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When it comes to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention is Always Better Than a Cure

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 09 June 2020
Hits: 4136

Recently I read a new report called Dark Shadow of Diabetes released from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute that talks about the likelihood of developing other chronic diseases as a result of having type 2 Diabetes. The statistics they published were quite shocking, and I am sure this would have a big impact on the 1 million people known to have type 2 Diabetes. What is more concerning is they estimate there is two to three million people at risk of developing the disease, but these people are unaware of this potential danger to their health! When you consider that this disease is in most cases is created from poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and poor lifestyle choices like smoking, it makes perfect sense for the entire community to be informed of what they need to do. In this article I am going to discuss what you need with nutrition and exercise to prevent this disease from ruining your health. For always remember prevention is much better than a cure.

Statistics You Need To Know About Diabetes

The global statistics on type 2 diabetes that you can reference on the WHO (World Health Organisation) website paint a very bleak picture.

  • The number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
  • The global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age rose from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, there was a 5% increase in premature mortality from diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 occurs in 10-15% of diabetic people, has a genetic or autoimmune system dysfunction link and unfortunately has no cure. Type 2 is the condition we are discussing in this article and is significantly more prevalent and in many cases can be reversed. Although it also has a link to genetics and ethnicity, you are at a higher risk of developing it if you are overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, and make poor lifestyle choices in terms of food consumption and physical activity.

The picture above is alarming considering that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and most parts of the world. But if you thought was bad, here are some more statistics from the Dark Shadows report that made me almost fall out of my chair.

Those with type 2 diabetes are

  • Two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer – one of the most deadly cancers – are twice as likely to develop liver or endometrial cancer, have a 50 per cent higher chance of getting bowel cancer and a 20 per cent greater risk of breast cancer.
  • A 45 year old person with diabetes can expect to live six years less than a person free of diabetes with many of these earlier deaths were due to heart disease.
  • Are 10 times more likely to develop kidney failure, than those without diabetes. For Indigenous Australians, diabetes is the primary cause of 70 per cent of all cases of kidney failure.
  • A high risk of amputation. Amputations remain a major complication of type 2 diabetes.
  • Suffer from eye disease. Diabetic eye disease remains a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in working-age adults worldwide.
  • A wide range of other diseases and conditions are also more common in people with diabetes, including depression, osteoporosis, sleep apnoea, hearing impairment and gum disease.

I do suggest to download their detailed report and watch the 1 minute You Tube video below.

What This Report NEVER Mentions

As much as all this information is very compelling and paints a very dark picture about the danger of this disease. One of the most concerning parts of this report is, IT NEVER MENTIONS anything about using EXERCISE or NUTRITION to prevent or treat the condition. I looked all over the report several times as I thought I must have missed it. Instead, their conclusion is that we need more drugs! You will find this on page 17 of the report.

I am sure the experts at the Baker Institute know their stuff and would appreciate that making nutritional and lifestyle changes are essential, but to leave this out of the report and assume that people know this is in my opinion very reckless and ignorant. Even dangerous.

I am not claiming to know more about diabetes than the Baker Institute or Professor Shaw, however, what I do claim to know is how difficult people find it to change bad lifestyle habits. Even when it is causing them pain and illness. The minute we give people an excuse or an easier path it becomes even harder to help them make the changes their body so desperately needs.

People will have this belief that they can continue doing what they are doing as there is a drug that will “fix them”. The idea of the magic pill sounds much better to most people for it is easier than having to change their bad habits that led to them developing the disease in the first place.

Unlike type 1 diabetes that is a genetic condition, type 2 is a disease that most people created and as a result it can be prevented, even reversed in some cases.

We must never forget that all medications comes with side effects and these can cause new problems that you did not have before. You may solve one problem only to create three more! The more logical solution is to learn how to achieve optimal health by eating well and exercising.

Where do you start? Firstly let’s get a simple understanding of insulin.

Understanding Insulin & Leptin

You may have learned that diabetes is a function of having too much sugar in your blood and that is caused by eating too much sugar or drinking soft drinks. While sugar is definitely a huge problem, it's the function of insulin resistance at your cell level that is the trouble, and there are many foods that can influence how this important hormone functions.

