Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body converts food into energy. An estimated 37.3 million people – about 1 in 10 – have diabetes and an additional 8.5 million people don’t even realize they have it! What’s even scarier is that 96 million Americans – more than 1 in 3 – are in early stages.
Diabetes and diabetes-related complications are the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the costs of managing these conditions are astronomical.
Long-term implications for uncontrolled diabetes include kidney, heart, and blood vessel damage, as well as an increased risk of glaucoma and foot infections due to increasingly impaired circulation. The link between diabetes and dementia is also well-known.
Part of what makes diabetes difficult to diagnose and manage is the fact people don’t feel bad when their glucose levels are high. You might feel perfectly fine while diabetes is silently causing damage. Often it isn’t until you have secondary or tertiary complaints that you’ll finally receive a formal diagnosis. By that time, however, the damage may be irreversible.
The Weighty Connection
When carrying extra weight, people typically identify as either an apple or a pear body type. Pear types tend to carry weight uniformly or around the hips and thighs. Apple types carry excess weight around the middle and tend to be thinner everywhere else, putting them at higher risk for blood sugar dysregulation.
Obesity also increases the risk of developing diabetes. In fact, “diabesity” occurs when someone is both obese and has Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes). Too much body weight can cause diabetes to progress even faster, and together, these two conditions greatly increase the risk of heart disease – the #1 cause of death in this country.
The best way I recommend to determine if obesity is a problem is to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio. You can learn how to do that here.
When you have Type 2 diabetes or diabesity, your cells become resistant to allowing glucose into them. That means there’s nowhere for the glucose to go so it stays in your bloodstream, and this is what causes the damage over time.
While medications exist to address diabetes if you have it, you must also change your diet, exercise regularly, and lose the excess weight or you will likely require even more medication as the condition worsens. The good news is Type 2 diabetes can be managed and, if identified and addressed early, can even be reversed in some cases.
Next Steps and Testing
The first step in determining the health of your glucose management is to identify how carbohydrates individually affect you. We are all unique in this regard – some people tolerate starches and sugars better than others, but a steady diet of these high carb foods is likely to take a toll on everyone eventually. We simply weren’t designed to eat highly-processed flours and sweeteners, and the body’s metabolism will eventually begin to fail.
In the past, practitioners relied on a 4-hour glucose tolerance test to figure out how an individual manages a carb load. The test requires consuming a sugary glucose drink and then measuring blood sugar levels over 4 hours. I’ve done more of these tests with clients than I can count and found that no two people respond in the same way.
Fortunately, technology has improved. We can now use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to accurately reflect how someone’s system is reacting to real food in real time. What happens when you eat a piece of bread? What if you follow it up with a cookie for dessert? It’s impossible to predict how your system will react without appropriate testing. I’ve had clients whose worst food was lettuce! Other clients have discovered they could have a quarter cup of beans without any issue but if they consumed more, their blood sugar would spike dramatically.
Using a CGM to Master Your Weight and Blood Sugar
If you struggle with your weight or blood sugar, using a CGM can provide invaluable information about the foods your system tolerates, how much you can eat, and which foods you need to completely avoid.
I love helping people optimize their health by using this tool, so this May I am teaching: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Blood Sugar—a 4- week, online course focused on using a CGM.
If controlling your weight and blood sugar is an issue, you need this class! Or maybe you just want to optimize your health and discover exactly how best to eat for your glucose metabolism? Either way, I will teach you how to dial in your blood sugar using a CGM as your guide. Plus, you’ll learn about herbs that can support blood sugar and how to still enjoy eating while keeping your glucose well-regulated.
I hope you’ll join me to learn about this life-enhancing tool! My class starts May 9. Just click the link below to get your name on the wait list and receive more information about The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Your Blood Sugar.