‘Skip your breakfast, you don’t need that for anything’: get rid...

Jason Fung: “Injections of insulin – the hormone that keeps your blood sugar in check – are generally known as a cure for diabetes. They lower the sugar level in the blood, but then pump the excess sugar around in your body, where it can cause serious damage to your organs. What do you think happens when that excess glucose builds up for ten or twenty years? Every cell in your body rotting. The consequences are manifold: blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and even cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

“Diabetes medication leads to a vicious cycle: every time you eat, sugar enters your bloodstream, which is then pushed into your organs via those insulin injections. Moreover, you will need higher and higher doses to keep your blood glucose at the same level. ”

Insulin medication is the wrong approach, you say?

Fung: “That’s right. Over time, the cells in your body will become resistant to insulin, causing your blood sugar to rise too high. In response, the body will produce even more insulin to compensate. More glucose is crammed into the cells, but at a certain point those cells are too full. And there is no advantage to this anymore. In the days of the hunter-gatherer, insulin resistance was a neat little trick that helped ensure the survival of our species in times of food scarcity. But today we no longer have to wait in a cave for food. ”

And the medication also causes us to recover.

Fung: “I often heard from my patients, ‘Doctor, you always say that losing weight is the key to reversing diabetes, but you’ve prescribed me a drug that has put me on 12 pounds. That can’t be good, can it? ‘ That is nonsensical indeed. We assume that the condition is chronic and progressive and we all ignore the uncomfortable truth: a disease related to nutrition cannot be cured with medication. ”

The right diet therefore has more impact than medication. But are things wrong with our diet?

Fung: “In the 1970s everyone ate three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today we are constantly snacking. Cupcakes, energy bars, sweets … These are refined carbohydrates, just like white rice or pasta and white flour bread. All natural fats and proteins have been removed from a refined product. What remains is a pure carbohydrate, a product to which our body is not adapted. They raise our blood sugar much faster than unrefined carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. By constantly snacking unhealthily, we give our body one insulin shot after another. ”

Only a change in your diet and lifestyle can reverse the disease?

Fung: “To treat diabetes correctly, we must on the one hand stop consuming sugar continuously and on the other hand burn the sugar that accumulates in our body. The first succeeds with a low-carbohydrate diet with healthy fats, the second with periodic fasting.

“Exercise can also be helpful, but its effect on diabetes is limited. Exercise only benefits skeletal muscles and not the fatty liver, which plays a key role in this disease. ”

Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent fasting, seems like a fashion trend these days. But isn’t it too drastic?

Fung: “Fasting may seem intense, but it has been successfully practiced since time immemorial. It’s the best way to force your body to burn off excess sugars in your blood and body. It’s simple: when you eat, your body stores energy. When you fast, your body burns energy. Glucose is the most easily accessible source of energy from food, so it will be burned first. ”

Is it an option to just reduce our calorie intake without fasting?

Fung: “The ‘smaller portion’ strategy is the most commonly used dietary approach, but it is a straight path to failure. All diets lead to weight loss in the short term, but after an average of six months, body weight reaches a plateau because your metabolism slows down. When you fast, the opposite happens. Your body burns stored fat and your energy consumption increases. “

Then fast. How do you get started?

Fung: “A common method is to fast two to three times a week for 24 hours straight. You can also avoid eating for 16 hours five to six times a week.

“To overcome your cold feet, it is best to work in steps. For starters, skip your breakfast. Our body does not need that. It prepares for action in the morning, not a copious meal. And start every day with a large glass of water. Drink 2 liters daily. If you crave variety, alternate with coffee or tea. Leave ‘healthy’ sweeteners like stevia for what they are, because they cause a reaction in the brain that makes you crave sugars. ”

Beeld Getty Images/iStockphoto

Are there any risks associated with fasting?

Fung: “If you are on medication, you must of course consult your doctor first. Changing your diet without adjusting your medications can cause your sugar levels to drop too much, causing you to shake, sweat, or feel nauseous. Or worse, you can lose consciousness or even die. It is therefore important to check your blood sugar at least twice a day. If you don’t take medication, you don’t have to. Your blood glucose level may drop a bit, but should normally be within the normal range. ”

How long do we actually need to fast before we can reverse diabetes?

Fung: “Intensive fasting leads to faster results, but if you have had type 2 diabetes for 20 years, the disease will not disappear in a few months. The longer you have the disease, the more time it will take to regain your health.

“Here too: ignore refined carbohydrates. The more processed food you eat, the more your glucose level will rise. You will then have to fast for longer to lower your insulin levels again. ”

But if we persist, can we be successful?

Fung: “Patients who had been taking high doses of insulin for decades were able to stop their medications within weeks. My patients lost weight and did not recover. They also found it surprisingly easy to follow the program. They had expected to be terribly hungry, but the longer they persisted, the more their cravings disappeared. Beforehand they feared concentration problems and lack of energy, but the opposite turned out to be true. Patients who used to barely have any energy suddenly darted into my office. ”

Finally, you are also arguing for a high-fat diet to outdo diabetes. Should we still opt for whole milk and butter, instead of the low-fat version?

Fung: “Natural fats found in avocados, nuts and olive oil have a minimal impact on the glucose level in the blood. Fat also boosts your satiety hormones, so you’ll be less tempted to eat a muffin between meals. Of course you shouldn’t put half a pack of full-fat butter on one slice of bread, but fats are good for us to a limited extent. It can increase your bad cholesterol a bit, but your good cholesterol will also rise and it is just a bit more powerful. The naturally saturated fats in beef, pork, bacon and cream are also healthy fats. Eggs are good for you too.

“But not all fats are okay. Sunflower and corn oils are industrially processed and can cause inflammation. Avoid those vegetable oils or use them only at a low temperature, otherwise they release harmful substances. ”

We’ll remember it at our next meal, in about sixteen hours.

Image Jason Fung, ‘The Diabetes Code’, Publishing House Nieuwezijds

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