THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM
FACING AMERICANS TODAY
Although these are, according to our government, the number one and number two causes of death here in America, neither of these is the number one health problem facing Americans today --- and it's not even close. However, both are a product of this elusive number one health problem. So, what is this terrible problem I keep alluding to? What is the number one health crisis in America today........? Easy. It is Uncontrolled Blood Sugar.
THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM IN AMERICA TODAY IS
According to most Governmental Guidelines, for a Fasting Plasma Glucose level (FPG) to fall in the "normal " range, it must be between 80-109 (some guidelines say 80-100). Between 110-125, and you are considered to be “Pre-Diabetic” (METABOLIC SYNDROME). And if you have a Fasting Plasma Glucose over 125, you are said to have full-blown Diabetes (HERE is more information). Just beware that you can have problems ---- serious problems ---- even though you do not 'officially' have Diabetes (HERE).
However, there are an increasing number of experts from around the world saying that these numbers represent far too broad a range for optimal health. According to proposed revisions based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature, normal fasting blood glucose levels would optimally fall somewhere between 70 and 85. Prediabetic should be in the 86-99 range. And anything over 100 would be classified as "Diabetic". To understand why these proposed guidelines are better than what we are currently using, you must first answer the following question..........
HOW DOES YOUR BODY REGULATE
BLOOD SUGAR WHEN YOU EAT?
THE USDA'S "FOOD PYRAMID"
(Taken Directly from their Website)
FUN FACTS ABOUT
- FATS & PROTEINS DON'T REALLY RAISE BLOOD SUGAR: The first thing to remember is that neither dietary fat nor dietary protein significantly raise blood sugar levels. I repeat; eating fats and / or proteins raises your blood sugar little or none. And in case you did not catch it the first two times, DIETARY FATS & PROTEINS DO NOT SIGNIFICANTLY RAISE BLOOD SUGAR! In fact, dietary fats and proteins actually help to blunt or buffer the blood-sugar-increasing effects of..........
- CARBOHYDRATES ARE WHAT RAISE BLOOD SUGAR. SOME RAISE IT MORE & FASTER THAN OTHERS: We must first remember that not all carbohydrates are created equally. For instance, vegetables are carbohydrates that are essential for good health. They do not, however, appreciably raise blood sugar. Oh; by the way ---- corn is a grain used to fatten beef. It's not a vegetable even though most people will tell you it's their favorite when asked. When you eat sugar or starchy, high Glycemic Index foods (foods that are rapidly converted to glucose in your body ---- processed grains, bread, pasta, white potatoes, etc), you will get a rapid spike in blood sugar. The faster / stronger / higher the spike, the more important it is for your body to deal with it, and deal with it quickly. Here is a Glycemic Index "fun fact". A baked white potato has a higher Glycemic Index (85) than plain old table sugar -- sucrose (65). Another "fun fact": In America, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP from soda pop is said to be the number one source of calories in the 15-25 crowd, and has a Glycemic Index that is well over 100 --- at the very top of the chart. When blood sugar increases......
- INSULIN IS RELEASED INTO THE BLOODSTREAM: In response to increases in blood sugar, insulin, which is made by the pancreas, is released into the bloodstream. The amount of insulin released is (or at least it should be) proportionate to the amount of blood sugar that the body has to deal with. Just remember --- insulin is a transport & storage hormone. Because your body cannot tolerate high levels of blood sugar (high blood sugar will cause something called "Cellular Glycalation Damage"), it must use insulin to move sugar OUT OF the blood, and INTO the cells. Once inside the cells, this sugar is either burned for energy, or it is converted to........
- GLYCOGEN STORAGE: Firstly, your liver and muscles will store as much of this sugar as they can in the form of something called glycogen. However, because Glycogen Storage is such an inefficient process, your body can only store a tiny amount of glycogen at any one time. So it has to find another way to store this excess sugar. A much more efficient way to store it is to convert it and put it into......
