Sugar and diabetes have more associations than not
ow much sugar can you consume if you have diabetes? Even though a valid question, it misses the point. There are widespread misconceptions when it comes to sugar and diabetes. Have you ever heard about the diabetes myths list? There are a lot of these listings on the Internet. One of them is “Sugar does not cause diabetes”. But there is also another myth that says “sugar causes diabetes” both are false and true. Confused yet? Its not sugar that cause diabetes but our overproduction of insulin caused by high fructose foods; sugar happens to be the highest fructose food of all (if we can call it food).
Is like saying “cigarettes don’t cause cancer; its the smoke that does”. Of course sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. There is not a single substance in sugar that directly cause diabetes. But sugar is one of the foods that will surely spike your blood glucose like no other and it will make your pancreas release too much insulin leading to insulin resistance and a series of other complications. That alone has significance if we are discussing diabetes. In a way sugar is like adding insult to injury when it comes to diabetes. But all carbohydrates do essentially the same.
“The defining feature of diabetes is too much glucose”
But table sugar is not the only sugar. All carbohydrates and specially refined grains have the same effect as sugar when consumed. Many people, including diabetics are eating huge quantities of carbohydrates without realizing the health implications that could bring in the long run.
Why in the world do we have to eat so many carbohydrates? We can eat more fats and proteins. Diabetes is caused by our excess carbohydrate intake. Sugar is the carbohydrate that top all carbohydrates for increasing glucose levels and produce the most insulin. Why doctors and dietitians don’t tell you to stop eating carbohydrates if they raise raise your glucose level and set your glucose levels out of balance? This is something I can’t understand.
The other day at work I looked a some of my co-workers and everyone had a stash of snacks tucked in the nurse’s desk. People are eating snacks, cookies, candies, 24/7 like an addiction. And everyone is hungry for those foods all the time .
Carbohydrates makes you hungry all the time
Sugar is not the culprit or the evil food to avoid. Think about what sugar and all other carbohydrates are doing to you; they are all part of the same group. They all raises the insulin hormone. Insulin is the hunger/store fat hormone. Don’t make it more complicated then it is. Insulin = hunger + fat storing. And yes, it works to feed cell’s glucose energy needs.
So when you eat a diet where 60% of your calories comes from carbohydrates you are loading your body with insulin. Insulin in excess over time will cause you to:
- not burn any fat and store some
- make you hungry within a few hours or minutes after you eat
- raise your glucose to the roof
- create insulin resistance. After years of doing that it can cause you to become pre-diabetic or worse, trigger full blown diabetic.
Why sugar is more like an addiction
Again sugar is not the bad guy because in reality we are addicted to carbohydrates. Why? Because they are so good. Carbohydrates are the most yummy and delicious food. But not only they are tasty and sweet but they give us immediate gratification. Pure energy and lift. The body does not have to work hard to assimilate glucose. It’s like a quickly absorbed drug going straight to your blood. The sad thing is that we are denying ourselves other foods which are also tasty and satisfying and without the sugar spike problems: and that would be the fats.
Sugar is like running on batteries. Fats are like your plugged on the wall
We have this cravings for carbohydrates because it is a natural instinct. For millions of years or prior to industrialization food was scarce in our planet. If we encountered foods like vegetables, seeds, fruits we loaded on them because they were a seasonal resource. Winter or droughts were always around the corner so we needed to eat fast and eat lots of it to store fat in our bodies.
So our addiction to carbohydrates is perfectly normal. The problem today is that we have too much of it and sugar is like having carbohydrates on steroids. Most people are eating about at least 60% of their calories from carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association diet recommendation for the most part continues to be based on carbohydrates. This is a mistake of endemic proportion.
You don’t need carbohydrates to live
One of the greatest lies of our dietary guideline is that if you don’t eat carbohydrates you’ll faint and die. This is one of the greatest misconceptions doctors and dietitians have been telling diabetics. What we need is ATP. Yes ATP is the ultimate form of energy your bodies need to be alive. The good news is that our bodies will make ATP out of just about anything. The first choice is glucose from carbohydrates. But the other way is to make it from fats stored on your body or from glycogen blocks stored in the liver.
When I worked as a diabetes health coach I was confused at times. I would tell patients: “you can’t eat potatoes, you can’t eat rice, you can’t eat bread, you can’t have deserts”…and the list would go on and on. At the end of the visit I’ll have this confused patient looking at me and saying “what can I eat then”? And I would then come up with all these fiber rich alternatives and complicated diets that I know they would not be able to follow. Now I say: “eat more fat.”
By eating more fat you’ll not raise your glucose level at all. You’ll not produce insulin. Your body will instead begin converting fat into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis. This is a much more efficient way to produce energy because the body only makes what it needs. Is like your body is on a on demand energy production. No excess glucose left behind to make fat. Instead you burn every gram of fat in your body. Your energy level is steady because you are using energy on demand. You might get hungry but you’re never starving.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Starts with Ignoring the Guidelines | Sarah Hallberg | TEDxPurdueU”
Have your cake and eat it too
So to answer your question: how much sugar should I eat if I have diabetes. I say don’t eat any until you control your diabetes. Ounce you have your diabetes under control and you are not eating a diet that almost have no carbohydrates and you no longer need insulin and you no longer need pills; eating some sugar has no ill effect on you. Why deprive yourself the pleasure of eating a brownie? As long as you not eating that brownie as part of your energy needs, it’s totally fine.
Begin by cutting your carbohydrates to almost nothing. Add healthy fats. Enjoy great meals that have less volume and will not bloat your stomach and give you more satisfaction. By achieving more satisfaction you’ll wont feel the craving for sugars and starchy foods. Enjoy your blood glucose going down, enjoy not having to poke yourself 3 times a day and inject insulin. Try it. There is nothing to lose. Well you might lose a few pounds. What is your experience with low carb high fat diet? What do you think about treating diabetes with food and not drugs?
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