Are your levels too high?
New Zealanders make up the third largest nationality in terms of being over-weight and obese, behind the US and Mexico. A recent national health survey shows nearly one in three of the population is overweight. Rates of obesity are highest in the 45 to 65 age group and particularly among New Zealand’s Maori and Pacific Island population.
The survey says excess weight is a leading cause of a number of health conditions, including type-two diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer.
Startling facts, but the good news is, there is an answer.
In New Zealand on a recent visit, Britishbased Dr Michael Mosley [the author of the 5:2 Fast Diet] was promoting his new research and his latest book, The Eight Week
Blood Sugar Diet.
Blood sugar levels, he says, are very serious and strictly associated with being over-weight and obese.
“We have seen in New Zealand a doubling in type two diabetes in the last decade. Pre-diabetics are increasing too. There are at least two pre-diabetics for every diabetic. Well over one third of the New Zealand adult population is diabetic or pre-diabetic.”
Type two diabetes is late onset and strongly associated with abdominal fat and responds to lifestyle; whereas type one is primarily genetic and needs medication.
“This is a worldwide catastrophe unfolding – a worldwide unprecedented epidemic. Being over-weight and obese is killing more people worldwide than infections, diseases and malnutrition.”
Most people, however, are not aware of what their blood sugar levels are or how this is stopping them lose weight.
“Some people find themselves hungry all the time.”
In the 1980s there was an explosion of obesity following guidelines to eat low fat. Instead people ate lots of sugary carbohydrates that triggered an increase in over-weight people. People also became increasingly sedentary.
“Weight gain is primarily driven by what we eat. The modern diet of sugary carbs and low good-quality protein and fats, just pile on the weight. Our diets are just full of junk.”
Dr Mosley describes the breakfast he received on a recent flight to Sydney. It was low fat yoghurt, cranberries, granola and orange juice. There were 20 teaspoons of sugar in that breakfast!
“It seemed plausible that fat makes you fat. Yet a low fat diet doesn’t appear to work for most people.”
For those who think there blood sugar levels are not where they should be, Dr Mosley recommends:
1. Measure your abdominal fat. If your waist is more than 35 inches, then you are at increased risk.
2. Take a blood sugar test [finger prick test from your pharmacy]. 3. Lose that abdominal fat and lose it fast. Those taking up The Eight-Week Blood Sugar Diet can expect to lose on average 15kg. This involves eating 800 calories
a day for eight weeks. 4. Exercise is not an effective way to lose weight, but it is a good way to keep weight off. [ To burn a kilo of fat you have to run 120km.] Exercise equipment in gyms that measure calories burnt, according to Dr Mosley, are wildly inaccurate.
“If you eat a 480 calorie muffin, you would have to run 8km to burn it off.”
Although it can be challenging to reverse type-two diabetes, Dr Mosley says it is possible.
“You first need to lose 10 to 15 per cent of body weight – largely abdominal fat.”
The disease, he says, is horrible – cutting your life expectancy by ten years. It is the number one cause in New Zealand of preventable blindness and limb amputation.
“In the UK, 7,000 limbs are cut off each year because of type two diabetes. It damages your arteries and every other system in your body. Doctors tell you it is irreversible, but it is simply not true.”
Dr Mosley knows this from firsthand experience.
“A few years ago I was diagnosed as a type two diabetic – my blood sugar was out of control. I then lost 10kg over eight weeks, which reversed my diabetes. And I have found it easy to keep it off.”
Losing weight can be a case of fighting insulin resistance – when fat and glucose goes into your fat cells, instead of your muscle cells – often as a result of poor diet and sedentariness.
Blood sugar levels are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L) and you should have a measurement of five mmols/L, with four being better. Pre-diabetics have a reading of six. If you have above seven, you will be type two diabetic. The reading needs to be taken after not eating for ten to 12 hours.
Dr Mosley does not advocate eating lots of small meals. Snacking, he says, is terrible. He has seen the biggest improvements in diet from people who eat two larger meals [breakfast and lunch] with a smaller evening meal.
He recommends a Mediterranean diet of lower carbs.
“You want to be eating olive oil, nuts, vegetables and good quality protein [oily fish and lean meat].
For those who give chocolates, alcohol and cakes as birthday gifts and office shouts, Dr Mosley suggests rethinking this – instead finding gifts that do not raise blood sugar levels that adversely affect the recipient’s health.
“The modern diet of sugary carbs and low on good quality protein and fats, just piles on the weight. Our diets are full of junk.”
Dr Mosley recommends a Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil, nuts,
vegetables and good quality protein [oily fish
or lean meat].