Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cure for My Insulin Resistance & Diabetes?

This past week has been one of high emotion for me because I may have found the root cause of my insulin resistance and diabetes!  I discovered that I have probably lived my entire life with undiagnosed Celiacs disease, which is an allergy to gluten.  Gluten is found in bread products, cereal, crackers, bagels, any wheat-based baked good, and even found in sauces, some canned goods and salad dressing.  This has nothing to do with carbs!  The culprit is wheat, rye and barley in all their various forms, and oats (although to a lesser degree).  This discovery was not made by my doctor; it was made by me because I became determined to find the root cause of my diabetes after my last doctor visit in April where I learned from my blood test results that my A1C barely improved after months of eating almost entirely a plant-based, vegan diet and even after losing 10 pounds!  My doctor was puzzled and had to sit a while before he attempted to explain why there might be no noticeable improvement.  His solution? Increase my meds or restart insulin.  I said no, asked for 3 more months and then went home and cried, feeling confused and frustrated.

How did I make this discovery?  The story is a round-about one.  My daughter broke out with a serious case of hives.  As a result of my online research to help her explore the possibility of a food allergy and treatment options, I came across a book called The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD.  Although this book sounds like it only refers to diabetes and blood sugar control, it actually is a guide to helping anyone with a chronic illness, from allergies, high blood pressure or high cholesterol to autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes, lupus or fibromyalgia. 

About the book: In the book, he challenges his readers to not just treat the symptoms of their condition, but to discover the root cause and correct it.  I read the book from cover-to-cover, took the questionnaire-style quizzes to discover any vitamin deficiencies or body imbalances I might have and discovered I scored quite high on the digestive system quiz, although I don't have any uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems.  As suggested, I began following the advanced diet plan outlined in the book.  This is a total elimination diet of no sugar, no gluten or grains of any kind, no dairy, no starchy vegetables or other starchy foods (like rice, corn, peas or potatoes) and even no fruit (except for 1/2 cup of berries per day) for a minimum of six weeks.  The point of this strict diet is meant to "reboot" my body chemistry.  I was intrigued and willing to give it a try.  To my amazement, within 3 days, my blood sugar readings fell dramatically into the normal range!  No matter when I take it, morning, noon, night, before or after meals -- my BG is perfectly normal!  When this dramatic and welcomed side effect occurred, I began to suspect a food allergy and was prompted to learn more.

My "Ahh-Ha!" Moment:  In my research about food sensitivities and especially celiacs disease, I came across the statement that untreated celiacs in young children can interfere with growth hormone.  Interesting!  I am an extremely short-statured person, but come from normal-sized parents and a family of normal-sized siblings.  (This is a curiosity that has baffled my doctors my entire life, but they either contributed it to my low birth weight or walked away scratching their heads.) This bit of information led me to recent studies in the Middle East and Italy that have found celiacs disease is the #1 cause of unexplained short-stature in children (even when no other symptoms are present), not a growth hormone deficiency!  For me, this was the last piece of my complicated puzzle and explained just about every chronic problem I have had from late onset of puberty, high blood pressure and reduced bone density at an early age to infertility problems and miscarriages...not to mention inflammation, early onset of arthritis and insulin resistance!  You might be saying, "I'm not short, so what does this have to do with me?"

About Celiacs disease:  Celiacs is an allergy to gluten that causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining.  This results in what is called "leaky gut syndrome."  When that happens, tiny digested food particles and waste products pass through the intestinal lining and into the blood stream.  These foreign particles are attacked by the body's immune system as toxic invaders, which in turn causes inflammation.  Chronic inflammation causes all kinds of problems, including insulin resistance (and everyone knows that insulin resistance is what starts the ball rolling downhill that can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes). 

Celiacs is condition that often runs in families and can manifest itself at any time in a person's life.  You can be tall or short, skinny or overweight, young or old.  The most common symptoms are bloating (even mildly), gas after eating or the feeling that a war is going on in your gut.  These symptoms make it easy to detect but, unfortunately, most people with a sensitivity to gluten don't have gastrointestinal problems. Their symptoms are most often misdiagnosed as other illnesses or syndromes.  There are a myriad of symptoms that can be as a result of celiacs, but follow this link to read about the most common:

Why am I telling you this?  I felt compelled to share my discovery and experience, just in case you may never have thought of a food allergy being the cause of your condition before.  If you're at a loss to why your diabetes treatment isn't working, even with meds, diet and exercise, going gluten free (and possibly dairy free, as well) for a couple of weeks or months may be something to try.  Read the book The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD and learn about how our body systems are all connected and what happens when just one goes south!  It won't hurt and it might help, so what do you have to lose?  For me, only a few days on the elimination diet resulted in normal blood sugars!  My aches and pains have subsided and I have more energy.  I no longer have the spikes and crashes in my blood sugar that can be so uncomfortable and difficult to manage.  After one week, I lost 4 pounds (after being on a plateau for weeks) and, most importantly, nearly 4" melted away from around my waist.  The reduction of belly fat will definitely improve my insulin resistance.

Stay tuned!  My blog will be taking a turn from this day forward.  I'm in the kitchen reworking my favorite recipes right now to make them gluten free and even more healing for my body and yours.  I'm delighted to continue sharing my journey of discovery with you.  Blessings to all!

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