You don’t just wake up one day and become diabetic. In fact, there are virtually no symptoms that you may experience in early stages or in the pre-diabetes stage. But then one day your annual blood tests come back and your doctor tells you that your Glucose was too high and your Hemoglobin A1C was over 6.4%. What does that mean? Where does that come from? Why wasn’t I warned? Now what? All these questions may be going through your head at the time, but what you are about to find out is that there are hidden factors behind medications, diets, the foods we eat, and even hormones that may be contributing to the rise of the diabetic epidemic. Diabetes does not have to be a progressive disease and can be controlled or even reversed with just a few changes to your lifestyle habits. Even when you think you are exercising enough and eating the right foods, you may have been misinformed or maybe just “in the dark” about products marketed for weight control.
Are your medications to blame?
Did you know that statins are known to raise glucose levels? Statins are a medication used to lower cholesterol. In fact, on average, statins can increase fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose levels by 39 mg/dL.1 Statins raise your risk of diabetes by increasing your insulin levels and blood sugar by blocking the liver’s ability to convert the starches you eat into cholesterol.2 Instead, the starches are returned to your blood stream which raises your sugars in the blood.
Statins can more than double your risk of developing diabetes. Studies show, individuals who used statin drugs longer than two years are more than three times as likely to get the disease.3
Unfortunately, as of 2014 the American Diabetes Association calls for patients with diabetes to be put on a statin to lower the risk of heart disease. Your doctor may take into account other risk factors to determine which statin would be best for you based on blood pressure, cholesterol, age, etc. So, if you were not diabetic before going on a statin, how do you know if your diet is to blame or if the medication could have been the contributing factor to your elevated Glucose levels? There are many ways to reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and even lowering cholesterol naturally just by changing a few things in your diet and exercise. Read on to find out more…
What’s in your drinks?
A simple way to cut out unneeded calories and sugar from the diet is to evaluate your beverage sources. Many research studies have shown that sugary drinks from soda, fruit juice, sweetened tea, and specialty coffee drinks can increase your risk of developing not just diabetes, but cause weight gain, inflammation, tooth decay and even cancer. Research shows that adults who routinely consume at least one can of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages a day are 46 percent more likely to develop elevated blood-sugar levels than people who rarely or never drink cola.4 It’s not just soda that can be a culprit to your daily sugar increase. Fruit juice can be just as bad. For example, the average 12-ounce soda contains roughly 35 to 45 grams of sugar. The same amount of orange juice comes in at about 30 grams! A study done by researchers from Sorbonne Paris Cite University, showed that the consumption of sugary soft drinks — including 100% fruit juice — was “significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer.”5
Are you consuming additives in your food and drink?
Studies have shown hyperglycemic effects of the common food additives, MSG and aspartame. Not only can they increase the risk of diabetes, but food additives and artificial sweeteners have been linked to obesity, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease and even cancer. Animal studies have also shown that dietary MSG induces markers of insulin resistance, a direct cause of type 2 diabetes.6 Aspartame, on the other hand, has been shown to stimulate the rapid release of insulin and leptin, which are hormones that tell the brain when you are satisfied, regulate your metabolism and fat storage. Leptin is largely responsible for the accuracy of insulin signaling and whether you become insulin resistant.
When reading labels try to avoid processed foods and condiments with:
- Glutamic acid
- Monosodium glutamate
- Calcium caseinate
- Textured protein
- Sodium caseinate
- Bouillon and broth
- Natural flavorings
- Soy protein isolate
- Hydrolyzed protein
These additives are just to name a few. You may be more sensitive to additives than you think. If you are getting headaches, muscle aches, swelling, and/or any allergy type of symptoms after eating certain foods you may want to read the “other ingredient” section of the nutrition label to see if there are any additives in the product.
Understanding Glycemic Load
Different carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar in different ways. The way food makes your blood sugar rise is dependent on what is called its glycemic index. The Glycemic Index is based on a scale from 0-100, the lower the number the slower the food makes your blood sugar rise. However, the glycemic index does not take into account the carbohydrates contained in the food. Therefore, the glycemic load is a calculation using the glycemic index of the food and the amount of carbohydrates. Using the glycemic load can give you a better idea of the quality of the food. Again, the lower the number the better it is.
A low glycemic load diet is not as restrictive as you may think. Researching lists of low glycemic load foods is available on the web however, here are some vegetables and fruits to consider with the lowest carbohydrate content:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Peppers (any)
Are you testing enough?
The best way to know where you are at is to monitor your blood tests. You can test the Glucose every day but this value will fluctuate. You should also be testing your Hemoglobin A1C as well. If you note any trends of the numbers keep going up then you’ll need to take a closer look at your lifestyle choices. Significant improvements can be seen in just a few weeks! It is also advisable to do a urinalysis every 6 months if you are over 30. A comprehensive blood test with a hair tissue mineral analysis should be done initially and repeated once a year to monitor other metabolic factors in the blood to include kidney function, liver function, digestion and other areas that may need improved and or optimized for your health overall.
Deficiencies can be corrected easily with proper supplementation. Diabetics should be on common vitamins such as Vitamin C, Fish Oil, Magnesium, and Vitamin E. Other nutrients to consider would be Niacin, Vanadium, Chromium Picolinate or whatever else is indicated by your comprehensive testing. Dosages of vitamins and minerals depend largely on the individual and can change over time depending on improvements noted when retesting of blood work is performed. Stop guessing at what is causing your numbers to go up. Get on a precise plan tailored to exactly what you need.
We are able to help you with any nutritional concerns you may have. We perform comprehensive blood testing and provide a report on how you can start to implement changes to feel better. Ask us for more details on how we can help you be your best.
–Melanie Dockter DC CACCP
- Sukhija, Rishi, et al. “Effect of Statins on Fasting Plasma Glucose in Diabetic and Nondiabetic Patients.” Journal of Investigative Medicine : the Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19188844.
- “Are Statin Drugs Linked to Diabetes and Muscle Damage?” com, articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/28/are-statin-drugs-harmful-to-health.aspx.
- Sandoiu, Ana. “Statins May Double the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 26 June 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325567.php.
- “Sugary Drinks May Raise Diabetes Risk.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 Nov. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/study-ties-sugary-drinks-to-an-increased-risk-of-pre-diabetes/2016/11/18/94e8ddb0-ac1e-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.882566254ea0.
- Taylor, Chloe. “Drinking Fruit Juice May Raise Cancer Risk, Study Claims.” CNBC, CNBC, 11 July 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/07/11/drinking-fruit-juice-may-raise-cancer-risk-study-claims.html.
- Collison, Kate S, et al. “Effect of Dietary Monosodium Glutamate on HFCS-Induced Hepatic Steatosis: Expression Profiles in the Liver and Visceral Fat.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20111022.