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5877 Views 32 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  foxl
Hello, diabetesforum. Diabetes runs in my family tree on my mother's side in a major way. It is my opinion that I became pre-diabetic and then diabetic much earlier than I otherwise would have because I recklessly mismanaged my health when I was young, especially during my twenties. I had issues, and not getting a grip on them played a major role in why I didn't take proper care of myself.

What things might I have avoided to stay non-diabetic longer? I would say the obvious ones are: 1) cigarette-smoking/ tobacco chewing (the latter lamentable behavior mostly took place when I was a teenager); 2) high-fructose corn-syrup soda-pop (I think that one is a major player in the exploding diabetes epidemic); 3) eating junk-food. I trust that these assertions aren't terribly controversial.

What made me realize that I had a problem I later learned was diabetes was being tired all the time and being increasingly prone to carbohydrate cravings if I didn't carefully manage my consumption of sugary and starchy carbohydrates. Eating bread also made me terribly sleepy. The most noticable change was when pre-diabetic insulin resistance caused me to gain a very large amount of weight on my lower-middle front torso area. It took me a long time to realize that all these things indicated that something was seriously wrong. I am now inclined to think I was in a pretty well-maintained state of denial. I also had issues with a disorder known as candidiasis, in which the candida albicans yeast organisms in the colon over-proliferate and cause problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and rashes, among others. It is my understanding that diabetes and candidiasis often go hand-in-hand.

My denial crumbled when I started thinking about my situation with carbohydrate cravings (I attributed the tiredness to the candida problems I had begun treating a while before then with an effective probiotic) and did some poking around on the Internet. I often wonder how many early diabetics have been snapped out of their denial by the Internet and how easy this wonderful tool makes it to investigate any topic about which one may be slightly curious.

I have good health insurance from work, so I went to the doctor to get checked out and sure enough, I hade Type 2 Diabetes. I was put on Metformin and a blood pressure medication (finding one that was good for me was a struggle, but I'll save that story for later if I do tell it at all) and changed my eating habits dramatically. I think the biggest favor I did myself was eliminating white-sugar- and white-flour-based processed and junk foods from my diet. I also ultimately decided to eliminate wheat entirely because of its blood-sugar-raising gluten. My breakfast consists of turkey breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs with a medium-small serving of oatmeal mixed with coconut oil. It's at breakfast when eating too many starchy or sugary carbohydrates can put me on a carb-craving roller-coaster for the rest of the day, so I regard that meal in particular as the crucial one. Everything you eat, not to mention how much, when you are managing this condition is certainly important, though.

I don't think all carbohydrates are bad because that in my view is black-and-white thinking, which the realities of life generally don't support. I favor relatively lower-glycemic-index carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. I tend to think that carbohydrates that are allowed on the candida-diet tend to be better for diabetics as these tend to be relatively lower-glycemic-index carbs.

It probably doesn't even need to be said that getting a certain amount of exercise, such as a 45-60 minute vigorous walk every day, is of crucial importance to managing diabetes. My numbers have been showing considerable improvement, and to demonstrate this, I will post the results of my first blood-test in August 2009 and my most recent one in November 2010.

