Health stuff is probably best not handled alone, in particular when it is something as poorly understood and chronic as diabetes. It seems clear that it is a symptom as much as a disease and that it is quite different from one person to another. When I Google now, I don’t use “diabetes” but rather “metabolic disorder” since it seems clear that for most people it is connected to lipids (fats), blood pressure, and lifestyle. (I’m beginning to hate that word.) Luckily, the Internet makes it possible for many people who have never met to share what they know. I thank my faithful forwarders!
I thought I’d summarize what I’ve found and what people have sent me. If I have to attribute, it will get too complicated, so I’ll just summarize the gist of the ideas so far.
1. Visceral fat wrapped around internal organs has something to do with disfunctional metabolism, which is why a bulging belly is associated with the condition. Aside from crowding organs, this fat excretes molecules that affect almost everything, including dementia and inflammation (another marker for trouble). The cure is not sit-ups, which affects muscles, nor liposuction, which only gets fat just under the skin. This fat responds quickly to diet and exercise and will be the first fat lost. This is certainly true for me. In fact, I had the strange sensation of my organs re-spacing themselves after I’d lost twenty pounds.
2. If inflammation is a problem, lots of fish oil in a low-calorie diet could help a lot. Avoid corn oil and fructose derived from corn oil -- it won’t be easy. Much manufactored food depends on corn. My grocery store is selling individual servings of fish in separate frozen packets. Very nice. And I take a big old fish oil capsule twice a day. And try not to burp.
3. The U S Dept of Ag suggests taking 200 to 1,000 micrograms daily of chromium picolinate. The US Dept of Ag has no credibility with me. Might be just another product “for diabetics.” Anyway, you can find long lists of this esoteric stuff that diabetics should take, partly because diabetics who are uncontrolled pee so much that they leak away what ought to be conserved.
4. Likewise Alpha-lipoic Acid, 600 milligrams a day for four weeks to get results. How much would that cost?
5. Salacia oblonga is an herb used for diabetics in India. Doses are not standardized and it’ll raise Cain with your gut if you take too much. Caution and expert advice required. (NOT a health food store clerk.) Especially if you are not a genetic East Indian.
6. Vitamin C seems to be an unmitigated good, except that I found from sorry experience that if you take it with aspirin and don’t have buffered versions, it can eat a painful hole in your gut.
7. Go for the brights. Yellow, orange and red foods, plus dark green stuff and blueberries, are all terrific, they say. Anyway, I like the taste of them. The problem is paying their price. Aaagh. (One expert says use your meat money on veggies.) And I don’t like them when they’re shipped in from below the equator. Grow one's own? Every house with a yard for the dog and a greenhouse for the table?
8. Aminoguanidine is supposed to do good things. I dunno.
9. The brain makes insulin and it can become independently inefficient, which may have something to with Alzheimer’s. Everything is connected to everything.
10. If you joined Weight Watchers and followed their advice (and if you enjoy all that applause when you do well), you’d be close to almost everything fancier and more expensive experts recommend. Over the years I’ve joined repeatedly, made a little progress, but been too much of a maverick to stay. (If you want me to do something, do NOT say, “Everyone else is doing it.”) BUT in the process, I’ve learned a lot of things.
11. Pay special attention to things that affect your mind: too tired, dehydrated, sugar too high or low, and so on. “Too cold” is one that creeps up on me. When I’m saving by not turning up the heat (which is a problem right now when the outdoors is warm but the indoors is chilly -- so it’s not just in winter), I can, without realizing it, end up crouched and staring. People who get too cold while hiking (again, a problem this time of year when fine misty rain or sudden overcast can suck the heat out of a hiker), often have no idea it’s happening. People have to monitor each other. Loners are sometimes found dead of hypothermia with a perfectly good jacket in their backpack. The best defense seems to be a strong habit pattern (for instance, a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break for tea and self-reflection), check-lists posted here and there (I forget to take my pills), a practice of walking around for five minutes out of every hour. (I have a church next door that plays bells on the hour and half-hour -- that helps.) It helps to keep pets who stay on a schedule and come interrupt you if you aren’t functioning. If your eyes are blurry, that’s a danger sign. Retinas react to bad blood stuff, esp. sugar which makes them puff up -- even (in extremes) peel from their backing. Naps are good.
12. Always eat breakfast. One friend told me that he knows his brother-in-law loves his diabetic sister because he makes her get up and eat breakfast. (I hope he wakens her with a kiss!) My current favorite is yoghurt and Cheerios, an invention due to a lack of milk at 5AM, but I really like it!
THE THIRTEENTH RULE: What’s good for the diabetic is good for everyone else, too. This isn’t true of very low calorie diets and little folks need some fat. Each of us has variations in the way we metabolize foods and do better on slightly different relationships among fat/protein/sugars/carbs. Still, this wealth of new information is as vital as the discovery of vitamins. There are formidable economic forces holding us away from it (like people who sell vitamins in pill form). To me, that’s reason enough to exert equal and opposite force for health, diabetes or no diabetes.