This column is a correction of my December 19, 2013 column where I pledged to lower my blood glucose because of my addiction to sugar and my self-diagnosis of Type-2 diabetes.
My self-diagnosis was based on World Health Organization blood glucose levels and symptoms of frequent urination, drowsiness, headaches and hunger.
My doctors have NOT confirmed my Type-2 self-diagnosis and until then you might agree my wife Karen who doesn’t accept my diagnosis.
Undaunted and uninformed, I incorrectly reduced my sugar from fudge, chocolate, desserts and egg nog. My symptoms didn’t change: naps were pleasant, urinating wasn’t; headaches and hunger persisted.
Christy, a reader on my blog, alerted me to a more scientific approach. She said, “I just read, The Glycemic Load Diet by Seattle cardiologist Rob Thompson, M.D. I highly recommend it. I’ve been eating lots of very rich food, including lots of fats (dark chocolate every day, too) and in one month have seen reductions in triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and lost 10 lbs.”
Jealous, dubious and curious, I learned Thompson is a board certified heart specialist who has counseled diabetics for over 20 years and self-diagnosed himself as a Type 1 diabetic, a more serious diabetes where the pancreas doesn’t produce sufficient insulin.
Karen was still skeptical, but while she was driving I read sections to her pertaining to her diet problems as I diagnosed them. She listened silently, somewhat to my surprise.
Among Thompson’s numerous books, his 2012 book is particularly relevant for us self-diagnosed diabetics, The Glycemic Load Diabetes Solution: Six Steps to Optimal Control of Your Adult Onset (Type-2) Diabetes.
Contrary to earlier approaches to prevent heart disease, such as low fat, low carbohydrate diets, Thompson diet solution to reduce blood glucose is reducing glycemic load. Loads of research from Toronto, Harvard and Sydney recommend this diet approach. Even better Thompson believes, Christy believes I believe the diet is easier to follow.
The basic concept is that sugar is converted into blood glucose at different speeds depending on the food source. Researchers at the University of Toronto calculated a glycemic index (GI) that describes the increase in blood glucose levels from each gram of carbohydrate in a food.
Harvard medical researchers used the GI to calculate the glycemic load (GL) for foods based on available carbohydrates in a typical serving size, meal or daily consumption.
According to a 2013 review of twenty-one cohort studies referenced on the care.diabetesjournals.org website linked to the American Diabetes Association website, the lower the GL intake, the lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The real culprit is the sugar load in starch. According to the long-term Nurse’s Health Study of 750,000 nurses, starch gives our bodies a GL that is twenty times the size of any other food. My portions of oats, rice and corn flakes cereals, whole wheat breads, crackers, potatoes and pasta loaded me with much more blood glucose than smaller portions of fudge, cookies and desserts.
“If your diet is typical of most Americans,” said Thompson, “just cutting out flour products, potatoes, and rice will lower your GL of your diet to a fraction of what is was. Reversing starch’s harmful effects can be as simple as eliminating two or three unexciting foods you might not like much anyway. It really can be that simple.”
For the past week my diet of less cereals and starch replaced by more vegetables, nuts and dairy has eliminated naps and headaches.
I bought an inexpensive glucometer to self-measure by blood glucose two hours after eating, which I told Karen yesterday afternoon. She was disturbed.
“You’re getting obsessed with this,” she said.
But last night, Karen seemed more curious.
“I have to agree that I don’t have diet problems in the summer when I can load up on fresh fruit and vegetables. I eat less in the winter.”
Look into the health benefits of lowering your glycemic-load, but be sure to check with your doctors to confirm you understanding.