that concluded that women who drink apple juice or orange juice in specified quantities have various increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. They specified that it is the insulin spike caused by drinking juice that increases the risk. My question – is this hypothesis entirely rubbish or is there any truth to the study?
Obviously, I am obviously no scientist but I believe I can make some educated analysis of their assertions. First, I do not believe there is any question that beverages with high concentrates of sugar, natural or added, are going to cause insulin spikes. However, that includes plenty of beverages not just juice. What about all the soda and other beverages containing high fructose corn syrup? Last time I checked, they have the same cause and effect WITHOUT any nutritional value.
Second, there was always what is believed to be the “fallacy” that eating sugar causes diabetes. Over recent years, with all the research available, it seems to be that might not be such a fallacy if you follow the steps through.
People have increased their intake of carbohydrates for a variety of reasons including taste, desire, ease of preparation, the assertion that low fat is healthy, etc. If you believe what we were taught in school, we were put on this planet to be hunters and gathers thus we were bred to eat meat and whatever we could pick and eat right, then and there since there was no real storage capability. The body was created to survive through famine situations (etc.) and therefore, we do not need such high volumes of food, much less carbohydrates. Thus, the body did not always require high volumes of insulin production and release.
These historical conditions hardly match up to what we expect of our bodies today. For some reason, we think we need to eat a lot of food and our tastes buds prefer sweet food rather than rabbit or chicken or …. On top of that, we no longer have to perform physical work for our daily fare or (in most cases) worry about famine. We no longer have to slap clothes upside rocks or perform other very physically laborious tasks. Thus, we spit out extra insulin and store food we do not need to eat in the first place.
So, is the “fallacy” that eating sugar causes (Type 2) diabetes really a fallacy? I am not so sure it is. However, does juice really cause the problem? That I do not believe. Did they bother to try the same test using soda or fruit “drinks” (which have little to no actual juice) at the same volume, duration and intervals? I do not think so based on the information in the article. However, there was not much detailed information about the actual study. The concept of high volumes of sugar ingestion produce high volumes of insulin production and release, which then creates insulin resistance /decreased insulin production and Type 2 diabetes, is one worth mulling over, however.
Doris J. Dickson
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