Prevention for the Big Three
Written by: Dr. L. Lee Coyne.
News media and health education organizations have clearly spread the word that the prevalence of Diabetes – type II has reached epidemic proportions. Canadian Diabetes Association data shows 60,000 new cases of Diabetes reported each year in Canada (one every 8 minutes). The same organizations have also made us very aware of the elevated risk of developing heart disease when blood cholesterol levels or blood pressure levels exceed certain norms.
However, many do not realize there is a significant inter-relationship between these three health conditions along with over-weight and obesity. Diabetics are at serious risk of developing heart disease in the form of arteriosclerosis, leading to heart attacks or elevated blood pressure leading to cardiac failure or congestive heart disease.
Elevated cholesterol levels have a well-established relationship with heart disease and elevated blood pressure (hypertension) places people at risk for kidney failure, stroke, heart failure and heart attacks. In fact we find an alarming number of diabetic patients not only take two to three medications aimed at reducing insulin resistance (one of the major causes of type II diabetes) and increasing sugar clearance from the blood but also are on blood pressure reduction and cholesterol reduction medications. This leads to a daily dose of four to seven different prescriptions. Excess body fat tends to blanket (pardon the pun) this apparent syndrome of ill health.
When you read the scientific literature you realize that we should not be surprised at these interrelationships because several of the root causes are the same. All four conditions can be prevented with the lifestyle choices of healthy eating habits, healthy exercise habits and responsible nutritional supplementation practices.
Type II diabetes
Type II diabetes has its roots in insulin resistance brought on by the over-consumption of carbohydrates particularly simple carbohydrates and sugars. Chronic consumption of simple carbohydrates creates chronically elevated blood insulin levels that leads to fat storage, inhibits fat burning, encourages the liver to produce more “bad” cholesterol, encourages the kidneys to retain more sodium that leads to elevated fluid retention and elevated blood pressure. This is a condition totally controllable and preventable with adjustments in eating habits, food selection (including appropriate food supplements) and moderate but regular exercise.
Cholesterol in our food has nothing to do with cholesterol in our blood and in the words of Dr. Ancel Keys from the University of Minnesota “we have known that all along”. The liver in the presence of elevated insulin (brought on by elevated carbohydrate consumption) produces far more cholesterol than you can eat and absorb. You also need to realize that all cholesterol lowering medications carry a “liver function must be monitored” warning.
Hypertension (elevated blood pressure) is identified as anything higher than 140/ 90 is also at epidemic levels. Approximately seven million Canadians struggle with this condition.
Those with elevated blood pressure are seven times more likely to have a stroke, three time more likely to have a heart attack, six times more likely to have heart failure and carry a very high risk for kidney failure.
Once again dietary choice play a significant role in prevention and control of hypertension. Insulin control through carbohydrate intake control will lead to less sodium retention and lower blood pressure. Also the essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) play a big role in controlling inflammatory conditions of which hypertension is a form.
Obesity is the excess storage of fat and the fat storage hormone is insulin, produced by the pancreas in the presence of elevated blood sugar. The fastest and highest blood sugar levels occur when we eat refined carbohydrates and simple sugars without eating enough protein and good fat.
Elevated insulin also prevents the use of fat for energy so it stays in storage leading to more food consumption in an attempt to obtain energy. To control fat storage we must control insulin production by reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing the consumption of proteins and good fats.
The “Well Balanced Diet”
The “Well Balanced Diet” will control insulin levels and that will aid in controlling and /or preventing Diabetes – type II, elevated cholesterol, hypertension and obesity. The way of eating involves choosing a reduced carbohydrate intake in combination with adequate protein and good fats. All of this along with a responsible exercise program and responsible food supplement choices will lead to a much healthier lifestyle.