Several years ago when I began my journey to better health through an improved diet, I frequently had the jitters after eating, especially after breakfast. At the time, I thought it was probably due to too much caffeine. I had already stopped drinking regular coffee due to the caffeine, but I was still drinking tea every morning. However, when I cut out the caffeine, I still had the occasional jittery feeling.
Eventually I realized that it wasn’t just the caffeine, although I am still very sensitive to it. My jittery feelings were caused by a diet too high in sugar and other carbohydrates. Especially my breakfasts were high carb, usually sweetened cereal (although whole grain) and sweetened tea. There was very little fat and only a small amount of protein. Read more here about how I learned what the problem was and how I changed my diet.
The jitters I had after my high carbohydrate breakfasts were were a symptom of poor sugar handling. Similar diets are causing huge increases in the incidence of diabetes here in the U.S. and in other countries as they adopt our diet.
We need to find effective, natural ways to treat and possibly reverse diabetes. One in three children born today are likely to develop the disease and over 100 million adults are already suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome. 1 There are many studies that indicate diet is an important factor in the development of diabetes. Although most of this research applies primarily to type 2 diabetes, an improved diet can also benefit those with type 1 diabetes.
One recent study found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by eating full fat dairy products, including milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese. The factor responsible for the reduction seems to be palmitoleic acid, or trans-palmitoleate, which “is found almost exclusively in naturally-occurring dairy and meat trans fats. . . palmitoleic acid is heart healthy. It also has anti-microbial properties and is a key compound in cell communication.” Participants in the study “with those with the highest levels [of trans-palmitoleate] had half the risk of developing diabetes” compared to those with the lowest levels. 2 People have been told to avoid full fat dairy for decades due to the war on fat, and maybe the lack of trans-palmitoleate in the diet has helped increase the incidence of diabetes. The healthy natural trans fat in milk products is beneficial; however, the artificial trans fats formed in the process of hydrogenation of oils are not healthy and should be avoided. 2
Additional studies have indicated that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, treated, and even possibly reversed by changes in diet. Specifically, carbohydrate intake should be reduced significantly. The recommended limit may vary, but most recommend under 100 grams per day and those should be spread evenly throughout the day not eaten all at once, to avoid sugar spikes.
Dr. Antti Heikkilä recommends a limit of 60 grams of carbohydrates per day. Dr. Heikkilä has treated thousands of patients with diabetes, “each of whom has reduced their sugar and starch intake and been able to stop taking all of their medications.” Dr. Heikkilä says “Reducing the amount of carbohydrates is the first step. We do not know why reducing the amount of carbohydrates changes the overall metabolism. After a certain limit, there is a dramatic change. In my experience the border is 60 grams of carbohydrates, and in some cases it is a bit less.” I totally agree with Dr. Heikkilä’s second step: the food we eat should be nutrient-dense and of high quality. Many of the nutrients in our food can “protect the body from the harmful effects of sugar.” 4
Dr. Wolfgang Lutz also recommends limited carbohydrates. He says “The bad news is that diabetes is clearly a disease of poor sugar metabolism, and sugar (i.e., carbohydrates) is the dietary source of this imbalance. The good news is that diabetes can be reversed by the reduction of carbohydrates in the diet.” [emphasis added] Dr. Lutz recommends limiting carbohydrate intake to 72 grams per day or less. He points out that today’s diets can be as much as 90% carbohydrates. He gives these examples: breakfast might be sweetened cereal or toast and jelly with a big glass of fruit juice or coffee with lots of sugar; lunch is a sandwich with a thin slice of lean meat plus chips and dessert; dinner could be a fast food bun-heavy sandwich with lots of french fries, or a thick-crust pizza washed down with lots of soda. Although he doesn’t mention snacks, people frequently eat chips, candy, sodas and other high-carb foods between meals, all of which add to the carbohydrate load. Does this sound familiar? Many people eat like this most, if not all, of the time. 7
I can’t write about this subject without mentioning that gut health is key to the absorption of nutrients. Even if you are eating nutrient-dense high quality foods, you will not be healthy if your body can’t process the nutrients and make them available to your cells. One method that has shown great benefit in healing the gut and restoring health is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome, popularly known as the GAPS diet. Find Houston-area certified GAPS consultants here.
Also, many people have reversed health problems, including diabetes, by following a nutrient-dense diet as recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation. Read here about how to get started on a traditional, real food diet.
I know I haven’t covered everything there is to know about the subject of diet and its impact on diabetes, but I hope I have encouraged you to do some research to find out if any of these changes could help you.
1 An MD’s Perspective On How To Avoid, Treat And Reverse Diabetes by Russell M. Jaffe, MD, PhD
2 Healthy Trans Fats Slash Diabetes Risk by Margie King
3 trans-Palmitoleic acid, other dairy fat biomarkers, and incident diabetes: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)
4 How To Treat Diabetes Naturally – An MD’s Perspective by Antti Heikkilä, MD
5 Dietary Modification: Low Carbohydrate/Ketogenic [link to a list of studies showing the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet]
6 Peter Attia: What if we’re wrong about diabetes? (video about Dr. Attia’s perspective on diabetes and what causes it)
7 Life Without Bread by Christian B. Allan PhD and Wolfgang Lutz MD
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