As I read discussions I see a common thread among type 2 diabetics. Will ____________ (fill in the blank) control my blood glucose?
It has been my experience that there is no one thing that going to get us well controlled rather it is a combination of several things. It is my opinion when posting on these subjects we should give our experience level. I am a type 2 diabetic that was diagnosed in February of 2005. At that time my A1C was extremely high as were my daily blood glucose readings (A1C 20.5 Blood glucose at the ER 570 mg/dl) for the past 3 years I have been maintaining A1C between 5.0 and 5.6 and that is without meds. When I was first diagnosed I was started on insulin then switched to a high dose of metformin combined with a substantial combination of other drugs. Since June of 2005 I have been maintaining good blood glucose control without medications.
I have gone through many stages with new information added and modifying what I was doing. I started where many of us start with the standard ADA recommendations and medications. It did not take very long to discover that ADA recommendations are rather ineffective. Following the ADA recommendations and taking my prescribed meds did get my blood glucose down from the 570 mg/dl when I was diagnosed but never under 200 mg/dl which is still way too high.
The first major breakthrough was learning about the PCF ratio and how that was far better than the exchanges program. The Exchanges program as it is applied is rather inaccurate. Carb counting in my opinion is also ineffective as it only deals with one of the three major grouping of foods and the way it is applied treats all carbs the same. The PCF ratio concept balances the ratio of calories from each of the three base categories. To make this accurate the foods need to be weighed and portioned. I concluded that the best PCF ratio is 20-50-30. (20% calories from protein, 50% calories from carbohydrates and 30% calories from fat.)
Initially I was doing the math involved in balancing the PCF ratio with pen and paper which was very time intensive. The next big step for me was finding and applying good nutrition software which allowed me to plan my meals so I was getting an optimized PCF ration in each meal.
Next came the concepts of the glycemic index. The ADA has been trying to debunk this concept for years and is still telling us there is no need to eliminate sugar and other high glycemic carbs. This made no sense to me when I was seeing different carbs showing different results on my blood glucose meter. The glycemic index rates carb foods according to how quickly they convert to blood glucose, and how high they raise the blood sugars. Check this with your own blood glucose meter. Test just before eating. Eat a 50 gram portion of the carbohydrate you are testing then test again at 30 minute intervals. When I did this I saw quite different reactions from different foods. The worst were high amylose white rice, russet baked potato, foods high in refined sugar and highly processed grains. The lowest reactions were from whole grains, high fiber foods and certain vegetable.
The concepts of the glycemic index were further refined with the concept of inflammatory and anti inflammatory foods. A food can be low glycemic and highly inflammatory at the same time. An example would be I can make foods using whole grains such as a bread made just with sprouted grains and no processed flour. When I bake it, it becomes more inflammatory as it bakes. I can make it even more inflammatory by adding trans fats in the form of shortening or margarines made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. New evidence coming to light in the past 5 years is showing a link between higher risks for a cluster of diseases and inflammatory foods. Type 2 diabetes is just one of the diseases.
During the discovery process I found a lot of information about specific foods that help control blood glucose. Some of the foods act similar to insulin and others help in other ways. These foods include but are not limited to cinnamon, buckwheat, nopal, bitter gourd, garlic, onions, agave and several others. Other foods help by being highly anti inflammatory. These include just about anything high in anti-oxidants, omega 3 (particularly EPA and DHA), vitamin D, and fiber. Some of the high fiber super foods include chia seed, hemp seed, flax seed and psyllium husks.
This train of thought started with the question about cinnamon and if it would help lower blood glucose. I guess my answer is yes and no. If your blood glucose is high and that is the only thing you are doing you will probably not see much of a result. If cinnamon is combined with a wider strategy that changes all the other diet elements that were causing the problem it is probably going to be beneficial. My A1C has been under 5.6 for 3 years. Is it because of cinnamon? Cinnamon is part of my strategy but just one part.
When looking at the problem we have to consider that diabetes was diagnosed at less than 1% in the population in 1950. In the past 60 years there has been an 800% increase to 8%. Over 90% of the increase is in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. There are two major things that have happened in our society in the past 60 years. We have become more sedentary and our diet has changed. That indicates two things for us to do. One is to start exercising more like we did back then and the other is to eat better eliminating the highly processed and inflammatory foods that have crept into our national diet.
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