I was diagnosed with diabetes some 30 years ago with initial symptoms of blurred vision, excessive thirst and extreme lethargy. This was presumed to be Type 2 as I was fortyish though not overweight. In fact I’d lost so much weight you could see my ribs!
A Global Epidemic
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions across the globe affecting the lives of millions of people.
The World Health Organisation reports that there are 382 million diabetics worldwide with just over four million in the UK. Ninety per cent are Type 2 and 10 per cent Type 1.
Many are living with very bad health, having to put up with low levels of energy. Others, with particularly bad diabetic control, are sometimes forced to have amputations and/or suffer blindness whilst in the worst cases organ failures can lead to death.
Apart from the untold human misery, the cost to governments is incalculable.
It all started to go wrong in the 80’s
The tragedy is that this epidemic need never have happened and is largely a result of bad health advice which took hold in the 1980s when food scientists and governments started telling us that we need to cut our fat intake and, in the case of diabetics, to keep eating carbohydrates.
Research over the past few years, however, tells us that carbohydrates ultimately put as much glucose into the bloodstream as many sugary foods and drinks.
What we should be eating are the healthy fats we find in full fat dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt and low carb foods such as unprocessed meat, fish, berries, and eggs. Please see some more useful information at Nutritionistics.com
Diagnosis and cause
Diabetes is diagnosed when there is excessive sugar in the blood. This is extremely dangerous because it interferes with the normal functioning of the body because it sticks to proteins. This can result in many different forms of ill-health.
In a healthy person, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin. This has the capability to keep the blood sugar under control so that the concentration does not increase to dangerous levels. Much of it goes to liver where it is utilised.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas has been damaged and is therefore unable to produce sufficient insulin to cope with all the sugar in the blood. This damage can be caused by a number of different factors.
Sugar and carbs the enemies for Type 1 and Type 2
In Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), the pancreas has been damaged by another disease/agent so that insulin cannot be produced. The reasons for this attack on the pancreas are still not known. It is very often diagnosed in children but adults can also contract Type 1. It is not reversible and the person can only survive if insulin is administered frequently.
In the overwhelming majority of cases T2D is caused by the regular and persistent consumption of diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. The predominant carbohydrate is starch, which is broken down to sugar during digestion.
The main sources of starch include foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes and bread/flour. Currently these are being promoted as “healthy” by the NHS and Public Health England.
A diet which has a high content of sugar and carbohydrates will place great demands on the pancreas to produce insulin. If this continues for many years, the pancreas eventually gets “worn out” and can no longer produce sufficient insulin.
As a consequence, the blood sugar concentration rises. It is only at this point that T2D is diagnosed.
Official advice continues to advocate starchy foods as suitable for those with T2D. However, the reality is that a bowl of pasta or large portion of rice or potatoes can put as much sugar into your blood as several bars of chocolate.
The tragedy is that many health professionals persist in advising patients with T2D to reduce the fat content in their diet and to increase the amount of carbohydrate-containing foods. Because these increase the load of sugar in the blood, the condition deteriorates.
Most GPs are still giving wrong advice
It’s a similar scenario for Type 1 diabetics who depend on insulin to control their blood sugars. They too receive the high carb/low fat advice but find that even the most rapid insulin can take hours to fully bring down the glucose levels generated by carbohydrates. Consequently they find that their glucose levels are high for a significant part of the day.
Given the amount of authoritative research produced in the past few years it’s hard to comprehend why so many health professionals are still doling out bad advice.
In the case of the most GPs, there appears to be a head-in-the-sand attitude to the new anti-carb research. Other major roadblocks to progress have been the government and the self interest of the pharmaceutical industry
The hard reality is that the health of diabetics who comply with the official advice to lower the intake of fat in their diet and “base meals on carbohydrates” deteriorates. For some this can have disastrous health consequences.