10 Steps to Beat Pre-diabetes, Cravings, and Weight Gain Naturally
Prediabetes and food craving are an epidemic affecting at least 20% of the population. And, this is not including the nearly 10% of Americans who have frank diabetes. Also, these numbers likely do not include those whose diagnosis may be being missed because their high insulin levels are not being checked.
This high insulin is associated with ‘insulin resistance’ which is what I will focus on for this article.
Our traditional system only screens for fasting glucose levels. One commonly associated condition that creates the imbalances that can lead to prediabetes is chronic stress. Yes, stress.
I want to emphasize this. Stress is a root cause for the development of prediabetes/diabetes, so for the sake of your health – you will need to understand this food/stress connection. Stress is not just related to psychological stress, though there is definitely a mind-body connection.
You see, one of cortisol’s important roles is to regulate blood sugar and it interacts with insulin. When, …
- We eat foods that are high in carbohydrates (pasta/breads), deserts, processed sugar
- We skip meals and create rollercoaster blood sugar levels
- We accumulate heavy metals in our body such as mercury, and it is not checked for
…we start to dysregulate our insulin and glucose balance.
We may not be able to produce enough insulin and our glucose levels remain abnormally elevated and starts to damage our organs. We can help this situation by eating more low glycemic foods and sometimes adding certain foods in our diet to help increase insulin responsiveness. Also, timing of meals can be helpful, particularly with certain genetic tendencies.
Insulin levels can elevate to abnormal levels also. This fuels the fire of inflammation. Toxins can contribute to blood sugar and inflammation imbalances, which throws gasoline on the process, and they are ubiquitous – in our water, soil and skin care products – even plastics in some shower curtains! In this process…many people start to gain weight, particularly in the deeper areas of the abdomen/gut.
Insulin resistance can cause belly fat over time – this weight gain is not normal ‘aging’ per se.
Classically, high insulin becomes ‘resisted’ by cell receptors as illustrated in the photograph, and higher and higher levels of insulin is called upon to try to lower the elevating glucose levels. This leads to a vicious circle.
High insulin is actually masking the glucose levels that are then going under the radar, while still affecting the lens in the eye for example, to develop what is often a ‘subcapsular’ cataract, due to higher than normal blood sugar in the blood. This causes blurry vision and glare symptoms.
High blood sugar is inflammatory, and over time it can lead to weight gain, inflammation in the peripheral nerves of the body, bone, kidney and yes, even the eyes, as examples. Sugar as you have probably heard is not a health food, and frankly can be quite toxic in excess amounts. Glucose, the form of sugar that the cells in our body use for energy, has a fairly narrow window for optimum functioning.
I will be focusing on Prediabetes Type 2, which is the form that either produces too little insulin to keep up with the blood sugar levels, or the cells in the tissues become ‘resistant’ and respond poorly to insulin with the elevation in glucose.
When this happens, insulin levels become higher and higher, thus producing more inflammation in the process. As this happens, you ‘age’ and gain weight, disrupt your hormones and can even affect your mind and mood.
In our culture of high sugar, high carbohydrate and processed foods, diabetes rates have risen dramatically as more of these unhealthy foods have increased.
What are some of the risk factors?
- Chronic stress
- Obesity – increased waist circumference (though can be ‘skinny’ otherwise) – for women >35 inches and men >40 inches
- Poor Diet – particular high in carbs and inflammatory ‘low fats’
- Genetic tendency (can control typically with diet/lifestyle)
- Physical inactivity
How does it tend to make you feel? Are any of these symptoms familiar?
- Feeling tired, fatigue excessively
- Hungry all the time
- Constant creeping weight gain
- Just can’t lose weight
- Belly fat
- Tired after eating
- Sugar cravings
- Migrating joint aches and pains
Prediabetes Screening for Insulin Resistance
The most easily done, basic screening panel would include the following, and also your clinical history:
- HbA1C test
- Fasting plasma glucose
- Fasting insulin blood level
I will also note, that in the realm of functional medicine, the ideal level of HbA1C is less than 5.2-5.4 % of total Hb, and insulin levels ideally between 2-6 uIU/mL. I mention this because there are differences between ‘functional’ range, and ‘disease’ range.
As the name implies, functional medicine is about staying functionally healthy – not waiting until your body is in a diseased state before taking action and looking for the root cause of your symptoms.
Now, if you don’t do anything about insulin resistance what are some of the conditions that can develop that are associated with it? Well, quite a few conditions:
- Sex hormone imbalance – high estrogen (men and women)
- PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Disease
- NAFLD – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- High triglycerides
- Low thyroid
- High blood pressure
- High glucose levels
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
As you can see from this list, chronic disease does not ‘just happen’. We have the ability to prevent and reverse many forms of chronic disease.
Symptoms are our body’s cry for help – you would be wise not to shut them up by only covering them up with pills and suppressants because the underlying process usually continues over time. Also, you will have to deal with any side effects of the drugs.
What are some things you can do to reverse the insulin resistance?
- Stress regulation – top of the list!
- Eat a personalized caloric amount to reach your healthy weight, that consists of low carb/low glycemic, high/moderate high healthy plant based monosaturated fats, some grass fed or plant-based saturated fats
- Weight loss
- Moderate aerobic and strength building exercise
- Plant-based fiber (35gm/day) and prebiotic herbs
- Deep, restful, restorative sleep – typically requires your intention to accomplish these days
- Clean, filtered water, the number of ounces that are half your body weight in pounds on average
- Awareness of vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Removal of toxins – so do a heavy metals screen, for sure – these toxins can cause prediabetes and weight gain
- Find a Functional Medicine practitioner with medical training who can help you to diagnose, treat and coach you to implement the above, holistic science-based approaches
I hope this article is enlightening to help you to sort out the confusion for preventing prediabetes and all of the associated common annoying symptoms. With stress being so common and epidemic, now more than ever it is important to understand what it is, and how it creates disease and disrupts our immune system.
While mindfulness helps, there is much more to learn beside this important technique to truly make a lasting impact and to stay healthy. We will need to learn how to empower ourselves, since there appears to be so much resistance to changing our disease ‘health’ care system at this time.
This imbalance created by stress makes us more susceptible to not only colds and flu, but also to chronic disease development of all kinds, including anxiety and depression. Taking control of stress and learning how to better regulate it is at the top of my priority list for this reason.
Getting to the root cause is the only way to true healing. Any questions? Send me a message, if an available option leave your questions below or contact me through my website: www.ValenciaRay.com.