Diabetes is a disease where your body cannot control its blood sugar levels properly – either because your body doesn’t make enough (or any) insulin, or because your cells have become resistant to insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas, it is important because it helps your body process sugars. Diabetes can affect the body in many other ways, including eye disease, foot ulceration, kidney failure, amputation and a higher risk of heart disease. Keeping your blood sugar at a safe level means you’re less likely to experience other health problems. If diabetes is diagnosed and managed effectively, you can still live a long and happy life as long as you stay in control. There are also many people in Fiji living with diabetes who may not even know it because they don’t have the symptoms, it is important to get your blood sugar tested regularly to avoid Diabetes related complications further down the track. The 2002 STEPS survey identified that out of the 16% diabetics, 50% of them were previously unrecognised which is an alarmingly high number. Given the fact that 30% of Fijians have Diabetes, you have a 1 in 3 chance of having or developing diabetes. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. The best way to check if you have diabetes or are at risk is to visit your local health centre. This chart shows the different levels of blood glucose, what are safe levels and what are dangerous levels depending on when you last ate. Even if you have no symptoms at all, it is important to get tested as you may still have diabetes.
You can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes through adopting a healthy lifestyle. By changing your diet, increasing your level of physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, you can stay healthier, live longer and reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your cells have become insulin resistant or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep you healthy.
Blood sugar chart shows the fasting and post prandial values for a normal person, for a person with early and established diabetes.


The final destination of a journey is not, after all, the last item on the agenda, but rather some understanding, however simple or provisional, of what one has seen. In these modern times, with the plethora of blood-sugar-related diseases, we need tools like GI and GL to help us understand ways to control blood sugar. The self-testing, graphic approach to food testing developed in the balance of the newsletter is a less scientific but a more dynamic way to explore postprandial (post-meal) blood glucose levels (BGLs). GI measures the blood glucose impact of foods eaten in isolation, yet we rarely consume foods this way. GI readings vary with the individual—blood sugar and insulin reactions are more extreme for diabetics, for example (See Charts 2A and 2B).
GIs are calculated in the science lab as the day’s first meal after a 12-hour fast and using a fixed serving that includes 50 grams of carbohydrate.  Most of our daily calories, however, are consumed in combination and throughout the day, when our blood sugar is affected by other foods that we have eaten earlier, as well as by our level of activity. Of the following numbered charts, the first three are based upon scientific research journal articles (Charts 1, 2A, 2B), while the last four (Charts 3-6) are constructed from my own self-testing of foods4 using a simple blood glucose monitor. Chart 1:  Blood Sugar Curves of White Bread Compared to Bread with Added Fiber, Sourdough, and Vinegar. Chart 3:  Instant Oatmeal, Whole Oats (Soaked and Not Soaked), and Whole Oats Combined with a Protein and Fat. To fully appreciate the impact of two back-to-back carbohydrate breakfasts please notice that the scale used for Chart 6 is twice that of Charts 3-5. Resetting the Table–to Control Blood Sugar (For a discussion of other strategies, see April 2011). Ramekins filled with condiments like nuts and seeds (GI=0).  Nuts and seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while they slow digestion and curb blood sugar. Sourdough bread or whole-grain bread with whole kernels; butter from grass-fed cows and organic nut and seed butters such as tahini and pumpkin seed butter. A pitcher of water and glasses for all—sometimes we mistake hunger for what is in fact thirst.  You might flavor the water with a little lemon juice or other flavoring. Because 12-hour fasting, pre-meal blood sugar reading can vary, all data points at time zero prior to the first morning meal were indexed to zero in order to illustrate the change from a neutral starting point. I use the label “traditional” carbohydrates, just as we call unrefined fats, “traditional” fats.


Currently almost 1 in every 3 Fijians is being diagnosed with diabetes, that’s 30% of the population. You can always visit your nearest diabetes hub to get your sugar checked ad learn how to stay in control of your diabetes. They can check your blood glucose (sugar) levels there and assess any symptoms you may have.
Blood glucose (blood sugar) monitoring is the main tool you have to check your diabetes control. Innocent foods, spices, yard work, and even your boss can make blood sugar levels jump or dip. The second factor—the postwar shift from traditional to refined carbohydrates—is largely due to the growing role of the commercial food industry and processed, convenience foods.  Convenience foods must have a long shelf-life, so food companies rely upon refined flours and oils, which do not go rancid.
Visual pictures of postprandial blood sugar behavior, while less scientific than GI measurements, are nevertheless powerful learning tools, providing a real flavor for how our body reacts when we eat different kinds of foods.
This chart illustrates the second meal effect– that what we eat at one meal affects postprandial blood sugar behavior at the next. What we do to our children when we give them a sugary cereal or a Pop-tart for breakfast extends beyond this first meal to affect their blood sugar, hunger, concentration, and desire to overeat throughout the rest of the day. One of the best herbs and spices to moderate blood sugar.  It can be sprinkled on hot cereals and desserts such as puddings, custards, and stewed fruits. Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1, it is also more easily avoided if the correct healthy lifestyle is adopted. However, some people with Type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed so it is always best to get your blood sugar levels tested by a medical professional. This is why diabetes and obesity often go hand-in-hand (90% of diabetics are either overweight or obese).
David Ludwig regarding high-glycemic foods and overeating, cited in the Recommended Reading section at the conclusion of this newsletter.



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Comments

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