I have been struggling these past few months.
My morning fasting blood sugar has been too high.
Every single morning, it would be at least 95. If I had eaten poorly, it would be over a 100. At my last medical, it was 110!
I knew that was too high, way too high. My doctor said nothing, (although she did tell me that she didn’t care about my zero calcification heart scan and still wanted me on statins for the rest of my life – meh,) but I knew I had to get to the bottom of it.
I started experimenting with perfect paleo, imperfect paleo and not paleo at all.
Didn’t make any difference, although sometimes if I had eaten an extraordinary amount of scones, cake and biscuits (happens very occasionally – I am a Brit, after all), it would be lower. Not low enough but lower than usual.
It didn’t make sense
So I tried fasting. 16 hours, then 20, then 24. My blood sugar went higher.
I researched. Didn’t find anything that made sense to me.
Then I listened to my friend Christa’s presentation at the Reversing Diabetes World summit and in there was the solution to my problem.
It happened overnight
The day after I implemented her advice, I had a fasting blood sugar level of 85. Just. Like. That.
It was simple. Easy and simple.
Serendipitously, or maybe it was just now I knew what terms to search on, I found this article from Chris Kresser that confirms it. (Read the comments, too – very interesting.)
I was going too long without food. I wasn’t eating enough carbs. Problem over.
It’s been a week now, and right now I’m seeing numbers on my blood sugar monitor that I haven’t seen in a very long while. And I’ve been seeing them all week.
Christa is one smart cookie
Christa, in her summit presentation, discusses a plan to get your blood sugar down for those who are diabetic or those like me that are concerned that their numbers are higher than they should be. Take note of the fasting blood sugar levels she likes to see.
I’ve written her presentation up below. I included everything I could scribble down but at 10 or so pages of notes, I couldn’t get everything down. However, if you’d like lifetime access to it, to all the other presentations from the Reversing Diabetes World summit, transcripts, and lots of other goodies, you can do so by getting an all-access pass.)
Here is what Christa had to say in her presentation, Using Food As Medicine to Reverse Diabetes
- Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that highly stresses the kidneys and the eyes. It is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar).
- Diabetes affects 300 million people worldwide. It is a pandemic and a major public health issue.
- Blood sugar is glucose that is carried in the blood stream. Glucose is the immediate source of energy for all our body’s cells.
- Levels of glucose are maintained by the pancreas which is tightly regulated by 7 key hormones. Insulin is released to lower blood sugar and cortisol and catecholamines are released to increase blood sugar.
- The body has ability to store glucose in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver. When we consume sugar or refined carbs, they are digested and initially absorbed into the small intestine. They don’t enter the blood circulation directly and initially are absorbed into the liver first. Under hormonal control, the liver will release an appropriate amount of sugar into the bloodstream so that it is available to our cells and especially, our brain.
- As a nation, one third of our calories are consumed in the form of sugar and/or white flour products.
- Sugar and white flour products cause blood sugar spikes. This high blood sugar forces the release of insulin into the blood to turn the sugar into energy. Our blood sugar should then go down into normal range. The problem comes when we eat too much sugar/white flour and our body struggles to cope. It can’t adapt so keeps pumping out insulin to lower the blood sugar. Ultimately we crash from blood sugar that is too low and get moody and tired. So we eat more sugar to pick ourselves back up again and so the cycle continues.
- In addition to sugar and white flour products, white pasta, potatoes, white rice will also spike blood sugar.
- Signs of poor blood sugar regulation are: cravings for sugar, a voracious appetite, muscle weakness, poor concentration, emotional instability, memory loss, anxiety and panic, a lack of motivation and fatigue, lack of focus.
- Those with consistently high blood sugar are at greater risk for heart disease, strokes, gout, PCOS. Very commonly Christa sees high triglycerides, high LDL (bad) cholesterol with those struggling to manage blood sugar.
- You need fat in your diet. It will slow the release of glucose in the system to keep sugar balanced and will help maintain satiety.
- Watch for hidden sugars. If you are eating processed food, you are still probably eating triple the amount of sugar you should.
- Serotonin is released almost immediately sugar is consumed. When our energy drops, we reach for sugar to feel better and cope with stress.
- Many of us have our whole systems are confused due to the heavy toxic burden it is asked to deal with. Environmental toxins, heavy metals, products grown in mineral-depleted soil, toxins from body and beauty products will upset the balance.
- Correct and continue. In order to set yourself upon a healing path, don’t blame yourself. Change your paradigm to one of no blame, loving yourself and respecting your body. Give your body what it needs and it will heal.
- It is said that if you make a lifestyle change it will affect the 7 people most closest to you in a dramatic way. Protect and nurture yourself. Know that one of the most selfless things you can do is to take care of yourself and that if you do, you will be able to contribute so much more.
- First thing is to get your blood work done. It should be repeated at least once a year. Doctors will get concerned with a fasting blood glucose level of over 110, but in functional medicine they like to see them 85 or below and start seeing stress to the kidneys and eyes when FBG levels are over 80. HBA1C is the marker for pre-diabetes, 5.9 is the high range for that, but the functional medicine doctor will want to see it much lower. If HBA1C is high, it is usually accompanied by signs of inflammation – high triglycerides and high cholesterol.
