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Dr. Mark Hyman's approach to diabetes is to treat insulin resistance as the cause of diabetes instead of treating the effects of insulin resistance, i.e. high blood sugar, inflammation, and other blood sugar related conditions. To treat insulin resistance, Dr. Hyman has devised a system of interventions to build healthy active lifestyles. Dr. Hyman uses the term diabesity as a more comprehensive term for the continuum from optimal blood sugar balance toward insulin resistance and diabetes.
Diabesity is the number 1 cause of obesity, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. Diabesity affects 50% of the U.S., but 90% of us don’t know we have it. It is a condition of metabolic imbalance that ranges from mild blood sugar imbalance to full-blown diabetes. It also goes by many other names such as: Insulin resistance, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, Syndrome X, adult-onset diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes. Put simply, it will make you fat, sick, and kill you.1
Effect of Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution on Diabetes Type 2
Dr. Hyman asserts that lifestyle interventions are the most effective treatment for diabesity (and diabetes). Conventional medicine doesn’t cover the continuum of health, underlying threats, and full-blown disease. You either have diabetes or not, which is based on a measure of blood sugar above 126. Blood-sugar tests don’t account for metabolic imbalance, which is the underlying cause of diabesity-related conditions.
Furthermore, conventional medicine treats the superficial symptoms of diabesity such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These do not address the most important question: What caused diabesity in the first place?1
What we eat, how much we exercise, how we relax and manage stress, and our exposure to environmental and food-based toxins all impact our susceptibility for diabetes. Therefore, the solutions we should be seeking are lifestyle interventions that build states of health specific to our unique biological make-up, as opposed to managing disease.2
Dr. Hyman describes and explains 7 keys to treating diabesity and achieving peak wellness.
- Boost nutrition: One of the primary causes for the growing prevalence of diabesity is the Standard American Diet (SAD). SAD contains too much processed sugar, processed fats, and oils, salt, refined grains, additives, hormones and pesticides. As a result the majority of our population is nutrient deficient in omega-3 fats, fiber, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, antioxidants and more.3 Dr. Hyman asserts that, “Our grocery story should be our pharmacy.” We need to make real, whole foods our primary source of nutrition.
- Regulate Hormones: Our hormones – insulin, sex, adrenal or stress, and thyroid – are interconnected. They combine with each other “like a big musical symphony. When this symphony is out of tune, problems arise.” For example, thyroid disease is closely correlated with insulin resistance. Having one increases the chances of having the other.4, 5 It is critical to achieving optimal health to maintain proper balance and regulation of hormones.
- Reduce Inflammation: Anything that causes inflammation will also cause insulin resistance. Conversely, anything that causes insulin resistance will also cause inflammation. This “dangerous spiral is at the root of so many of our 21st century chronic maladies,” Hyman says. Those who have high blood levels of markers for systemic inflammation have a drastically increased probability of developing diabetes.6 Finding and eliminating causes of inflammation and supporting normal immune function is key to health and longevity.
- Optimize Digestion: Our diet has changed dramatically in the last 10,000 years. It has changed even more so in the last 100 years with the industrialized food supplies. Highly processed, high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber foods have substantially altered the bacteria that naturally grows in our digestive tracts. This change is linked to weight gain and diabetes.7 Medical interventions such as antibiotics, acid blockers, steroids, anti-inflammatory medicines, are all detrimental to a properly working digestive system. Reestablishing optimized digestion is key to health.
- Enhance Detoxification: The traditional calories in/calories out approach to diabetes is limited. Scientific data shows that additional environmental toxins interfere with blood sugar and cholesterol metabolism and cause insulin resistance and type II diabetes.8 Specific strategies to enhance detoxification are key to health and weight loss.
- Maximize Energy Metabolism: Our metabolism turns calories and oxygen into energy that fuels every cell in our body in little factories called mitochondria. When mitochondria are not working properly, we suffer all the symptoms of low energy: fatigue, slow metabolism, weight gain, memory loss, pain, rapid aging, and more. The mitochondria in people with diabesity do not work as well as they do in healthy people.9 Protecting our energy system and boosting metabolism are key to optimal health.
- Soothe Your Mind: In the face of chronic stress, our levels of insulin, cortisol, and inflammatory compounds called cytokines all increase. This influx of stress-related hormones is characteristic of a metabolic disharmony that leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes. This is apparent in research that found people with depression are 17 percent more likely to develop diabetes.10 Soothing the mind is a key strategy to maintain optimal well-being.
The Blood Sugar Solution11 is a six-week repeatable program that enhances your lifestyle based on these seven keys. It is a lifestyle treatment for that builds optimal physical, mental, and environmental habits toward the goal of reversing diabesity. The program is explained in more detail under the section titled "How to Use Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution."