- FAT STORAGE: Your body is designed with a far more efficient storage system than the glycogen storage system. When glycogen stores are full, and there is still blood sugar that has to be dealt with, the body deals with it the best way it knows how ---- it converts the excess sugar to fat and then stores it. When high blood sugar levels happen on a regular basis, not only will you end up PUTTING ON WEIGHT, this “Glycation Damage” that we talked about earlier, starts to seriously accumulate in the form of something called "AGE's" (Advanced Glyclyation Endproducts). For now, just understand that this is bad ---- really bad. As this process continues, you enter the Nether-World of.......
- INSULIN RESISTANCE: When you have high levels of both sugar and insulin regularly coursing through your bloodstream at the same time, your cells become increasingly desensitized to the effects of insulin ---- kind of like a drunk becomes progressively desensitized to the effects of alcohol. The body is now said to "resist " the effects of insulin, which is why this problem is known as “Insulin Resistance”. Although I am way over-simplifying the process, think of it as your body building up a tolerance to insulin. This means that the amount of insulin that controlled your blood sugar yesterday, is not controlling it today ---- and it will take even more to control it tomorrow. Unless there is a radical change made in your diet; this cycle will continue to spin faster and faster and further out of control. All the while your body says, “Hey, there is still too much sugar in my blood --- I need more insulin so I can move the excess sugar into my cells”. Your pancreas releases even more insulin, which creates even more tolerance / resistance to insulin, and the cycle continues unabated. The pancreas cannot keep up with this sugar barrage forever, and as you might imagine, it begins to fail. It is here that people enter the “Nether World” of Blood Sugar Dysregulation, and are hit with labels like “Pre-Diabetes” or “Metabolic Syndrome” (Syndrome X). And the whole time, Glycalation Damage is accumulating. This is all caused by the blood sugar 'spike'. But just remember that for every peak there is a valley. The valley of blood sugar regulation is called..................
- REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIA: High insulin levels will frequently (at least early on) get a handle on, and seemingly control spikes in blood sugar. Think of kids and teenagers that eat all kinds of crap with seemingly no visible side effects. Just remember that when blood sugar levels are really high, insulin levels have to be really high as well. As crazy as it sounds, the current scientific-medical literature is tying almost all known health problems back to uncontrolled blood sugar. Because the job of insulin is to move sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it can be burned for energy or stored; too-high insulin levels will frequently overshoot their mark and cause blood sugar levels to plummet below baseline. This is why people with Uncontrolled Blood Sugar frequently end up below the normal blood sugar range (in the 50's-60's) as the body cannot put the brakes on this regulatory process. This is called “Reactive Hypoglycemia” (low blood sugar) and is characterized by post-meal sleepiness, lethargy, tiredness, fatigue, etc... You get the picture. The real bummer is that low blood sugar causes --- you guessed it --- sugar cravings. And the cycle continues! It is critical that you think of both high blood sugar and low blood sugar as TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN --- the body is losing its battle to regulate blood sugar. Both are precursors to...........
- DIABETES: As cellular damage in the form of AGE's continues to accumulate, it hits critical mass. The mechanisms that remove blood from the cell increasingly fail; and the body becomes so resistant to insulin that sugar can no longer be removed from the blood ----- even in the presence of huge amounts of insulin. The overtaxed pancreas increasingly fails as it's regulatory mechanisms burn out ---- and blood sugar levels begin to climb past that magical "125". This is the point when diabetes begins “officially”. But as you can see, the process leading up to Diabetes has been in place long before Diabetes actually reveals itself via standard blood tests. But Diabetes is only the beginning of your problems. This is because......
- UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR IS LINKED TO MULTITUDES OF SEEMINGLY UNRELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS ---- EVEN IN THOSE WHO ARE NOT "OFFICIALLY" DIABETIC YET: Among other things, high blood sugar causes poor circulation and damage to blood vessels and nerves. This leads to a whole host of health-related problems ---- many (maybe even most) of which are seemingly unrelated to their cause. Some of the more well-known of these include vision loss, numbness in the hands and feet -- eventually arms and legs (NEUROPATHY), LOW LIBIDO / IMPOTENCE, INFERTILITY, kidney failure, heart disease, POOR BRAIN & NEUROLOGICAL FUNCTION, amputation, and death. But in all reality, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Because underlying mechanisms of Diabetes are frequently not dealt with, REALLY BAD THINGS can start to happen all over the body.
