It has been estimated that by the year 2050, Diabetes with be the major cause of death in Australia. As such, Metabolic Syndrome, the precursor to Diabetes, is a major health concern.
Many people are genetically vulnerable to Type 2 Diabetes. This is no longer a disease predominantly found in the indigenous population. The Western Diet, which is rich in Carbohydrates including sugars, (particularly fructose) has played a huge role in the growth of Metabolic disease and Diabetes.
The term ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ refers to disorders of metabolism. Metabolism is the process of transforming the food you eat into the fuel that keeps you alive. Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and Diabetes.
To understand this better we need to learn about Insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to use glucose (sugar). It has been described as a key that unlocks the cell allowing sugar to enter and be used as fuel. Insulin, made in the pancreas, stops your blood sugar getting too high (hypERglycemia) or too low (hypOglycemia).
When we eat carbohydrates (including sugars), the beta cells in the pancreas are requested to release insulin into the blood. Insulin signals cells to absorb the excess sugar from the blood, to use as energy immediately, or to store as fat for use later.
Sometimes people don’t make enough Insulin, or the Insulin doesn’t work the way it should. Sometimes the Insulin receptors don’t work properly. Glucose stays in the blood and can’t reach the cells. This makes people feel hungry, thirsty, lethargic and irritable. Over time the excess sugar in the blood has health consequences and can cause Type 2 Diabetes. Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Diabetes.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are different. Type 1 Diabetes is when the body makes too little or no Insulin. These people are Insulin-dependent. Type 2 Diabetes is when the body can’t use the insulin it makes.
The good news about Type 2 Diabetes is that we can avoid it by increasing certain ‘good’ fats, by choosing ‘Low GI’ foods over ‘High GI’ foods and reducing our serving sizes of carbohydrates. (see my writings titled ‘Low GI Foods’).
How we process carbohydrates is determined by your genetics as well as your diet and lifestyle. Genes have an important role in the production and release of Insulin. Alice can find out if you are predisposed to metabolic disease through DNA testing, giving you personalised recommendations about diet so that you can avoid the progression toward disease.
There are also a number of Laboratory tests you can do to determine how well your body is managing the carbohydrates in your diet. See your doctor to order those test.