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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“There are many different types of sugars”

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Glucose and other carbs

Carbon Oxygen Hydrogen

Water (H2O) is made out of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. Carbon dioxide (CO2) consists of 1 carbon atom and 2 oxygen atoms.

The term “carbs” is short for carbohydrates, which is a general name for all kinds of sugars. The word carbohydrate consists of two words fused together: carbon and hydrogen (carbo-hydrate). Those are the building blocks (atoms) that make up sugars. There is actually a third atom also part of sugar, which is oxygen. The molecules water and carbon dioxide are made of the same atoms: water has 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom (H2O), and carbon dioxide has 1 carbon and 2 oxygen atoms (CO2).

Carbohydrates (sugars) come in two different forms: simple sugars and complex sugars.

Simple sugars — Glucose is probably the most famous simple sugar. Glucose is made out of 6 carbon, 12 hydrogen and 6 oxygen atoms (C6H12O6). 5 out of these 6 carbon atoms are connected to eachother, forming a ring with 1 oxygen atom closing the loop. The carbon and oxygen atoms have hydrogen atoms attached to them, as shown in the figure below.

Glucose molecule buildup

From left to right you can see the buildup of a glucose molecule. C = Carbon, O = Oxygen, H = Hydrogen. Glucose has a total of 6 carbon atoms, 6 oxygen atoms and 12 hydrogen atoms that are connected to form a circular structure.

Fructose molecule

Fructose (the hydrogen atoms are left out of the picture for clarity)

Fructose is another well-known sugar. Like glucose, fructose consists of 6 carbon, 6 oxygen and 12 hydrogen atoms. But its structure is a bit different from glucose. While glucose is a ring of 6, fructose is a ring of 5.

Plants can link glucose and fructose together to make sucrose. When they are linked, one oxygen atom forms the bridge, and bumps away the other oxygen atom in the form of water (see figure below). Although sucrose consists of 2 different sugar molecules, it is still considered a simple sugar.

Sucrose molecule

Sucrose is made out of glucose and fructose that are linked together.  (the hydrogen atoms are left out of the picture for clarity)

Sucrose is the most commonly used sugar in foods and drinks; it is the white crystal sugar that we use for instance for baking or to sweeten our coffee. All these simple sugars have a relatively high Glycemic Index (see Blog post “Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load“).

Complex sugars — Complex sugars are large molecules made out of many sugar molecules that are linked together (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth“). Starch is made by plants and consists of long chains of hundreds glucose molecules. Plants make this to store large amounts of sugar for later use.

Starch

Starch

When eating food that contains starch, it takes your body time and effort to break down the starch into single glucose molecules. That’s why starch has a lower Glycemic Index than sucrose or glucose (see Blog post “Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load“).

Animals (including humans) can also store large amounts of glucose for later use. Instead of starch, animals make glycogen, which consists of a protein (glycogenin) that has thousands of glucose molecules attached to it in a branched structure.

Gycogen

Glycogen

Glycogen is stored in your muscles as well as in your liver. Your muscles use that stored glycogen for energy to flex. Your liver releases the glucose from those glycogen molecules into your blood stream in response to the hormone glucagon when your blood glucose is running low (see Blog post “Insulin and diabetes“).

Other types of carbs — Fiber is a carb too, but it doesn’t change your blood glucose when you eat it. Humans do not have the right enzymes to break down those complex carbs into simple sugars. That’s why your body cannot use them for energy or store them for later use. You will not increase your blood glucose level or gain weight from eating fiber, but simply flush the fiber down the toilet after digestion.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“Not all carbs are made equal.”

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Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Glycemic Index (GI) — Sugars and other carbs (which is short for “carbohydrates”) come in simple forms and complex forms (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth“). Glucose is a simple form that quickly enters your blood after a meal; starch is a complex form that takes longer to digest (which means breaking it down into simple sugars for absorption into the blood). The speed with which the type of sugar enters your blood stream is indicated with a Glycemic Index (GI) number or value, and differs for each type of food; the higher the number, the faster the sugar is absorbed. The value of glucose is set to 100 as a reference.

Glycemic index

Honey has a high GI (value 64) and peanuts have a low GI (value 14).

Combining sugary/carb-rich foods with protein and fat will slow down the sugar absorption speed. Many whole foods and well-balanced meals (see Blog post “The balancing act of diabetes“) consist of a mixture of carbs, protein and fat in different ratios. So even when there are some high GI nutrients in there, the food as a whole does not spike your blood glucose.

There are tons of data sheets and tables on the internet with GI values for different kinds of foods and drinks. Search for your favorites!

Time your high and low GI foods wisely.

Glycemic Load (GL) — Knowing how fast the different types of carbs enter your blood stream is only part of managing your blood glucose (see Blog post “Timing for excellent diabetes management“). The other part is how much the carbs will increase your blood glucose level. This is indicated with the Glycemic Load (GL). While a small sugar candy will raise your blood glucose very quickly (high GI), the total amount of sugar is probably not be enough to increase your blood glucose all that much (low GL).

Assuming you have 5 liters of blood in your whole body, 1 gram of sugar equals 20 mg/dL. A blood glucose value of 80 mg/dL then means that there is about 4 grams of total glucose circulating in your blood stream (see Blog post “Blood glucose“). So in theory, a candy containing just 1 gram sugar should raise that no higher than 80+20=100 mg/dL. But of course biology is not like mathematics, and how much your blood glucose will actually rise depends on many factors; for instance how big you are, if you are physically active, and how much insulin is in your blood.

Scale with sugar

1 gram of sugar. Size compared to a quarter dollar.

To find out what typical foods in certain quantities do to your blood glucose level, you can measure the weight of every portion before you eat it, and then monitor what happens to your blood glucose. After a while, you will get the hang of it and be able to estimate how much your blood glucose will go up just by looking at the food on your plate. This will be very helpful in making the right choices; especially when you are eating out.

Make smart choices with high and low GL foods throughout the day.

You may wonder if all high GI/GL foods are bad for diabetics. The answer is no. But you have to be selective about what type of foods you eat at certain moments of the day. As explained in the Blog post “Timing for excellent diabetes management,” it all depends on what you need and how much. For instance, if you are going to do a high-intensity workout, it is totally fine to eat some high GI food right before you start. When you start exercising, your muscles will first use their glycogen stores and circulating blood glucose to fuel the flexing. The high GI food that you just ate will maintain your blood glucose at high enough levels, so that you can keep up the activity. However, when you do endurance sports (like a long hike or bike ride) you will need to consume higher GL and preferably low(er) GI foods to keep you fueled for several hours.

Weights and shoes

High-intensity weight lifting requires different GI foods than a low-intensity endurance hike.

Another situation where high GI foods are recommended is when your blood glucose is dangerously low (see Blog post “Blood glucose“). High GI foods (or drinks) will quickly get you back in the safe zone. But be careful to not over-consume, or you will end up with a too high blood glucose level.

For the rest of the day, and especially for your dinner, it is best to choose low GI/GL foods for your meals to prevent spiking your blood glucose. Use the 50%/25%/25% rule to balance your meal: half your plate filled with veggies, a quarter with low GI/GL carbs, and a quarter with lean protein (see Blog post “The balancing act of diabetes” for examples).

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“Don’t eat like I eat, unless you do like I do.”

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Transcending diabetes with exercise

Raise your hand if you do not believe in the health benefits of regular exercise. I bet your hands are down. We all know that being active is good for your physical and mental well-being. Still, most of us are living a very inactive (sedentary) life. Why is that? How come we nod our heads in agreement when someone lists all the good things that a solid workout does to your body, and yet we find it so difficult to kick our lazy butt into action?

Are you a couch potato or a fit potato?

There are basically two ways you can enjoy sports:

  1. You can watch your favorite team on the big screen, while sitting on the couch with a beer in one hand and a bag of potato chips in the other.
  2. You can be the one who is breaking a sweat on the field, in the gym or out there in nature.

It is quite obvious which of these two will keep you fit, strong and healthy. But how do you keep it up? The answer is: choose the types of physical activities that you enjoy doing. You really don’t need to run until you collapse from exhaustion. Moving around for just 30 minutes per day is sufficient to become healthier and lose those dangerous fat deposits around your waist. It can be any kind of activity that you like; from hiking to biking, from dancing to fencing, from football to volleyball. Even things that are not considered sports qualify, such as gardening, dog walking, and house cleaning. If you get bored easily, then mix it up; as long as you keep it up and make it part of your routines and habits.

Exercise is good for everybody’s health, as it:

  1. Makes you lose excess weight; in particular fat.
  2. Increases your basal metabolic rate, so you burn more calories, even at rest.
  3. It improves your stamina, allowing you to do everything with more ease and for a longer period of time.
  4. It makes you feel good, by producing the hormones: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.

The link between obesity and diabetes was pointed out in an earlier Blog post (see Blog post “The diabetic epidemic“). A third factor is linked to both, which is a lack of physical activity (in other words: inactivity).

Map USA by county - Inactivity-Diabetes-Obesity 2008

Three maps that show the correlation between inactivity level, diabetes and obesity per county in the USA.

Being physically active has a few bonus benefits for diabetics that will help with the daily challenges of diabetes management:

  1. It lowers your blood glucose, as the glucose is used to fuel your muscles.
  2. It increases your sensitivity to insulin, which means less insulin for type 1 diabetics, and better responsiveness to insulin for type 2 diabetics.
  3. It stimulates blood vessel formation; not just to your muscles, but to all organs as well as fingers and toes, which reduces the chance of becoming blind, kidney failure, amputations and more complications associated with diabetes.

While good blood glucose management prevents blood vessel damage, exercise stimulates the formation of new blood vessels.

To support an active lifestyle, you need to nourish your body with the right types of food (see Blog post “The balancing act of diabetes“) at the right times (see Blog post “Timing for excellent diabetes management“). This includes carbs, as this type of food provides the fastest energy to get you moving. Although fat may keep you going for hours with endurance sports, the energy made available from fat is much slower than that of carbs. Also, carbs contain less than half the amount of calories compared to fat, so think about this before you are tempted to follow a diet that is low in carbs and high in fat (LCHF).

By making the right choices of healthy foods in the portions and proportions that support your physical activity level, you are living The Diabetic Lifestyle that makes you thrive with diabetes.

No sports athlete has ever won a medal, match or tournament on a low-carb diet.

My passion is cycling; I bike 400-500 miles per week (see Blog post “Having Diabetes and 10 Snickers per day“) and I need to eat a lot to keep me energized (see Blog post “25 Bananas in my pockets“). The only downside of cycling so much is those super-sharp tan lines that make my legs look like chocolate mousse cakes!

Chocolate Mousse Legs

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“Balance is about portions and proportions to support physical activity”

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The balancing act of diabetes

2018-03-27 - Scale

  1. What is a well-balanced lifestyle?
  2. Why is balance so important for excellent diabetes management?

The answer to the second question is pretty straightforward: too much of anything will tip the balance over to one side. Too much sugary food will spike your blood glucose above the healthy upper range (hyperglycemia); too little and you can drop below the safe lower limit (hypoglycemia; see Blog post “Blood glucose“). The same holds true for insulin, but with the opposite effect: too much insulin results in hypoglycemia, whereas too little of this hormone will make you hyperglycemic (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“).

Insulin is not a free ticket to limitless carb consumption.

For some, the answer to the first questions means “going low carb,” or taking it even one step further by completely omitting all forms of carbs from their diet as much as possible. Although reducing your carb intake may be a wise move in the right direction, going to extremes, like certain diets, will do you more harm than good (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth“).

Living The Diabetic Lifestyle means finding the right balance between food consumption on one side, to support your physical activity level on the other side. While watching food intake gets a lot of attention, physical activity is too often ignored, neglected or undervalued. Our bodies were not made to sit still; we were designed to move around a lot (see Blog post “Stuck with a 200,000-year-old blueprint“). Moving your body means putting your muscles to work, and they need fuel (food) to flex. Moving more requires more fuel; moving less (not recommended!) requires less fuel.

Weight and plate

Being physically active has countless of benefits over a sedentary lifestyle; but even more so for diabetics, as it:

  1. Lowers blood glucose
  2. Increases insulin sensitivity
  3. Improves blood circulation to organs and limbs that are prone to diabetic complications

Physical health is the foundation for mental well-being. A truly balanced lifestyle harmonizes energy in with energy out; eating with moving; food with physical activity. The challenge is to choose the right type of (healthy) foods in the right amounts to meet your physical activity level. Since we are all unique individuals, living our own lifestyles with our personal preferences, there simply is no “one-size-fits-all” diet or exercise plan that suits every single one of us. You will have to design your own healthy and active lifestyle, by choosing the things that you like, as only an enjoyable lifestyle is sustainable in the long run. Fortunately, it is not difficult to find the right kind of lifestyle that suits your personality. It starts with following some basics that you can tailor to your specific needs and wishes.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” diet or exercise plan.

What many consider low carb may actually not be “low carb,” but rather “the-way-it-is-supposed-to-be carb.” The World Health Organization recommends 50%/25%/25%, which means that half your plate should be filled with vegetables (and fruit; but be considerate of the high carb content of fruits), a quarter with starchy or other low-glycemic carbs, and a quarter with lean (low-fat) meats or other sources of protein (see examples below). This is very different from the common food standard in western worlds, where fries, hamburgers and bucket-sized sodas with ice cream as dessert are the norm. A plate full of junk food does not have any room for vegetables (note that the 3 pickles and a shriveled leaf of lettuce do not even remotely qualify as a serving of veggies). If the 50%/25%/25% plate leaves you hungry, simply add more vegetables; the few carbs from veggies won’t add much to your total carb intake, and the extra fiber keeps you satiated. Veggies are practically the “all-you-can-eat” type of food. So indulge in greens!

1GreatPlate

What does your healthy food plate look like? [source]

As mentioned above, the other component is physical activity. Do you already feel exhausted just by the idea of tying your running shoe laces? Well, the solution to that is to not go running! A physically active lifestyle does not mean running half a marathon every day. All you need to do is move your body for just 30 minutes per day. This can be anything you like to do. It should not be something you hate doing; it should be something fun. Walking the dog, gardening, dancing, or just about anything that gets you off the couch will do. There are tons of studies showing that exercising for a total of 150 minutes per week (that’s just half an hour on 5 days per week) is sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of obesity-related health issues. Take a moment to realize what such a small investment of your time could do to your quality of life. As a bonus: enjoyable activities not only help you to lose weight, they put you in a feel-good mood, too!

Yoga mat

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

How long before the majority of people in the USA has diabetes?

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The diabetic epidemic

As of 2015, more than 1 million people in the USA have type 1 diabetes. But that group is dwarfed by the 30 million people who have type 2 diabetes, and that number keeps on rising. Even worse, a staggering 84 million people is pre-diabetic; that’s 1 out of 3 people in the USA! Sadly, most of them are unaware, and are very likely to develop type 2 diabetes with all the associated complications if they do not change their lifestyle.

Percentage diabetes

Almost half of all people in the USA have some form of diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

In a recent study by the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diabetes in 2017 is estimated to be $327 billion. Needless to say that everyone in this nation will profit from reducing those numbers; not just financially, but also health-wise.

Since obesity and type 2 diabetes (along with pre-diabetes) go hand-in-hand (see figure below), health care is currently focused on food, with an emphasis on reducing carb consumption. But, although you can lower your blood glucose by avoiding carbs as much as possible, you face other health risks with diets that compensate for the lack of carbs by increasing fat and protein ratios (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth“).

Obesity correlation to Diabetes.jpg

The rise in obesity and diabetes follow the same pattern.

A healthier and safer way is to be more active. Living a healthy life means keeping up your physical activity level, and carefully choosing the types, portions and proportions of food you eat to support those activities (see Blog post “Timing for excellent diabetes management“). No one will argue against the numerous health benefits associated with a solid exercise regimen. Besides improving your physical health and mental well-being, working out also positively affects your blood glucose by burning the circulating glucose to fuel your muscles, and by increasing your sensitivity to insulin. To achieve this, you really don’t need to run a marathon every day. Just 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise (like walking, gardening or any other activity you like to do) is enough; and you may find yourself losing excessive fat weight on the go!

Rather than focusing on carbs alone, you should specifically limit your saturated fat intake. Considering that fat contains double the amount of calories compared to carbs, eating too much fat will contribute to weight gain twice as much, and requires working out twice as long to shed those extra pounds. Since it is excessive weight that is underlying the surge in diabetes, long-term weight loss may be the best remedy to halt the diabetic epidemic.

A few facts from the National Weight Control Registry study that followed more than 3,000 people:

  • 89% changed their eating habits: no more than 24% of calories from fat.
  • 72% burned at least 1,000 calories per week with exercising.
  • The average weight loss was 66 lbs.
  • They kept off 30 lbs for an average of 5½ years.
  • 88% still watches their fat and general calorie intake with ongoing success.

The key to a sustainable healthy and active lifestyle is to find healthy foods that you like to eat and activities that are fun to do. It’s about making the right choices and consuming appropriate portions of food to support an active lifestyle that is easy to keep up because it is enjoyable. None of those restrictive diets or drill-sergeant exercise routines are sustainable.

Harmonizing a healthy and active lifestyle with your daily duties and obligations may be easier said than done. But the question is how much the benefits to your own well-being outweigh the investment of making the effort. Take a critical look at the daunting numbers in the table below and judge your odds of developing diabetes or complications if you keep up your current eating habits and (lack of) activity. Ask yourself: is it really impossible to free up just 30 minutes per day for some modest physical activity? Or can you make it a time-efficient habit, like taking a walk with your co-workers after lunch, or watching your favorite show while pedaling on a stationary bike, instead of sitting on the couch?

TableYou may be surprised how good a healthy body can feel. And a healthy body is the foundation for a healthy mind that runs on optimism and positivity. Feeling good is contagious; one day you may realize that you have become an inspiration™ to others to follow your example.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“Don’t blindly trust your continuous glucose moniter (CGM).”

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False glucose readings

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have become an essential tool for excellent diabetes management. The sensor probe that is inserted underneath your skin measures glucose levels for several days, and displays these values every few minutes in a graph. This allows you to see what your glucose level currently is, but also if it is going up or down, so that you can take the appropriate action to keep your glucose levels in the safe zone (see Blog post “Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)“).

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) does not measure your blood glucose, but the glucose in your interstitial fluid.

The lag — Unfortunately, CGMs have some practical limitations, as they do not measure blood glucose, but the glucose level in the interstitial fluid underneath your skin. Glucose from your blood first enters the space in between cells, which is filled with this interstitial fluid, before the glucose reaches the cells that need the energy (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“). This means that CGM measurements are always lagging behind the true glucose value in your blood. Under normal circumstances, this lag is hardly noticeable; the glucose concentration in your blood is practically the same as in your interstitial fluid. But when you eat or drink something sweet, or when you start exercising, the glucose concentration in your interstitial fluid may be different from the concentration in your blood. Your CGM could still be showing a flat line, while in reality, your blood glucose is going up (from the sweets) or down (from the physical activity).

Interstitial fluid

Simplified drawing that shows the probe of the sensor detecting the glucose in your interstitial fluid.

The prediction — The lag is mostly taken care of by a complicated calculation (algorithm) made by the receiver. The algorithm takes the average of several new measurements made by the sensor, and then looks at what the previous values were to predict what the new value most likely is. But because the algorithm cannot look into the future, it has to go by what the earlier values were, and will not be able to accurately anticipate what your blood glucose truly is when things change rapidly.

Crystal ball

Modified from [source].

The pressure dip — Since all the nutrients in your body are moved around from one place to another by liquids (blood and interstitial fluid), physical pressure can easily disrupt that flow. Check this out yourself. Just press your thumb for a few seconds on the back of your hand. When you remove your thumb, you see a white spot that quickly disappears. By pressing on your skin, you literally squeeze the blood (and interstitial fluid) away. As soon as you remove your thumb, blood (and interstitial fluid) come rushing back in that area. This can happen to the area where you inserted your sensor too; for instance when you roll over in your sleep. When lying on top of the sensor, fluids (and the glucose therein) are squeezed out of the area underneath your skin and away from the sensor probe. The little bit of fluid that is still surrounding the probe has only a small amount of glucose left, and the sensor will think that your glucose level is dangerously low. But it is only in that small, local area; the glucose concentration in the rest of your body hasn’t changed.

Pressure dips with zoom

Two pressure dips (pointed out by the yellow arrows) from lying on top of the sensor while sleeping, which give false low glucose readings. The dotted yellow line shows the true glucose trend.

The shower spike — The opposite of a pressure dip can happen too. When you get hot quickly, for instance from taking a hot shower, your body tries to cool down by increasing the blood flow to your skin to release heat. This hot flush temporarily increases the amount of fluid (containing glucose) located just underneath your skin. Because of that, the sensor probe will detect a lot more glucose too, even though this is only underneath your skin surface, and the average blood glucose throughout the rest of your body did not change.

Shower spike with zoom

A shower spike, which gives a false high glucose reading for just a few minutes. The dotted yellow line shows the true glucose trend.

The take-home message is that you should not just blindly trust the readings of your CGM, but keep in mind what affects the interstitial fluid that the sensor probe is measuring. If in doubt, a finger-prick measurement will probably give you the most accurate answer.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“A1c does not show your ups and downs.

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Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)

Keeping your blood glucose as close as possible to normal levels (normoglycemia; see Blog post “Blood glucose“) is a non-stop challenge that all diabetics are dealing with every day, hour to hour, minute to minute. Besides food and physical activities, almost everything else you do affects your blood glucose level, which makes proper blood glucose control a serious ordeal. The hazards of deviating too much from those normal values are well-known: too low (hypoglycemia) and you face the immediate danger of a coma, too high (hyperglycemia) and you risk developing diabetes-associated complications.

“Normal blood glucose levels fluctuate between 72 and 100 mg/dL when fasting, and stay below 140 mg/dL after a meal.”

Results from long-term studies are slowly trickling in, but it is not yet clear what is more damaging in the long run: continuous hyperglycemia (too high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (too low blood glucose), or maybe the wild ups and downs that deviate way too much from normoglycemia (the average healthy range). What is clear, is that keeping your blood glucose within the upper and lower limits of normoglycemia as much as possible is the best. But how do you know if you are doing it right? What is a good way to keep track of your daily fluctuations, so that you can better adjust and optimize your treatment strategy?

Ames meter

The Ames Reflectance Meter was one of the first blood glucose meters. [source]

Snap-shot blood glucose measurement — In order to stay within the “safe zone,” you need to anticipate how the things you eat and do will affect your blood glucose, and also know when to correct for hyperglycemia (with extra insulin or physical activity) and hypoglycemia (with sugary foods/drinks). The first blood glucose meter was developed in the early 1960s, but it took another 20 years before the first home-glucose meters became available to the general public. Those “finger-prick” meters, which are still the most popular today, use tiny blood droplet from your finger to measure the concentration of glucose circulating in your blood at that particular moment.

OneTouch Ultra

The OneTouch Ultra2 is a modern-day blood glucose meter.

The disadvantage of these “snap-shot” measurements is that you don’t know what your value was an hour ago, and where it is headed. Let’s say you measure the following blood glucose values:

  • 1:15 am = 99 mg/dL
  • 10:00 am = 102 mg/dL
  • 3:20 pm = 98 mg/dL
  • 6:20 pm = 101 mg/dL
  • 11:10 pm = 94 mg/dL

You may believe that your blood glucose values are perfect, but you don’t know what went on in between those measurements. You could completely miss the high and low values, as you can see in the example below, where the actual blood glucose trend is shown during that day.

Measurements

When taking snap-shot measurements at random time points (indicated with the 5 blue circles), you may think that your blood glucose is perfectly within the healthy range, while in reality, it was too high (indicated in yellow) and too low (indicated in red) on several occasions.

Continuous glucose monitoring — Since a few years, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are becoming more popular, and for good reason. They automatically take a glucose measurement every few minutes, giving you a good idea of how your levels fluctuate throughout the day, so you can make adjustments to your eating habits, timing of insulin administration and physical activities.

Dexcom dots

This Dexcom CGM automatically takes a glucose measurement every 5 minutes. Each dot in between the upper yellow and lower red line is a measurement.

The catch is that CGMs do not measure blood glucose, but interstitial fluid. While a finger-prick measurement uses a tiny blood droplet from your finger, CGMs have a sensor that is inserted underneath your skin. It stays there for several days, taking an automatic measurement every few minutes. This sensor is not directly in touch with blood, but the fluid in between your cells; this is the interstitial fluid. Glucose is constantly moving out of your blood vessels into this fluid to reach your cells that need the glucose for energy. But the glucose concentration in this interstitial fluid is always lagging behind the actual value in your blood.

“CGM does not measure blood glucose.”

Although not perfect, CGMs are the as good as it gets right now. They have allowed countless diabetics to improve their A1c (see Blog post “Hemoglobin A1c“), minimize the chance of developing long-term complications from constant hyperglycemia, and give timely alerts before hypoglycemia may occur. They have become an essential element in supporting a healthy and active lifestyle for excellent diabetes management .

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

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Red blood cells get sweeter with age.

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Hemoglobin A1c

Red blood cells are the most common type of cells in your blood. A red blood cell picks up oxygen from your lungs, and then releases that oxygen at other places in your body. Hemoglobin is the molecule of those red blood cells that binds oxygen and gives the red blood cells their color. A single red blood cell has about 270 million hemoglobin molecules. Each hemoglobin molecule contains an iron atom, which is the component of hemoglobin that binds the oxygen; once oxygen is bound to the iron atom, it literally turns it into rust (hence the red color).

You have more than 20 trillion red blood cells; that’s 20,000,000,000,000.

There are several forms of hemoglobin in humans: A1, A2 and B. Besides oxygen, the glucose circulating in your blood also binds to hemoglobin A1, turning it into hemoglobin A1c (also called “glycated hemoglobin“). This happens all the time, as everyone (diabetes or not) has glucose in their blood (see Blog post “Blood glucose“).

Red blood cells

Red blood cells. [source]

Red blood cells can live up to 4 months, but most die around 3 months of age. New red blood cells are produced constantly, so your blood contains red blood cells of all ages: from 1 day old to 3 months old, and everything in between. Because a little bit of glucose binds to hemoglobin A1 everyday, old red blood cells have more hemoglobin A1c than young red blood cells.

You make 200,000,000,000 new red blood cells per day.

To explain this with a simplified calculation example: if 10 glucose molecules bind to a red blood cell each day, a week-old cell would have 70 glucose molecules, while a 3-month-old cell would have 900 attached to it (in truth, these numbers are much higher). When taking a blood measurement at a random time point, the average red blood cell in this example would have bound 450 glucose molecules (900/2=450). Your hemoglobin A1c level is expressed as a percentage of your total hemoglobin A1; 5.7% and below is considered a healthy value.

A1c

This is my most recent A1c test result. Even though I have type 1 diabetes, I manage my blood glucose so well that my A1c is within the “normal healthy” range.

The number of glucose molecules that bind to hemoglobin A1 per day depends on the concentration of glucose circulating in your blood. A higher blood glucose level on a certain day will result in more glucose molecules binding to red blood cells on that particular day. If this happens often, the number of glucose molecules per red blood cell will be higher on average, as explained with the following calculation example: if not 10, but 15 glucose molecules bind to a red blood cell each day, then a week-old cell would have 105, and a 3-month-old cell would have 1200 glucose molecules. The average at a random time would be 600 molecules per red blood cell (1200/2=600), which is much higher than the previous example of 450.

A hemoglobin A1c value of 5.6 means that 5.6% of all your hemoglobin A1 has glucose attached.

This is what tends to happen in diabetics who find it difficult to manage their blood glucose levels (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“), resulting in an hemoglobin A1c that is above 5.7%. A (too) high hemoglobin A1c can be dangerous for several reasons:

  • It breaks open red blood cells (it kills them).
  • It makes blood cells sticky and clump together (big, sticky clumps can block your blood vessels).
  • It stimulates inflammation, which can cause atherosclerotic plaques that clog blood vessels.
  • It inhibits processes that lower LDL levels, resulting in elevated LDL levels.

All these negative effects of a (too) high hemoglobin A1c are damaging to your vascular system, and will decrease the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Especially organs that have a lot of very fine blood vessels will suffer the most, like eyes and kidneys, but also your toes and fingers. This explains why diabetics and pre-diabetics with high blood glucose from poor health management can develop diabetes-associated complications, like blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“Diabetics are the sweetest of them all.”

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Blood glucose

Having diabetes means that you need to constantly monitor your blood glucose level. Everything you do influences your blood glucose, and keeping it tightly within a normal/healthy range is of vital importance. Too low and you face the immediate danger of a coma, as your brain relies on glucose from the blood as its primary source of energy; too high and you build a solid foundation to develop complications like kidney failure, blindness, amputations and more.

Glucose

The sugar in sugar cubes is actually not pure glucose, but sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, which consists of two types of sugar molecules linked together: glucose and fructose.

Insulin and glucagon counteract each other’s functions (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“) to maintain homeostasis by lowering or increasing blood glucose in response to factors that change blood glucose (like food or exercise). To get a good idea of the amounts we are talking about, I calculated everything as number of sugar cubes.

The glucose concentration in healthy people who have not consumed anything sugary for many hours (also known as “fasting”) is somewhere between 70 and 100 mg/dL. It will go up after a sugar-rich meal, but normally no higher than 140 mg/dL. That is just 1 to 2 sugar cubes worth of glucose in the entire 1 to 1.5 gallons of blood in a human body.

Sounds like very little? If a sugar cube were made out of pure glucose, it would contain 15,000-million-million-million glucose molecules; that’s a 15 with 21 zeros!

“There are on average 20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 glucose molecules circulating in your blood stream.”

If a single can of soda contains 10 sugar cubes, where does all that sugar go when you gulp it down? Most of it ends up in your muscles and liver, where it is converted into glycogen for later use (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth“). Your muscles can store 75 to 200 sugar cubes and your liver 25 to 50 sugar cubes (depending on your size, weight and physical fitness), which is enough to get you through lazy day doing nothing at all or a couple of hours exercise. Once you’ve reached your maximum glycogen storage capacity, any additional sugar you consume will be converted into fat.

Coke and blood

There is as much sugar in 0.3 oz of soda as there is in 1 gallon of blood.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL indicates Pre-Diabetes, and anything above that would be diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes. A constant high blood glucose level (hyperglycemia) over extended periods of time is known to damage the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that provide your organs with nutrients and oxygen. If the blood supply becomes too bad, organs like eyes and kidneys as well as toes, fingers and even whole limbs, will starve to death.

All Type 1 Diabetics (and some Type 2 Diabetics) face the challenge of trying to take over the job of their pancreas to maintain a healthy blood glucose level through insulin injections (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“). Now that you know the very tight range they are aiming for, it is understandable how difficult it is to administer exactly the right amount of insulin. Very wide blood glucose fluctuations from unintentionally under- or overdosing may be just as damaging as the constant high level in Pre-Diabetics and Type 2 Diabetics with poor blood glucose control. An extremely low blood glucose level (hypoglycemia) is just as dangerous. Since your brain uses primarily glucose to function, too little glucose in your blood can make you pass out and end up in a coma. The damaging effects of long-term hypoglycemia are only just being discovered.

Nobody claims it is easy to have diabetes, but keeping your blood glucose levels within acceptable range is doable by harmonizing healthy eating with regular exercise. It’s not just about the choices and portions of food, but also the correct timing of eating (and drinking) to support your physical activities (see Blog post “Timing for excellent diabtes management“).

Hyperglycemia and exercise:

Too high

What to do when experiencing hyperglycemia (high blood glucose level) during or after exercise.

Hypoglycemia and exercise:

Too low

What to do when experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level) during or after exercise.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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“Master your diabetes management with proper timing.”