The underlying problem in type 2 diabetes is improper insulin and leptin signalling. In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is still producing some insulin, the problem is that there is usually too much being produced on a chronic basis, and as a result your pancreas is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly.

This is usually caused by a diet that is too high in sugars and sugar-forming foods such as breads and pastas. The second problem is to do with leptin signalling, which is caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels — again due to a diet that is too high in sugar.

It's important to understand what really happens when you simply add insulin without addressing the underlying insulin/leptin resistance. When your blood sugar becomes elevated, insulin is released to direct the extra energy (sugar) into storage. A small amount is stored as a starch called glycogen, but the majority is stored as fat. If you do not exercise at all this is an even bigger problem as all this storage has nowhere to go!

Insulin's primary role is not to lower your blood sugar, but rather to store this extra energy as fat for future needs when food may not be available. The fact that insulin lowers your blood sugar is merely a "side effect" of this energy storage process. So taking more insulin just makes you fatter!

The elevated blood sugar is only a symptom of diabetes, not the cause. This is where drugs used to lower blood sugars are not addressing the reason it is high in the first place. This is very much like the approach taken with cholesterol where drugs are used to lower the levels without correcting the reason for high levels.

See our article – Understanding cholesterol and why we need it to be healthy

Nutrition Changes You Need To Make

There are many changes you will need to make to your diet so let’s start with some simple ones. The old saying you are what you eat is all too true when it comes to diabetes and you MUST spend time to get this right.

Cutting back and ideally eliminating processed foods as much as you can is a great start. This will ensure your nutrition is from fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy and grains that are loaded with the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. If it is in a packet, bottle, or jar, don’t buy it. This means it is processed in some way so try to minimise as much of these foods as you can. By completing this step you are already half way there!

Drink More Water

I told you it would be simple. When you become dehydrated, your liver will secrete a hormone that increases your blood sugar. As you begin to rehydrate your blood sugar levels will lower naturally.

Sometimes people mistake being hungry for being thirsty. A good way to find out if this is the case is to drink a large glass of water and wait 20 minutes to determine if you're really hungry or if you were just thirsty. I myself have fallen for this trap many times in the past.

Many people who drink soft drinks may find this habit hard to kick but it is essential they learn to drink water instead of sugar loaded soft drink. Soft drinks contain caffeine, a mild diuretic that makes you urinate more, thereby eliminating water from your body. It also contains about 55 mg of salt, and when you take in salt and excrete water, you get thirstier. The reason why soft drinks contain so much sugar is because they have to mask the taste of the salt.

Most people are aware how much sugar is in these drinks and it is wise to avoid them at all costs.

Read our article – Why sugar is the killer of health and fitness plans to see more.

Eat More Fibre

Another very simple change you can make in your diet is to increase the amount of fibre you eat each day. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre can absorb water in your intestinal tract, slow the process of digestion and help you to feel fuller, longer. 

One of the fastest ways to improve your fibre intake is using Psyllium Husk which is something I use every day for the past 4 years and swear by it. I have one teaspoon of this every day added to my muesli for breakfast or in a drink later in the day. Below is a picture of the brand I buy but there are many others you can get. They cost very little and last ages. This one costs about $8 and will last me about 6 months.

Recently I discussed the value of eating more fibre for lung health as this was a huge concern for many with the Coronavirus and I suggest to read the article – How to boost your lung capacity with food and exercise

The benefits of a high-fibre diet begin with regulating your food digestion and the release of leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are essential in your efforts to lose weight, feel full and prevent diabetes.

Reduce Carbs and Processed Foods

Eating fresh foods and avoiding processed foods is often a great start towards correcting blood sugars and insulin levels. Without even discussing the break-up of proteins, fats and carbs most people will get their meals pretty close to right by just eating fresh meats and vegetables.

As we discussed earlier eating too many grain type foods like breads, pastas, pizza, and cereals increases your chances of disrupting your insulin and leptin hormones. You must drastically reduce these food groups and replace them with fresh foods.

Vegetables are a much better choice of carbohydrates, even better than fruits, so I would focus your attention on these food groups. Green vegetables are a great food to include into your diet as they contain an array of anti-inflammatory properties you cannot find in any other food.

Eat More Fat!

