Image via Flickr, by Paulo Etxeberria
The dreaded “D-words”: devils, demons, diseases, diabetes. I can’t speak for everyone’s spiritual condition…but I can nearly guarantee that, if you’re reading this, you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or know someone personally who is. That’s how close this particular disease is to us, one degree of separation, and small wonder. Though it seems an acceptable evil nowadays, like dental caries and tonsillectomies, diabetes is the stairwell to a dungeon of miseries. Amputation, blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and nerve damage can all be awful expressions of advanced biological systems failure, preceded by constant blood sugar imbalance and rampant insulin overproduction. The sad part is that the suffering is unnecessary. Imbalances can be balanced, overproduction can scaled back. Life can be good again.
Rooted in Wheat and Sugar
According to chiropractor Bruce West, diabetes is rooted in the increased consumption of refined wheat products, paired with the sedentary lifestyle of the western world. In his book, The 45 Day Health Turnaround, Dr. West states, “This disease is caused by eating processed foods loaded with wheat, sugar, and corn syrup, all the while staying on the couch and avoiding exercise.” If that’s you, this may be your wake-up call.
What’s the quick fix? Get more exercise; oh, and remove wheat and sugar from your diet. Easier said than done, I know; the typical English-speaker swallows roughly 125 pounds of sugar every year. And we’re not referring to heavy whole-meal or sprouted grain breads made (usually) at home, many without yeast, as these do retain nutritional value. Rather, let’s identify the troublemaker as the light-as-a-cloud, refined-then-refortified, loaves and pastries of simple carbohydrates that stock the public pantries. If you are in your best health and fitness ever, an empty carb treat once in a while has no immediate peril. The pre-diabetic, however, is already on the precipice of disaster. Less wheat products, less sugar, more physical activity, these are the new rules.
Those three new rules threaten to put the kibosh on “enjoying life” for half my readers, I suppose. Unless, of course, you’re desperate for pain-free longevity. Some of you dear readers have already recognized something is way out of balance; there’s a huge difference in how “old” you feel today, in surprising contrast to how “alive” you remember yourself being, maybe only a few short years ago. If you’re not yet convinced wheat flour + sugar = disease, try removing only these two items from your diet. You may find this alone to be near impossible, as sugar shows up everywhere in processed foods. If you can stick to the wheat / sugar fast for two weeks, take note of how you feel. Is your energy longer-lasting? Is mental clarity sharper? Keep on this fast for as long as you can. You may want to get your blood sugar levels tested as you go, for a more analytical metric. Dr. West goes on to say, “without exercise and the elimination of, or dramatic reduction in, wheat intake, you simply will never overcome diabetes. And conversely, with these two factors and the right supplements, you can be drug-free within 90 days.” That’s quite a prognosis, flying in the face of the conventional prescription meds model. But what have you got to lose? What could you regain?
Daily exercise seems to be an insurmountable hurdle for some. For me, I don’t mind it; but my husband, for example, only gets excited about physical activity if it involves a game or socializing. Find your inspiration. Promising to hit the gym in the morning, then waking up and not going breeds guilt. Guilt is not conducive to improving health. If you cannot muster the energy to crawl toward your goal, at least fall in the general direction; 20 minutes of Wii Fit is not too meager a beginning, if that’s all a body can take. You inhabit an amazing vessel, in that it will not develop until you make impossible demands of it. Consider the immobility that is overcome within the first year of life, when a newborn goes from struggling to hold its head up, to standing triumphantly, their relatively huge body balanced atop cute little feet and toes. That first year of development is an expression of unfettered faith in action. Over the course of a lifetime, that faith is hammered, attacked, and otherwise eroded, by means equally spiritual and physical. The infant who observed people walking upright, having no reason to believe he or she was ineligible for such a feat, has become so invaded by defeatist programming that the adult limits itself. No external forces need be imposed any more; the adult no longer believes in an ability which the infant never questioned. The joy of living, jumping, and running, has been usurped by the comfort of sitting, watching, bingeing.
