By Nina Nethery
The onset of Type II Diabetes can be triggered by a diet high in refined carbohydrates -- the highly processed foods and desserts that have become a staple of the American diet. Combine this diet with a general decrease in physical activity and a genetic predisposition for the disease, and soon your body will fail to produce and use insulin correctly.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to help transport glucose into cells and tissues where it is stored for energy use. When the cells resist the action of insulin, the sugars stay in the blood-stream and are eventually detected as “high blood sugar.”Diabetes is diagnosed when fasting blood sugar levels are above 125 mg/dL.
Many people think that Type II diabetes is a condition in which there is an under-production of insulin, but this is not true. The pancreas reacts to elevated blood sugar levels by secreting more insulin, not less. The two resulting conditions -- insulin resistance and hyperinsulinism (the overproduction of insulin) -- are the foundation of Type II diabetes. High insulin levels can cause additional health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and two major cardiac risk factors: high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. Scientists continue to uncover even more difficulties attributed to hyperinsulinism, including polycystic ovary syndrome and an increased death rate from breast cancer.
How do you keep your body from producing too much insulin? A low carbohydrate diet is the obvious answer! Because Type II diabetes is frequently diet-induced, it is almost always completely preventable. After onset, diabetes can always be improved and partially reversed by correcting your diet. Note that diabetes, once present, cannot be completely cured, but it can usually be converted to a latent condition through proper eating habits.
Even though the controlled carbohydrate approach was the standard diabetic therapy until 1950, the American Diabetes Association abandoned it without ever doing a single test comparing it with a controlled carbohydrate eating plan. In the mid-1990s, researchers began to compare the effects of lower carbohydrate/higher fat diets with the high carbohydrate/low fat diets that were recommended at the time. Numerous studies showed that the high carb/low fat diets significantly increased risk factors for heart disease -- in the form of triglyceride levels and VLDL (very-low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol levels. The high-carb diets significantly increased glucose and insulin levels, while the lower carbohydrate diets offered improvements and control.
When Dr. Atkins reviewed food diaries kept by hundreds of his patients, he repeatedly saw that a diabetic following a high-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet with the emphasis on fat restriction would find that such a meal raised the blood-sugar level an average of 100 points if tested about 90 minutes after the meal. That same person noted that a steak, rack of lamb or broiled half chicken eaten with a tossed green salad and Italian dressing raised the blood-sugar level no more than 20 points, if at all.
The goal of low carb dieting is to make carbohydrates less available for fuel so that fat will be the readily available source of fuel it is meant to be. You may have heard that low carbohydrate dieters strive to reach a state called “lipolysis” or “ketosis”. These terms simply mean that fat stores are being burned efficiently for energy. The by-products of burning fat are ketones. When the body releases ketones in the urine, it is chemical proof that stored fat is being consumed. Special lipolysis testing strips can be purchased for urine testing.
The common misconception about ketosis is that this is the dreaded low-blood-sugar state that Type I diabetics must avoid. Many folks (and even some ill-informed doctors) confuse ketosis, which is a perfectly normal and safe metabolic process, with ketoacidosis, which is the life-threatening condition. Ketoacidosis is the potentially dangerous condition seen in Type I diabetics because they cannot produce enough insulin. Ketoacidosis is also seen in alcoholics and people in a state of extreme starvation when blood sugar levels are completely out of control. Ketosis and ketoacidosis may sound vaguely alike, but the two conditions are virtually polar opposites and can always be distinguished from each other by the fact that the diabetic has been consuming excessive carbohydrates and has high blood sugar, in sharp contrast to the fortunate person who is following a low carb diet.
Note: Much of the information for this article came from the Atkins Center website, www.Atkins.com. Please visit this site for more information. LoCarbDiner.com is a certified Atkins Retail store.