Did you know when you eat bread made out of refined flour, whether it is white or wholemeal the grain has been ground so finely and is so uniform in size that it behaves pretty much like sugar when it enters our bodies? Refined grains and sugar cause a sharp spike in blood sugar and insulin levels which promote weight gain, drive inflammatory disease, damages the cardiovascular system and causes hunger cravings soon after eating.
I watched the recent BBC Panorama programme on Britain’s type II diabetes epidemic. This programme really brings home what a serious and life changing disease diabetes is. Unless it is reversed or incredibly well managed type II diabetes leads to cardiovascular disease, eye problems, peripheral nerve problems with loss of sensation and slow wound healing in the legs and feet, vascular dementia, and encourages cancer growth. More and more amputations are being performed each year as a direct result of diabetes. This programme is well worth watching and is still available on BBC iplayer.
What I didn’t like was the conclusion of the programme: that we should be performing more gastric band surgery to stop obese, pre- diabetic and diabetic patients from eating. Although very useful to a few individuals, I do not think this radical, dangerous and expensive surgery is the answer to the nation’s obesity crisis.
In her Youtube Ted talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ) Dr. Sarah Hallberg, an American doctor running a diabetes clinic argues that type II diabetes and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) can often be reversed, and at the very least the need for diabetes medication reduced dramatically by following a low carbohydrate diet. This is completely contrary to current UK and US diet guidelines for healthy eating which advocate a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.
Dr. Hallberg’s dietary advice for diabetics and those within insulin resistance is:
- Avoid light or low fat food – if they have taken the fat out they have added chemicals or carbohydrates in.
- Eat real food – it doesn’t need to say ‘natural’ on the packet, you should know by looking at it that it is real food.
- Don’t eat anything you don’t like.
- Only eat when you are hungry, irrespective of the time.
- No grains, no potatoes and no sugar.
If you are overweight and struggling to lose weight it is likely that you are over producing insulin in response to carbohydrate foods which is making it harder for you to lose weight, damaging the cells of your body and promoting the further laying down of more fat in your body. Remaining obese for years puts you at very high risk of developing diabetes.
I think Dr. Hallberg’s advice is very sensible. I would add the following to her dietary advice:
- Eat lots of vegetables, try to include them at every meal
- Eat protein with every meal to reduce hunger and food cravings, improve your lean muscle mass and help with weight loss.
- Vary your meals and try out new recipes – you can’t cut foods and meals out without replacing them with some new foods and meals. It is just not sustainable.
- If you are not already exercising start walking as briskly as you can for 30 minutes every day.
- If you are not diabetic or insulin resistant follow the above advice: However, you can also eat some starchy carbohydrates but keep the portions small and only eat whole grains. g. a small portion of basmati brown rice or whole grain pasta or two little new potatoes with dinner or a slice of rye bread with lunch/breakfast is unlikely to prevent you from losing weight or damage your blood sugar control.