Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world today. Statistics taken in 2012 showed that almost 30 million Americans had diabetes, with 1.25 Americans living with Type 1. That means the majority of the 30 million diabetic Americans had Type 2 diabetes¹.
Just to give you an idea of how prevalent Type 2 diabetes is now, the same statistics showed that 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. And those in the US that have prediabetes (well on their way to developing full-blown diabetes) are up to 86 million for age 20 and up.
This is all just in the US ALONE.
We can easily see that most of those diagnosed with diabetes have type 2, which is developed through one’s lifestyle. Granted, in my article about children’s health, the parents’ diet (especially the mother’s) have a huge bearing on the likelihood of the child’s susceptibility to developing diabetes later in life.
But we are still in control of a lot of our health. Besides living an active lifestyle, our diet is the most important factor in determining if we’ll develop diabetes or not.
Even for those of us that are living with Type 2 diabetes, having the proper diet could do wonders for your diabetic condition. In some cases, diabetic patients have even reversed their Type 2 diabetes completely just by changing their diet alone, and some have better success when combined with regular exercise.
So what is this diet that makes diabetes go away? Is it actually just this one diet that works, or is it the general principles that this diet follows? How do I know if it’s right for me?
Before we get to the answers, let’s see the reason WHY diet is the number one factor for controlling, and even curing Type 2 diabetes!
Diet And Type 2 Diabetes
There are 3 main types of diabetes that are known to researchers right now. They are:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
We spoke on the first two earlier, but this may be the first time you’ve ever heard of the third one.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when a pregnant woman shows high blood sugar during her pregnancy. This usually occurs in the third trimester and is usually gone after the baby is born.
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, making up around 90% of all diabetic cases. It’s also formed mostly because of one’s lifestyle, particularly the diet. Let’s see why diet is such a big factor when it comes to Type 2 diabetes.
The Biggest Culprit
Out of all the contributing causes of Type 2 diabetes, I said that diet is the biggest culprit of them all. Why? Let’s see what the other common causes are and you might understand.
Out of the four common causes, which one sticks out to you? Which one do we have the most control over? Lifestyle.
I call lifestyle the biggest culprit because the other three, age, gender, and genetics, affect everyone and none of us have control over them. Genetics affects how the other two, age and gender, influence us when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, but it doesn’t have to dictate how we live.
Of course, have a certain genetic sequence and being a female would make one more susceptible to developing Type 2 as they age, but rarely does it develop just due to those factors alone.
The fact that diet is the biggest culprit is further reinforced in what this metabolic disorder is characterize by. High blood sugar, lack of insulin, and insulin resistance, all of which are highly affected by our diets.
Eating sugary foods or refined processed junk or anything else that causes huge ups and downs in energy levels are known for spiking our blood sugar. And that is quickly followed by a rush of insulin to carry the blood sugar (or glucose) into our liver, organs, fat cells and muscle cells. All this insulin can only come from our pancreas.
What happens when we have those sugary crap all the time? Our pancreas keeps pumping out that insulin to keep the glucose carrying process going. And just like anything else in our bodies, our pancreas will eventually fail if we don’t give it a break.
That’s when we have a lack of insulin. Bring on the insulin shots.
Typically, before we get to that point, most Type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant. This means the normal amount of insulin to process a certain amount of blood glucose doesn’t have the same effect anymore, and more insulin is needed.
The same way we build a tolerance to a variety of different factors over repetitive use (think antibiotics, recreational drugs, taste of the same foods, etc.), our bodies build a tolerance to the insulin. This creates a vicious cycle of the pancreas churning out even more insulin to meet the same demands as before. That is until our pancreas burn out.
That’s how we ended up with producing little to no insulin on our own. And guess what we have when this hormone isn’t around to do its job?
Chronically elevated blood sugar! Sound familiar?
I wasn’t kidding when I said diet is the biggest factor. Just by tweaking our diet one way or the other, we can either be producing the exact response in our bodies that Type 2 diabetics have going on.
Food Groups To Avoid
Now that we know how much we should pay attention to our diet, let’s see what foods contribute the most to these high blood sugar responses.
