In many ways type two diabetes is actually a fairly simple disorder, even if there is some complex chemistry going on behind the scenes, and even though there is a fair amount of misunderstanding of the condition, especially among those who have it. It happens because there is an imbalance between the amount of insulin in the blood, and the amount your body needs. If there is a lot of insulin along with high need, it will be used usually there will be no problem. If the body doesn’t have a high need but the blood vessels aren’t flooded with insulin, there also shouldn’t be a problem. It’s when there is a disparity between need and supply that we run into problems.
Insulin: The Root of Diabetes.
Let’s take a step back real quick and look at insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by our pancreas when we are eating carbohydrates (the nutrient that is or breaks down to sugar). Insulin acts like a chaperone or delivery truck, taking the sugar directly into the cells that need it. Without insulin, sugars and some other nutrients cannot get into the cell to be used for energy. When everything functions properly, you eat some carbohydrates and the body releases an appropriate amount of insulin, and the sugar gets taken either to storage or to cells and organs that need the energy.
For diabetics, however, something has gone wrong. Either the cells need for insulin and their sugar cargo has gone way down but their availability has stayed the same, or the supply of insulin has skyrocketed. When this kind of imbalance happens where there is too much insulin over what is required, the cells will start closing themselves off to this huge supply of insulin and its sugar. If your cells get too much sugar stored up inside them that isn’t going to be used quickly, it has the same effect as a jar of honey left in a cabinet for a long time; it crystalizes and then the cell is jammed up to where it cannot function, so it simply cannot allow a surplus of sugar inside.
How The Imbalance Works
The metaphor I like to use with my diabetic clients is to imagine your cells (mostly muscle cells, which are the part of the body we are most concerned with for diabetes) are factories. When there is a lot of work going on (exercise and general metabolism), then a lot of materials are needed, and these are sugar, that comes in via insulin delivery trucks. With a lot of work being done, the materials don’t need to be stored; they’re just put into the machines and get used up quickly, so the factory is happy to see more delivery trucks coming along. However, when work slows down, or nearly stops entirely, there simply isn’t a need for all of these deliveries, so at first the factories politely tell the delivery trucks, no shipment is necessary, try the next door down.
This itself isn’t a huge problem, but if there is a massive amount of delivery trucks coming to the door constantly, or if the work load in the factory is low enough for long enough in comparison to how much sugar is trying to be delivered, the factory will lock the doors and eventually will board them up so that barely anything can get through, even when it’s needed. This is what is called insulin resistance, and is what happens when there is more insulin than is needed, regardless of how active your muscle factories are (which is why some physically fit and active people can still manage to get diabetes).
Fixing The Imbalance
So what can we do about this? Luckily, because the whole condition is predicated on an imbalance between insulin need and insulin availability, we try to push both sides until a balance is regained. In this article we’re addressing lowering the amount of insulin in the body, but how exactly are we going to do that? We will start with several simple rules that anyone with type 2 diabetes should follow:
- Eliminate sugars (sodas, energy drinks, candy, desserts, sweetener, etc.) unless from fibrous fruits or vegetables.
- Keep the carbohydrates you eat complex, avoid refined carbs like white bread, white rice, and so on. Replace these when you do eat them with whole-wheat or brown options. Fibrous plants and salads are going to be king in reversing your diabetes; the more fibrous, the better.
- Do not eat very large meals, stick to meals big enough to make you satisfied when eaten slowly.
- Eliminate snacking between meals, this may take time to accomplish, but work on it. However, don’t risk hypoglycemic events in order to skip snacks.
- When eating carbohydrates, make sure to eat them with fats and protein at the same time, which will help slow down digestion (unless eating something to stop a hypoglycemic incident). Nuts are an excellent choice for mixing with carbohydrates.
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners!
The body releases various amounts of insulin based on the size of the meal, the amount of carbs, and how sweet something tastes. While 0 sugar/calorie beverages and sweeteners may be appealing, these are the LAST thing I want my diabetic clients to have. Artificial sweeteners can be 2-500 times sweeter than table sugar, which is of course itself far sweeter than regular fibrous carbohydrates. When they touch the tongue it informs the body of how much insulin to make, but because these sugars, and especially artificial sugars, are so massively sweet, the body misunderstands how much food is being consumed and it acts like there is a giant banquet, producing an enormous amount of insulin. A similar effect happens when we eat large meals, and to a lesser degree when we eat frequent small meals (snacking or eating 5-8 meals a day as some people do). Keep to a complex plant based carbohydrate diet, and follow these rules and you will find your blood sugars drop like a healthy rock!
About the Author: Corey Walden is a certified personal trainer dedicated to improving people’s health and quality of life. With a focus on preventing injuries, correcting misalignments and diet advice, Corey strives to improve people’s lives. Corey is also a writer for a Home Remedies site where he helps answer questions about natural treatments for common ailments. You can also visit the Simple Remedies Facebook Page.