For thousands of years, our ancestors ate foods that slowly released their calories in the process of digestion, to be eventually absorbed into the bloodstream and easily handled by a meager supply of insulin and provided them with a healthier life. However, the modern world has ignored this biological adaptation of our bodies and we consume huge amounts of refined carbohydrates to bring about a rush of easily absorbed sugars into the bloodstream.
Fiber in whole foods slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream so that blood glucose stays at a manageable level. With the 140 pounds per year of refined white sugar consumed annually by the average American, and the fact that the most commonly eaten food in America is white bread, we now literally inject sugars into our bloodstream. This is one of the main reasons for the epidemic proportions of diabetes in America.
Diabetes is Easily Reversed
Diabetes is one of the more prevalent, lethal, expensive, and easily reversed conditions in America. The vast majority of diabetes is caused by ignoring the basic laws of Nature. Humans need “time release” foods that slowly allow small amounts of carbohydrates to be absorbed into the bloodstream. We are built for activity and get sick when we overeat or develop obesity. 95% of all sugar in the blood is supposed to be burned by the muscles, yet sedentary Americans end up having that sugar linger in the blood until the insulin supply can force the sugar either into storage as glycogen or storage as fat.
We have a nutritional need for a wide assortment of nutrients involved in burning sugar in our cell furnaces, not unlike needing spark plugs in your car to burn the gasoline in your engine. These “spark plugs” that are deficient in our Standard American Diet (SAD) include magnesium, chromium, vanadium, and omega-3 fats from fish and flax oils.
Most of our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate a diet consisting of about 1/3 lean animal tissue with the remaining 2/3 of the diet unprocessed plant food; mostly vegetables, some grains, some fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes. If the creature runs, flies, or swims, then it may be about 4% body fat, with obvious exceptions including duck and salmon.
Cows, the staple meat of America, do not run, swim, or fly and are about 30-40% body fat after they have been fattened at the feedlot with hormones, corn meal and the inability to move. The basic diet of our ancestors that will help you control your diabetes is lean and clean protein foods along with complex carbohydrates in their natural state.
Keep in mind that you may have to “fine tune” this paleolithic diet to suit your ethnic background. The macrobiotic diet was developed by a Japanese physician who cured himself of cancer in the 19th century. The macrobiotic diet tends to encourage anything Oriental, even soy sauce and pickles, and discourage anything Western, including chicken, turkey, fish and fruit.
Macrobiotics may be ideally suited for many Orientals, and has helped some Caucasians because it is such a vast improvement over the nutritional quality of the typical American diet. I encourage people to determine the diet of their ancestors 1000 years ago and use that food pattern as a starting point.
What are the “Roots” of Diabetes?
Anthropologists (scientists who study the origins of humans) tell us that humans were originally “hunters and gatherers”. Then came the Ice Age, in which vast regions of the earth were covered with ice and the remaining parts of the earth were much colder than normal. This Ice Age, obviously, was not conducive to farming and the availability of lots of plant food. So most of our ancestors, until about 25,000 years ago when the ice began receding to its current position, were meat eaters.
Meanwhile, glucose, which only comes from plant food, is the most essential fuel in the human body. The brain, lens of the eye, lungs, and kidneys must have glucose to operate properly. The brain is so dependent on glucose that it does not even need insulin to get glucose into the cells, which is unusual, since nearly all other body cells require insulin and the Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF) to enable glucose to slip in through the cell membrane.
Eat Your Ancestral Diet
Back to our ancient ancestors. They consumed very little carbohydrates, and what little they consumed had to be quickly shuttled to the cells for fuel, lest the glucose linger in the bloodstream and cause some damage. People who did not eat much plant food, such as those groups from the colder climates in northern Europe, developed an ability to make glucose from the proteins in our diet (called gluconeogenesis).
Glucose is sort of a necessary evil for body cells. If just the right amount of glucose goes straight from the intestinal absorption to the body cells and is burned for fuel, then the person feels great and lives a long and healthy life. If too little glucose is available, then the person feels cranky, depressed, forgetful and listless in the condition called hypoglycemia (low sugar levels in the blood). If an excess of glucose starts accumulating outside of the cell, then “glucotoxicity” begins. Glucotoxicity is a slow but lethal process whereby too much glucose outside of the cells triggers a host of destructive pathways throughout the body.
Once farming began, around 8000 years ago in the Middle East, then our ancestors found the ability to settle down, start cities, and begin the processes of civilization. Then, around 1600 AD, came the refining of wheat in northern Europe. This new technique allowed the wheat miller to strip the outer bran and inner germ from the whole wheat kernel for a fine “Queen’s white” flour.
Around 1700 AD, trade ships would run the triangle of taking African slaves to the Carribean, where the ships would pick up cane sugar, molasses, and rum from the southern plantations and bring these products to Europe. Once refined cane sugar was brought to the masses, the health of millions began to deteriorate rapidly. Enter the dawning of the “diseases of civilization”, especially diabetes.
A Modern Lifestyle Disease
Based upon hundreds of scientific studies, Type 2 diabetes is well recognized as a disease that is a consequence of our modern lifestyle:
- too much refined carbohydrates with too little fiber to slow down the absorption of the sugar
- sedentary lifestyle
- too little minerals (like chromium, magnesium, and vanadium) in our diet due to the negligence of agribusiness
- too much fat and the wrong kind of fat in our diet which leads to changes in cell membranes that no longer recognize the role of insulin.
You will learn more about all of these lifestyle factors later. Basically, the bad news is that diabetes is at epidemic proportions and getting worse. The good news is that diabetes is lifestyle induced and lifestyle controlled. How much diabetes will influence your quality and quantity of life will largely depend on you. You are to be congratulated for purchasing this book. You will reap a thousand fold benefits when you begin to implement these recommendations in your daily living.
The Slippery Slope Toward Diabetes
As in most areas of life, there are many shades of gray in between optimal health and the end stage brittle diabetic at risk for losing a limb. Diabetes usually creeps up on people, not unlike heart disease and cancer, and can take years or decades to mushroom into a serious problem. That is why it is important to change the underlying causes of the disease while it is still in its early stages.
In the beginning, “Fred” or “Sarah” start out as reasonably healthy teenagers. They get married, start a career, and have children. Life gets complicated and hectic. There is less time for exercise, like the tennis and golf they used to play together; and more reasons to sit on the couch and snack while watching TV—“vegging out”, as we call our American past time.
Sarah and Fred start adding a few pounds to the waistline each year. Overweight gradually turns into obesity, which gradually fades into syndrome X (insulin resistance), which eventually turns into diabetes, which can erode into many health problems.
By age 60, both Fred and Sarah are battling a variety of health problems, including kidney failure, heart disease, Fred’s erectile dysfunction, Sarah’s poor wound healing, and failing vision. Energy and zest for living are a thing of the past.
It is these people and the 23 million more Americans like them that this book is written for. As long as you have a pulse, there is hope for reversing diabetes. The sooner you start and the earlier the stage of your disease, the more likely you are to get dramatic results with this program.
D.M. was a colleague of mine at work who had developed fatigue, frequency of urination, and thirst all of which just didn’t seem right. At age 44 and overweight, her doctor diagnosed diabetes. D.M. has just joined the 23 million Americans with diabetes, a disease that has been relatively rare until this century. She ignored her diabetes for a year before she came to me for help. She started a diet that is outlined in this book, with particular emphasis on the superfoods. She began taking nutrition supplements, including chromium and the herb Gymnema. Within 2 months on this program, she called me one Saturday morning to tell me how much more alive she felt and how her cuts and scratches were healing much quicker.