The problem for the diabetic is a transparent one. The body is not managing insulin production well. The human body was designed to heal itself. Most of us were not born with critical deficiencies, weren’t brought into the world needing assembly and batteries. The healthy child of a healthy mother arrives a specimen of glowing health. And with good feeding and care, this little person should be able to go on for decades, requiring minimal maintenance. But what we see in this country, among our own people, is not good feeding and care. We see an accepted ethos of medicating and chemical micromanagement. Prescription medications are inherently deceptive, and should be approached with caution. There may yet be a need for antibiotics, for example; a few I know who survived this winter’s flu onslaught believe their lives were saved by them. Fair enough, but we cannot survive in an anti-biotic state forever. The prescription fallacy plays out when we think a problem is resolved because the symptom’s discomfort is alleviated. In reality, if we maintain the same poor diet and lifestyle choices, the ailments persist. More accurately, they are quietly worsening. The next wake-up alarm could be louder, with no snooze button.
The Need for Change
The statisticians suggest that more than 30 percent of Americans are trending toward obesity. Many overweight diabetics and pre-diabetics are given misleading information as regards weight loss. Whether they are advised by medical professionals, or they come to their own conclusions, losing weight is often seen as the priority first step toward healing. But this is not necessarily so. Granted, maintaining a healthy body to mass ratio is a good thing; but weight gain may be as much a symptom of chemical or hormone imbalances as it is it’s own problem. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., in his book, “Eat for Health”, observes that excellent nutritional intake has “profound effects on improving pancreatic function and lowering insulin resistance over and above what could be accomplished with weight loss alone.” Dr. Fuhrman advocates a high-nutrient diet which, in my experience, very few people are willing to follow. This has as much to do with belief as it does effort and willpower. If you are a believer, then you’re already aware of the never-ending quest for a greener-green, a more “organic” whole food. All this adds up to time and money, and even the crunchiest of us are susceptible to taking short cuts for expediency.
As long as people generally believe they’re doing okay, no crippling aches or pains, people don’t change. We see it in nations as well as in the individual. All too frequently, the desperation level must become hellish before we are motivated to repent. Nowhere is this as obvious as in how we satisfy our appetites. It becomes an issue of philosophy, perhaps of morality. Before naysayers poo-poo such notions, spend a few years watching a loved one knowingly and willfully destroy his or her health right in front of you, not caring enough to make the effort. No matter the validity of their reasoning, you’ll find your morality, and your exasperation threshold.
Nutrient-rich eating is the ideal, without question; in fact, it is how our ancestors survived and thrived since the Flood. Unless we grow our own veggies from heirloom seeds, we take your chances at the grocery store and growers markets. Purists resolve to be on a first-name-basis with their growers. It’s people who do the planting, after all; people feed other people.
Finding What Works
What if “the best” produce is 30 miles from home, or more, and you work in the opposite direction anyway? And what if you’re already maxing out your window well with potted herbs and peppers? Vitamin and mineral supplements were created for such reasons. Most Americans are barely getting the minimum recommended daily allowance of the essentials; going for optimum health requires intention and focus. If fresh, raw, whole foods are the vehicle to longevity, nutritional supplementation can be seen as the insurance. But again, you’re looking for high quality plant-based natural products to put into your body, to serve your essential functions, which requires more diligence on your part. The old question arises again: isn’t life worth living? Aren’t you worth thriving, not merely existing?
Balancing our internal systems through proper diet, exercising our muscles, lungs, and brain — these are the simple keys to happy longevity. This is the straight and narrow path to health, physical, emotional, and mental. Deviation from this protocol, neglecting the fundamentals — these are the slippery slopes into the abyss of discomforts, diseases, and miseries. Some of us who leave “the path” in our youth, with cavalier disdain for self-discipline, return to the high road later in life, licking our wounds. Some never make it back to optimal health at all, struggling for decades under the likes of those above-mentioned horrors. A few leave us altogether; their stories and wisdom remain unknown to us.
We gain much by being vigilant over our wellness, and we have much to offer to those around us as we do. If you know you’re sliding down the slope, you can dig your heels in right now, with the determination to arrest your own disability and destruction before it’s too late. The good news is that, while there is yet breath in our lungs, it is not too late to make changes. Small improvements add up to the renovation of a life. Today’s the day.