And when I say high blood sugar responses, I don’t mean just the spikes and crashes. Anything that causes elevated
blood sugar levels should not be part of our regular diet.
They may be okay to have once in while, but regularly eating these foods will wreak havoc on our bodies and get us that much closer to developing Type 2 diabetes. And those of us that already have it, we’re not doing ourselves any favors with more insulin.
The obvious no-no’s are the pure sugars like sugar (duh), candy, sweeteners, overly ripe bananas (close to pure sugar), and other obvious ones have no place in our regular diet.
But these are the obvious eye-popping ones. They’re not the real diabetes inducers here. I’m talking about the more subtle foods. Foods that even some health “experts” consider healthy.
I’m talking about the breads, pastas, fruits, rolls, etc. What do all of these have in common?
Oh, and I’m not only talking about the “simple” or “fast” carbs and opposed to “complex” or “slow” carbs. You can throw in sweet potatoes, brown rice, and other carbs onto that list. Out of all of the “healthy” foods, whole grains are the worst.
Not because they have the worst impact on our health, but of how deceptive they are.
“You need whole grains in your diet to be healthy!”, “This brand contains multigrains which are great for your cardiovascular health!”. Seriously? We do NOT need grains in our diets at all, whole nor refined, PERIOD.
Our ancestors got by without them and so can we. Want to know how the health of our race has been since grains were introduced into our diet? Finish this then come back.
This is not an attack on carbohydrates. I know there are a lot of carb lovers out there who swears that their carbs are what keeps them going. That’s fine for you, but for the prediabetic or those not wanting diabetes, these are not the foods to have on a regular basis.
Body Response Is Key
In a study published by the Atherosclerosis Journal, 37 obese children from the ages of 9 to 18 underwent a different for 9 days. These children were at high risk for both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The only change made to their typical diet was swapping the fructose containing carbs for the glucose starchy carbs.
For example, instead of fruit cups and pastries, they had pizza and bagels. The total calories and macros were kept the same.
After just 9 days, the triglyceride levels in the children dropped by 33 percent, along with huge reductions in LDL cholesterol and risk factor for heart disease.
This shows that by simply replacing sugary carbs for starchy glucose carbs, we can expect significant improvements in cardiovascular health. So +1 for starchy glucose carbs right?
That study may have seem to be showing the positive effects of starchy carbs (although bagels and pizzas aren’t exactly healthy for us). But it was actually showing just how bad sugar really is. In this case, fructose was cut out and replaced with glucose because they both act very differently once ingested.
Fructose Vs. Glucose
Simply put, fructose goes to our liver when its ingested. It gets stored as liver glycogen and in excess amounts can cause liver scarring and bump up our triglyceride levels through glycerol production. High triglyceride levels are associated with cardiovascular diseases, so it’s no wonder the Atherosclerosis Journal published this study!
On the other hand, glucose goes into the blood stream as blood sugar. Ding ding ding! This is what we’ve been talking about this whole time!
The effects of the bagel and pizza diet in this study wasn’t observed on a metabolic level it seems. There were no mention of blood sugar levels. If anything they were worse than before because of the increase in glucose.
Know Your Macros
The easy (and important) way to distinguished what foods to avoid and which ones to embrace is to know the effects of the 3 macronutrients have on us. If you recall my counting calories article, you’d know about the 3 macros: fat, carb, and protein.
What I didn’t talk about in that article was how they affect our blood sugar levels. As promised, here’s the easy way to know what your bodies response to different foods will be:
- Fats: 90% Ketogenic, 10% Anti-Ketogenic
- Carbohydrates: 100% Anti-Ketogenic
- Protein: 46% Ketogenic, 54% Anti-Ketogenic
To make this as easy and as simple as possible, the anti-ketogenic portion of the macro means it elevates blood sugar. Fats have the last impact on blood sugar while carbs impact our blood sugar the most. This is one of the reasons why
the Keotgenic Diet, which focuses on adding fats and cutting out carbs, works so well when followed properly.
Some of you may be familiar or at least heard of the Ketogenic Diet. Don’t worry, we’re not getting into that here, not yet.
And that 100% anti-ketogenic effect of carbs is why I group “complex” carbs together with “simple” carbs when it comes to Type 2 diabetes.