Blood Glucose Fasting: 159 -- 112

A1C: 7.8 -- 6.0

Cholesterol Panel: 246 -- 201

LDL Cholesterol: 167 -- 126

HDL Cholesterol: 45 -- 55

Triglycerides: 172 -- 110

I also lost 25 pounds, going from 260 pounds to 235 pounds. (I am a 43-year-old caucasian male who is about 5'6" with a large frame.) I believe it was the Metformin that made most of this weight-loss possible, as well as playing a major role in my improved numbers. (I take a gram of Metformin a day, in two half-gram doses.) Triglycerides is the hardest number for me to manage. My clinic dietician thinks I eat too much food, but I do a lot of physical work for a living, so I need the fuel. Besides, I'm a pretty lonely guy, so I'm not very big on compounding my issues by adding hunger to the mix. I have been eating progressively less food since May/ June 2009, when I first began to realize I needed to make changes. I still have changes I need to make because I have always been a slow changer. But these changes are probably the most important and necessary I have ever made.
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@Shanny: A meal with a lot of carbs can make an insulin-resistant person drowsy, but in my case, eating a significant amount of bread surpasses all other carbohydrates in that effect. It's like taking over-the-counter sleeping pills in that it's an especially foggy kind of tiredness. For me, "dread" is a well-deserved rhyme with "bread". I still have the occasional sub-sandwich at Subway, though. Even though bread isn't my friend as a diabetic, their whole-wheat bread is pretty tasty, IMHO. Being active or taking a nice, brisk walk often seems to go a long way towards counteracting this effect, I've noticed.

@goo stewart: Are you aware of the Dawn Effect? That's where your body jacks up your blood-sugar levels in the morning hours. It sounds as though you know of this with your reference to "liver dumps". It could be that some people are more prone this effect than others. I think I mostly just got lucky with my last blood-glucose fasting reading. Had it been a typical day, it would have been somewhere between 120-140, I tend to think.

It's so easy to abuse sugar in today's society. I read in Gretchen Becker's Type 2 Diabetes: The First Year that caucasians of European descent are among the least prone to diabetes of any major ethnic grouping in the world. Might that be a reason why societies of largely European ethnic composition have such a notorious sweet-tooth? I recall from my history classes in college that one of the first agricultural commodities for which expansionist old Europe engaged in trade was none other than sugar-cane. Though it is certainly true that Europe and the USA have managed to infect the rest of the world with our sugar-addiction, with what I believe to be an array of tragic health-results, including diabetes, for our international neighbors.

ETA jwags: As for the issue of blame, I think that one is complicated. That living your life a certain way can impact how soon or even if you get diabetes is demonstrated by the fact that since the arrival of HFCS soda-pop, children and teenagers are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Before HFCS, that generally didn't happen. My worst self-care took place in the years around the time that Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain took his own life out of his feelings of despair and worthlessness. Similar feelings caused me to abuse myself both physically and emotionally, hence I call those my "Kurt Cobain Years". Being able to drink all the soda I wanted for free at the restaurant jobs I was working at the time was certainly part of the problem, BTW. My self-care during this period was horrendous enough that it's difficult for me to avoid the conclusion that I might have triggered diabetes earlier than it might otherwise have happened. I really do have a talent for doing myself in (not to mention compulsive self-blame and self-pity; apologies for the TMI).

Also ETA: In my original post in discussing more desirable carbohydrates, I meant to say, "relatively lower-glycemic-index, whole-grain, less-processed grains and also fresh vegetables". Though I suppose frozen veggies will do in a pinch (such as having a small fridge, as I do).
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@jwags: So you were a healthy-carb eater, were you, and became diabetic nonetheless? I am aware that such cases exist, which is part of the reason why I espouse the specific dietary principles that I do. (BTW, another common blood-sugar metabolism disorder, hypoglycemia, has also been known to afflict healthy-carb eaters.) I am sorry to learn that you became diabetic doing what you thought and what you were told was the right thing to do. That must have been a blow.

I guess I tend to lay much of the blame on myself for becoming prediabetic at 30 because my older brother (older by ten years) has always taken excellent physical care of himself and shows no signs of diabetes. But then again, he has never had a weight problem, and I always have. Weight problems, which are also largely genetic, IMHO (I can supply a link here or in a PM if anybody is interested in further information), probably do an awful lot to potentiate a family-predisposition to diabetes. As I have said, I tend to think the best I could have done was make my diabetes occur rather later in life with better self-care. (I know, should have, could have, would have.) When I was working those restaurant jobs in Madison, I was guzzling that soda-pop by the pitcher! (I later switched to diet soda, but I am also extremely wary of aspartame these days.)
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Yes, processed/junk food is implicated strongly because it is so widely available & cheap, but a potato from my garden will spike me just as fast as a bag of chips from the grocery. Apologies to Gertrude Stein, but essentially 'a carb is a carb is a carb.' :D
Yes, your body essentially treats all carbs as sugar. Though sacharrides containing fructose probably increase your risk of diabetes more because too much fructose interferes with proper glucose-insulin metabolism.

