Either you have it or you know someone who does . . .

Diabetes is a growing health problem globally and nationally. The Centers For Disease Control report 29 million Americans have it and a third of Americans (86 million) with pre-diabetes are close to getting it.[1]

If it’s in your family, you may be worried you’re destined to come down with this dreaded disease. But is it an unavoidable part of your future? And if you’ve already been diagnosed with this blood sugar problem - are you stuck with it for good?

The answer to these questions is “no”.

Ultimately, you have many choices for how you contend with this disease. And by making strategic decisions and taking action accordingly, you can keep diabetes out of your life without the use of medications.

While there is a genetic predisposition for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, you are not destined to develop diabetes simply because it runs in your family. And if you have it already, you don’t have to live with it for the rest of your life.

In fact, increasingly, evidence is showing that the best way to prevent diabetes, to manage it and even to reverse it is not through medical intervention. The best strategy for keeping diabetes out of your life includes exercise and a simple shift in diet.

But before we get into how to keep this dreaded disease out of your life, let’s get clear on what diabetes is . . .

Diabetes And Blood Sugar Metabolism

Sugar or glucose (carbohydrates broken down to their simplest form) is the fuel we use for energy. We need sugars to live. When you’re healthy, as soon as sugar enters the bloodstream after your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates or sugar, your body produces the hormone insulin. Insulin signals your cells to take the sugar out of the bloodstream and bring it inside the cells where it can be burned as fuel.

When you have diabetes, for one reason or other, this process isn’t working right. For some people it’s because their pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin. Without insulin, your cells don’t take in sugar. Other people may produce insulin. But their cells no longer respond adequately to insulin’s signal.[2]

As a result, your body cannot use sugar effectively. This sugar continues to circulate in the bloodstream and build in concentration. As it circulates, the sugar interacts with proteins throughout your body to make advanced glycation end products (AGEs). [3]

These sugar-protein complexes wreak pure havoc on your body. They spread a path of destruction in your kidneys, your arteries, your eyes, your nerves and your brain. Hence, with diabetes comes all kinds of related health issues like kidney failure, arteriosclerosis, cataracts, Alzheimer’s and more.

The Genetic Factor In Diabetes

Scientist agree there is some genetic predisposition for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

But genes are only one of many different factors that determine if you have diabetes . . . if it progresses . . . and even if you can get rid of it.

For type 1 diabetes, in identical twin studies, only half of the twins developed type 1 diabetes like their twin. Researchers believe breastfeeding in infancy, viruses and even environmental factors like exposure to excessive cold can influence whether a genetic predisposition develops into diabetes.[4]

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, family clearly plays a significant role in whether you develop it. But while family may influence whether you get diabetes or not, it’s not clear how much genes are at play here.

The most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. And while there may be some genetic predisposition towards obesity, researchers also point to how family determines lifestyle choices – from familiar foods to how much we exercise.[5]

By breaking these family habits – or other bad ones we’ve accumulated over our life – we can also break diabetes’ hold on our lives. More and more evidence shows that you have an extraordinary ability to determine how much this disease becomes part of your life. According to the World Health Organization, lifestyle choices can decrease the risk of progression of diabetes by as much as 60%. Importantly, this is significantly more powerful than oral medications which can only reduce the risk of progression by 30%.[6]

The Power Of Lifestyle Choices

Exercising and making good diet choices helps combat diabetes in two very dramatic ways.

Simply put, when you exercise, your cells need fuel in the form of glucose. Because they need fuel, your cells respond much more dramatically to insulin, taking in as much glucose from the bloodstream as they can get.

A few studies have demonstrated that high intensity exercise especially – as little as 10 minutes a day – can dramatically increase your body’s insulin sensitivity. A review of eight studies found that a short bout of high intensity exercise could reduce blood glucose levels for 1-3 days![7]

When it comes to diet, the evidence is even more compelling . . .

Essentially, when you eat lots of carbohydrates (grains and sugars), your body has to pump out extraordinary amounts of insulin to contend with the flow of glucose into the blood.

When your body is put under this kind of pressure it either stops producing insulin as effectively or stops listening to it.

However, if you switch how you eat and stop loading your body down with carbohydrates, you can shift all this. Instead of being overwhelmed by a flood of sugar hitting the bloodstream, you’ll be getting just enough. And with less sugar to process, your body can respond in a healthy normal way.

