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The Other Pandemic

As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel for our most obvious pandemic, and we measure the pain that death has brought to every one of us, we again as humans, ignore more brutal yet less newsworthy pressures on ourselves. 

What if I told you about a more deadly threat to your health that was relatively easy to prevent or avoid, and in fact, the easily attainable cure would make your life more vibrant, more worth living? Read on.

Diabetes, more specifically, type two Diabetes is a big killer. 8.8 per cent of adult people live with it1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6780236/ Diabetes, a silent killer, is one of the most widely prevalent conditions of the present time. According to the 2017 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) statistics, the global prevalence of diabetes among the age group of 20–79 years is 8.8%. In addition, 1 in every 2 persons is unaware of the condition. 

Various studies have found that the risk of diabetes reduces by 18% to 40% due to the consumption of a nutritious diet that contains foods with a low glycemic index, such as cereal fiber or a mixture of whole grain and bran [144]. Reducing the consumption of sugar-containing beverages also significantly reduces the risk of diabetes. For example, people drinking more than one sugar-containing beverage per day have 26% more risk of developing diabetes compared to people who have less than one per month [142,145]. Therefore, improved diet can play a major role in preventing the development of diabetes from pre-diabetes.

An estimated 34% of adults have prediabetes. Prediabetes is now recognized as a reversible condition that increases an individual’s risk for development of diabetes.

. Furthermore, half of them don’t even realise what is killing them. We seem to only pay attention to dramatic killers. Slow, insiduos, relentless killers, we happily, gleefully  ignore. 

Here’s the thing, Diabetes (I’m only talking type 2 here, from here on) is preventable. See the thing is, you dont just go from hero to zero.

Stage 1 is pre-diabetes, the exact definition which gets some medical debate, that is boring and avoids the real issue. The real issue is that pre-diabetes, and if you are over 20, have a BMI of over 25, (male western) you are probably living with it right now. If you are of Asian genetic decent, that BMI better be under 15! 

Thought you were off the hook, because you aren’t Asian? Do you live in the US? Well there is a 30% chance that you are pre-diabetic!2 https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/8/1468 There needs to be a persuasive case for creating a disease label for over one-third of the U.S. adult population

Words from a study:“If untreated, 37% of the individuals with prediabetes may have diabetes in 4 years”3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6780236/ If untreated, 37% of the individuals with prediabetes may have diabetes in 4 years. Lifestyle intervention may decrease the percentage of prediabetic patients in whom diabetes develops to 20%. Long-term data also suggest that lifestyle intervention may decrease the risk of prediabetes progressing to diabetes for as long as 10 years. To prevent 1 case of diabetes during a 3-year period, 6.9 persons would have to participate in the lifestyle intervention program. In addition, recent data suggest that the difference in direct and indirect costs to care for a patient with prediabetes vs a patient with diabetes may be as much as $7000 per year. Investment in a diabetes prevention program now may have a substantial return on investment in the future and help prevent a preventable disease. .

Almost never, will you get a 100% opinion from a Medical Researcher, or a Lawyer, but this gets one:

There is a 100% cure for prediabetes!4https://drc.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000258 After 6 months on the HP diet, 100% of the subjects had remission of their pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance, whereas only 33.3% of subjects on the HC diet had remission of their pre-diabetes. The HP diet group exhibited significant improvement in (1) insulin sensitivity (p=0.001), (2) cardiovascular risk factors (p=0.04), (3) inflammatory cytokines (p=0.001), (4) oxidative stress (p=0.001), (5) increased percent lean body mass (p=0.001) compared with the HC diet at 6 months.

Sounds hard right? Nope. A mere dietary change required. Move from High GI(Glycemic Index) food to low GI. Job done. The research proves it. Not for many pre-diabetics. For all. Don’t believe me? (Follow this footnote5)https://drc.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000258 After 6 months on the HP diet, 100% of the subjects had remission of their pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance, whereas only 33.3% of subjects on the HC diet had remission of their pre-diabetes. The HP diet group exhibited significant improvement in (1) insulin sensitivity (p=0.001), (2) cardiovascular risk factors (p=0.04), (3) inflammatory cytokines (p=0.001), (4) oxidative stress (p=0.001), (5) increased percent lean body mass (p=0.001) compared with the HC diet at 6 months.

And here is the kicker. It really isn’t hard. 

Give up a high carb diet. You don’t need to even go full on carb free, just a move from a High Carb diet (15% protein, 30% fat, 55% carbohydrate) to a High Protein (30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrate) diet had complete success6 href=”https://drc.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000258 We recruited and randomized 24 pre-diabetes women and men to either a HP (30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrate; n=12) or HC (15% protein, 30% fat, 55% carbohydrate; n=12) diet feeding study for 6 months in this randomized controlled trial. All meals were provided to subjects for 6 months with daily food menus for HP or HC compliance with weekly food pick-up and weight measurements. At baseline and after 6 months on the respective diets oral glucose tolerance and meal tolerance tests were performed with glucose and insulin measurements and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans.

Better still, you are probably going to lose weight, use this as an incentive to get fit (another preventer/avoider/reducer of both diabetes and pre-diabetes. 

What does that mean in practice? Well I hate Fake Mash Potato. Thats where you boil some cauliflower, add cheese and pretend. But 50:50 potato and cauliflower? I get to feel smug when I eat it. There are a 1000 other self help tricks that don’t suck.

My own journey went down a sugar free road. As a founder of speciality coffee roasters like Origin Coffee and Truth Coffee I became known as a Sugar Nazi, my motivation was skew, you see I wanted people to discover that coffee needn’t be bitter. Careful selection of beans and incredible attention to roasting processes will give you delicious coffee every time. But masking bitterness that wasn’t there with sugar, had me banning sugar from my tables and making it a special request item. This caused many hours of customer hate towards me, at least initially, but gave me a platform to talk about flavour.

Recently I founded a sugar-free, additive-free chocolate startup minimalist chocolate and again, the same questions were asked, could we carefully select cacao and technique and achieve sugar-free bliss? We think so. 

This is a long way of me saying I had a final push to move from Sugar Junkie, to one, sugared, cheat day per week, to no sugar at all. It has been a month, the only thing I have lost in the process is 4 kilogrammes and I have gained some more fitness motivation. Your mileage may vary. 

Sugar substitutes just left me craving super-sweetness and had me dragged by the wagon. I had to do this whole arsed. 

What I am ultimately suggesting, is to try going sugar-free, find products that support your choices, without going into frankenfood, and have as good a lifestyle, if not better, with the goal of a longer AND more interesting, motivated life.

I take that back, as the wise Yoda once said:

 “Do or do not. There is no try”

Other than the sugar and some belly fat, what have you got to lose?