Read more details about Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution.
Research Evidence on Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution
Dr. Hyman's approach to lifestyle changes for diabesity is based on an abundance of research related to diabetes, blood sugar tests, typical foods in the American diet, and medical interventions for managing blood sugar.
Diabetes is related to various other conditions including:
- Heart disease12
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attacks13
- Liver failure16
- Depression and mood disorders10
- Nervous system damage
- Kidney failure
- Periodontal or gum disease
Medical treatment for diabetes is aimed at managing blood sugar, but this isn't the underlying cause of diabetes. In fact, lowering blood sugar leads to higher risk of heart attack and deaths according to the ACCORD study in the New England Journal of Medicine13. Treatment with insulin is only a cosmetic treatment. It lowers blood sugar, but actually increases insulin resistance, which is the primary cause of high blood sugar.
Dr. Hyman also presents evidence to the contrary of typical beliefs about diabetes and diabesity. Research evidence counter indicates the following myths about diabetes:
- Diabetes is genetic (or predetermined by genetics): Instead, research shows that 90 percent of our gene expression is determined by our environment instead of the genetic makeup itself. Therefore, diet, air, water, drugs, pollutants, radiation and stressors have a greater impact on our risks for diabetes. 17
- Diabetes isn't reversible: In fact, research shows that even in people with advanced type 2 diabetes can recover through dramatic dietary changes.18
- Pre-diabetes isn't a problem until it turns into full blown diabetes: Actually, the risk of heart attack increases with any overall increase in average blood sugar.19
- Once you start on insulin, there is no going back: Actually with aggressive lifestyle interventions and medical supervision you can reverse diabetes and stop insulin treatment.20
- Lowering blood sugar with medication prevents death and heart attacks in diabetics: Instead, New England Journal of Medicine research indicates that treating risk factors for heart attack with drugs might be creating more harm than good by ignoring the root causes of disease.21
- Heart surgery and angioplasty are good treatments for diabetics with heart disease: Actually, they work no better than drugs in reducing heart attack and deaths, and have higher risks.22
- Weight loss is necessary for the reversal of diabetes: Weight loss is important, but the quality of food you eat is more important in order to turn genes on or off to prevent or reverse diabetes.23
Basically speaking, you are not doomed to have diabetes if it runs in your family, you are not subject to a lifelong prescription to medications if you have diabetes, and you have options for taking control of your health. The most important thing you can do is take action in improving your diet, exercise, and environmental factors that put you at risk for diabetes.
A final compelling piece of research that supports Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution is The Daniel Plan. The Daniel Plan is a year-long curriculum for physical and spiritual health and renewal utilizing the power of small groups. The Daniel Plan was launched at Saddleback Church in Los Angeles where over 14,000 people signed up to participate. The results of the program included an estimated weight loss 160,000 pounds total, and relief from chronic symptoms such as migraines, asthma, reflux, irritable bowel, depression, insomnia, gout and more.
The research basis of this program was evidence that community works better than medication. Previous research indicated that with lifestyle support and health education, participants lost 5 percent of their overall bodyweight and reduced their diabetes risk by 58 percent. Similar findings have been replicated in programs across the world.24
More research evidence is presented in the section titled "Effect of Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution on Diabetes Type 2."
How to Use Dr. Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution
In The Blood Sugar Solution,11 Dr. Hyman outlines a six week program to attain each of the 7 keys to wellness. The entire program is personally built to your needs based on initial health survey. Each step along the way is guided by your personal level of health based on the surveys.
The initial step in the approach is an overview of nutritional basics. Dr. Hyman explains how to eliminate processed grains, oils, fats, and sugars from your diet. He strongly advises against eating white bread, drinking sugary drinks, and cooking with highly processed oils. The book provides alternatives to replace the regularly used food products in the Standard American Diet (SAD). He also provides over 40 pages of easy to fix recipes that replace foods that are killing us by making us sick and fat.
Many of us are still deficient of some nutrients despite eating a healthy diet. Dr. Hyman lists a variety of supplements might be necessary based on your diet and survey scores. There are tests he recommends requesting from your doctor to ensure you have the right balance of vitamins, minerals, hormones, and other biochemicals.
Next, Dr. Hyman’s program highlights tips for relaxation. The stress response is a major contributor to inflammation and ultimately diabetes, heart disease, and more. Examples of relaxation practices from the Blood Sugar Solution include belly breathing, visualization, media fasts, and maintaining a regular sleep pattern. Practicing these relaxation methods slows stress responses, and decreases dangerous levels of cortisol in your body.