So, while many in the medical community will say that since your blood sugar is within 'normal' ranges, it is "controlled"---- as you can tell; this is far from the truth. Plainly stated, it is uncontrolled. Continue along to see the brutal truths that will lead you to the unmistakable conclusion that Uncontrolled Blood Sugar is the number one health problem facing Americans today!
THE REAL PURPOSE OF TODAY'S BLOG
- WEIGHT GAIN: Think about it. We just said that insulin is a transport & storage hormone. It is widely considered to be the single most anabolic hormone in the body ("anabolic" means that it makes you bigger ---- i.e. anabolic steroids). Interestingly enough, what has the USDA (an organization whose purpose is not so much related to regulating health as it is the promotion of US agriculture) been touting for the past three decades? The Food Pyramid --- yummy! The bottom of the pyramid (the foundation) is made up of grains / cereals. The USDA's recommendation? 6-11 servings of grain a day. Hey; I grew up on a Kansas farm. I know what happens to beef when you feed them large quantities of grain. Americans have taken the government's cue and are eating mass quantities of heavily processed grain-based products. It's not difficult to understand why 70% of the adult American population is either overweight or Obese!
- INFLAMMATION: INFLAMMATION something that most people know little about ---- even though they frequently use (misuse) the word. Inflammation is not swelling and it is not infection. It is a normal immune system response to various threats, and is made up of all sorts of chemicals with strange names like prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, cytokines, chemokines, certain enzymes, kinnins, histamines, eicosanoids, substance P, and dozens of others. High levels of Inflammation have been linked to almost every health problem you care to mention. One of the biggest classifications of Inflammatory Diseases includes things like .......
- HEART DISEASE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, & HIGH CHOLESTEROL: For decades, Americans have been sold a lie. We have been told that dietary fat not only makes us fat, but that it is the primary cause of the unhappy triad of heart disease, hypertension, and HIGH CHOLESTEROL. There is so much evidence to the contrary, that in 2012 it hardly bears argument. However, we'll go ahead a look at one such study ---- a study called "Saturated Fats, Carbohydrates, and Heart Disease". This study was published in the March, 2010 of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It was a Meta-Analysis of 21 Peer-Reviewed scientific studies, involving more than 350,000 individuals over a period of several decades. The conclusions were stated by Dr. Ronald Krauss of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, "Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of stroke, or heart disease". The website of Harvard University's School of Public Health actually states, "The total amount of fat you eat, whether high or low, isn't really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat." TRANS FATS are the bad boys. There are dozens upon dozens of studies with similar conclusions. Oh, and for you folks struggling with High Blood Pressure who are restricting salt intake; READ THESE POSTS.
These are the biggies that those who are in “the know ” actually know about and understand. However, there are others ----- many others. Let's talk about a few of those problems that you might not think about being related to problems with Blood Sugar Regulation.
According to medical research that was published in the American Journal of Physiology clear back in 1999, “The gut immune system has 70–80% of the body's immune cells”. A huge number of these cells are bacteria --- the so-called “GOOD BACTERIA” that make up your "Normal Flora".
When I was a little kid at the end of the Vietnam War era, I recall an old Special Forces T-shirt. It had a picture of a skull and crossbones wearing a Green Beret emblazoned across the front, and said, “Kill em all and let God sort em out”. This is exactly how antibiotics work. Yes, they kill the bacteria that cause infections. However, they also kill the bacteria that make up 80% of your immune system. Antibiotics do not strengthen your immune system; they weaken and destroy it (HERE). And when you get sick again, there is a strong probability that you will be given ---- yep; more antibiotics.
