There is no fat in my diet, or rather I only eat minimal amounts, for one very good reason … avoiding fat as far as possible is crucial to beating my diabetes. Here’s why.
I had never given much thought as to how my body functions … at least not until my type 2 diabetes began to worsen steadily despite all the medications I was using. That prompted me to research how my body works and how diabetes was destroying it.
The results were a fascinating revelation. They suggested how, using diet alone, I might control my diabetes and give up my medications.
Our bodies are extremely complicated, yet highly efficient, machines. They convert the food we eat into the energy we use for all our everyday activities. They also extract substances from food that repair and maintain our bodies … bone, muscle and so on.
Most foods are a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A piece of meat contains mostly protein and fats. Vegetables such as potatoes contain lots of carbohydrates.
When you digest a bit of food it is broken down into its three main components. These components are then broken down further in your digestive system and are released into to your blood-stream which delivers them around your body.
Glucose is just a simple sugar … your body’s primary source of energy. Most of our body’s glucose comes from digesting the sugar and starch in carbohydrates which you get from food such as rice, pasta, grains, breads, potatoes, fruits and some vegetables.
The glucose produced by digestion in your stomach is absorbed into your bloodstream which delivers it to your body’s cells.
Glucose is the fuel for your cells. Whenever you talk, walk, run, read a book, think, and so on … everything you do … you are being powered by glucose. But, in order to power your cells, glucose has to get into them. It can only do this with the help of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone (a type of chemical). It is produced by your pancreas, an organ in your abdomen. The pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream where it travels around your body and meets up with glucose on the same trip. The purpose of insulin is to enable glucose to enter your cells.
To do this, insulin attaches itself to a receptor in the surface of the cell and causes the cell membrane to allow glucose to enter the cell. The cell can then use the glucose as its fuel.
I call this the glucose-insulin system. It has to work properly if you are to be healthy.
If the insulin does not do its job of ‘opening the cell door’ for glucose, the glucose will not be able to get into the cell … and the cell will run out of fuel.
If that happens to enough cells in your body, you will feel tired and listless … because the cells affected will, in essence, be starving and will not have the energy that keeps your muscles active.
Diabetes is a condition in which the glucose-insulin system does not function correctly. The disease shows up as two types.
In type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not produce any insulin or, at best, very little. The only way these diabetics can survive is by taking regular shots of insulin … often several times a day.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin. The problem arises at the cell door, so as to speak. When the insulin arrives at a cell it has trouble attaching itself to a receptor. So it cannot induce the cell membrane to open and allow glucose to enter the cell.
Insulin resistance is the condition in which insulin is unable to attach itself to cell receptors.
Imagine a key trying to slide into a lock in a door. If the lock is jammed … say, with a bit of chewing gum … the key cannot get in. There is nothing wrong with the key and nothing wrong with the lock. But before the key can get in, the lock has to be cleaned out.
One of the main reasons for insulin resistance is having cell ‘doors’ that are jammed with fat. I had a grand epiphany when I realised this.
Once I knew why I had insulin resistance, ie because my cell ‘doors’ were blocked with fat, I set out to find a way to right the matter … I decided to eliminate fat from my diet as far as was possible. It seemed totally logical.
I devised a diet for myself that was almost vegan in nature (but not quite … I still eat a little ultra-lean meat). I started adhering to this diet about four years ago. And it has worked. I now have my diabetes under control.
I tell you about my diet in my next article.
Warning … the above description of how the glucose-insulin system works is over-simplified and the physiology is in fact much more complicated. But the description is enough to understand what’s going on and how my diet is helping me to beat type 2 diabetes.