You’ve heard it from patients time and again: “I don’t have diabetes, so why should I worry about blood sugar?”
It is the same response my father used to give me until he ended up with and ultimately succumbed to the devastating effects of diabetes. As a healthcare provider with more than 20 years of experience in chiropractic and nutrition, I realized that the information that I shared with him didn’t connect. Thus the age-old problem: What you say versus what they hear. It’s time for a message that is relevant, connects with your clients, and provides solutions.
Foods are broken down in the digestive system into both macronutrients and micronutrients. Most patients are familiar with macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Some are obsessed with how to measure them and how much energy they contain. The bottom line is that macronutrients are a fuel source for the body.
If you consume more food than you can make use of, your body has to deal with storing the excess fuel. Given the American tendency toward over-consumption, especially in regard to carbohydrates, it is no wonder that the body has become an effective fuel storage wizard.
Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, a simple sugar. Bread, pasta, potatoes, dessert, cereal, candy, and sodas all become glucose. Glucose is then used as a fuel source for cells.
It is the overabundance of glucose that becomes the issue. The specialized beta cells of the pancreas release a hormone—insulin—to allow mainly muscle and liver cells to store excess glucose in the form of glycogen. Once the glycogen stores reach their limit, the remaining glucose is converted to fat.
If carbohydrate consumption remains high, then the pancreas continues to secrete insulin. But if the muscle and liver cells are already loaded with glycogen, the insulin receptor sites on those cells become resistant to the effects of insulin and signal fat cells to store the excess.
If a patient adopts a routine of reduced exercise, overconsumption of carbohydrates, and a diet of empty calories, he or she will promote insulin resistance that, if not corrected, may turn into type 2 diabetes. The pancreas will continue to secrete more insulin, “thinking” that what it has already released is not getting the job done.
The greater a patient’s insulin levels, the worse the insulin resistance.
Consequently, the rise in insulin levels leads to abdominal weight gain, inflammation, oxidative stress, out-of- control appetite, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thickening of the blood, and high triglycerides, all of which increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blood sugar issues that lead to diabetes, from a financial and human health viewpoint, are a major drain on society. According to the American Diabetes Association, the estimated total economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, a more than a 40-percent increase from the previous estimate of $175 billion in 2007.1 Blood sugar issues and diabetes are serious disorders that require effective treatment. Fortunately, in most cases, blood sugar issues are reversible and can be corrected.
A highly effective approach to resolving blood sugar issues involves educating patients about proper dietary and lifestyle choices. In my clinic, I use a 10-day blood sugar program. During the program, a patient is given detailed dietary guidelines, lifestyle modification recommendations, a unique protocol of specific nutrients, and optional daily email support. The information is arranged to encourage patients to take the actions needed to achieve their goals.
For a patient looking to make a permanent change in regard to his or her health, the program has to be effective and achievable. During the program, document the changes a patient experiences. Quantify results with body composition analysis and blood laboratory testing. By seeing positive outcomes, a patient will be more encouraged to continue on the path to better health and function.
Blood sugar counseling
When coaching your patients on a blood-sugar program, encourage them to make these better choices:
Better nutrition. Keep things simple. Eliminate processed carbohydrates, sugars, and eat a whole-food diet of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, seeds, nuts, good fats, and some whole grains.
Healthier activities. Life is about motion and some is better than none. After diet, exercise plays a major role in preventing or reversing blood sugar issues. Start by walking daily for 30 to 45 minutes and add some form of resistance weight training three to six times per week.
The right supplements. All supplements are not created equal. Those sourced primarily from whole foods and herbs should complement one’s daily dietary intake.
A less toxic environment. Toxicity robs vitality and health from the body. Purchase green cleaning products and avoid environmental toxins whenever possible.
Hydration. The solution to pollution is dilution. Make it a daily goal to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of clean filtered water for each pound you weigh.
Positive thoughts. Seek out the best information that fits your personal goals. Emotional stress can wreak havoc on the adrenal system and lead to a multitude of health conditions. Align with individuals who will be the wind in your sail, not an anchor weighing you down.
Educate and inspire
In an era of massive agriculture conglomerates and controversial GMOs, it is vital to be an information hub for how food choices determine quality of life for your patients. Hope Shand, the former research director of Canadian agriculture think tank, stated: “We’ve never before in the history of agriculture had so few people making decisions about the future of agriculture and food security.”
Quality of life comes down to choices. Every choice a patient makes has benefits and consequences. As a healthcare professional leading the wellness revolution, do your part to share the relevant message of blood sugar control, and inspire your patients to make better choices, changing their lives for the better.
John Bennett, DC, maintains a successful wellness practice in Morgantown, West Virginia. As an independent certified coach and speaker with the John Maxwell Team, he is committed to developing relationships with other health providers to educate them on building successful wellness offices to better serve their clients. He can be reached through drjohnbennett.com.
1 American Diabetes Association. “The Cost of Diabetes.” http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html#sthash.ET 9Q8S5b.dpuf. Updated June 2015. Accessed Aug. 2015.