Interestingly enough, (and practically unknown to the American Public) numerous disease processes, including AUTOIMMUNITY, are being linked to abnormal gut flora. Here is just one example. I am quoting from a recent issue of the medical journal Diabetes; There is a growing body of evidence that diet may play a role in the development of Type 1 Diabetes, through influencing GUT FLORA, intestinal permeability [AKA LEAKY GUT SYNDROME], and immune function in the gut. WHEAT [GLUTEN] in particular has been shown to have a connection to the development of Type 1 Diabetes, although the relationship is poorly understood.
Just remember; it's antibiotics that actually cause Dysbiosis, but sugar and starch that feeds it! This means that sugar and other carbs actually feed infections. It is the food of choice for all types of infections (HERE)!
-CANCER: I'll not belabor this particular topic. Just remember a few simple facts. Sugar is extremely acidic. This acid creates the perfect environment for disease to thrive in. Cancer is a known byproduct of AGE's. Sugar also happens to be the food-of-choice for most cancer cells ---- If you simply Google SUGAR FEEDS CANCER, you could read non-stop into the next century. By the way, what do researchers that are saying sugar feeds cancer have to gain from telling you this? That's right; absolutely nothing but the scorn of their peers!
-DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS: Everyone knows what sugar does to teeth. What do you think that it does to bones / joints? If you get a chance, take a look at DR WESTON PRICE'S timeless masterpiece, Nutrition & Physical Degeneration. Make sure to look at the pictures. Dumbfounding!
-PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: Most people are vaguely aware that Diabetes is associated with something called "Diabetic Neuropathy". What most people are unaware of is how closely that most PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHIES are related to both Autoimmunity & Gluten Sensitivity. What even fewer people realize (ask you doctor about this one) is that CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME, RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME, and Raynaud's Phenomenon --- all common Peripheral Neuropathies --- are actually Autoimmune Diseases.
-ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: One of the byproducts of the manufacture of these damaging AGE'S is something called "Amyloid Protein". Although scientists have not figured out exactly how Amyloids cause ALZHEIMER'S, they do know that there is an intimate relationship between the two (HERE).
-FIBROMYALGIA: FIBROMYALGIA is an intriguing case. It used to go by the name ADRENAL FATIGUE until a 1976 meeting in Tampa brought about a name change. Think about it for a moment. It is much easier to for doctors to tell patients that no one really knows what Fibromyalgia is, what causes it, or how to address it, than it is to answer those pesky little questions like, “Doctor, why are my adrenal glands fatigued”? Or, “Doctor, what can I do to unfatigue my adrenal glands”.
Without going into any sort of detail, just remember that your Adrenal Gland is your body's "stress gland". one of the chief jobs of the adrenal glands is to kick in and help the pancreas regulate blood sugar when it becomes overtaxed. Do you think that the SAD (Standard American Diet) is overtaxing the American pancreas? Uncontrolled Blood Sugar is a significant part of understanding why Fibromyalgia has become a full-blown American Epidemic!
-ALMOST ANY ENDOCRINE PROBLEM THAT YOU CAN NAME: These include things like Female Issues, THYROID PROBLEMS, IMMUNE SYSTEM DYSFUNCTION, as well as numerous others. It is interesting to look on Pubmed and see just how many studies are tying Uncontrolled Blood Sugar to Endocrine Problems. Let me give you a quick example. At least 10% of American females over the age of 12 have Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). An Australian study published two months ago in the medical journal BMC Medicine said, “50-80% of PCOS patients may have insulin resistance at some level ”. If you use the blood sugar values I talked about at the beginning of the post, it would be virtually 100%.
The bottom line is that Uncontrolled Blood Sugar is a preventable problem that is not getting nearly enough credit for the havoc it is wreaking on American Health Care. Sure, we all realize that Diabetes is a serious problem. But Diabetes (not to mention this other list of problems associated with Blood Sugar Dysregulation) is an end-stage disease. In other words, the habits that led to Sugar Diabetes have probably been going on since early childhood. Come back tomorrow and read "Taming the Beast " to find out what you can do to get a handle on Uncontrolled Blood Sugar.
NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM IN AMERICA --- PART II