Since my children were young, I called sugar the bane of our modern society. Excess consumption of sugar causes so many diseases – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cavities, malnutrition, adrenal and thyroid disorders.
In December 2015, I went to Nicaragua on medical relief trip sponsored by my charity – Divine Daughters Unite. I was shocked at how much sugar is consumed in this second world country. Why? Because it’s cheap. And they suffer from the same sugar related diseases!
These “diseases” are more nurture than nature— more about your lifestyle choices than your family history.
Yes, you may have a tendency to develop diabetes at middle age because your mother or father had it, but that’s just a tendency. The DNA you are born with is not all expressed. You were not born with Type 2 Diabetes. You develop it over time, after years of poor lifestyle choices…that you, your partner, and your entire family share.
A new study shows Type 2 Diabetes Risk Increased by 26% in Partners*:
Analysis of data drawn from 75,498 couples showed the risk for type 2 diabetes was indeed shared. “There is a 26% risk increase for diabetes if your partner has it,” the head researcher Dr. Dasgupta pointed out.
Think of DNA like playing cards. You are dealt a lot of cards, some good, some bad, but it’s how you play those cards that determines the outcome of the game. You’re born with lots of DNA, most of which is not expressed. It’s how you play the game of life, choices you make – what you eat, how active you are, do you get enough sleep, and your attitude (yes, if you assume the worst, you manifest it and visa versa) – all these overtime determine the outcome of your health. It’s best to start early, but it’s never too late! You can change anything…even your health…even reverse Type 2 Diabetes.
What is Type Two Diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2. Type 1 Diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease that damages the pancreas so it can not produce insulin. Type 1 Diabetics are insulin dependent—they must take insulin to survive. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your cells no longer allow insulin in. Your pancreas makes more than enough insulin, in fact too much, but insulin doesn’t work properly. We call this Insulin Resistance.
Why would your body become resistant to insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that escorts glucose (sugar) into your cells for energy production. Hormones need receptor sites in the cell membrane to work. Every cell on your body has insulin receptors.
My daughter created this graphic for me to teach my colleagues and you about hormones. She was taking pre-nursing courses at the time and said that after creating my Hormone in Harmony graphics, she could understand cell biology much better.
Insulin brings glucose to your cells. When insulin docks onto the cell receptor, it opens a gateway for glucose to get into the cell. But it does so much more. Insulin also opens a water channel to hydrate the cell, an amino acid gateway so the cell has building blocks to make more of what it needs, and a fatty acid gateway to help the cell repair its membranes and create healthy receptor sites for hormones.
When you consume more energy in calories than you expend in activity, your body stores the extra blood sugar as glycogen in your liver and muscles. But you can only store 400 calories of glycogen (the amount of calories in a small sandwich), the rest of the extra sugar is repackaged by the liver into triglycerides which are three triple sugar molecules on a fat molecule.
Your body then stores all the extra sugar in the form of triglycerides in the only cells that can receive the extra sugar–your fat cells. The fat cells most receptive to storage are the ones around your middle.
Do you have an Insulin Meter?
The fat around that your middle is called your “insulin meter”. The thicker your waist in comparison to your hips, the more likely you are insulin resistant. That’s why waist circumference is a much better way to measure your fat storage than BMI (body mass index). Unfortunately BMI is used by insurance companies to determine obesity. Very lean professional football players have extremely high BMIs and would be considered obese and of course they aren’t.
Even the clothing industry has changed it’s proportions to match America’s expanding waistlines. Years ago, I was costuming my daughter’s drama class winter production. I had a dated red business suit that looked like it should fit the fifteen year old that was playing the mother. While this girl was quite thin, I had to expand the waist in the pants to fit her. She was not an exception. I’ve been noticing these expanding waistlines in our youth since the mid nineties. Corresponding, I believe, to our computer technology when most kids began to spend much less time playing outdoors and more time in front of screens.
Most doctors do not treat Insulin Resistance. Treatment usually starts when a patient is diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic. Why wait?
How to find out if you’re at risk for Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes?
Well before you become fully diabetic, there’s a marker in your blood that starts to rise. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been measuring c-peptide in my patients to determine their risk for insulin resistance.
C-peptide is a protein molecule that is produced by the pancreas and binds insulin to pro-insulin. While the pancreas produces enzymes to help you digest your food, it is also an endocrine gland that produces hormones–insulin and glucagon–that are transported by the blood to all the cells of your body. Insulin gets sugar into the cells. Glucagon gets sugar out.
Once released in the bloodstream, the triple complex insulin-c-peptide-pro-insulin splits. The pancreas reuptakes pro-insulin to make more insulin. Insulin binds with blood glucose to escort it into the cells for energy production. C-peptide floats freely in the blood.
C-peptide reflects how much insulin your pancreas is producing. Type 1 Diabetics produce no insulin so their c-peptide is not measurable. As you become more insulin resistant, your pancreas produces more insulin. C-peptide levels rise. The higher the c-peptide, the more insulin you are producing. Over years of producing too much insulin, the pancreas becomes exhausted and eventually patients with Type 2 Diabetes may need to take insulin.
Insulin Resistance & Type 2 Diabetes are a Shared Lifestyle
These partners studied shared the same poor diets, sleep habits, lack of physical activity, stressors and exposure to nocturnal light. Since the family shares eating and activity habits as well as belief systems, involving the whole family in treatment is the only way to treat the growing problem of Insulin Resistance.
What can you do?
1. Eat a Healthy Diet!
It’s simple math. To lose weight, you must take in less calories than you expend. Carbohydrate calories are more easily stored as body fat. So a diet low in carbs, rich in healthy fats and protein with lots of colorful vegetables is best to reverse insulin resistance.
2. Get Active!
Studies show that insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes risk increases the more sedentary you are. Get active and get healthy. We spend too much time sitting at work, school, commuting, playing in front of screens rather than getting outside to play. Just 20 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week will improve insulin sensitivity.
High intensity training (HIT) is the best way to decrease insulin resistance by increasing lean body mass. HIT means interval training. First warm up at a slow pace for 5-7 minutes, then do some type of high intensity exercise for short bursts—running, biking, treadmill, rowing, elliptical— for 20 seconds as fast and hard as you can. Then slow down for 60-90 seconds. And repeat the cycle 3 times. Finally cooldown at a slow pace for 5-7 minutes. Do this three times per week and you will burn fat, reverse insulin resistance, increase lean body mass, as well as improve your cardio-respiratory function.
3. Turn off the lights in your bedroom!
You must get 7-9 hours of sleep in complete dark to make enough melatonin to reverse insulin resistance. That means no TV, no computers, no digital clocks, no night lights. Poor sleep habits are directly related to obesity and type two diabetes. Here’s more on how to Treat Insomnia Naturally.
4. Get your Hormones in Harmony by supporting your Hypothalamus
Making healthy lifestyle choices will eventually reverse insulin resistance. You can reset your hypothalamus faster by providing it with nutritional support. That’s why I formulated Genesis Gold® to balance the hypothalamus. Getting your hypothalamus balanced helps reverse insulin resistance by improving the communication with the other endocrine glands, namely the gonads, thyroid, and adrenals, that influence metabolism.*
May your Hormones be in Harmony,
Deborah Maragopoulos MN FNP
Intuitive Integrative Health
*Statements not evaluated by the FDA
* Spousal diabetes as a diabetes risk factor: A systematic review and meta-analysis; Aaron Leong, Elham Rahme and Kaberi Dasgupta; BMC Medicine 2014, 12:12 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-12