3 Steps to Making Type-1 Diabetes a Health Advantage!
Type-1 Diabetes can be a debilitating disease - OR, it can be used as a tool for elevating health and vitality. In my experimental studies of Type-1 diabetes, striving to survive it, I eventually discovered something quite remarkable. Using Type-1 Diabetes as a tool means that I didn't just survive the disease; I actually gain a health advantage over being non-diabetic.
The advantage occurs in Step 3, but Step 1 and Step 2 are required prerequisites for Step 3 to be effective. Sorry, the Step 3 advantage doesn't apply to Type-2 diabetes because the first two steps cure it. I think it also noteworthy that steps one and two also reverses most all Standard American Diseases.
Step 1: Fat
For step three to be effective, insulin resistance must be as low as possible. In all the years of my experimentation and experiences, I learned early on that nothing increases insulin resistance more than fat. During the early years, I didn't really know anything about nutrition and certainly nothing about "good" or "bad" fats. With that ignorance, my focus was to eliminate all fats as diligently as I possibly could. One might suspect, with such a fat-free obsession, I should have suffered from fatigue, poor memory, decreased immune function, poor circulation to name just a few of the listed "good fats" deficiency symptoms. Instead, just the opposite happened - and in a big way. Along the way, as I learned more about nutrition, I found that it is virtually impossible to consume enough calories of even the lowest fat whole plant base foods and be deficient in any of the essential fats. Turns out; the "good" fats are actually dominate in most of the lowest fat veggies such as leafy greens. So, my "fat-free" obsession actually ensured I got all the essential fats I needed.
Conventional wisdom for diabetic management is to diligently avoid sugar and limit carbohydrates. Learning diabetic management without conventional wisdom, however revealed to me that sugar is not the issue; it is fat and animal products that slow insulin response thus shifting insulin action out of sync resulting in blood-sugar spikes, dips and swells. While sugar is not a "good guy", it is not the guilty party causing blood-sugar spikes - diabetic or not. Instead, sugar is the whistleblower on the insulin resistance induced by fat. But since blood-sugar spikes occur with sugar intake, it's sugar that gets the blame. Insulin resistance is so common that blood-sugar spikes with high glycemic foods are considered just a universal given. However, with insulin sensitivity, blood-sugar spikes never occur.
Fat is pervasive - and slow. It takes two days for its effect to start and weeks (or more) to subside. This is why its role in blood-sugar is never seen. Fat is so slow and pervasive because it is an energy storage molecule, thus, when digested, it is stored - and is hard to get rid of. It hangs around inflicting insulin resistance for a very long time. On top of that; fat is the highest calorie thing one can eat. It packs more than twice the calories as refined sugar. So, the Step 1 goal is to ensure no ingredient in anything eaten exceeds 10% calories from fat.
Step 2: Whole Food Plant Based Diet
The second insulin sensitivity killer is animal sourced foods, though it is second only by just barely a nose-hair. They are essentially neck-and-neck. What's worse, however; animal sourced food products damage far more of one's body than just insulin resistance. The good part is that it is easy to eliminate animal sourced foods; just don't eat it. Not so easy with fats, because as mentioned above, fat is in everything!
Being fit and healthy is a big plus in Type-1 diabetes control. Whole foods, in the harvested form, contains the highest nutrition density. That's where it all starts. Any processing reduces the nutrients by the degree of processing. As in the field of electronics; there is loss with every conversion. This is a physical law, regardless of subject. Processing a food is a conversion. Animal sourced foods are the ultimate of processing. All nutrients come from plants. The nutrients obtained from animal products is from the plants the animal ate - minus all the conversion losses. So, the less processing, the greater the nutrition. The general health of my body also has a significant effect on insulin sensitivity. Eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet is a big plus for insulin sensitivity - making control that much sharper and easier and making me feel better. Besides; whole, unprocessed foods are so much more satisfying - once you get used to it.
