Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Exercise Frustration! I Think I've Finally Figured This Out!

I've known all along that diet and exercise are a big key to diabetes control but I've often been frustrated to find that exercise was just not helping me very much.  At times I even felt that it was detrimental.  It so often seemed as though my blood sugar was higher after exercising than it was if I sat on my rear end!

After about a year of watching my fluctuating numbers with various forms of exercise, I think I've finally figured out the best formula for me.   I really discovered all of this by accident.  I certainly did not set out to have a "controlled" study to determine how my exercise affected my blood sugar.  I simply found that so many times I was disappointed with my blood sugar after I thought that I had "done good".

I remember hiking for 8 miles in Hot Springs.  I went up 45 degree angle trails for 3 hours!
 I sweated, I pushed beyond my limit,  my heart rate was up and I felt that I had succeeded!   My blood sugar numbers were very disappointing.  I wondered what I even was working for.  I worked up to 100+ kettle bell swings in 15 minutes.  I did 20-30 minute high intensity treadmill workouts.   I did 45 minute fast walks.  Then, I would test my blood sugar, hoping for some great numbers, but I was disappointed.  I would see an increase in blood sugar, not a decrease!

Don't get me wrong here.  I really do believe that intense exercise can be helpful in the long run to get healthier, to strengthen your heart, your muscles and to lose weight etc.   I just found that for me, at least temporarily it made my glucose go higher than if I had not exercised at all.

I have even found that strenuous work in the garden or doing very strenuous lawn care has raised my glucose levels.  I mean that really sucks!  You are trying to do some healthy outdoor exercise and it backfires!

Well, this is getting to be a long story but we are getting to the end and to my point.  EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!  So don't think that you are like me!

This is what has been working for me.  HIT (high intensity training) for no more than 5 minutes five times a week.   That's right, only  5 minutes!     It seems that my body doesn't respond to the stress of exercise unless I go for more than 15-20 minutes.  Strange, I know, but that seems to be the case with me.   I have found that if I do an evening walk it needs to be less than 20 minutes and non strenuous.   If I choose the treadmill, I only go for five minutes or less.  I spend 1 minute on warm up and then I go as fast as I can until I feel out of breath.  I do that twice and then I cool down for a minute and I'm done.  My blood sugar is always lower a half hour after that and it is lower the next day.

So, I am not advocating that everyone do what I do.  I am simply pointing out that we need to evaluate our exercise based on how it affects us.  We are all unique.  Foods affect us differently and so does exercise.   Some of us can exercise to the max for an hour or more and see low blood sugars but don't assume that you will respond the same way.  Five minutes of really hard work may be enough!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Treatment of Diabetes in 1915

If we could go back and take a look at the treatment for diabetes prior to insulin and oral diabetes medications, I think we might get quite an education.  After all, before there was any kind of medicine it had to be the goal to keep diabetics as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  Especially for those who were type 1 the goal would have been to keep them alive as long as they could because, let’s face it, before insulin, all type 1’s died.  The aim was to give them as long a life as possible.

 I was surprised to have found just such a book available as a free e-book on my Kindle reader.  I downloaded it the other day.  The book is called "The Starvation Treatment of Diabetes".  It was originally written in 1915 and was revised in 1916 and 1917.  What an interesting book!  It was actually written by a Dr. Allen for use by other doctors.  The treatment used at that time was a starvation diet.   It was the same for type 1 or type 2 diabetics.

 In those days there were no blood glucose meters.  They were only able to test for sugar in the urine.  For the first few days the diet consisted of only coffee and a few shots of whiskey to increase calories.  This treatment was the same for adults and children.  Once the urine showed no sugar in a day or two,  they very slowly added in some vegetables which had to be triple boiled to reduce the carbs to about half.   15-20 grams of carbs were allowed on day one after the starvation period.  They added a little bit of meat, no more than 2 oz’s to start with and allowed some cream, butter, lard and an egg or egg yolk.  Each day they increased the carbs by about 10 grams and the protein by about 20 grams.  The fat was also increased slowly.  They would check the urine for sugar each day and adjust the carbs and protein up or down based on whether or not any sign of sugar was in the urine and also watched for acidosis in the urine as well.  
If the urine showed even a tiny amount of sugar, the doctor was to immediately lower the carbs by 10 grams or more.  They usually left the protein grams the same or lowered them by a very little bit.   The fats stayed the same.    After about a week they found the correct number of carbs and protein that each individual could have and not show any sugar in their urine.   Some could only eat 15 grams of carbs a day and others could eat as much as 60 grams but no one was ever allowed more than 60 grams of carbs in a day.    Final diets ended up being , on average, in ranges between 20-50 grams of carbs per day with about 50 or 60 grams protein and 150 grams of fat.  This all depended on the size of the person, the type of diabetes they had and how long they had it.  In some cases bread, up to ½ to one piece a day was allowed depending on the person’s ability to tolerate it.
So what happened?   Why do modern doctors, diabetes educators and dieticians tell diabetics to do the exact opposite of what saved diabetics lives 90 years ago?   Why are they pushing high carb diets to diabetics?

