Diabetes

Do Low Carbohydrate Diets Work and Other Reader Questions

Aspartame

What does aspartame do to your body? Are there any aspartame side effects for type 2 diabetics? 

The aspartame danger is generally overstated, but that’s not to say it’s good for you. Aspartame, which is marketed as NutraSweet, and other excitotoxins such as MSG alter the chemistry of the connections between nerves that they are stimulated by low levels of sensation that ordinarily would be ignored. Ironically, this aggravates your appetite. Imbalances in the hormone ghrelin, which are very common in type 2’s, also change the chemistry of nerve connections so that you are very sensitive to pain until you eat something. And if you have type 2 diabetes, this can make keeping your blood sugar levels in control almost impossible.

Saccharin and Stevia are not excitotoxins, and they do not increase your appetite. Of the two, Stevia, sold in North America and Australia under the trade name Truvia, has the added benefit of not raising insulin levels. As you may know, raising insulin levels primes your fat cells for storage, so any extra calories you consume (whether they are carbs, protein, or fat) when you use saccharin tend to accumulate around your waist.

Blood pressure concerns

My doctor wrote “diabetes diet plan, low-potassium, low-protein” on my treatment plan. What does this mean? 

Medifast

You should ask your doctor whether you are taking a blood pressure medicine that requires a low-potassium diet, or you have diabetes-related kidney disease.

Are there fruits and vegetables that lower blood pressure?

Usually you can lower your blood pressure by about 10 points (systolic and diastolic) if you haven’t been eating fruits and vegetables and you gradually work up to eating about nine servings a day. The potassium in plant foods is what makes the difference. Bananas, citrus, cantaloupes, tomatoes, broccoli, and soy are excellent sources of this important mineral.

Not everyone who has high blood pressure, however, should eat high-potassium foods. That’s because the ACE receptor blockers and ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure cause the kidneys to excrete sodium but retain potassium, and eating high-potassium foods while taking blood pressure medications in these two classes can cause problems. Ask your pharmacist to know for sure that eating high-potassium foods is safe for you.

Blood sugar levels

Is there any connection between using elderberry supplements and blood sugar levels?  

The important thing to remember when you are using elderberry supplements is that you are probably using them to prevent or treat colds or flu, and infections raise blood sugar levels. The elderberry supplement itself has minimal effect on your blood sugar levels.

Do low-carbohydrate diets work for controlling blood sugar levels?

If you have type 1 diabetes, it’s very difficult to control your blood sugar levels on anything but a low-carbohydrate diet. Most of the carbohydrate that is in your food will be digested into sugar that goes into your bloodstream, and every last bit of it has to be accounted for when you choose the amount of insulin for your insulin injections.

If you have type 2 diabetes, however, the situation is a little different. In some type 2’s, the problem really is that the body doesn’t make insulin at the right time or in the right amount. If you eat just a little carbohydrate, or if you eat foods that slow down the passage of high-carbohydrate foods through your digestive tract, then maybe your pancreas can keep up. Or maybe it can’t. Type 2’s need to test their blood sugar levels to known whether low-carbohydrate diets will work for them. Sometimes a mostly-meat diet causes allergic reactions that raise blood sugar levels even more than eating a lot of carbohydrate, and sometimes a mostly-meat diet works just fine. No-carb, however, is almost exclusively appropriate for people who have MODY or type 2.

Carbohydrates

Is there some lowest level of recommended carbohydrates per day for type 2 diabetics?

Type 2 diabetics, and everybody else, need at least a little carbohydrate in the diet to make glucose for “brain fuel.”  Usually the absolute lowest amount of carb for day for any adult is about 40 grams, or 160-180 calories from carb foods. The body can turn excess protein into sugar by a process that acidifies the urine, but at least a little sugar from food is necessary to help the brain absorb amino acids from the bloodstream. Even if you are on a ketogenic diet, which is something you should only attempt under professional supervision, you need some carbohydrate each day.

Diets

I’m on a 2-day diet with slimming soup. Will this cure my diabetes? 

No. However, soup will help you control your appetite if it’s a soup you make yourself, without adding any soup mixes or bouillon cubes that load it up with appetite-stimulant MSG. The important quality of any soup in any plan to help you control your appetite is that it must contain tiny particles that are made by simmering the soup over low heat for 2 hours or longer. The simmering of the soup creates particles of food that neutralize toxins in the herbs in the soup, and that stimulate the human immune system. As the soup passes the entry passages to your nostrils and goes down your throat, it literally stimulates your immune system. More specifically, it stimulates your neutrophils, white blood cells that use tiny amounts of inflammation to kill infectious germs. These particles in soup also take a long time to be digested in your stomach, slowing down the flow of sugar into your bloodstream. This effectively lowers the glycemic index of everything else you eat.

Is it OK to eat vegetables before bed? It’s a lot better than eating ice cream! It’s better, however, to give your body a break from eating after dinner all the way to breakfast, so you don’t have blood sugar levels that get higher and higher each day.

Prediabetes

What is the best prediabetic diet?

If you have been told you have prediabetes, the single most important thing you can do is to make sure you never overeat. The reason it is important to avoid overeating is that prediabetics tend not to make enough insulin to bring blood sugar levels back to normal immediately after they eat. Their blood sugar levels may soar to 200 mg/dl (11 mmol/L) and more, and stay there for several hours while the pancreas slowly produces the needed insulin.

While the pancreas is making insulin, cells all over the body become insulin-resistant. This is a protective mechanism that keeps them from getting flooded with sugar, which would in turn flood them when with free radicals of oxygen when the sugar was “burned.” The more insulin resistant you are, the more weight you gain, the higher your cholesterol and triglyceride levels go, and the more likely you are to become diabetic.

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