Step 3: Control
Control is the key element to the advantage. Many diabetics rely on their doctor for prescribing their "treatment", but that is like wearing a blindfold while driving a car and your doctor is in the back seat giving periodic instructions; go, stop, turn left, right, brake, etc. The issue is that the road (life) is just too complex for that, resulting in instructions being out of sync with all the variables. To gain the advantage of Type-1 Diabetes, you must take that blindfold off. Therein is the advantage. Being in the driver's seat with the blindfold off, a Type-1 diabetic can see things that normal, non-diabetics cannot.
Conventional Type-1 diabetic management is to inject insulin to lower blood-sugar, then to avoid foods containing or that quickly convert to glucose. My goal is to maintain blood-sugar inside a 70-100 mg/dl window at all times. I found this to be too difficult with insulin management alone. With that, I began to tailor my method after electronic regulator topologies (that I routinely work with in my career). These are electronic circuits that regulate voltage, current, motor speed, fluid flow, etc., etc., etc. The object here is to regulate blood-sugar. In the electronic circuits, there are several topologies available to the designer. One of which matches conventional diabetes management which I refer to as single-ended or in electronics terms: an emitter follower. The best electronic regulators, however are double-ended or often called a push-pull regulator. A common digital version is called a synchronous buck regulator. With the single-ended version, if the voltage, or whatever is being regulated, somehow gets pushed too high, the regulator has no means of lowering it. It just has to wait for it to drift back down (or up, whichever is the regulated direction). With the double-ended method, the regulator can quickly force it either way. With my Type-1 diabetes management, I will take fast insulin to force blood-sugar down hard enough to ensure it doesn't rise in excess of 100 mg/dl with any meal (or anytime for that matter). The insulin dose is large enough to counter the expected glucose influx ensuring no spike. However, due to the large insulin dose - even rapid insulin action continues to lower blood-sugar after the meal's glucose supply starts to taper off, which would otherwise result in a crashing low (hypoglycemia). This is prevented with a strategically timed "snack" containing a high, fast glucose content, typically fruit. Several "snacks" are commonly used spaced apart by an experience derived timing; matching the blood-sugar fall rate with "snack" rise rate maintaining blood-sugar balance within the desired 70 - 100 mg/dl window. This removes the requirement of enduring a higher than normal blood-sugar for fear of going low. It also means I can eat as much "high glycemic" food as I want and enjoy the energy it provides without suffering the energy suppression (and damage) of un-burned glucose loitering in my blood vessels. It also means I don't have to count calories or restrict meals.
For this method to be effective, insulin resistance must be as low as possible. Always, the lower the better. Insulin timing and effect magnitude is directly affected by insulin resistance. Imagine driving a car through a dense, busy city with lots of turns, stops and goes. Now imagine your car's steering response is ten seconds from turning the steering wheel to the car turning. Now image the brake and accelerator petal all have the same ten-second delay. How easy do you think it would be to successfully drive from one end of the city to the other? That is what insulin resistance is for Type-1 diabetes control. Actually, that is what insulin resistance is for everyone. It's just as difficult for the automatic biology of a non-diabetic's body, even if you are unaware of it. It is that insulin resistance delay that causes blood-sugar spikes just as the delayed steering car misses a turn.
Through the years of my test & measure experimentation I have found that this is indeed an exact science. Just as in my electronics fault analysis engineering career, causation elements are never by degree; it is always 100%. For example, when testing an electronic circuit fault hypothesis; if the results are not 100%, then the hypothesis is false. In the same manner that 1+1=2 ...always. If you ever get something other than 2 then you know that the variables were not 1+1. In the case of my Type-1 diabetes, the fat and animal product effects on insulin sensitivity has been 100%. For the past 29 years (over two hundred fifty-four thousand hours), there has never been an instance where consuming anything containing an ingredient with greater than 10% calories from fat, did not increase insulin resistance and slide insulin / glucose actions out of sync and reduce my energy level.
I am very grateful that my Type-1 diabetes plus a low fat whole food plant based diet plus a double-ended control method enables me to vividly see the effects of foods on insulin resistance and health in general. It is very illuminating, enlightening and rewarding!
Please understand that I am not a medical professional in any capacity. This writing is only to share my experience and what I have learned from it.
Nothing in life is more inhibiting, failing or debilitating than the belief; "I Can't."
Nothing in life is more freeing, enabling or successful than the belief; "I Can."
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/license