Friday, October 11, 2013

Tom Hanks Could Reverse His Diabetes

Type II diabetes is simply caused by a poor diet. In Tom’s defense, his dramatic weight fluctuations to meet the various roles he has played required terrible dietary practices. In gaining, or losing 30 pounds or more over relatively short spans of time, he has highlighted an exaggerated form of SAD (the Standard American Diet).

Americans just eat too much, too much of everything – protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Obesity rates, currently at 37 % nationally, are skyrocketing. Type II diabetes is also at epidemic levels and scientists predict about half the adult population of the United States will be diabetic by 2050, unless our eating habits change. Only one diet has been shown to increase longevity – reduced caloric intake. So Tom, you and the rest of the country have to start eating less.

Now let’s talk about food quality. It is estimated that early man, the hunter-gatherer, ate a bushel basket of fruits and vegetables per day. That seems like a lot of food, but it was not a lot of calories. These foods were high in fiber and much of the material passed through as undigested bulk. Today, the bulk of our diet is refined carbohydrates, devoid of insoluble fiber, and loaded with calories. These simple sugars rush into our blood stream and tax our pancreas and liver, dismantling our ability to manage blood glucose levels.

The solution is quite simple – I recommend 5 servings of vegetables each day, 2 fruit servings, and 3 servings of protein. If Tom (and the rest of the nation) would just meet these simple goals daily, there is little room for the refined foods and they drop away from the diet. Unfortunately, when I review food journals in my practice, I often find diets that average less than one serving of fruits or vegetables per day. The protein intake is usually adequate, unless the patient is trying to lose weight, then they typically will restrict the protein intake as well, piling on more refined carbohydrates. Then they wonder why they can’t lose weight.

Early detection of diabetes is where you need to start. It is not enough to test your fasting glucose. That just shows how well your body manages glucose without the stress of adding any calories from eating. Everyone should have a glycohemoglobin A1c performed yearly. This test measures what percentage of your RBCs (red blood cells) are saturated with sugar. The A1c tells us what your blood sugar has averaged over the course of the past two months. Tom Hanks A1c has been elevated for years prior to his diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. Yours may be elevated as well. Every week I see young adults with early signs of diabetes, all undetected, all unaware of the devastating disease they are creating by eating SAD.