- Stage the removal of sugar from your diet. Don’t do it cold turkey or you will be craving sugar like a madman at the end of the day. Include complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, with every meal. This will keep you satisfied for longer, feed the brain and make ATP (cellular energy). Combine the complex carbohydrate with high quality protein, some fat and vegetables.
- Complex carbohydrate examples are: butternut squash, quinoa or brown rice (soaked), black beans. With complex carbohydrates, you will train the body to feel safe without glucose in the system.
- If you need sweetness, substitute sugar for coconut sugar. Coconut sugar looks and tastes just like brown sugar but its glycemic index is only 35 compared with white sugar’s 100.
- Eat breakfast within one hour of waking. Include fiber, protein, fat and carbohydrate.
- Increase antioxidants with green vegetables.
- Increase fatty acids. Omega 3 supplements, cold water fish, most walnuts and seeds (not peanuts or pistachios – too much mold)
- Cinnamon dramatically reduces fasting blood sugar levels. Real cinnnamon contains polyphenols which help maintain insulin sensitivity.
- You must take steps to remove gluten from your diet. Gluten will spike blood sugar more than regular sugar. When we consume modern wheat, we are tripping the receptors in the brain and that will force us to crave 300-400 more empty calories a day in the form of sugar. Use quinoa or millet or brown rice instead and find good gluten-free products.
- Consume raw dairy products. The cow should only have eaten grass. Raw dairy can help restore gut flora, and support the immune system.
- If you use supplements, you will heal 30-50% faster.
- For 3-4 months use uncoated pancreatic enzymes with duodenum. These will support the pancreas. The pancreas adds enzymes to the duodenum so it can digest proteins, carbs and fats. We need to pay attention to how well our body is breaking down the food we are consuming into forms we are able to use. If the pancreas is damaged, it is not going to be able to perform its function. A sign of a problem is if you are getting irritated or angry and this isn’t a typical character trait for you.
- Take 3,000mcg of biotin twice a day. This has been shown to decrease nerve symptoms and insulin resistance. It works really well when paired with chromium.
- Take 200mcgs of chromium per meal for 4 weeks. There are two types of chromium. Chromium GTF (glucose tolerance factor) helps insulin improve its action. This is the one you want to take. Chromium piccolinate is the other form, don’t use this one.
- Take 400mg of gymnestra sylvestre twice a day to help stabilize sugar cravings. It enables you to make changes with grace if you are having trouble.
- Take fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin A butter oil. Two with breakfast and two with lunch. This will give you healthy fat and vitamin D. Helps cut inflammation.
- Take 300mg of alpha lipoic acid twice a day. This will lower blood sugar because of its ability to kill free radicals and poisons in the system. It is great for brain function.
- Take 150mg of cinnamon bark extract twice a day. This enhances insulin signaling and facilitates glucose uptake and storage to the body.
- Consider adding glutathione to your regimen. It is a master antioxidant for the liver. It detoxifies it, helps it regenerate and kills free radicals. You want to take it in a reduced molecular form and a functional medicine practitioner will help you find the right dosage.
- Up your intake of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC or found in raw dairy). Take at least 1,000mg a day.
- Don’t take all of these supplements from the get-go. Start with a couple and do research to find out what works for you.
- Boost glutathione with turmeric. When they test Okinawans on a cellular level, they are 25 years younger than their chronological age. This is through making good amounts of glutathione. Try this Okinawan recipe for Turmeric Ginger Tea.
- Supplements have stood the test of time. There are at least 10 studies supporting the use of each of them and they have been used in Asian and Indian cultures for centuries. Medications have not stood the test of time.
- Find a form of exercise that you like and look forward to. Do it 2-3 times per week. Burst exercise – intense exercise for a short period of time, followed by rest, rinse and repeat (tabata, HIIT) – is excellent for diabetes, weight loss and obesity. It trains the body to use fat rather than sugar for energy.
- Managing stress is very important for diabetics as the stress hormone, cortisol, will increase blood sugar. Add parasympathetic moments to your life to turn off the stress response.
- Form healthy, honest and open relationships. Consider every relationship you have against whether it feeds or depletes you. Check your career satisfaction, your level of creativity for signs of stress.
- Create a nighttime ritual preparing you for a good nights sleep. Turn off technology, take an epsom salt bath to heat up your core temperature, put magnesium oil on your feet and cover with socks, light a candle, dim the lights.
And there you have it! My brain dump from Christa’s presentation on managing diabetes. That was a lot of information but within it you have your opportunity to create your very own personal plan to lower your blood sugar. It doesn’t get better than that.
If you want to become your own doctor, fix your own problems, and take control of your own health rather than relying on someone else with letters to do it for you, consider signing up for Christa’s 3-month nutrition program.
It is tremendously comprehensive and will enable you to dig deep into your own personal history and situation to create a personalized recovery plan for yourself.
In this course she teaches you how to become your OWN best doctor – reading and interpreting your lab work, getting to the root of your health issue, and using food as medicine to change your health and life.
Check it out – enrollment closes Tuesday night 5/13 so don’t delay! Sign up here
Christa Orecchio, is a clinical and holistic nutritionist and founder of The Whole Journey, a private nutrition practice and informational website established to help people live healthier, happier and more energetic lives through whole food nutrition and healthy lifestyle.