Controlling Diabetes is Easier Than You Think
The number of children and adults diagnosed with diabetes in the United States has become staggering: Approximately 40 million, or almost 15% of the American population, have diabetes, and it is pretty evenly distributed between women and men.
While an estimated 32 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, an additional 8 million people (or nearly 1 in every 4) are unaware that they have the disease.
One of the keys to maintaining optimal health and wellbeing is keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
Good control can prevent or slow the progress of many complications of diabetes, giving a person extra years of healthy, active life.
Good control means getting as close to a normal (non-diabetic) blood glucose level as can be done safely. Ideally, this means levels between 65 and 120 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 two hours after starting a meal, with an A1C level between 6.5 and 7%.
The target number for A1C will vary depending on the type of test the doctor’s laboratory uses. In real life, people should set goals with their doctor. Keeping a normal level all the time is impractical, and it isn’t needed to get results. Every bit the blood glucose level is lowered helps to prevent complications.
To get good control, more attention must be paid to diet and exercise. Blood glucose levels must be measured more often. So a person being told by the doctor that he or she has diabetes does not have to be frightening.
Following the physiology of the body in conjunction with proper nutrition and exercise can help to control diabetes. Controlling diabetes will depend on many variables, but the most profound one will be blood glucose regulation (BGR) and its effect on insulin levels in the blood.
Blood glucose regulation
Blood glucose regulation (BGR) is one of the centerpieces of any diabetes program. If an athlete wishes to control pre-diabetes and diabetes, it is essential to know how to control the body’s BGR.
Blood glucose regulation and its effect on diabetes is based on the scientific findings that a rise in blood sugar creates excess insulin in the blood, puts the pancreas—which in the first place is not functioning to its optimum level—into overdrive, and therefore increases the possibility for pre-diabetes and/or diabetes.
Moreover, excess insulin also diminishes the body’s ability to effectively use fat for energy, thereby greatly reducing its ability to burn fat and lose weight. Being overweight was found to have a huge correlation with pre- diabetes and diabetes conditions:
- An increase in blood sugar increases pancreatic production of insulin blood levels, which sends an overworked pancreas into overtime, which slows down (fatigues) the functioning ability of the pancreas, which increases pre-diabetes and diabetes incidents.?
2. An increase in blood sugar increases insulin blood levels, thereby decreasing fat burning, which means either no weight loss or increased weight gain. So what causes blood sugar to rise, triggering an increase of blood insulin levels, an overworked pancreas, weight gain, and an increase in pre- diabetes and diabetes incidents?
The 5 mechanisms that raise blood-glucose levels
- Missed meals or prolonged periods between meals
- Increase in simple sugars
- Large food quantities per meal
- Double carbohydrate intake in one serving
- Lack of exercise ?
Missed meals or prolonged periods between meals
Not eating for three or more hours will cause blood sugar levels to drop below normal (
As a response, the body compensates for this hypoglycemic status by creating a sharp rise in blood sugar the next time food is provided. This in turn creates an increase in insulin production and secretion into the blood.
Solution: One must eat 6–8 times per day, every two to two-and-a-half hours, to regulate blood glucose and eliminate insulin production.
Increase in Simple Sugars
An increase in simple sugar intake (more than 10 grams per serving) will increase blood sugar level sharply, resulting in excess insulin production and secretion into the blood, and it will demolish the capacity of the body to burn fat, lose weight, and control diabetes.
Solution: Keep sugar intake per serving under 10 grams, don’t eat desserts more than 2–3 times per week, and make sure those desserts are consumed on non-consecutive days.
Large Food Quantities Per Meal
Food that is consumed is broken down by the liver into three major macronutrients: carbohydrates to glycogen, protein to amino acids, and fats to fats.
When excessive quantities of foods are eaten at one serving, the liver is unable to break down the food into glycogen, amino acids, and fats only. At the same time, the liver increases its production of triglycerides (fats in the blood) and glucose (sugars in the blood).
When this happens, blood sugar elevates, as does the body’s blood insulin level, thereby preventing the body from using fat for energy or weight loss, and puts the pancreas on overdrive, increasing the probability for pre- diabetes and diabetes.
Solution: Consume only one serving, one plate, and avoid a second serving at any given time.
Double Carbohydrate Sitting in One Serving
The liver breaks down carbohydrates into glycogen. However, when two or more starchy carbohydrates enter the liver at or near the same time, the liver breaks them down into glycogen, triglycerides, and glucose, thereby raising blood sugar and insulin levels. This prevents the body from utilizing fats and losing weight, and in that way increases pre-diabetes/diabetes incidents.
Solution: Don’t eat double carbs (for example, pasta and bread, or potato and bread) at the same meal.
Lack of Exercise
Activities, movement, and exercise require constant muscle contractions. To power these contractions, the body uses glucose as one of its energy sources.
While activity is good, a lack of activity decreases sugar use and causes a slow rise in blood sugar and a slow release of insulin, thus fatiguing the pancreas, increasing pre-diabetes and diabetes incidents, and greatly reducing the body’s capability to burn fat for weight loss.
Solution: A cardiovascular and strength program must be an integral part of a prevention and treatment plan if an athlete is pre-diabetic or diabetic.
If you want to learn more, check out The Trainer’s Guide to Diabetes by Dr. Mickey Harpaz
About Dr. Mickey Harpaz
Fitness has been a lifelong passion for Dr. Mickey Harpaz. As a young
boy growing up in Israel, he loved exercise and how it made him feel. An
accomplished professional athlete, Dr. Harpaz took his love of fitness and
turned it into a career that would help tens of thousands of patients all over
Dr. Harpaz earned his advanced degrees in Applied Physiology
and Nutrition at the prestigious Adelphi University (MS) and Columbia
For over 26 years in private practice, Dr. Harpaz has developed
specialized health programs designed for his patients that have helped them
look and feel their absolute best.
Dr. Mickey Harpaz
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