Another classic mistake people make with the quality of their food is avoiding fat.  I will give you a little tip that will change your perspective about fat forever.

You cannot get fat by eating fat! You are more likely to get fat from eating sugars and highly processed foods. And interestingly it is the low fat products that often have high levels of sugar.

When I say more fat I mean high-quality healthy fats such as saturated and monounsaturated. You can divide fats into four types:

  • Saturated fats, from animal fat and tropical oils
  • Monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil
  • Polyunsaturated fat, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fats
  • Trans fats, such as margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings etc.

The healthy fats are foods like olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, butter, nuts such as almonds or pecans, avocados, grass fed meats.

The bad fats are foods cooked in or containing corn oil, soy oil, canola oil, safflower oil sunflower oil. These are the fats you need to avoid. These are often processed foods like margarine, potato chips and many of the take away fast foods of hamburgers and fries.

The Keto diet is a great way to learn how to control blood sugars by eating a diet most comprised of good fat. When following the Keto diet your daily food intake would be made up of approximately 70% fat, 15-25% protein and the remaining 5% in low energy carbohydrates such as vegetables.

 

This type of eating forces the body to burn fats for its fuel rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose to be give us energy for movement. Unfortunately people tend to eat far too many carbohydrates and end up with more fuel than they require and huge amount of sugar in their blood.

The keto diet starves the body of these carbohydrates and makes your body more fat dependant and less carbohydrate dependant for its fuel source.

Melissa has provided a lot of great information relating to the Keto diet in recent times and I suggest you read the following articles below before starting.

What About Intermittent Fasting?

In combination with the Keto diet intermittent fasting is very powerful way to control blood sugars and converting your body into a fat burner. There is a good reason this has attracted a lot of attention in recent years for it works extremely well.

The 16/8 Intermittent fasting involves fasting every day for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours. Most people would eat their dinner around 7pm and not eat again for another 16 hours which is around lunchtime the following day.

 

If you currently have diabetes I would seek advice from a Doctor or a qualified Nutritional coach before beginning this type of program as it can have risks for those who are unable to manage their insulin.

But for the rest of us who do not have diabetes this is one sure way to prevent getting the disease, eliminate cravings for sugar, and shedding some unwanted belly fat! Who wouldn’t want that!

You can read more about this in the detailed article – Before you try intermittent fasting read this first

You Must Exercise But What Type is Best?

There are as many as 20 other beneficial biochemical changes that occur during exercise, some that help you burn calories and lose body fat, while others help stabilise your blood sugar and maintain testosterone and cortisol levels. Basically, being a healthy weight and exercising regularly creates a good cycle that optimises and helps maintain healthy glucose, insulin and leptin levels.

We have been convinced that exercise is all about getting sweaty and out of breath and that we need to lots of cardio to burn calories! Once again this is a poor understanding of what really happens.

When you do long slow cardio sessions, your body reacts to this stress by suppressing the fat burning hormone T3 produced by your thyroid gland. This means your body starts gaining fat straight away for the body needs the fat in order to function. And on top of all this this excessive cardio also puts massive amounts of stress on your body by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol is associated with illnesses like adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, depression and even more deadly diseases like heart disease, cancer and visceral belly fat. More on disease later.

Last but not least you now need to eat more putting you at risk of giving in to sugar cravings and eating food to refuel what you lost. During long, slow, and boring cardio your appetite increases in order to replace the energy it has lost and restore blood sugar levels back to normal. The quickest way to restore blood sugar back to normal is to eat..... SUGAR. As we discussed earlier eating sugar is the quickest way to make you fat, and develop type 2 diabetes so this option is not a good choice.

What should you do?

Strength training is a much better choice as it stimulates the growth hormones and increases muscle mass. The muscles of people who regularly lift weights absorb blood sugar in response to insulin much more effectively helping the pancreas to secrete lower amounts of this hormone. There is so much more to muscle than looking good in a mirror.

Here is a just a short list of the various benefits of using a strength training program to add muscle.

  1. Muscle is the biggest influence on your metabolic rate. The more you have the faster your metabolism and the easier it is to lose weight
  2. Muscle regulates hormones and prevents disease like cancer which is often caused from insulin resistance
  3. Muscle improves bone density and prevents bone fractures, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and can even reverse osteoarthritis.
  4. Muscle prevents injury and improves stability across all joints
  5. Muscle improves sporting performance by increasing speed and power.

None of these things are improved from a cardio training program. They will improve slightly but not to the level they need to be for dramatic improvement and overall health. Below are two videos with more detail as to the value of strength training to your overall health.

The older you are the important this becomes for as we age we begin to lose muscle at a very fast rate! We start to lose muscle in our 30's before it starts to accelerate the loss in our 40's and 50's, and it is no surprise to see that this is about the same time people start to experience diabetic symptoms.

Research shows that muscle strength declines 30% on average from ages 50-70 with more dramatic losses after the age of 80. This is why people gain weight so easily in their 40's and 50's even though their diet has not changed much from when they were in their 30's and 20's.

It is all to do with the amount of muscle you have.

Before you think you have to be a body-builder or a gym junkie to see the benefits of strength training, understand that all you need is 2-3 sessions per week to see great results.

Can you still do cardio?

Yes for sure, I would advise people to walk every day for 30-60 minutes and add in some swimming, cycling, or jogging if they can between the days of your strength workouts. If you want to get sweaty and improve your fitness levels the use of interval training is by far the best method.

This is where you break your exercise session into short segments that alternate high intensity with a rest period in-between. For example 10 sets of 200m sprints with a 1 minute rest between each set.

Scientific researchers found this type of exercise works because it produces a unique metabolic response. Intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation is thought to drive the increased weight loss.

The best part of this training is you don't need very much time to do it as a great session might last only 20 minutes!

To help you put together everything we have discussed in this article I have created a detailed PDF report that provides with everything you need to know about exercise and nutrition to prevent diabetes. This is one of the most comprehensive reports I have put together and due to the health problems we have witnessed in 2020 this is undoubtedly a must read for anyone who feels vulnerable with their health right now. Given the heart's never-ending workload, it can easily be brought down by a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and illness caused by neglect to other parts of our body. This report explains everything you need to know about improving not just your heart health but your overall health.

Click here to get your copy.

Reduce Your Stress

Lastly we cannot disregard the damage stress and the damage caused to our health by the way someone may think about their body. When you become chronically stressed your body secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar levels. An unchecked stress response can cause repeated spikes in blood pressure increasing the chances of a stroke. You will begin to stockpile fat around the abdomen due to the high levels of the stress hormone cortisol being activated lowering IGF-1 and maintaining high levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

This endless supply of cortisol greatly weakens the immune system and exposes the body to deadly diseases like diabetes and cancer.

This is obviously a very complex topic to explain so I do advise if you are under a lot of stress to seek some help. You will find some great articles below on the topic of stress invaluable for finding a way to manage this.

Many people swear by meditation as a way to control their stress and their emotions. Depending on what kind of meditation you do there are different purposes for each, but the overall goal for any mediation is to be able to separate yourself from thoughts.

The idea is not get lost in the overwhelming flow of chatter running through your mind, especially if you struggle with any variation of anxiety this can be difficult however meditation can teach you how to choose which thoughts are important and worth hanging onto and which you can let go.

Recently we asked one of our trainers to explain how to get started with meditation and she published a great article on how to do this called – A Beginners guide to meditation

Summary

I apologize for the length of this article but I really wanted to include as much information as possible as to how to achieve great health by eating well and exercising. I am pleased that the Baker Institute highlighted just how prevalent type 2 diabetes has become, and how dangerous it can be to our health.  But I am disappointed they failed to send the message that we MUST change our lifestyle habits to prevent the disease in the first place. I understand that perhaps they were aiming this report at people with severe symptoms that need medication but there should have been a stronger communication on the things discussed in this article.

It is always much easier to prevent the onset of disease or illness than treat the symptoms of it after it has happened. I believe we must become much better as a community at looking at the role of nutrition and exercise for preventing diseases like type 2 diabetes and this should start at the top with directions from the experts in the medical community.

If you do need specific help with setting up an exercise and nutrition program please feel free to reach out to me for help by clicking the image below and we can set you up a free consultation to discuss how to get you started.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

References:

  • Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute 
  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Functional Training for Sports - By Mike Boyle
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie