Wouldn’t you love to sit back this holiday season and enjoy treats, wine and endless mashed potatoes with gravy? Unfortunately the holiday season only rolls around once a year and we decide this is our time to indulge without consequences. Well, maybe we should re-think this attitude… or at least think about moderation of attitude.
Millions of people struggle with a condition known as diabetes mellitus. More than 5 million people have pre-diabetes mellitus (Pre- DM or insulin resistance) in this country and don’t even know it.
As a healthcare provider I am frequently screening my patients in order to catch this disease before it has developed or stop it from occurring all together. This is not a disease that discriminates; both men and women alike are targets.
Most patients and also many providers are not aware of the keen role hormones play in preventing insulin resistance which starts the ball rolling toward full blown diabetes. Testosterone is a key hormone in both men and women that helps our body process and move sugars so that they can burn off easily. If we are deficient in testosterone (yes, both men and women have this hormone) the sugar can’t move into the muscles so the pancreas has to deal with the sugar with insulin. This causes the sugar to store as fat, makes the liver make sugars and we gain weight particularly in the mid section. The subsequent ups and downs of sugars and insulin wrecks havoc in our bodies and it gets harder and harder to maintain our weight let alone lose it.
Hormone deficiencies by themselves are usually not enough to cause diabetes. However, if coupled with decrease in activity, improper eating habits or other metabolic issues such as low thyroid, our bodies don’t stand a chance. Insulin resistance will occur and diabetes will follow if we are not careful.
So how can you enjoy your holiday season and still feel good about your body and your body feel good about you. How about some of the following ideas:
- Get some physical activity – Get a hot trainer or participate in an active sport or exercise with your spouse/partner. How about just going for a walk. Find a way to get active and stay active. This will also improve your High Density Lipoproteins (HDL’s), the good cholesterol, which when low are another risk factor for Pre-DM.
- Use a low glycemic index protein powder to help you control sugar cravings and swings through out the day. Gluten Free, Brown Rice Glycemic Foundation is my personal favorite. http://www.orthomolecularproducts.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=20421241-c7d1-49ee-b5e4-e5e9de00f272
- If you are going to drink during the festivities, try lower calorie drinks without all the sugary mixers or even better stick to wine. Red wine in particular contains reseveratrol which has anti-oxidant heart healthy effects. And size does matter. Typical serving size is 6-8 oz. Most drinks today contain twice that. Limit the numbers of glasses you drink as well. A typical glass of wine contains 150 calories and these can add up quickly.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day and if going to a holiday meal, try eating some raw vegetables or a protein bar prior to leaving. You don’t want to be starving when you arrive. You will only eat and drink more………packing on more calories.
- Get your hormones and thyroid levels checked by a provider who knows how to properly interpret the results. Lab references ranges are often misinterpreted by providers who are not properly trained in hormonal health. Symptoms of hormonal deficiency as well as clinical indications on exam are equally important in making a diagnosis. Make sure your provider is listening to you and taking the time to look at all three: symptoms, physical exam and labs.
I don’t want to be a total killjoy; everyone should indulge occasionally and certainly enjoy the holiday season and all of the goodies it has to offer. But let’s do our part to avoid this terrible and ever growing disease from affecting us! Small things can make a difference.