Keep in mind I was doing many other unhealthy things beyond my dietary habits such as not exercising enough, smoking cigarettes, and consuming way too much caffeine. In fact, I'm still struggling with the caffeine addiction.

ETA: Though if it's possible to do all these healthy things and still end up with diabetes, perhaps nobody can really say how my history would have been different had I done things differently.
This is a very interesting discussion. I've thought a lot about what might be the cause of diabetes. The fact that there has been a growing diabetes epidemic since 1990 in this country makes me think that lifestyle (such as drinking too much HCFS soda-pop, for instance) has something to do with it. If it were purely genetic, wouldn't the rates of diabetes remain pretty much constant regardless of what people did to themselves? I think genetics are a big part of it, though. My current theory on the epidemic is that the HFCS is tipping people who only have a very modest genetic predisposition towards diabetes over the edge. Seriously, you really have to think something's up when it becomes almost commonplace for what used to be called "adult-onset diabetes" to be diagnosed in teenagers. My clinic dietician thinks "portion distortion", or people eating way more than they really need to be full, is part of the problem. But recently I read that HFCS short-circuits a hormone that tells you that you have had enough to eat, so that takes us right back to my pet theory!

@foxl: What drives me nuts about hyperglycemia (diabetes by another name) is how ravenously, monstrously hungry it makes you in general before you start controlling your blood-sugar!

@Bountyman: People on a candidiasis-forum of which I'm a member say that aspartame sets off their symptoms in a way that other artificial sweeteners don't. My personal rule of thumb to date is "bad for candidiasis, probably bad for diabetes". I was guzzling huge quantities of Crystal Light in the years before I started experiencing the diabetic fatigue. I poured it down the drain when I finally forced myself to read a website about the purported dangers of aspartame. The stuff can make you lose your hair, and the right side of my hairline was starting to recede in a dramatic way. When I flushed the CL, the hair filled back in shortly afterwards!
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oh outcold was going to ask what symptoms you had for yeast issue? I'm currently seeing a gastroenterologist who still hasn't figured out what it wrong with me.... still going through all the tests. I have a lot of symptoms that could mean anything I guess. I have spent past 4 years having multiple infections & I've been hospitalised several times... been in ambulance twice. I've had average of about 4 months worth or more of antibiotics every year. My entire digestive system is irritated. I'm either on the toilet, in pain, nauseated, burping, hiccuping everyday. Sometimes I have all these at once. I just want some relief on top of managing my diabetes it's making me very tired. I'm wondering if it could be a yeast issue? How do they diagnose that?
They don't diagnose it, at least not as far as I know. You have to figure it out for yourself. I'm sure you'll learn quite a bit if you Google "candida" or "candidiasis", as you seem to want to know more. My main symptom that made me seek out a probiotic was a very severe rash on my perineum. (For a man, that's the area on the external anatomy between the anus and the underside base of the scrotum.)

I really have to agree that it annoys me to no end when advocates of this or that dietary philosophy, whether I agree with it or not, say that eating their way can make your diabetes disappear. If you're not yet insulin-dependent, perhaps their plan can make you nearly asymptomatic, but diabetes doesn't just go away, for pity's sake!
- You and I have a lot in common, although we're several years apart, I'm an inch taller than you. I am glad you lost some weight going down to 235 (I was 215 at my heaviest), but buddy - please don't take this the wrong way - guys our height should ideally be about 145, 150, 155 tops. I chose to do something dramatic about it and 9 days ago I underwent bariatric surgery. You're BMI is over 35, so you are a candidate for this procedure, you might want to consider it.
Insulin resistance, at least in people who have always been overweight, has a way of putting a very definite floor underneath how much weight you can lose, so if I were to seek to lose anymore, something as drastic as baratric surgery would likely have to be involved.
It's fascinating that at least two contributors to this thread attribute the potentiation of their diabetes to eating healthy carbohydrates. Seeing as how both bread and pasta are the two most ubiquitous starchy-carb foods in the USA and probably other countries too, I wonder how much gluten was responsible for the onset of diabetes in those who ate only healthier carbohydrates?

