One in three Americans are obese, and as more of us are gaining weight, more of us have type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic. In the United States, type 2 diabetes has tripled since the 1980s. It is estimated by mid-century, if we don’t reverse the trend, one in three Americans will have diabetes. To visualize what this means in economic terms, one in three Medicare dollars is already being spent on diabetes. That means diabetes is one of the biggest drivers of our national debt. Many health experts have essentially given up on obesity and diabetes. Dr. Mark Hyman believes both conditions are preventable and also reversible.
I use the term “diabesity” to describe the continuum of health problems ranging from mild insulin resistance and overweight to obesity and diabetes. Diabesity is the underlying cause of most heart disease, cancer, and premature death in the world…
[Diabetes causes] numerous complications including kidney failure, amputation, stroke, and dementia. I’ve also heard experts claim obesity is difficult to treat and maintaining long-term weight loss is almost impossible.
I wholeheartedly disagree. Science shows diabetes and obesity are preventable and reversible with aggressive utilize nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
Hyman says the cause of our problems is easy to see. It is the 152 pounds of sugar, and 146 pounds of flour, eaten each year by the average American. He considers that “a toxic drug dose of diabetes-causing food.”
Doctors know very obese patients who get a gastric bypass often reverse their diabetes within a few weeks of surgery, even before they have lost much weight. That’s because they have changed their eating habits. With his own patients, Hyman implements seven strategies:
1. Get off sugar and refined carbohydrates. Soft drinks, baked goods, white rice and pasta, along with other refined carbs cause high insulin levels, which eventually leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
2. Eat whole, unprocessed foods. Stock up on fruits and vegetables, coconut butter and olive oil, legumes, seeds and nuts. You’ll reduce inflammation and oxidation, detoxify your liver, and prevent or reverse insulin resistance and diabetes.
3. Take your vitamins. Hyman recommends:
A high-quality multivitamin and mineral
One to two grams of omega 3 fatty acids
1,000 – 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3
300 – 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid twice daily
200 – 600 mcg of chromium polynicotinate
5 to 5 grams of PGX, a unique type of fiber that controls appetite and blood sugar, before each meal with eight ounces of water
4. Do the right exercise. You don’t have to spend all day at the gym. Go on a 30 minute walk, then build up to an hour. The key is to do vigorous exercise that gets your heart rate up to 70 to 80 percent of maximum capacity for 60 minutes. Six times a week is your goal. Do some high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
5. Get 8 hours sleep. Inadequate sleep hurts your metabolism, causes sugar spikes and carbohydrate cravings, and increase your appetite.
6. Get stress under control. Insulin, cortisol (the stress hormone) and inflammatory compounds called cytokines all increase when we’re under stress. These are major contributors to metabolic dysfunction, leading to weight gain, imbalances in blood sugar, and mental disorders. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, massage, and yoga. Laugh and dance and relax.
7. Keep track of your results. Keep a journal of your food and exercise, and track your weight, waist size, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure.
You can also ask your doctor for an A1C blood test, which shows your blood sugar levels over the past three months. In another three months, after you’ve taken the steps Dr. Hyman advises, get tested again. Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated.