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What causes diabetes? What can you do about it?

Posted by Avery Chernin on

What causes diabetes? What can you do about it?

 

What causes diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and it’s progression is measured by one thing: blood sugar levels. There are various tests (fasting glucose, A1C, etc), but all of them are different measurements of your blood sugar.

If your blood sugar levels are high or rising, your diabetes is considered to be getting worse.

If your blood sugar levels are low or declining, your diabetes is considered to be improving.

So what causes blood sugar levels to change?

There are two broad categories of things that influence blood sugar levels:

  1. How much sugar is entering your body in the first place
  2. How your body reacts to / manages that sugar

Lets start by examining #2 - how your body reacts to sugar, because this is historically where treatment and medication has entered the picture.

When your body senses that blood sugar is rising (typically after a meal) it sends a signal to your pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin is like a “key” that “unlocks” your cells and shuttles the sugar into them, where it can then be used as energy for the cell.

In people without diabetes this is the end of the story.

However for those with type 2 diabetes, there is a bit more to talk about.

When cells are exposed to too much insulin for too long a period of time they develop what is called insulin resistance. This means that insulin becomes less effective at unlocking the cell and shuttling sugar into it.

And this is where traditional prescription medications come into play.

Metformin is meant to help increase insulin sensitivity, which can help the insulin to become effective again.

Insulin injections (or exogenous insulin) are meant to augment your pancreas’s natural insulin production. The thought process here is that if your cells have built up insulin resistance and as a result your insulin is only 50% as effective as it used to be, then by simply injecting more insulin we can overcome the resistance by brute force.

The problem with injecting insulin is that it can actually make insulin resistance even more severe, which means you’ll eventually need even more insulin, which will make insulin resistance even worse, and so on and so on. It’s a really bad cycle.

Fortunately, there is another alternative, and one that up until recently has not really gotten a lot of attention: managing the sugar coming into your body in the first place.

So the question you should be asking yourself is: how do I manage the sugar coming into my body?

The answer, unsurprisingly, has almost everything to do with your diet.

Sugary foods and drinks are of course one culprit, but they aren’t the only one.

The #1 thing that impacts blood sugar for most people is the amount of carbs that they eat.

The reason for this is very simple: of the three macronutrients (protein and fat being the other two), carbs are the one that, when digested, are turned into glucose (which is sugar).

As a result, those of us with a diet high in carbs are at greater risk for developing diabetes.

Of course the inverse is also true: if you cut carbs out of your diet, your blood sugar levels can come down naturally.

This has been shown in dozens of clinical studies to be a highly effective way of managing diabetes naturally.

By eating a diet low in carbs and high in fat and protein you can address the root cause of diabetes, which is high blood sugar.

Now, there is some good news and bad news about this kind of diet.

The good news is that you don’t need to starve yourself - you can eat every meal until you feel full. This isn’t about cutting calories, it’s just about changing where those calories are coming from.

The typical American diet of 2000 calories typically has:

  • 1400 calories from carbs (350g at 4 calories per gram)
  • 350 calories from protein (85g at 4 calories per gram)
  • 450 calories from fat (50g at 9 calories per gram)

As you can see, this kind of diet is heavily skewed towards carbs.

The typical low-carb high-fat diet that is recommend for those with diabetes looks something like this:

  • 200 calories or less from carbs (50g)
  • 400 calories from protein (100g)
  • 1400 calories from fat (155g)

This diet really turns the traditional American diet upside down.

So the good news is that you can still eat until you are full and satiated, that sounds like a win. What’s the bad news?

The bad news is that actually maintaining a low-carb diet can be very tricky. As you saw from the stats above, most people are used to getting a significant majority of their calories from carbs.

As a result learning to eat without carbs can be a real challenge for a lot of people.

Fortunately, there are some “hacks” you can use to make low-carb diets easier.

One of our favorites is using low-carb meal replacement shakes.

If a typical meal has anywhere between 50g - 100g of carbs, one of the easiest ways to cut those carbs out is by just drinking a shake instead.

Type2Diet shakes have just 2g of carbs and taste really great and fill you up. By drinking 1–2 shakes a day to replace 1–2 meals you can massively reduce the amount of carbs in your diet, and if you can do that, you can be on your way to naturally lower blood sugar levels and diabetes remission.