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Timing for excellent diabetes management

When you start exercising, your muscles will first use the glycogen that they have already stored inside (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth” about glycogen) to generate energy (green lines in the graph below); high-intensity activities (dark green) will deplete these stores faster than low-intensity activities (light green). At the same time, your muscles will start taking up the glucose that is circulating in the blood stream, which will lower your blood glucose level (dotted purple line). This is a signal for your liver to release sugar into the blood stream to increase it again and regain the balance (solid purple line). Besides sugar, fat is also made available as a secondary fuel source (orange line).

Fuel dynamics

Green shows muscle glycogen levels going down slowly at low-intensity activity (light green line), or going down fast at high-intensity activity (dark green line).
Purple shows blood glucose levels going down when getting physically active (dotted purple), and then kept at a steady level by the glucose released from the liver, until those stores run out (solid purple line).
Orange shows fat becoming available slowly but steadily to provide fuel (in addition to glucose) for supporting long-lasting (endurance) physical activity.

All these processes are initiated as soon as you start exercising. However, some of these processes happen instantly, like burning up the glycogen stores inside the muscles, whereas others take time to reach their max, like mobilizing and burning fat. High-intensity exercise will burn up the glycogen stores in muscles faster than the liver can supply it to the muscles through the blood stream. This makes you feel exhausted before you reach optimal fat-burning mode. So if you want to burn fat, then take it easy in the beginning of your physical activity, so that your body can transition from glucose burning to fat burning mode.

Timing of eating sugary/carb-rich foods – It is best to eat sugary/carb-rich foods primarily before and right after physical activity, so that these sugars will be used to fuel your muscles and replenish the depleted glycogen stores. If you eat them when you are not going to be physically active (for instance before you start your desk job or go to sleep), the sugar is likely to be converted into fat and ends up in your body where you don’t want it.

When planning to do a short, high-intensity exercise, it is OK to eat something with a relatively high glycemic index (see Blog post “The bitter-sweet truth” for more information about glycemic index). When you plan to go for a long hike or other low-intensity endurance exercise, it is best to choose something with a low(er) glycemic index to keep you fueled for a longer time.

Blood glucose rangeImportant notes to Diabetics – If you have Diabetes, you must always carry extra sugar-rich foods with a high glycemic index (for instance dextrose tablets or honey pouches) in case of a hypoglycemic event.

You may allow your blood glucose level to be slightly elevated above what is considered the healthy upper limit of 130 mg/dL before starting your exercise to prevent dipping below 80 mg/dL. However, do not allow your blood glucose to rise to the point where ketoacidosis occurs.

Timing of insulin administration for Diabetics – Since fast-acting insulin types peak after 15-20 minutes of administration (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“), avoid strenuous activities at that time. Keep in mind that the blood glucose lowering effect of “fast” insulin can linger for 4 hours after injection or bolus administration; its activity will slowly dwindle over time until it is cleared from the blood stream. It is best to start your exercise far beyond the peak activity of insulin; preferably 3-4 hours after insulin administration, so that there is no overlap. You may have to (temporarily) adjust your basal insulin level as well. But do not completely go without insulin, as this may trigger dangerous ketoacidosis (even when your blood glucose levels appear to be in a healthy range of 80-130 mg/dL).
No strenuous activity
With all this information, you can understand that timing is a crucial factor for scheduling your daily food consumption, physical activities, and regulating your blood glucose. But because we are all unique, we all like to do and eat different things, and we all want to live our own personal lives, there is no “one size fits all” plan.

The key to harmonizing a healthy and active lifestyle with excellent diabetes control is timing.
ClockTiming of the right choices and portions of food with insulin administration to support your physical activities. And we are all familiar with the additional health benefits of exercise in addition to the double-punch effect on blood glucose lowering (see Blog post “Insulin and Diabetes“).

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“The ups and downs of blood glucose”

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Insulin and Diabetes

When you eat sugary food (carbs), the sugar is extracted inside your intestine, and released into your blood stream. Your blood then transports this sugar to the cells that need energy. However, your cells cannot simply take up that circulating glucose from your blood stream. Cells have “glucose transporters” (a bit similar to doors) that are normally closed to glucose. These glucose doors can be opened by insulin, which is a hormone made by the beta-cells in your pancreas.

Glucose blocked

Glucose circulating in the blood stream cannot simply enter cells that need energy because the cell’s glucose “doors” are closed.

Glucose enters

Insulin functions as a key that opens the cell’s glucose “doors” so that glucose can enter the cells.

Your pancreas consists of exocrine cells (98%) and endocrine cells (2%). Exocrine cells produce and secrete enzymes into your intestine to digest the food that you eat. Endocrine cells are clustered in small balls of cells called Islets of Langerhans (named after the German scientist Paul Langerhans who discovered them), and contain 5 different cell types:

  1. alpha-cells, which make the hormone glucagon
  2. beta-cells, which make the hormone insulin
  3. delta-cells
  4. PP-cells
  5. epsilon-cells

Pancreas-Islet

Your beta-cells release a continuous flow of insulin into the blood stream, as all the cells in your body need to constantly take up glucose to fuel all the processes going on inside cells. This non-stop supply of small amounts of insulin is called “basal” (dotted golden flat line n the graph below).

Insulin activity

When your blood glucose level goes up after eating sugary foods, a burst of extra insulin is dumped by the beta-cells into your blood. This temporary high dose of “extra” insulin (solid golden curved line in the graph above) on top of basal insulin reaches a peak activity after 15-20 minutes, but its activity has an effect on your blood glucose for several hours.