Then, Dr. Hyman outlines ways to make exercise fun and easy. He acknowledges that if exercise isn’t fun, you’re not likely to do it. To increase your exercise and physical activity, select exercises that you enjoy and feel good doing. One example is dancing, and Dr. Hyman provides information on how to involve strength training, aerobic exercise, and flexibility into your normal routine. Being active supports your detoxification, strengthens your energy, and improves your body’s self-healing response.
Moreover, Dr. Hyman explains how typical household cleaners and other products are poisoning our system and increasing the prevalence of disease. He explains hidden sources of toxins, and provides simple solutions such as investing in houseplant, using air filters, buying nontoxic cleaners, and quitting using your microwave.
Throughout the entire program, Dr. Hyman encourages journaling to enhance self-awareness, promoting relaxation and tracking your progress. At the end of the six week program, you take another self-quiz. You can cycle through the program multiple times until you reach a point where self-care is the primary focus.
The program provides the tools to reverse diabesity, chronic illness, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1Hyman, M. (2011). "Fifty Percent of Americans Suffer from Silent Killer." Retrieved from: drhyman.com.
2Hyman, M. (2011). "8 Steps to Reversing Diabesity." Retrieved from: drhyman.com.
3Gillis L., Gillis A. (2005). Nutrient Inadequacy in obese and non-obese youth. Can J Diet Pract Res., 66(4), 237-234.
4Maratou, E., et al. (2009). Studies of insulin resistance in patients with clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism. Eur J Endocrinol, 160(5), 785-790.
5Ayturk S., et al. (2009). Metabolic syndrome and its counterparts are associated with increased thyroid volume and nodule prevalence in a mild-to-moderate iodine-deficient area. Eur J Endocrinol, 161(4), 599-605.
6Pradhan A.D., et al. (2001). C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. JAMA, 286(3), 327-334.
7Larsen, N., et al. (2010). Gut microbiota in human adults with type 2 diabetes differs from non-diabetic adults. PLoS One, 5(2), e9085.
8Jones, O.A., Maguire, M.L., & Griffin, J.L. (2008). Environmental pollution and diabetes: A neglected association. Lancet, 371(9609), 287-288.
9Hampton, T. (2004). Mitochondrial defects may play role in the metabolic syndrome. JAMA, 292(23), 2823-2824.
10Pan, A., et al. (2010). Bidirectional association between depression and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. Arch of Intern Med., 170(21), 1884-1891.
11Hyman, M., (2012). The blood sugar solution: The UltraHealthy program for losing weight, preventing disease, and feeling great now! Little, Brown: New York.
12Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Age-adjusted percentage of persons with diabetes aged 35 years and older reporting heart disease or stroke, by sex, United States, 1997–2009. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov.
13Gerstein, H.C., et al. (2008). Effects of intensive glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med, 358(24), 2545-2559.
14Ott, A., et al. (1999). Diabetes mellitus and the risk of dementia: The Rotterdam Study. Neurology, 53(9), 1937-1942.
15Kay T., Reeves G.K., Spencer E.A. (2009 Dec 3). Symposium 1: Overnutrition: Consequences and solutions for obesity and cancer risk. Proc Nutr Soc, 1-5.
16Targher, G., Day, C.P., Bonora, E. (2010). Risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. N Engl J Med, 363(14), 1341-1350.
17Lichtenstein P., et al. (2000). Environmental and heritable factors in the causation of cancer--analyses of cohorts of twins from Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. N Engl J Med 343(2), 78-85.
18Lim, E.L., et al. (2011). Reverals of type 2 diabetes: Normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglyerol. Diabetologia, (54)10, 2506-2514.
19Khaw, K.T., et al. (2004). Association of hemoglobin A1c with cardiovascular disease acute mortality in adults: the European perspective investigation into cancer in Norfolk. Ann Intern Med (141)6, 413-420.
20American College of Preventative Medicine. (nd). Metabolic syndrome clinical reference page for nurses. Retrieved from www.acpm.org.
21Haffner, S.M. et al. (1998). Mortality from coronary heart disease in subjects with type 2 diabetes and in nondiabetic subjects with and without prior myocardial infarcation. N Engl J Med 362(16), 1463-1476.
22(2009). A randomized trial of therapies for type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. N Engl J Med 360, 2503.
23Saliba J., Wattacheril, J., Abumrad, N.N. (2009). Endocrine and metabolic response to gastric bypass. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 12(5), 515-521.
24Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. (2009). 10-year follow up of diabetes incidence and weight loss in the Diabetic Prevention Program Outcomes Study. Lancet, 374(9702), 1677-1686.
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