I agree that the invention of insulin was a godsend!  Insulin has saved the lives of many type 1 diabetics.  For those who are type 2 however; the low carb, high fat diet clearly works.  It remained the treatment until the 1950’s when oral meds became available.   Why has the medical community abandoned the diet that worked and insists on promoting a diet that makes diabetics sicker?   This makes me angry. 

The food and drug companies are driving our treatment and our diet plans, and the doctors and dieticians just follow along mindlessly.   I have a choice though.  I am educating myself and I will educate the educators and the professionals when I have the opportunity to do so.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this old and wise book.   If you would like this book you can download it to an e-reader like Kindle.   It is free.   You can install a Kindle Reader right on your home computer or laptop and read it right there.    You can download the book to your Kindle Reader HERE.    To get a free Kindle reading app for computer, phone or other device, get it HERE.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finally, An Update!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I blogged here for several reasons.  One, it’s been a busy few months for me personally and secondly, I’ve not been in the mood and I didn’t have much to report on.   Now I do.

It’s been a 2+ year experiment working on reversing my diabetes.  I’ve gone through a lot of experiments.    In the beginning of my journey, I was mainly following a carbohydrate pared down ADA type of diet.  What I mean by that is I was eating low fat and fairly low carb too.  I never did adhere to the high carb, high grain, high fruit diet that most diabetic educators recommend.  I instinctively knew better than that from the get go. 

I will admit that I lost some weight while on that diet.  I used low fat everything from cheeses to milk to low fat turkey and chicken, low fat yogurt, sour cream and mayo, etc.    I ate more salads with low fat dressing, switched to brown rice and pasta.  I ate more bean and legumes and oatmeal which seemed to be suggested by many of the diabetic web sites.  I added some supplements as you can see on my supplements page and my blood sugars did go down quite a bit.  It wasn’t good enough though.  I still had blood sugar rises after meals as high as 180 and fasting numbers in the 150’s.  Well, that was way better than the 200’s but it wasn’t going to save me from neuropathy,  kidney damage or all the other terrible stuff that diabetics are in for.   It was at this point that I decided to go on metformin for a month.

After a month on medication and blood sugar levels virtually the same or maybe 10 points down on average, I knew that I needed to change things up.  It was also around this same time that I started my “Reversing Diabetes” face-book page and my experimentation with myself began in earnest.   It was also at this time that I took my last diabetes medication.

I started studying and reading.  Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution fell into my hands and finally a light went on in my head!   I was doing this wrong!  Well, mostly wrong anyway.   I started to experiment on my favorite foods and my favorite dishes.  I was shocked that some of my favorite dishes were ruining all of my good intentions!  That Dreamfields pasta, so highly recommended for diabetics, raised my sugars higher than regular pasta and kept it up for days!   My bean soup had to go, oatmeal had to go.  My meals needed to be altered.  So I tested and I altered many of my staple meals.  Other meals or foods that could not be altered just had to go!    I tested my blood sugar after one of my low fat protein smoothies and I was shocked!  I looked at the label on my low fat yogurt.  Yikes, 21 grams of sugar?  What was I doing to myself?

I read Atkins, and Rosedale, Mark Sisson, Gary Taubes and Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly. Slowly, I removed processed, boxed foods from my diet.  I got rid of seed oils and margarines after learning how toxic they are to the body.   I gave up grains.   Yes, all grains!   Most sauces like ketchup and spaghetti sauces had to go but I found low carb and no carb substitutes that I can use.   I went full fat.   I now eat eggs, cream, butter, bacon, full fat sour cream, grass fed beef, pork and yes, I eat the skin on chicken.  I still can’t believe that at one point I was eating Egg Beaters which is made out of vegetable oil. Yuk!

So where am I at today and what are my stats?  Today, I eat a modified VLC (very low carb, less than 30 grams carbs per day) Paleo diet of meat, green leafy vegetables, eggs, nitrate free bacon, cream, nuts and cheeses.  I make meat broth soups with lots of healthy vegetables and I leave the fat on the broth.  I use carefully chosen seasonings and make my own dressings for my salads.   I exercise following HIIT.  Intense short bursts of aerobic exercises along with pushing, pulling and squatting type exercises.  I will discuss that in another post.

My stats since going  VLC Paleo are that I see a steady blood sugar that never changes more than 10 points at any time of the day.   My average blood sugar throughout each day is from 89-110, usually not going over 110.  My A1C will not be tested again until June but if my averages hold true my A1C should be at about  5.5 or so.  My blood lipids are now normal, and my triglycerides are down more than 100 points from what they were in my low fat eating days.   I am on no medications at all.  I also been able to reduce my thyroid medications to half!  

I am not finished yet.  It is my goal to have an average blood sugar under 95 and an A1C of 5.0 or less .  I will not be content until that day arrives.  I know I have more weight to lose.  That has been a struggle for me but my health is so much improved and I know that I am adding years to my life because of my “contest” with myself to achieve normal blood sugars.

I hope that I can inspire others in their journey through the diabetes maze.  I am not at all deprived!  I do not feel that I am missing out.  In fact, I believe that others are missing out because they do not know the truth about how much the SAD (standard American diet) can hurt them, their children and their grandchildren.  I wish I could change the whole world's thinking on diet.  I can't.   The world is slowly waking up to the truth and will continue to as word gets out about what is really causing these modern epidemics.  I hope it is soon!