The Struggle of Diabetes, and Hope through Intermittent Fasting.

“Sea Eagle”, jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2001

I don’t write about my health…or at least I don’t remember doing so.  I have been a diabetic for around 12 years, I think, though datelines on this disease are generally hard to pin down.

Mostly I have lived in denial, or made half-baked attempts at doing something about this disease.  However, I have been seeing different diabetic doctors and frankly?  They don’t seem to really get to the root of this ailment.  At least they don’t to me, except to prescribe more and more drugs.  Perhaps this is just the state of American medicine, but I think there are so many conflicting theories out there about diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, etc., that  it overwhelms them and patients, all of us together.

Two months ago I had an appointment with my GP.  I like him, he is a dear person, but I do think that his only real answer is more drugs. And more tests.  Five years ago I started a course of insulin and gained twenty pounds in six months on the injections.  Being then a belly dance teacher, my midriff bloated and was marked by the bruising of the daily needle.  Not an attractive sight for students or anyone looking.

I was really stressed at the weight gain and even intensive walking and dieting didn’t do much.  So I quit the insulin and the diabetic symptoms continued, though the bloating stopped.  I was rather lucky because the only outward sign of the disease was a numbness in my feet, or more so a pins and needle feeling.  At times I couldn’t touch my feet with a washcloth because of the extreme sensations. I am sure that there were more things going on inside of me, serious stuff, but I didn’t feel much of the effects.  And that is probably the problem with diabetes:  It’s called a silent killer, along with the extremely high blood pressure that seems to go along with the disease.

My sweet doctor put me back on insulin, and tried to prescribe Humalog, and other ‘stuff’ but I refused everything besides the insulin.  Metformin was ok, because it has some benefits besides diabetes, but it seems to lose its efficiency in a matter of years.

Since that depressing appointment, and the different hospital tests that I was registered for, I have done a lot more research.  I have read everything I could on the internet, plus a pile of books by different diabetes gurus I had at hand.

I needed to make a radical rupture with what I knew and what I was told by my doctors.  And within the last few weeks I see a ray of more than hope:  I see progress.

I have come to believe that the root problem for Type II diabetics is usually insulin resistance.  The body is complex but there seems to be a general path to all of this.  Or perhaps individual bodies are different, and respond in different ways, but there are some universal truths out there.

Insulin makes you fat.  I won’t repeat what I have learned through my reading, anyone diabetic can read for themselves, but giving a Type II diabetic insulin seems wrong: counterproductive.  More insulin leads to a higher Insulin Resistance, or so it seems.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I am not addressing Type I diabetics because that is of a different nature and way beyond my interest.  I am just trying to make a breakthrough in my own health and future.

For the past month, I have been following a routine of IF:  Intermittent Fasting and a relatively low carbohydrate diet.  But what I feel is of most value is the IF factor:  There are different methods to do this, some fast for two days a week and eat “normally” the remaining five days, and some fast everyday a matter of hours.  I have fallen into the latter routine.  And I see amazing results already.

I was on Victoza  for about a year and a half, but it really stopped working in my system.  Apparently my results are not unusual.  I also suffered two episodes of pancreatitis because of the Victoza (I was warned in their literature of this possibility) and didn’t want to push it.

IF works (at least for many) because we  have evolved not eating everyday, or stuffing our mouths all day.  That was the way life was:  you hunted, and if you were successful, you ate.  Otherwise, you grubbed for roots and berries. You could go for days without food.  You basically fasted more time than you had access to food.

Today?  We can supply ourselves with food at any time and at all hours. And what we are eating is modified, intensively processed and artificial.  Grains have been modified in the 60’s, especially wheat and corn.  What were slower digesting carbs now metabolize in the mouth and then in the gut.  Slow is no longer available to many of our grains. Beans are better, but are heavy, slow digesting carbs.

I ditched the insulin very recently.  I fast for 18-20 hours in a 24 hour period.  It’s easier than it seems because in doing so, my hunger seems to have dropped off in two weeks.  I try not to eat after 6-7pm at night and I don’t eat anything until 2 or 3pm.  I allow myself a 4-5 hour window of time to eat.  And I eat mostly low carb, but I do fudge on some fruit….apples, pears, mostly.

Thankfully I am asleep for most of those hours….and my sleep is better after struggling with this for many years. I do drink green teas and lemon water upon waking, but have dropped coffee…just because I am losing the taste for it.

Apparently it takes a LOT of energy to digest food.  Having a period of rest for the gut and digestion enables the body to redirect energy to other places in the body. And repair systems, cells, etc.

I have pushed myself a bit on this routine this week because of the results in blood sugar:  Yesterday, without insulin,….105….today….122.  The numbers are good to me, though the point is to get them consistently in the ‘normal’ range…..around 100 or lower.  That will come, but I am very surprised at the results so early on in this venture.  Low carb is very much part of it, but the main factor I believe is in the Intermittent Fasting.

I don’t see my doctor again until after the first of the year.  The holidays are almost upon us, but low carb is easily followed with turkey and salads, greens, butter, the wonderful stuff of eating that actually is healthy for us.  High fat, but not too much of that.

We are told (us diabetics) that diabetes gets worse as we age. Perhaps so if we continue down the paths we have been going.  I am trying to make a radical rupture with everything I think I can change and control.  Already I have lost another 5 lbs in a couple of weeks, and I haven’t tried at all.  It’s been raining here for a while, and my dogs refuse to walk in the rain.  We will see what exercise we can get when the sun starts to shine, but already, my blood pressure is much better and I have a lot more energy.  Perhaps IF is similar in effect to serious exercise.  Something to think about….

I have come to believe that Insulin Resistance is the root problem in diabetes and this isn’t addressed strongly enough by the medical community. High blood sugars are just part of the symptoms, but not the root cause of our disease. So we have to figure it out ourselves.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Mimi Cat August

Mimi says “Eat mice, silly…no problems at all”.

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