Gluten fascinates me because it is very well known for being a blood-sugar raiser, and yet it's a protein, not a carbohydrate. It's also what makes standard bread made from wheat, rye, and barley possible. Unless I'm mistaken, it also gives wheat-pasta a lot of its structural integrity. I'm guessing this is the case because Tinkyada, the makers of a brown-rice pasta, has one of the few versions of this kind of pasta that doesn't readily crumble after cooking, probably owing to the extra rice-bran they add.

Enough people suffer from Coeliac Disease, where gluten inflames the inside lining of the small intestine, that many food-products contain gluten warnings these days.
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I make frequent use of gluten and it doesn't budge my bg.

So what I thought about gluten and blood sugar was a bum rap! Wow. I don't think I even remember from where I was taught that, it was probably so long ago.

I guess that's why a forum populated by those who have studied as well as "been there and done that" is so useful: You can submit what you've been taught in other places for critical examination and toss what turns out to be urban (or even rural) legends.
I just went back and read my original post, and one thing that I didn't mention that I think is pretty relevant is how the carbohydrate-craving situation (I've heard this called "carbohydrate intolerance") started when I became prediabetic and became remarkably worse in the years following my becoming full-on diabetic. Yes, I mentioned the "CI" situation itself, but not how its worsening played the biggest role in making me wake up and smell the coffee. This issue is prominently on my mind right now because I notice that my CI seems to be even more intense than it was two years ago when I started to realize that "something was up".

So what causes CI? Here's my understanding, and I'm asking for correction if I'm wrong. Hypoglycemics also experience CI not just in the form of cravings but also in the form of other unwelcome physical symptoms because their blood-sugar falls too far, too fast. A hyperglycemic (a person with diabetes issues) doesn't experience the other symptoms, but because of all the extra insulin in our systems when we're pre-diabetic or early-stage diabetic, our blood-sugar levels are forced downward faster and more intensely than they would for a person with normal glucose/ insulin metabolism. It doesn't fall far enough for too-low blood sugar to become a problem due to our hyperglycemic state, but that fact that it just gets forced downward with abnormal intensity sets off the cravings.

I have noticed ever since becoming prediabetic that it's when I have too much starchy carbohydrate for breakfast that I seriously pay for it in the form of those horrendous cravings, often for the rest of the day. This is an easy thing to discover given the standard American fondness for starchy/ sugary breakfasts. But when I followed my normal breakfast with an indulgence of four large, sugary donuts/ sweet-rolls, I wouldn't experience this situation. Based on my understanding of the mechanism involved, what's going on there is that my blood sugar level gets forced up so very high that even my abnormal metabolism has no choice but to lower the level more slowly and normally. However, such indulgences are a very bad idea for reasons no informed diabetic needs explained to them. :)

My educated guess is that some diabetics experience CI more intensely than others. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I am starting to think I experiece CI big and badly compared to other early-stage diabetics. I am eager to hear the thoughts of the other contributors to my introductory thread on this matter. :) (Posted in blue because I so often have the carb-craving blues!)
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Well I am not sure you are so different or unusual -- at least, not from ME.

My observations are only retrospective, though. I gained about 30 lbs in the 2 yrs before I crashed in DKA ... and got "blamed" for my D, accordingly. :eek::mad:

If you read Blood Sugar 101, Jenny corroborates my suspicion -- it was the CI driving the eating, not the other way around ... :cool:
CI can really put you into a very vicious circle until you figure out what's going on and find a way to bring it under control. One thing that helps, I find, is to recognize that carb-craving feeling as having more in common with a smoker's nicotine fit than with true hunger.
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