Regardless if the insulin is released now, or if it’s secreted slower but over a longer period of time, the same amount is still releases for the that amount of carbs. The total amount of blood sugar that’s elevated and the total amount insulin required is still the same.
Sure, you won’t feel the dramatic rise and drop in energy levels or the need to snooze after a serving or brown rice and oatmeal vs waffles with ice cream. And nutrition-wise, I’d take the brown rice and oatmeal over the sugary dessert any day.
But for Type 2 diabetics, prediabetics, or those of us that just wants to lower the risk of developing any type of metabolic disorders, there are much better alternatives.
Now take that study from before and imagine the improvements if the total amount of carbs were reduced, instead of just being replaced by a different type. Keeping the calories the same or even increasing the calories, but change the ratio of the macros to have less overall carbohydrates, and you can’t help but see metabolic improvements!
Why do you think that when certain diabetic patients get bariatric surgery, their condition improves? Why is it that surgery such as cutting out part of the intestine have a positive effect on metabolic disorders like Type 2 diabetes?
I’m not advocating surgery for diabetics, but it’s interesting to see the underlying principle behind these improvements.
Basically, with shorter intestines, the body can process less food before it feels full. This leads to less overeating (compared to before), which means less impact on blood sugar.
Now what if a diabetic with bariatric surgery done decides to switch their diet to 100% carbs instead of the less extreme diet from before? I bet no surgery can help that individual with what they’ll face metabolically.
It’s just that simple: Carbs=Elevated Blood Sugar=Insulin.
Carbs All The Time=Burned Out Pancreas=No Insulin=Insulin Shots.
Inject Type 2 diabetes in there at any point.
Works for Some, Not Others
Obviously, no article in this realm would be complete without going back to the most important fundamentals.
I’m not advocating that everyone should cut out carbohydrates from their diets for the rest of their life.
Especially if you an athlete involved in high intensity sports like MMA, wrestling, sprinting, or other power sports, the glycogen in your muscles is your best friend. And carbs give us glycogen a lot easier than gluconeogensis and than glucogenolysis.
But if you’re more into endurance sports or where maximum effort is not required all of the time, avoiding carbs might actually benefit your performance in the long run! I’ll go over this in detail in a future article.
As we went over, there are many benefits to limiting carb intake in our diet. But it seems not everyone is affected by carbs the same way.
Success With Carbs?
Take the Japanese Diet for example. For the Japanese population, it’s their way of eating, not a diet. And it’s full of carbs like white rice and noodles³.
Yet, their mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Wait, should they all be getting Type 2 diabetes if what I wrote previously was right? Not necessarily.
We also talked about the other causes of Type 2 diabetes, namely exercise, age, gender, and genetics. Note that the Japanese population with those long lifespans gets daily exercise. Their lifestyle are very stress-free (not the workaholics in the busy cities), and a lot of their ancestor have been eating and living the same way for many generations.
Maybe the picture is a little clearer now huh?
But the science about how our diet affect us doesn’t lie. Not all of us have the genetics to handle carbs like the Japanese. Not all of us can afford to live in low-stress environments all the time. And not all of us have access to clean, naturally grown food.
What It Comes Down To
This has been mentioned on several of my articles before, but I’ll mention it again to highlight its importance. There’s a reason why I don’t recommend this type of eating habit or that lifestyle for everyone of my readers, EVER.
That’s because I don’t know your background, medical history, existing conditions, and probably the most important piece of information, your genetics and what they say about you.
That’s why the only thing that I CAN and ALWAYS recommend for my readers to to know yourself and choose what’s best for you. Not all the information on here will be applicable to everyone.
There may be some of you reading right now that can live off of sugarcanes and watermelons for the rest of your life and be perfectly healthy. I definitely don’t recommend trying it out to see if you’re one of them. You don’t want to end up like the baby that was fed a vegan diet since birth4
This is really important for not just your health, but that of your children and grandchildren.
Take a study done on rats for example. Different popular diets were fed to rats with different genes. Long story short, rats with different genes on the same diet displayed different results5.
Some lost weight, some gained, some stayed.
So know what works for you. Find it, try it, if it works then apply it.