While insulin lowers your blood glucose by allowing the cells to take up the circulating glucose from your blood stream, the hormone glucagon has the opposite effect. Glucagon increases your blood glucose by stimulating the release of glucose (that was stored as glycogen; see my earlier blog “The bitter-sweet truth“) from your liver into your blood stream. In a healthy person, the two hormones work in harmony to keep your blood glucose level on average between 80 and 120 mg/dL (4.4-6.7 mmol/L).

Insulin-Glucagon cycle

Insulin lowers the amount of glucose circulating in the blood stream by allowing glucose to move from the blood stream into cells (including the liver). Glucagon increases blood glucose levels by allowing glucose from the liver to enter the blood stream.

Type 1 diabetes patients do not produce insulin at all, because their beta-cells have mistakenly been attacked and destroyed by the patient’s own immune system.

Type 2 diabetes patients do not produce enough insulin and/or have become less sensitive to this hormone.

There are several other forms of diabetes (pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, LADA, MODY, and also Alzheimer’s disease is considered a type of diabetes), that all result from insufficient or properly functioning insulin.

Because the insulin-producing beta-cells of Type 1 Diabetics are all dead, these patients need to inject insulin to stay alive. The amount of injected insulin has to be precisely adjusted so that the cells take up just enough glucose from the blood to keep functioning; too little insulin, and the cells die from starvation, too much and your blood glucose drops to dangerously low levels that can get you into a coma. The challenge these patients face is to maintain a constant basal insulin supply, and then dose the amount and timing of an insulin bolus just right for a carb-rich meal (or drink).

If the disease has not progressed too far yet, many people with pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes are able to manage their blood glucose levels by living a healthy lifestyle and carefully watching the amount of carbs they consume. They can also increase their cells’ sensitivity to insulin by taking medications (like metformin).

“Physical exercise lowers blood glucose and increases insulin sensitivity.”

Another way to lower your blood glucose is by physical exercise. Your muscles use glucose to flex. They can take up glucose from the blood through a different mechanism that does not require insulin. So regular exercise helps lowering your blood glucose in two ways:

  • Directly: glucose circulating in the blood is used as fuel and burned for the physical activity.
  • Indirectly: glucose circulating in the blood is taken up by cells more efficiently due to increased sensitivity to insulin.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

“We have an out-dated body design”

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Stuck with a 200,000-year-old blueprint

The complex biological processes going on in your body when eating and exercising make more sense when understanding what your body likes and why.

Your body prefers everything to be very mellow and boring; the scientific term for when there is nothing much exciting going on in your body is homeostasis. As far as your body is concerned: the more boring-er, the better. Because as soon as something disturbs this homeostasis, your body needs to take action to regain that homeostasis.

In the last few decades, our western society has become one of massive over-consumption and far too little exercise. The human body was unable to evolve fast enough and adapt to these recent changes. To put things in perspective, our body has essentially not changed over the past 200,000 years when humans (homo sapiens) first emerged, but it took humanity only a handful of decades to change from an active outdoor lifestyle (hunting, farming, herding, gathering) to an inactive indoor lifestyle (desk jobs, commuting by car, sitting on the couch watching our phones).

Evolution

Before we lived in cities, food was not readily available 24/7; there were no grocery stores, online food-delivery services or fast-food restaurants at every corner in the Stone Age. We had to constantly search for it, work for it, fight for it! This was pretty much our full-time job that kept us busy all day long.

Obviously, we burned a lot of calories living this hyper-active lifestyle day-in-day-out. And not knowing when we would have our next meal made food very precious and valuable. So if we did manage to find or catch some, our body would greedily absorb and store as much of it as possible, as it never knew how long we would have to go without until the next meal.

Our body was in constant survival mode; spending energy to find energy. To make sure we got enough energy, we benefited the most from picking calorie-dense foods, such as carbs and fats. We had to like sweet and fatty foods, so that we’d choose the most energy-rich sources as fuel for our active lifestyle. And our 200,000-year-old sweet tooth (and “fat tooth”) has not changed in just the last couple of decades.

Dracula

We are stuck with an out-dated body design that still craves for carbs and fat, in a world where all-you-can-eat buffets and bucket-sized sodas are more common than whole-foods markets and bottled water.

“There is no body version 2.0 to download and install.”

It’s a tough battle to fight against our natural desire for calorie-rich foods when we are constantly seduced to indulge in the donuts and fries. The most powerful defense that we have to these seductions is our brain.

YinYangAlthough our body may still be lingering in the Stone age, our brain has continued to evolve over those hundreds of millennia. It had no trouble keeping up and adapting to the recent changes that our environment went through. Our mind has advanced, and is more than capable of consciously making the right choices — to appreciate the benefits of healthier options over junk food. Besides this “mind over matter,” we can also plan our daily activities and routines in a way that allows room and flexibility to satisfy our natural cravings for sugar and fat by timing their consumption with physical exercise. There is no need to resist or ignore our desire to comfort our physical needs. But we do need to keep it under control.

If you want to learn more about a healthy and active lifestyle, without diets and restrictions or limitations, then follow me on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Also check out my website, becomeaninspiration.com and consider signing up for the personal diabetic lifestyle coaching or one of the online group workshops that I offer through video conference.

Click below to get more information about:
Coaching
Workshops

Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!

—  Dennis

Line

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.

Learn more

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