Friday, September 9, 2011

Sugar, Diabetes and You

Think back to the last 20 years of nutrition recommendations. 

Remember low-fat?  Low carb?  Fruit cleanses?  Blueprint cleanse?  Jenny Craig?  Weight Watchers?  South Beach?  Atkins?  Mediterranean?  Zone Diet? 

I could go on for quite awhile. 

And it appears the books keep coming. 

In one of my latest reads, however, I stumbled upon some disturbing facts, myths, and data that I could not help but pass along.  Jeff O'Connell, a diabetic himself, has unleashed some powerful, unavoidable summary of studies, quotes from doctors, and statements from once-reputable organizations in an informational book called Sugar Nation.  Within this book, I found myself obligated to share a few things:, including the book and and where it can be found on

And, 25 Facts that give us a better picture of diabetes, blood sugar, and the myths surrounding both

25 Facts about Sugar and Diabetes

1)      A combination of lifestyle changes (dietary adjustments, exercise and the resulting weight loss) reduced diabetes incidence by 58% in the Diabetes Prevention Program.  Metformin, a ‘superstar’ diabetes drug, reduced the incidence by only 31% in the study, completed in 2003. 
2)      The American Diabetic Association (ADA) tells diabetics to never consume less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, and according to their position statement, anything lower will literally starve the brain and central nervous system. 
a.       I routinely (at least 2x per week) consumer less than 100g of carbohydrates per day.  So far my brain and central nervous system aren’t starving. 
3)      The ADA’s menu at their annual conference included low-fat or fat-free versions (meaning increased sugar or sugar substitutes) of dressings, cream cheese, yogurt and mayo. 
4)      Fat has virtually zero impact on blood sugar.  None. 
5)      People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels because their body cannot move sugar into the appropriate cells.  This is caused by the pancreas not releasing enough insulin OR the specific cells not responding to insulin (or both).  [Nothing about fat dysfunction in the description of diabetes.  Re-read #3 and 4, and scratch your head like I did.] 
6)      A 32 ounce Gatorade has 55 grams of simple sugars in it.  G2, the low-carb alternative, has 20 grams of simple sugars.  

7)      Insulin and other growth factors produced in response to carbs affect hormones in the skin, thickening pores.  Once the pores seal off, they fill with oil and become infected, also known as acne. 
8)      Researchers have found that male pattern baldness in those before the age of 30 are more likely to be in the early stages of diabetes than men with thick hair. 
9)      Type II diabetes affects 285 million people worldwide, and this doesn’t include those who have it but aren’t diagnosed.  One person develops diabetes every 5 seconds, increasing the number of people worldwide with diabetes by 17,000 per day, or 7 million a year. 
10)   The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number of people with diabetes worldwide to double by 2030.  That number: 570 million. 
11)  Diabetics who are obese, but who are at least moderately fit, have a much lower death rate than diabetics who are normal but unfit.  (Lesson: fitness for the win!)
12)   The breakfast of champions?  At a breakfast hosted by Diabetes Australia (Australia’s version of the ADA), meal choices included orange juice (22 grams of sugar per 8 ounces), a variety of cereals, various breads, baguettes, and pine nut pancakes with wild honey.  Also served were egg-whites and grilled tomatoes.  Total carb count from one serving of each course (orange juice, small bowl of cereal, 1 pine nut pancake and piece of toast: between 200 and 250 grams of carbs.  

13)  In 2006, researchers at the University of North Carolina published a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, highlighting their survey of all 126 United States Medical schools.  They found that only 30% of them required students to take a dedicated nutrition course, and 80% of the instructors surveyed said students were being underserved with nutritional science.  (Who you go to for nutritional information: your doctor.  Who you should go to: your Nutritionist/dietician or Trainer).
14)  The average American takes in 2,157 calories per day, according to US government survey data, and 50% of those calories come from carbohydrates, accounting to 262 grams of carbs per day.  If the average American follows the 3 meal per day plan, each meal is LOADED with 87 grams of carbs PER MEAL. 
15)   A metabolic stress test, used to gauge how the body responds to sugar intake, uses 75 grams of sugar as its ‘excess’ dose.  This is one of the tests used to diagnose diabetes.  (Perhaps they should re-evaluate excess?)
16)   The other ADA, the American Dietetic Association, has corporate sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Mars. 
17)  The US government calls for Americans to represent their daily calorie intake with 45-65% carbohydrates. 
18)   Sad but true: Type-II Diabetes used to be called adult - onset diabetes.  But because it strikes children so often, it’s no longer called ‘adult-onset’. 
19)  In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a large study called the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial.  Type I diabetics who had undergone intensive glucose-control therapy were found to have less vascular damage to the small blood vessels than the diabetics receiving conventional treatment.  This ‘new’ treatment protocol began in the 1920’s. 
20)  Insulin helps the body metabolize sugar in the blood (aka glucose).  What isn’t needed from diet for immediate energy can normally be stored in muscle tissue and the liver (called glycogen).  Limited storage space forces the liver to turn excess into triglycerides after becoming body fat. 
21)   People with insulin resistance dispose of carbohydrates by converting them to fat.  Insulin resistance occurs when insulin tries to find places to store glucose as fuel, but is rejected in its attempt, leaving glucose stranded.  As a result, more insulin is needed to help produce a certain amount of energy from glucose.
22)  Of the 224 million adults in the US, more than 80 million have insulin resistance severe enough to make them prediabetic.  But some in the group of 80 million, who are prediabetic despite their thin, healthy appearance, will die from heart complications prematurely.  A heart attack is a diabetic-type complication. 
23)  In 2007, the US spent $12.5 billion on diabetic prescriptions, surpassed only by sales of cholesterol drugs.  This amount is still double the amount spent in 2001. 
24)  In the most current position statement regarding carbohydrates and diabetes on their website, the American Diabetics Association states: ‘There is little evidence that total carbohydrate intake is associated with the development of Type II diabetes.  Further, a stronger association has been observed between total fat and saturated fat intake and Type II diabetes.’ 
25)  Elevated blood sugar levels correlate with greatly increased risk of heart disease (#1 killer of Americans).  Diabetics are 2x as likely as non-diabetics to suffer a heart attack.