Diabetes is an energy storage problem
Diabetics are sometimes (usually) told that their A1c is the only thing to watch. But just watching your A1c is like watching your favorite football team on Monday night and praying for the best.A1c is sort of an average blood sugar, measuring the amount of glucose that is stuck to your red blood cells. Your red blood cells are always dying off and new ones being added. Everybody’s turnover rate is different, maybe your red blood cells turnover faster, maybe slower.
Depending on averages can be dangerous, like the weather in Montgomery County, AR, where the average annual temperature doesn’t mean it never gets really cold or really hot. What contributes to that A1C average is what matters.
In other words, you can’t manage your A1c anymore than you can manage the average temperature. You can’t count on that diabetes medication you take to work some miracle. A medication won’t change the underlying causes of your diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition reflecting how well your body processes and stores energy from food you eat. That processing and storage requires insulin manufactured by your pancreas. As long as you have enough room in your muscles and fat cells to store more energy, your pancreas can provide enough insulin to fuel that storage, and your diet includes the nutrition you need to make all that work, you can avoid diabetes.
So if you are diabetic you have a storage problem. Give or take, your body is just like everyone else’s. So how does it happen that some people have a storage problem and others don’t?
Your body is made up of cells constructed of protein formed into muscles, organs, and body fat. All of these cells require energy and there has to be room in the cells for storage. There is such a thing as too much energy and no room in the inn. Even fat cells can reach maximum capacity.
Storage requires the right amount of insulin at the right time to knock on the cell door. Storage requires the right genes partnered up with the variety of vitamins and minerals in food to make that whole process happen.
These are the rules for storage whether you are thin, fat, or just right. Most diabetics are overweight but about 20% are not. A person who is overweight or obese has excess energy stored but as long as there is room for that energy and everything else is equal that person can be technically healthy. It is possible although I wouldn’t count on it.
Those diabetics who are naturally thin are likely to have genetic issues. In my case, I have four genes involved in the making of insulin that don’t do their job very well. I inherited those genes from a family that had much diabetes. So my problem is insulin deficiency. And if you have that kind of family history it might be part of your problem too.
Type 1 diabetes is all about a genetic mutation that literally causes the death of the pancreas’ ability to make insulin. The only treatment is adding insulin. But in this article we are talking about type 2 diabetes.
Are you getting this? More energy than there is room for storage, insufficient insulin to allow for storage, gene variations, and the absence of vitamins and minerals necessary to make the storage process happen.
As your storage capability worsens over time, often long before you are diagnosed as diabetic, other chronic health conditions like kidney disease, retinopathy in the eyes, heart trouble, etc. will develop, most often manifested by unrecognized high levels of blood sugar and insulin.
Gene variations have always existed so we can’t blame them. And we can’t fix them. What we can do is avoid consuming excess energy, minimizing the amount of insulin required by the food we eat, and making darn sure we are eating food that contains all the vitamins and minerals that our bodies have always needed but we no longer consume in our diet.
The food that manifests itself in diabetes, the food that unmanaged diabetics have central to their diet is the boxed, sacked, and jarred/bottled processed food packed into the central core of the grocery store. That food has these unfortunate characteristics – extreme levels of energy (calories) in some form of carbohydrate (which means sugar), a high requirement for insulin to store, and a remarkable absence of vitamins and minerals.
So if you want to manage your A1C (and your weight), the very first strategy to employ is eliminating the processed food. My book, It’s All about the Food, will provide a more complete explanation of how this works and all the details you need to recognize those foods when you see them. But in the simplest terms that means eating whole food like vegetables, fruit, and meat/eggs. There is an excellent chance that this will be all you need to do.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry); chairman of the Tasty Acre project; and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her website is http://allaboutthefood.org/