Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tom Hanks and Type 2 Diabetes

Another celebrity came out of the diabetic closet this week.  Tom Hanks, two time academy award winner, announced that he was a type 2 diabetic while on David Letterman this week.  He talked about the impact of dramatic weight loss and gain on his health and blood sugar and also that he had a genetic predisposition to it as well.

It sounds like he had warning signs for almost 20 years.  The blood sugars they were talking about were pre-diabetic warnings - elevated blood sugars beyond the norm that can indicate someone has the possibility of evolving to a full blown diabetic.

Even more interesting Letterman said he is also diabetic and having to watch his sugars.  One of the things I learned from my reading is that as we get older our pancreas tends to wear out.  As one doctor said - if you live long enough everyone becomes a diabetic.

A friend of mine recently received the diagnosis she was pre-diabetic. The first thing I did was tell her to get to a diabetic educator. The educator will explain all the facts of a pre-diabetic lifestyle that can help stave off diabetes.  He or she will explain what is really going on with carbs and that there is more to carbs than just sugary treats. 

I recently returned to a diabetic educator with a simple request - help me create a diet so I can lose weight.  The challenge with diabetes and the use of insulin is that it makes your body hold onto weight.  In order to lose weight you need to control not just calories but your carb intake.

So for my readers here are the basics - if you are a diabetic you need to figure out what impact carbs are having on your body.  I am on a fairly restricted diet now of no more than 125 grams of carb per day.  Translated this means - I could have slightly over 2 1/2 cans of coke(46 grams of carb per can) a day and no other carb, or 5 bananas (27 grams of carb per banana) or 2 1/2 cups of pasta (43 grams of carb per cup).

But I don't do that. Instead I measure and try to have a mix of healthy carbs. No more white bread - I eat high fiber dense breads, high fiber cereals and a mixture of fruit but only two servings a day.  A very smart diabetic once told me something I've now adopted as truth - no more white stuff - no sugar, white potatoes, white rice or white bread.  The more complex the carbs the more slowly you digest them, the better for your blood sugar.

So hats off to Tom Hanks for reopening the conversation on diabetes. I just wish that people would deepen the conversation to being less about candy and more about what a carb really means.

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