Type 2 diabetics can bring their blood sugar measurements within the normal range without medicine if they are diagnosed early and they adopt a lifestyle change. I did this in less than a year and I will share my journey in this blog post in the hopes that others can do the same thing and not only improve the quality of their life but also extend it.
On 08-MAR-13 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. My A1C measurement was 11.5% (which is literally almost off the charts since the maximum is 12%) and my morning blood sugar measurement was 352 mg/dL (which also bumps into the maximum level of 400 on most meters). It should also be noted that in March 2013 I was 20 pounds over my normal ‘fighting weight’ and this also contributed to my poor physical health.
My Endocrinologist prescribed the maximum dose of Janumet and that accompanied with an increase in my exercise regime brought my A1C and fasting blood sugar measurements within the range of where Diabetics are asked to be – fasting blood sugar measurements of around 125 mg/dL and around 150 mg/dL two hours after a meal. It should be noted that during the first 4 months on this Janumet/Exercise regime I did lose 10 of the 20 pounds that I needed to lose and that also helped.
But that wasn’t good enough for me. These blood sugar measurements are not normal for a non-diabetic (less than 100 mg/dL fasting and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after a meal) and I wanted to be in that range without medicine. There is sufficient evidence that high blood sugar measurements, even those classified as ‘normal’ by the American Diabetes Association, can lead to brain loss so just meeting the limits of the ADA was not enough for me.
When I expressed that desire to my Endocrinologist in July 2013, I was told to give up that fantasy because my genetics predisposed me to Type 2 Diabetes and I should get comfortable taking 2 pills a day to control my blood sugar. Sorry doc, that’s not the way I operate!
Against the advice of my doctor but based on a comment thread in an earlier blog post, I decided in August 2013 to stop taking my medicine and undertake a radical, short term diet (based on a medical study from Newcastle University) to eliminate the fat around my pancreas and restart my beta cell/insulin production.
This diet is not easy and amounted to 800 calories per day with very little carbohydrates but I committed to do it for 2 weeks just to see what would happen. To my surprise, after a week on this diet I lost that final 10 pounds and my morning blood sugar measurements were in the 70’s
For the past 5 months after that radical diet, I have settled into a high fat (100 – 150g per day), high protein (100 – 150g per day) diet of around 2,000 – 2,500 calories a day and limited my carbohydrates to around 40g per day. Those 40g of carbs come mainly from nuts, berries and vegetables and I totally eliminated bread, rice, grits, potatoes and other starchy carbs.
The results can be best shown via this graph of my morning blood sugar measurements which I started logging the day I was diagnosed. The red arrow signifies the point where I started the week long diet and long term life style change. Also note that there is a month gap where I stopped logging my morning blood sugar measurements in my spreadsheet but I did measure them everyday wi my meter and they were in the 130 – 150 mg/dL range.
On 13-JAN-14 I had my 6 month checkup with my Endocrinologist and my A1C measurement was 5.1% (which is right in the middle of where a normal, non-diabetic would be) and based on that, my doctor ‘released’ me! My blood sugar measurements are now ‘normal’ without medicine so (in my doctor’s own words) there is no reason to see him every 6 months and I can get a yearly A1C with my primary care physician during my annual physical.
Although this is a ‘happy ending’, this is not the end. This lifestyle change is something I’m committed to do for the rest of my life and I continue to learn something every week about how what I put in my mouth correlates to my overall health and blood sugar measurements so expect many more blog posts about what I’ve learned.
What I hope to stress to everyone reading this blog post is that the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis I received in March of 2013 was not a death sentence but instead a wakeup call.
After that diagnosis, I wondered what goes through the mind of a diabetic who is in the hospital getting prepped to get his feet amputated. Does he think about all the pizzas, cup cakes, baked potatoes, french fries and sub sandwiches he’s eaten over the course of his life and say, ‘yea, that was totally worth it?’ Or does he wish he could have a few more years to walk his daughter down the aisle, see his son graduate from college or hold his grandchild in his arms? I think it is the latter and I’m taking responsibility now for what goes in my mouth so I can lead a long, full life and be there for my family.