November 26, 2013
So there I lay surrounded by pretty blue disposable curtains. On either side of me are two ladies...both in their late 80's. I can't see them, but I can hear everything through the curtains. They keep reminding the one how she got there....every 5 minutes. The other is surrounded by family trying to convince her to get home care. We were all in the cardiac unit emergency room. And here I am, smack in the middle. I feel like I don't belong. I'm only forty-one years old.
What got me here was heart palpitations. At first they happened occasionally, then once a week, then almost every day, sometimes three times a day, lasting from 1 to 30 minutes at a time. A beat, a beat, a skip, and a big beat....over and over again. I was scared. At times I felt like my pulse would come out of my neck. My blood pressure was high. I'd been feeling increasingly tired and sick for the past 6 month. I felt like I had a cold or a flu....but without the runny nose. My asthma was flaring up nightly. My heartburn was making a comeback too.
By the time the doc saw me, the palpitations were gone. My EKG was clear and all was back to normal. Bloodwork and a 24 hour holter were ordered and home I went.
A week later I was told my bloodwork revealed nothing about palpatations... and by the way, "did you know you're pre-diabetic?"
This was a bit of a bombshell for me. Even my friends and family were shocked. Granted, I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I was known as a healthy eater who didn't eat sugar or processed foods. But, I also love carbs....simple and complex....potatoes, pasta, rice, partially whole wheat baked goods, fruit and non-gmo chips. Too many carbs were the big problem. Carbs all turn into sugar in the body. Too many carbs and too much body fat around my organs.
I had an A1C of 6.1%. Diabetic is 6.5%. This was my wake up call. I took the warning seriously and decided to take the next exit off this diabetic highway. Sadly, most people don't.
- 1 in 3 North Americans have pre-diabetes.
- Only 10% will find this out.
- Only 1 out of 4 who know they are pre-diabetic...will do something about it
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates.
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes — about 68 percent die of heart disease or stroke. (Eek...That gives me palpitations just thinking about it!)
- The overall risk for death among people with diabetes is about double that of people without diabetes.
It turns out I had been pre-diabetic for at least three years. Sad to say, my doc never seemed concerned. No doubt, my giving up sugar had helped, but even now there was no sense of urgency in her voice. I had to take it upon myself to scour websites, books and read everything I could about pre-diabetes. What I found was shocking. All of the symptoms I had been dealing with for the past year and half were probably related to diabetes. The palpitations, the inflammation, the chronic flu-like feeling, the blurry night vision, the numbness in the side of my right foot that I've had since October 2012! Imagine what my symptoms would have been like in a few years?
How to reverse pre-diabetes?
One book I connected to right away was The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Hyman (Amazon or Amazon Canada). I like his holistic whole body approach to reversing diabetes consisting of a "slow carb" diet made up of 50%-75% non-starchy vegetables. This is in contrast to many diabetic diets which still have whole grains on the bottom of the food pyramid, then veggies and fruit and so on.
The eating plan is refreshingly simple and balanced. It is based on common sense and when I put in the effort, I feel like I'm eating gourmet every day. There is no counting of calories or carbs. Instead foods are broken down into 3 easy groups...unlimited, moderate and optional depending on your goals and how fast you want to get there.
- Green carbs which consist of a huge list of colourful non-starchy veggies and greens. This group is unlimited and should make up a minimum of 50 percent of the diet.
- Yellow carbs should make up 25 percent of your daily plate: healthy proteins consisting of small portions of meat, chicken and fish, legumes, nuts, seeds.
- Red carbs are optional and consist of complex whole carbs like quinoa, brown rice, fruits and starchy veggies like potatoes, carrots, corn and peas, 70% or darker chocolate.
Another key aspect to the Blood Sugar Solution is repairing the gut and identifying foods that promote inflammation. The program highly recommends not eating any dairy or gluten for the first six weeks after which, if no intolerance is noted, can be eaten once or twice a week as a treat.
And that is where I am....starting my fourth week following The blood sugar solution way of eating. Surprisingly I don't really miss the dairy or wheat at all. It also turns out most of my palpitations were being caused by my blood sugars swinging low and high. Except for an odd flutter hear and there...no more palpitations. My heartburn and asthma immediately stopped. The inflammation I can feel (measured by my Advil consumption) has been drastically reduced and I just feel better overall. Getting my pre-diabetes diagnosis was the best thing to happen to me.
What does this mean for Less Sugar Naturally in the upcoming year?
- I will share with you my tips for setting up a successful environment for reversing diabetes.
- There will be a new focus on diabetic friendly recipes as well as Vitamix recipes. Yes! I finally got the Vitamix I'd been wanting for the past 2 years (a sort of So Long Diabetes present to myself). I am in love with it and it has made things so much easier for me.
- I will also share with you my progress. In 8 weeks I will retake my blood tests. I truly hope to see good results....as that ac1 number is the one I'm focused on getting down. My goal is to get my A1C below 5.6% .... however long it takes me.
So....for all of you who are starting new diets this year, I encourage you to get your blood tests. You might be surprised at what you find out. Perhaps, like me, you'll have new numbers to focus on instead of the ones on the scale.
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