Q. In your latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution, and also when you are speaking to groups throughout the country, you
advocate using community support to combat the diseases of obesity and diabetes,
stating that it actually works better than medication. You have even made the
statement that, if we want to get healthy, rather than going to a doctor we
might want to go to a church instead. Could you please explain?
A. There is more data coming in
daily that indicates that the power of a supportive community is far greater
than any physician, clinic or hospital. The missing ingredient we've been
looking for in a cure for diabesity is not another medication, but the community.
The community is the medicine! People need someone else to accompany them on
their journey to good health. They need the support, the camaraderie, the
empathy and the encouragement only others can provide. The solution to this
current epidemic will never come from governments, health care institutions or
corporations. Big Pharma is never going to come out with a miracle drug that
will cure everyone. But what has been proven to work over and over again, in
different settings—workplaces, community centers, faith-based centers and
schools—is building a community-based support system that serves to guide
people toward sustainable behavior and lifestyle change.
realization is starting to spread in the health care community. Doctors
frustrated with the failure of medication to treat their patients with chronic
illness, obesity and diabetes are starting small groups with eight to 30
patients and are meeting weekly to teach them about nutrition, cooking,
shopping, exercise, stress management and more.
Blood Sugar Solution I write about the work done with Pastor Rick
Warren and his congregation at Saddleback Church in California. In January
2011, we introduced a healthy lifestyle curriculum to members of Rick's church.
Though we were hoping a few hundred would sign up, our hopes were greatly
exceeded. In the first month, 15,000 church members signed up to participate in
taking back their health, and in the year that followed they lost a combined
quarter million pounds. They also lost the need for many medications, the need
to be hospitalized and the need to go to the doctor as often. What they gained
was more energy, better sleep, better blood pressure, better mood, better skin
and a better sex drive. And they did so, not by using some marvelous new drug
but by learning and implementing the simple steps of self-care and then helping
their neighbor do the same. The power of positive peer pressure works. It
disease can be left in the hospital, but creating health and healing of chronic
disease seems to happen best in the community with people helping people where
each one of us lives—where we eat, cook, learn, work, play and pray.
Q. You have given the current health epidemic a new name. You call it diabesity. Could you please explain what diabesity is?
A. Diabesity is the underlying
cause that drives most chronic illnesses. Caused by insulin resistance, which
is also the real biological cause of obesity, diabesity is a condition of
metabolic imbalance and disease that ranges from a mild blood sugar imbalance
to diabetes. One in two Americans will be affected by diabesity by 2020, and,
sadly, 90 percent of them will not be diagnosed. While currently there are no
national screening recommendations, no treatment guidelines and no approved
medications, diabesity is impacting more than 100 million Americans and causing
a huge economic burden, costing us over $2 trillion a year in health care
costs. Diabesity is the leading cause of chronic illness, including heart
disease, stroke, dementia and cancer. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be
fewer than 20 million deaths worldwide from infectious disease but more than 50
million will die from these chronic but preventable diabesity-generated
diseases. Because of this, we are now raising the first generation of Americans
that will be sicker and die younger than their parents.
deal with diabesity in your latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution. But
if diabesity is the real culprit, then why is blood sugar an important issue?
A. Blood sugar imbalance is the root
cause of diabesity. Correcting a blood sugar imbalance is not only the secret
to losing weight, but will also prevent heart disease, stroke, dementia and
cancer. While the title of the book is The
Blood Sugar Solution, the book is about far more than just blood sugar. It is
about getting to the very root of the problem and providing a solution on a
biological, personal, social and economic level.
Q. You have also written a good bit about insulin resistance and have
stated that it is the underlying cause of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. What
exactly is insulin resistance?
A. A diet full of empty calories,
quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories and refined carbohydrates—the kind of
diet often referred to as the standard American diet—causes the body to require
more insulin to keep the blood sugar in balance. Continue with the diet for a
while and your cells slowly become numb to the effects of insulin and need more
and more of it to keep blood sugar levels balanced. In other words, your body
becomes insulin resistant. This resistance is the real biological cause of the
obesity and diabesity epidemic that impacts more than 100 million Americans and
over one billion people worldwide. It is also the single most important
phenomenon leading to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases,
including heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.
the most significant problems with insulin resistance is that doctors don't
often catch it in the early stages. The first sign of insulin resistance is a
higher than normal insulin level, but very few doctors ever test for this.
Insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes, often goes undiagnosed until
the patient has developed diabetes and the symptoms manifest.
may include weight gain around the belly and blood pressure swings that lead to
anxiety, irritability and feeling overly tired. Palpitations and panic attacks
may even occur. I recommend testing for anyone who has a family history of Type
2 diabetes, an increased waist size or abnormal cholesterol levels.
Q. You have written that evidence suggests an unexpected cause of
diabesity is a toxic digestive system. Could you please explain what that is
and how we can get rid of it?
A. Our diet has changed
dramatically over the last 10,000 years and even more so in just the last
century. The standard American diet consists of eating foods that are highly
processed, high-sugar, high-fat and low fiber. This has altered the bacteria
that historically grew in our digestive tracts, and that change has been
scientifically linked to weight gain and diabetes. Toss in many other modern
inventions like antibiotics, acid blockers, anti-inflammatory medications,
aspirin, steroids, antibiotics in our food supply, chronic stress and even
cesarean births that injure the gut, alter our gut flora and lead to systemic
inflammation, and you have a health crisis cocktail in the making.
take back out health by improving the quality of the diet with whole, fresh,
high-fiber foods that can significantly reduce inflammation and the resulting
weight gain by simply supporting healthy flora in the intestine. In my book, The
Blood Sugar Solution, I outline a six-week healthy living program that
will enable the reader to re-inoculate the gut with good bacteria and repair
the gut lining with omega-3 fats, zinc, glutamine and other healing nutrients.
This can turn a toxic digestive system back into a non-toxic system that once
again functions at maximum level and allows for lifelong health.
Q. Dr. Hyman, you are known for suggesting that we should let the fork
replace our medicine bottles. Could you please explain what you mean when you
make that suggestion?
A. Food is singlehandedly
the most powerful medicine available to heal chronic disease, which will
account for over 50 million deaths.
To this end, all we need
to do is eat our medicine and think of our grocery store as our pharmacy. The
Chinese have known this for centuries. The word for eating in Chinese is
comprised of two characters: Chi fan, or eat rice. The word for taking medicine
is chi yao, or eat medicine. The ancient culinary traditions of China created
meals for pleasure as well as healing. Studies have shown that, even in
advanced type 2 diabetes, cells can recover and diabetes can be reversed in
just ONE week by dramatic changes in diet (very low glycemic, low calorie plant-based
diet). Diet can be more powerful than any medicine.
For more information visit www.bloodsugarsolution.com