The research supporting this approach is powerful. For example, one study showed how patients struggling with both obesity and type 2 diabetes saw extraordinary changes when they went on a low carbohydrate diet. Their blood sugar levels returned to normal and their body’s responsiveness to the hormone insulin increased by 75%![8]

This growing body of research on low-carb diets and diabetes has caused many health professionals to urge a shift in approach to diabetes care. In July 2014, a consortium of 25 physicians and nutritionists published an article in the journal Nutrition advocating a low-carb diet as the recommended first line of attack in treating both kinds of diabetes.

As Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences and one of the study authors explains, diabetes is a form of carbohydrate intolerance. "For many people with Type 2 diabetes, low-carbohydrate diets are a real cure. They no longer need drugs. They no longer have symptoms. Their blood glucose is normal, and they generally lose weight.”

Dr. Gower underscores how ineffective low-fat diets have been in preventing obesity and diabetes. She strongly advocates ditching the low-fat diet recommendations for low-carb diet recommendations. “Reducing carbohydrates is the obvious treatment. It was the standard approach before insulin was discovered and is, in fact, practiced with good results in many institutions.”[9]
Switch Your Gene Expression With Diet

On face value it makes sense that as you eat less carbohydrates, your body has less sugar to contend with and consequently, your risk for diabetes goes down.

But switching your diet doesn’t stop there. As researcher and biology professor at Norwegian University of Science And Technology, Berit Johansen, has shown, making this switch induces changes at the genetic level.

As Johansen and her colleagues have documented, when people eat high-carb diets they turn on genes linked to cardiovascular disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes and cancer. And when these same people decreased the amount of carbohydrates they eat and increased the calories they got from fat and protein – within days - these genes start to switch off. [10]

Simply by eating differently, you can switch which genes are activated!

Some specific foods have also been shown to help spur this kind of healthy genetic expression.

In one study, Japanese researchers had participants eat 8.5 g of chlorella over a two months period. At the end of the time, participants had healthier fasting blood glucose levels, lower body fat percentages and healthier cholesterol levels than the subjects who didn't take chlorella.

Particularly interesting, the researchers also observed several points where the gene expressions linked to insulin production and fatty acid metabolism were altered in people who ate chlorella. [11]

You Can Determine If Diabetes Becomes Part Of Your Life!

The threat of diabetes is real and it is frightening. It can change everything in your life if it hits. But if diabetes runs in your family . . . or if your doctor has given you a stern warning . . . Don’t lose hope. You have the most effective tools on earth for keeping this debilitating disease out of your life. In fact these tools are more powerful than anything a doctor can give you. But it’s up to you to decide to use them.

Diet and exercise have tremendous power to change how our body works and even how our genes express themselves. Genes play a role in our health. But when it comes down to it, we determine the final outcome.

[1] National Diabetes Statistics Report. Centers For Disease Control Publications, 2014.
[2] Diabetes Overview. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. National Institutes of Health website.
[3] Peppa M et al. Glucose, advanced glycation end products and diabetes complications: what is new and what works. Clinical Diabetes October 2003vol. 21 no. 4 186-187
[4] The Genetics Of Diabetes. American Diabetes Association website.
[5] Dean L, McEntyre J. The Genetic Landscape Of Diabetes. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2004.
[6] Genetics And Diabetes. The World Health Organization. P. 4.
[7] Adams OP. The impact of brief high-intensity exercise on blood glucose levels. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013;6:113-22.
[8] Boden G et al. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Mar 15;142(6):403-11.
[9] University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Low-carb diet recommended for diabetics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2014.
[10] The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Feed your genes: How our genes respond to the foods we eat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2011.
[11] Mizoguchi T, et al: Nutrigenomics studies on effects of Chlorella on subjects with high risk factors for lifestyle-related disease. J Med Food.11:395-404, 2008.

Author's Bio: 

About Rose Straub
Rose Straub is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun Chlorella USA. In addition to working to further Sun Chlorella USA’s mission of supporting excellent health, she lives this mission in her personal life. Rose takes full advantage of enjoying California’s beautiful outdoors and learning from its rich community of holistic health practitioners to build a vibrant and healthy life for herself and her family. Rose lives with her husband, Pat, and is both a proud mom and grandmother.

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