My Doctor Says I Have Pre-Diabetes. . . Now What (or SO What)?
Does this mean I have diabetes? Or I’m likely to get it? Can’t I just take a pill?
‘No,’ ‘not necessarily but maybe’ and ‘you can but. . .’ are the short answers. You COULD take a pill for ‘pre-diabetes’ and you could take a pill (or a shot) if you get the full condition. But most people don’t realize that medication will not make you ANY less likely to experience the negative consequences (or sequalae) associated with the disease. And there are NO studies that show that taking medication at the pre-diabetes stage will help avoid the full-blown condition! Only diet and lifestyle change can do that.
The major consequences of diabetes are diabetic neuropathy; leading to unrelenting pain, circulatory problems; leading to amputations of toes and more, kidney disease; leading to dialysis and possible necessity for transplant, diabetic retinopathy; leading to blindness, and heart disease; leading to heart attack and commonly, death. If THAT list isn’t enough to get you to pay attention for yourself, maybe the idea of putting your family thru all that is something that might concern you.
So now, what do you do? Many people try to address this thru a keto or paleo diet but I’m going to suggest that this isn’t the best approach. Heart disease is already the #1 killer in this country and it’s unlikely that such a diet, made up of mostly animal foods and some veggies, will diminish your chances of cardiovascular issues. (Actually, just the opposite is far more likely).
Many people are surprised when I tell them the latest research; that diabetes happens because there’s too much FAT in the cells and because of that, insulin is unable to escort the sugar in! If you picture a cell like house during a crowded house party; your escort (Insulin) brings you to the party (you are sugar) but there are so many other folks (fat) blocking the door, you literally can’t get in & neither can you other (sugar) friends. You have to wait outside until they leave. (And the sad truth is that Insulin is trying to lead you into the house so you can refresh the snacks, clean things up & keep the party going but FAT is the drunken neighbors & frat friends that are making a royal mess and won’t leave!)
In fact, the latest meta-analysis (a study that reviews other studies) showed that INDEPENDENT of body mass index (BMI) people who had the highest plant-based food intake had a 23% -30% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who ate more animal foods. That means that obese people who adopt this diet have a likelihood of being able to avoid diabetes that is nearly the same as that of their thinner counterparts.
People are also shocked by the rapidity with which pre-diabetes and full on type 2 diabetes can be reverse with diet. My clients who start a low-fat plant-based diet are often discontinuing medication (with their doctor’s consent) in 2-4 weeks! In addition, because they are eating low fat, plant-based; significant weight loss is common as well.
So what foods are these folks eating? Another thing that surprises people is that they can eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other foods they think of as ’forbidden’ as long as they’re NOT slathering them with butter or sour cream. I regularly eat baked potatoes with mushrooms sautéed in wine or concentrated veggie stock & garlic (you can also add nutritional yeast to give it a buttery flavor). Whole food starches, it turns out are NOT pro-inflammatory. (If you doubt this, look up what the Okinawans eat. They are the longest living people in the world.) The beauty of eating this way is that you can eat all you want & still lose weight.
Another thing I love about this diet is the simplicity of throwing a meal together with little or no forethought. My dinner tonight consisted of Japanese black rice (AKA forbidden rice or emperor’s rice) and a veggie & tofu saute of onions, garlic, fresh basil, summer squash and broccoli. Those happen to be what was in the frig, so that’s what got thrown in. It was sauteed in concentrated veggie broth (I use “better than bullion” concentrate & water). The tofu was the pre-cooked stuff with sriracha spices. The spiciness of the sriracha tofu blended really well with the fresh basil, onions & garlic to give the veggies a yummy savory/spicy flavor that went well with the nuttiness of the black rice. A simple unplanned meal was on the table in about 30 minutes.
So if the idea of losing weight while diminishing your likelihood of getting diabetes, heart disease or a number of other chronic diseases appeals to you, watch for upcoming info on group programs I’m putting together for the fall.