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How I Defeated Type II Diabetes
Lee A. Shurie

As early as 1988 (age 34) I had elevated blood sugar levels, but my doctor at that time did not discuss that fact with me or recommend treatment. Many years later I changed doctors and was immediately diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. After going through a diabetes education course it became clear that the slow miserable decline associated with long term diabetes presented a grim future for me. That decline may not have caught up with me for another 5 or 10 years, but it was certain to arrive unless I could somehow find a cure - or at least a diabetes management program that would permanently keep the disease at bay. Because the medical profession does not have such a cure, I was determined to find one myself.

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As any diabetic knows, monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels is critical, so I obtained a blood glucose meter and began testing. I also kept (and still do keep) a daily journal of everything I eat, including quantities, time of day, calories, protein, carbs, fat, and fiber content. The journal also records exercise, blood sugar level, weight, and notes about my mental and physical condition.


(Click to enlarge)

Diet

As expected, I discovered that various foods have different effects on blood sugar levels in the hours following consumption. These changes were somewhat consistent with the Glycemic Index, although my body (and yours too) does not necessarily handle each food item in the same way the Glycemic Index predicts. This is only natural, because the index is an average rather than a precise measurement tailored to each individual. However, it is a useful starting point. I highly recommend that you experiment to find how your own body reacts to various foods so you can tailor your diet accordingly. Of course, you will need to have a blood glucose meter in order to do so.

I followed a strict regimen for months and months, during which time I ate only low glycemic index foods and lost approximately 15 pounds.

Unfortunately, the switch to low glycemic foods and the weight loss was not sufficient to fully counteract the disease. My blood sugar levels improved approximately 5%, but there was still work to be done.

Exercise

The next item I worked on was exercise. Diet and exercise are the two recommendations made by the traditional medical community, so I wanted to find out if they would be effective. Therefore I worked hard to modify my lifestyle to provide enough time for exercise. This wasn't easy, because I have two young children, many social obligations, and am President of a technology company - a demanding position. But I felt it was absolutely necessary for my future health. I enjoy active outdoor sports such as SCUBA diving, kayaking, golf, gardening, and so on, and was NOT interested in facing old age without the capacity to participate in those activities.

Prior to this time I was relatively active for a person of my age, averaging 4 hours per week of moderate to heavy exercise, including weight lifting and skating. However some of my daily hobbies were sedentary, as is my job, so I reduced the time spent on sedentary hobbies and focused on active hobbies like kayaking. I increased my weekly average to more than 8 hours of strenuous exercise. Again, I continued to monitor my blood sugar levels, mental and physical state, and food intake. I lost no further weight during this period, but gained physical stamina and lean muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, the switch to a vigorous exercise program was not sufficient to fully counteract the disease. My blood sugar levels improved another 5%, but there was still work to be done.

Results

I had lost weight, maintained a low glycemic diet, drastically reduced carbohydrate intake, and significantly increased exercise. I had followed all the recommendations of traditional medicine. There was some improvement, yet the disease was not eliminated. I had a bit more energy than before, but still had highs and lows during the day. My sugar levels were not normal. The quality of my life had improved slightly due to the weight loss and exercise, but it was not a dramatic, life-changing result.

Beyond Diet and Exercise

After monitoring my blood sugar levels each day for months and months, I noticed repeating patterns. You will too, if you monitor your sugar levels closely and record them in a journal. One thing I noticed is the effect of skipping meals. Now, diabetics who take insulin or other medications cannot skip meals because of the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, Type II diabetics WHO ARE NOT ON INSULIN OR MEDICATION generally have HIGH blood sugar rather than low. The risk of low blood sugar levels is very low in these individuals. When I skipped meals I felt hungry, but my blood sugar levels went down - sometimes all the way to the normal range! At the same time, my energy level was higher and I did not suffer the ups and downs that a typical person experiences as the day progresses. Having heard all the traditional advice about eating a hearty breakfast, not skipping meals, and breaking meals up into more frequent but smaller helpings, I was reluctant to believe the new data. However, facts are facts, and I decided to cautiously explore this further.     

As you can see from the chart, my blood sugar levels were random prior to diet and exercise changes. After those changes you can see noticeable improvement, but the sugar levels were rarely within the normal range. This was not good enough for me.

I decided upon a somewhat novel experiment. I would wait until my sugar levels dropped into the normal range BEFORE consuming food. I stayed with the same low glycemic foods and maintained the same exercise levels in order to gauge the effect of this new regimen independent of other changes.

Upon waking in the morning I tested my sugar levels and found they were typically in the 150 mg/dl range. I expected them to come down by noon, but was surprised that they stayed above normal for quite some time. As the day went on I became worried (and hungry!), but I held off eating until nearly 6 PM, when my blood sugar level was normal. At this point I wanted to eat a huge meal, but I ate a normal dinner instead. As the evening progressed I snacked on healthy, low glycemic foods.

After following this regimen for days, which stretched into weeks, I discovered it provided whole new level of physical energy and mental alertness. After the first few days I was already "un-training" my body of the expectation that food would be provided at set meal intervals. After a week or so I no longer felt hungry until about 4 PM. On some days, I do not get hungry until 7 or 8 PM, but if I do get hungry earlier, I wait until 6 PM to eat. The one exception to this schedule is if I am doing strenuous exercise; I might have a small mid-afternoon snack (an apple or a few nuts).

I was reluctant to stick to this schedule when doing physical activity for the whole day, but through experimentation I found that the body can do quite nicely without food - even when exercising. This is in stark contrast with traditional sports nutrition advice, but it works well for me. I have often gone out sea kayaking from 9 AM until 4 PM (7 hours) without eating before or during. I always have snacks along just in case, but only rarely consume them. I often stop for a half hour rest around noon and sometimes take a 5 minute break hourly - otherwise I paddle constantly. During this time my average heart rate is approximately 125, with peaks around 160. By the time I land, get my gear loaded, and drive back home, it is easily 6 PM before I eat dinner. Of course, I stay hydrated with water or a no-calorie beverage, but I don't consume food or sports drinks during the day.

On similar kayak trips, I've been with paddlers (sometimes 25 years younger than I) who barely had the energy to make it back, or who had to be towed, even though they had consumed numerous energy bars and carbohydrate-laden sports drinks.

Results

I had finally discovered a method that keeps my blood sugar levels at or close to the normal range. Diabetes was defeated! I naturally lost weight, and also began to experience many quality-of-life benefits which I did not expect, as well as marked improvement in measurements such as cholesterol and blood pressure.

Beyond Diabetes

     As I continued my diet regimen I found that I was naturally consuming far less calories than before. As a result it became more important to choose foods that provided a good nutritional foundation. After experimenting and adjusting, I ended up on a calorie restricted diet with good nutrition. Later I learned there is a scientific basis for CRON, or Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition. One benefit of this dietary approach appears to be the improvement in blood sugar levels which I had stumbled upon. As I researched CRON further I found that many of the biometric and quality-of-life improvements that I had experienced were associated with the CRON dietary approach. As a result I now follow the CRON diet, with my own modifications regarding meal timing. My modifications do not violate the basic principles of the CRON diet, but they are not part of the original diet.

Compared to my previous self, I now have far greater endurance and energy levels, can easily maintain an optimum weight, and have gained numerous other health benefits. Some of the health benefits are measurable, some are quality-of-life benefits which, in my judgment, are invaluable!

Lee A. Shurie
June, 2004

    

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Note: I am not a doctor and do not dispense medical advice. This is purely an account of my own personal experience, which may be unique to my own body type, genetics, and lifestyle.)