I am a health and nutrition educator, as well as a medical sociologist. I consult with both individuals and organizations on the creation of health and wellness programs. I am my most important client. While recovering from a recent spine surgery, I was Inspired by the philosophy of Miss Harriet Tubman as presented by GirlTrek.org. I am saving my own life first!
In designing a wellness program for myself, I started with two types of health conditions: those with which I was born (congenital) and those for which I inherited a genetic predisposition with expression influenced by lifestyle and environmental factors.
I have inherited a genetic predisposition for type II diabetes. I know that lifestyle factors, including physical activity and diet, can influence the expression of this genetic predisposition. This knowledge comes from the classroom at Hawthorn University and from life experiences.
In the early 1990s, the skin on my neck became much darker than the skin on my face. My primary care physician gave me explanations that were not logical. She claimed, for example, that the skin on my neck had always been darker or that the darker skin on my neck was the result of exposure to the sun.
I was born into a generation of women taught to treat their neck as part of their face. I knew my own neck. I also knew that neither my face nor my neck had been over exposed to sunlight since the late 1970s. I have lupus. I am photosensitive. I have permanent scars on my face to remind me of what happens when my skin is exposed to UV from sunlight. As a result, I learned to apply a 30 SPF moisturizer to my face every morning.
My insurance coverage was through an HMO. I had to write this physician a memorandum to get a referral to a dermatologist. Since my memo was included in my file, the dermatologist was ready for me as soon as she entered the room. She told me that the darkening of the skin on my neck was called acanthosis negricans and described it as a precursor to diabetes. I made some lifestyle changes and my neck returned to it’s normal color.
For the past nine years, I have been working with a primary care physician who orders bloodwork the week before an office visit. An important part of the office visit involves going over the results line by line. It is difficult to be in denial when you and your trusted physician are looking at the lab results and at each other. That is why, over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to see my fasting blood glucose levels slowly rising.
After the failure of my hip flexors took me out of the pool and the undiagnosed cyst growing in my lumbar spine took away my ability to walk, my fasting blood sugar level started increasing more rapidly.
Patient education: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview (Beyond the Basics) https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diabetes-mellitus-type-2-overview-beyond-the-basics?view=print#H4
When my fasting glucose level approached and then moved into the “impaired fasting glucose” stage, my primary care physician and I talked about dietary changes. I was already following a nutrient dense whole foods lifestyle so there were no sodas, processed, or sugar laden manufactured food like substances to remove. He suggested giving up beans. That was a difficult thing for a “beans and rice woman” like me to do. But I complied. Unfortunately, my blood sugar level continued to indicate that I was insulin resistant and at risk for diabetes.
After my spine surgery in December of 2017, I decided to try the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). I started the AIP in January 2018. My approach to the AIP was to focus on the wide array of vegetables that were included rather than on those that needed to be eliminated. In March of 2018 my fasting blood glucose level and A1c were both within the normal range, just barely. But, just barely was enough for me to know that something about the AIP was having a positive impact on my health
|Glucose, serum, fasting||114||108||115||109||97*|
|*Indicates results within the “normal” range.|
This motivates me to keep working with the AIP. I am also learning more about dietary lifestyles that overlap with the AIP. In the Plant Paradox, for example, Dr. Steven Gundry recommends removing from the diet many of the same foods that are eliminated in the AIP. Dr. Gundry recommends foregoing conventional dairy, many grains, legumes, and nightshades. His first emphasis is on the toxic impact lectins.
Dr. Gundry’s second emphasis has become promoting his proprietary prebiotics blend. This video which introduces some of the main ideas from the book is a long commercial for this product. I recommend watching the video and visiting his website and reading his blogs. I offer one caveat. If you click on the link at the end of the video and provide your email address, you will become the target of aggressive marketing. I think that I can get the prebiotics that I need without spending so much money.
Dr. Steven Gundry: Cut Your Cravings
I believe that this process is about taking responsibility for what I put in my mouth. If I choose to eat foods that do not impair my body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin the genetic predisposition to develop type II diabetes will not be expressed. I don’t think this is going to be easy. Given what I know about my anatomical and biochemical individuality, however, I think managing diabetes would be even more difficult. So, I intend to try.
If you are interested in these topics continue to follow me. If you want to know if I am successful in continuing to make dietary choices that do not lead to diabetes, then continue to follow me. If you are interested in finding the dietary lifestyle that works best for you, contact me. I can help you with that.
I understand enough about epigenetics, to know that just because you have a gene does not mean that it must be expressed. I know enough about nutritional genomics to know that what you eat can influence your health. If you are still reproducing, then what you eat can influence the health of your descendants across future generations. Let’s take responsibility for our food choices.
- In the past several posts, I have written about how I strive to be well given the challenging health conditions with which I born (congenital) and those which developed as the result of a genetic predisposition. I have written about scoliosis and the pain from the leg length discrepancy it produces. I have written about the congenital stenosis and spondylolisthesis in my lumbar spine which have, in conjunction with degenerative processes and a cyst, damaged the nerves that enervate the muscles of my shorter and smaller leg. I have written about the autoimmune diseases with which I live: lupus, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s Syndrome, etc. ↑
- I knew this before my DNA was analyzed. According to members of my extended family, Type II diabetes, or “the sugar,” runs in our blood. Both of my parents were diagnosed with type II diabetes. I get emotional when I think of the family members that I have lost because of the complications of this disease. The cases in my family also seem to be following the national pattern in which people are experiencing the onset of the disease and its more serious complications earlier in life.I am familiar with the statistics, national trends, and the debates over causes because I have facilitated graduate level seminars on the sociology of food and nutrition offered through the sociology department at VCU. ↑
- Most of my clients still get their blood drawn at the time of their office visit. Some still only get a phone call after a result is outside of the expected range. Some now have access to their lab results through “patient portals.” I assist these clients with accessing all the portals in which their health data are stored. I help them become comfortable with the way the data are presented. You do not need a medical degree to recognize a result that is changing over time in undesirable ways. Many specialists will only send a report to the primary care physician. Having access to a patient portal allows one to share the information with every member of the health care team. ↑
- Impaired fasting glucose is defined as a fasting blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L). ↑
- The process of reducing lectins in tomatoes took me back home to Alabama and watching my aunts go through the process of canning tomatoes. I will be trying to make a reduced lectin tomato sauce and seeing what happens when I include it in my diet. https://youtu.be/Qq0QXdql7Po ↑