There is no natural or native diet in all the world that mimics the amount of carbohydrates recommended by the US government in the standard american diet. Starting in the late 70s and early 80s Americans were encouraged to consume less fat and more carbohydrates. It is within this same time-frame that adult onset diabetes (now known as Type 2 diabetes) shot up at an alarming rate.
The most dangerous aspect of this shift in our nutrition is hitting all stages of the american family:
Children: Children 8 to 10 years old are developing Type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. So we have 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders with diabetic and obesity health issues. Experts agree that the main culprit for the rise in Type 2 diabetes among children is weight.
Adults: The number of adults with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes is astronomical especially when comparing the 1960s to today.
Senior Citizens: More than 25% of all americans over 50 years of age have Type 2 diabetes.
No matter their age, people with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including premature death, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation of toes, feet, or legs.
So what is causing this epidemic?
Sugar! Not just simple sugar but complex sugars that are found in starch and starchy foods. Nutritionally speaking, sugar and starch are essential the same. Complex crabs are sugar which breaks down quickly into glucose in the body. Glucose is what we measure as blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are what determine a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes. Higher blood sugar happens when we eat bread, potatoes, rice and other starchy foods. Nutritionally, starch raises blood sugar almost as quickly as sugar.
Why is sugar so destructive our health?
Kidney Disease: Normal blood sugar for the body should be about 1 teaspoon in the entire blood volume at one time. The U.S. government nutrition guidelines recommend 300 grams of carbs each day with equals approximately 1.5 cups of sugar each day! Sugar, which creates glucose very quickly in the body, is actually toxic at such high levels. It is toxic to the kidneys filtering apparatus and to many other cells in the body.
Heart Disease: Elevated blood sugar leads to endothelial dysfunction which precedes atherosclerosis and is and independent predictor of heart disease also known as cardio vascular disease (CVD) The manifestations of CVD are often heart attack and stroke. The vascular endothelium refers to the inner lining of blood vessels. Blood sugar is toxic to the endothelium in high doses, even if it is only in the higher end of the normal rage - which is consistent with prediabetes.
The fact is that the human body was not designed to have insulin levels elevated all the time. Insulin is a hormone of emergency. Minute by minute blood sugar control is actually a normal function of the liver and glucagon, insulin's counter regulatory hormone. With healthy eating our bodies should be having to elevate blood sugar a little bit during the day be making new blood sugar out of protein but instead we have to knock down our blood sugar after every meal with a big hit of insulin.
Insulin has many jobs - the most critical in terms of sustaining life is to keep the blood sugar in a really narrow range. When it is too high all kinds of problems happen very quickly. Insulin focuses on blood sugar to keep us live and everything else is secondary so when blood sugar is an issue other healthy functions, like healthy weight maintenance and belly fat ratios, fall by the wayside.
Throughout history humans have generally eaten foods that were not blood sugar makers. We were on a diet of mostly animal protein, fat and a small amount of carbohydrates; along with a fair amount of fiber from roots, shoots, nuts and berries. This type of diet keeps blood sugar levels within that narrow range. For example the Inuit Native Americans ate mostly whale blubber and seal fat for a large part of each year and they had no cardiovascular / heart disease. When they switched to a "modern diet" their cases of CVD shot up at a high rate. In fact the Native American culture did not even have a word for heart disease but now some reservations in the American South West have a 50% diabetes rate in adults. Observers attribute this to going from a hunter gatherer diet to a low fat, high carb diet in one generation.
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