70% of diabetics on oral drugs eliminated the need for these drugs. Special Report: Take Control of Type II Diabetes.
Understand the Symptoms, Treatment and Lifestyle Managment Options.
Thousands of diabetics have graduated from the Pritikin Longevity Center medication-free. Others leave with dosages for insulin or drugs markedly reduced. In a study of 652 Type 2 diabetics, 39% of those on insulin left the Center insulin-free. 70% of diabetics on drugs also left free of their medications.
(Diabetes Care, 17: 1469, 1994)
In just three weeks, men at the Pritikin resort reduced oxidative stress, controlled blood pressure, lowered cholesterol by an average of 19%, and reduced insulin levels by 46%, significantly reducing their risk of heart disease and diabetes.
(Circulation, 106: 2530, 2002)
High insulin levels, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and obesity commonly aggregate in the same individual and greatly increase the risk for coronary disease and diabetes. The Pritikin Program controlled this syndrome in just three weeks in a majority of 72 guests studied. Fasting insulin was reduced by 30-40%.
(American Journal of Cardiology, 69: 440, 1992)
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that results in high blood glucose levels due to the body’s inability to utilize the hormone insulin properly. Our bodies need glucose in order to fuel our body cells. The brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy, which is why our bodies are so sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels.
After a meal, your bloodstream is flooded with glucose from the breakdown of carbohydrates. Your blood sugar begins to rise, which triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin helps store the glucose in our body cells for energy.
A normal blood glucose level is below 100 mg/dl. A fasting glucose between 100 and 125 mg/dL signals pre-diabetes. Diabetes is diagnosed with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher.
What is the difference between Type I and Type II Diabetes?
Type I – typically arises in childhood or early adulthood and occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Most cases are diagnosed before the age of 30. This population must receive insulin via injection or an insulin pump.
Type II – often referred to as adult onset diabetes, usually occurs after the age of 30.* This type may produce some insulin; however, the body’s cells have become resistant to insulin, and this prevents glucose from entering the cells. Metaphorically speaking, the insulin in a person with type II diabetes is trying to open the doors of the cells, but the cells won’t let it in. This is what scientists refer to as “insulin resistant.” When cells become insulin resistant, blood glucose and insulin levels rise and eventually lead to many complications. For instance, uncontrolled glucose levels can damage the large blood vessels leading to the heart (coronary heart disease) and the extremities (peripheral vascular disease), the eyes (retinopathy), nerves (neuropathy), and the kidneys (nephropathy). Ultimately, the pancreas wears out after years of being in overdrive, pumping out more and more insulin to get through the cell doors. Eventually, production of insulin will stop and insulin shots will need to be given.
* Recent studies have shown that type II diabetes is showing up in children and young adults due to the increase in unhealthy lifestyles/obesity in this age group.
About 16 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 90% of those people have type II diabetes. This number has increased six fold since 1958. Science suggests that the primary cause of type II diabetes is excess body fat; in genetically predisposed people, excess body fat leads to resistance to insulin.
Type II diabetes is typically hereditary, but heredity is not necessarily destiny. This is evidenced in several studies with the Pima Indians. By age 50, more than fifty percent of the Pimas in Arizona have type II diabetes. They eat a diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates and are fairly inactive. By contrast, the Pimas in Mexico are very active and eat a high fiber, high carbohydrate diet that is minimally processed (whole foods like corn, beans, fruits, and vegetables), and very few have type II diabetes.
Another study, called the Honolulu Heart Program, found that men of Japanese descent who adopted a Westernized lifestyle – a high-fat diet and little activity – had almost twice the rate of type II diabetes than men living a more traditional Japanese lifestyle. The men who ended up with diabetes were sedentary and overweight. They also ate significantly more fat and fewer unrefined carbohydrates (whole fiber-rich foods). (American Journal of Epidemiology, 1996).
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
When people with type II diabetes develop high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), they may experience symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, and weight loss. Other diabetes symptoms include blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, occasional muscle cramps and poor wound healing. However, there are a lot of people with type II diabetes who do not show symptoms and don’t even know they have it.
In type I diabetes, however, the symptoms occur more abruptly, progressing to a potentially life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is unique to type I diabetes. When insulin is lacking, the glucose is not able to enter the cells and blood sugars rise dramatically. Symptoms are excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. DKA could lead to coma and death if treatment is not given to lower blood sugars.
What are the complications of diabetes?
There are several complications that can arise as a result of poorly controlled diabetes.
1. Macrovascular Disease
• Coronary Artery Disease — Many studies have revealed that coronary artery disease accounts for over 50% of all deaths in patients with diabetes. Some studies have shown that insulin resistance, such as in type II diabetes, may be associated with atherosclerosis.
• Hypertension — is almost twice as common in people with diabetes than nondiabetic individuals.
• Cerebrovascular Disease — affects the vessels leading to the brain. Blockage of one of the major cerebral vessels causes a stroke due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. Cerebrovascular disease seems to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Mortality rates are from three to five times greater than those who do not have diabetes.
• Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) — is very common in people with diabetes. PVD is similar to cardiovascular disease, but it affects the vessels in the lower extremities of the body, such as the legs. As the arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen is delivered to the extremities. The legs feel achy, fatigued and painful. The feet may become numb and cold, the skin dry and scaly. A person may develop sores that are difficult to heal. A complete obstruction of blood supply can lead to gangrene (tissue death).
2. Retinopathy — occurs when the small vessels that nourish the retina portion of the eye are damaged. This causes a leakage of blood components through the vessel walls. The retina allows for the focusing of images and light. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision impairment in the U.S. It is present in 55% to 80% of people with type II diabetes after 15 years with diabetes.
3. Neuropathy — Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which nerve fibers are damaged. The cause is related to either insulin deficiency and/or high blood sugars. Diabetic neuropathy can cause disruptions in sensations, muscle activity and the function of internal organs. The person may experience tingling, pain, numbness, and even burning sensations in various parts of the body such as the feet and hands. If no pain is felt, they may burn themselves or develop sores from prolonged pressure. Other areas of the nervous system could be affected that regulate blood pressure, bowel and bladder control and heart rhythm.
4. Nephropathy — Diabetic nephropathy is a type of kidney disease in which kidney function declines as a result of multiple factors, including poorly controlled diabetes and/or blood pressure. The kidneys act as a filter, removing waste products from the blood and eliminating them from the body as urine. When kidney function declines, these wastes become toxic to the body as they build up in the bloodstream. Fluid retention becomes massive when the ability to urinate decreases, causing weight gain, fatigue, shortness of breath and uncontrolled blood pressure. Eventually, the kidneys stop working (kidney failure) and people become dependent on dialysis machines to filter their blood.
Ways to Improve
What can the Pritikin Program do for someone with diabetes?
The Pritikin Program is important for people with both type I and type II diabetes to help mitigate or prevent the complications associated with the disease. And the good news for those with type II diabetes is that the Pritikin Program can help you get control of diabetes and often manage it without medication, and with significantly reduced dosages.
What can I do to improve my blood glucose levels and prevent complications from my disease?
1. Lose weight if you are overweight. Excess body fat significantly contributes to the body cells becoming resistant to insulin.
2. Follow the Pritikin Eating Plan for diabetes. Eat preferred carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates. Preferred carbohydrates include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
3. Increase your activity level. Aerobic activity decreases insulin resistance in muscle cells, which allows more glucose to enter the cells.
4. Cut your fat and cholesterol intake to reduce your blood cholesterol levels, help with weight loss, and decrease your risk of heart disease, which diabetics are at least three times more likely to get than nondiabetics.
5. Eat small, frequent meals to keep blood sugars in a healthy range. Eating large meals can flood the bloodstream with glucose and insulin.
Why are whole grains better than refined grains?
According to the long-running Nurse’s Study on 80,000 women by Harvard researchers, women who ate more refined carbohydrates – like white bread, white pasta and mashed potatoes – had two-and-a-half-times the risk of type II diabetes than women who ate high amounts of unrefined carbohydrates like whole-grain, high fiber breakfast cereals (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1997). Interestingly, both groups consumed the same number of carbohydrates. Another study with 75,000 women showed similar results, even after researchers adjusted for age, weight, and physical activity (American Journal of Public Health, Sept, 2000).
There is not much nutritional quality to refined carbohydrates, and they load the system with glucose at a rapid rate, causing insulin levels to soar. Minimally processed foods, on the other hand, are broken down and released into the bloodstream at a slower rate so less stress is placed on the pancreas. The result is less diabetes.
Isn’t it better to eat a higher fat diet than a high carbohydrate diet?
People with diabetes are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Often times, diabetes is accompanied with high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. Consuming more fat in your diet only wreaks havoc on your lipid levels and sets you on your way towards heart disease.
Some researchers have argued that eating more carbohydrates causes higher blood sugar levels; however, we disagree. Several studies have confirmed our belief that a higher carbohydrate diet (the right kind of carbohydrates — unrefined and unprocessed) is actually beneficial for blood sugars, lipid levels, and weight loss (Diabetes Care, 1995; JAMA, 1995, Arterioscler Thromb, 1994).
In addition, we have witnessed the benefits of the Pritikin Eating Plan on our own participants. A study of 657 participants of Pritikin Longevity Center found that 76% of those recently diagnosed with diabetes were able to lower their blood sugars to the point where they were no longer defined as having diabetes. Of those on oral hypoglycemic medications, 70% were able to leave the Center medication-free, and 39% of those on insulin left the program insulin-free (Diabetes Care, 1994).
The bottom line is this it’s the type of carbohydrate that matters. If you are eating foods like fat-free cakes and cookies that are loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates, you could be eating as many calories as a high-fat diet. The result is weight gain, elevated blood sugar, and lipid levels. What we are talking about is a diet high in unrefined grains, fruits, and vegetables, and very low in fat. This naturally lowers calorie intake and promotes weight loss.