Its been a sad past week since my Dad has grown very ill. He has type 2 diabetes, a common malady that hits the Native American population very hard. I talk about it a lot, but it has become very real for my family. My family and my brother all met in Oklahoma not even a month ago. We went to the Oklahoma Spring football scrimmage and had a wonderful time. We talked about a lot of things. Among them was concerning me being the executor of their estate should something happen. In the back of my mind I was thinking, I hope that day never comes. Well, its at my doorstep now. Somehow, his medication got mislabeled and he was taking the wrong amount of insulin. Then, when he ran out, there was an issue getting re-prescribed. He ended up in a diabetic shock and was rushed to the E.R. Since then, the most basic tasks are a challenge. He has forgotten how to put his arm into his shirt and how to open a car door. A CT-Scan didn’t show brain damage, but there is clearly something wrong. We are hoping for full recovery. But often, a degradation in quality of life leads down a steep slope. I’m most worried for my Mom since she depends on him so much.
So when I am talking about diet, I’m talking life and death. Actually, it is true for all of us regardless if a problem is at our doorstep or not. Diabetes and heart disease are too close to me. So this is all the more reason to consider my health. I’ve always been health conscious and a serious athlete throughout my life. But I need to ramp it up another notch.
So I was listening to an Onnit podcast this morning with Ben Greenfield as guest. Ben is a lifelong biohacker. He experiments on himself with so many things and adopts very alternative ways of thinking. He is also well-read and shares what he is experimenting with at the time.
Here is a list of a few key points that I will take to heart:
– Intermittent fasting – I was initially doing this for weight management. Now its to prevent death. Breaking up the insulin hypersensitivity cycle is key for my family history of diabetes. A 12-16 hour fast every day is good and not that difficult. Stop eating at 9pm and then don’t eat again until after 9am or lunch. Or, if you crave breakfast, stop eating at 6pm, then wait for breakfast to eat again.
– 5:2 method – for 5 days a week, you eat a normal caloric load. Then for two days, you go to a minimum, like 500 calorie day. It has the same effect as intermittent fasting creating hormonal balance and better management of your health.
– Meatless Mondays – I have no social stigma concerning diet. But this could be a tool to reduce total protein intake one day a week. Protein is super necessary for muscle maintenance and growth and animal sources have a higher assimilation coefficient than any other form. But, having a continuous load of protein in the diet has been shown to decrease longevity. Make the low protein day on a rest day so you don’t risk catabolism of muscle.
– Also, having a NO carb day or days is good too. It buffers harmful insulin imbalances that occur from constantly having sugar in the diet. Yes, carbs are sugars, either single molecules or in long chains. This includes breads, pastas, and other grain products; fruits and many vegetables too.
– Research shows that making lunch the biggest meal of your day has health benefits. This would be the toughest for me since that means I’d have to add a lot of meal prep to do this. And I love dinner the most. But maybe I’ll try to shift some calories to a late lunch.
That’s enough for now. I will definitely be embracing these strategies more than ever before. My path has been set for me with my genetics, so I need to do all I can to stave off that journey.
Lastly, let me give you an insight into nature. Nature likes homeostasis. However, growth often occurs in times of trouble. A wildfire is actually a good thing for nature in the long run as devastating as it is in the here and now. Intense cold can kill off harmful insect populations for the coming year. And predator-prey coupling theory is real on all levels. There is a constant cycle to life. Cancer, or metastasis of cells, happens for a reason. When you smoke a pack of cigarettes every day, your body has to replace dead cells over and over in your lungs. A woman’s monthly cycle says that it needs to create new tissue every month. Whenever you have repeated trauma to an organ or tissue and the body needs to create new cells, sometimes the signal to turn that process off fails. Then what happens is you get new tissue when you don’t want it. And eventually that process and rogue cells can take over your entire body.
What you need to do in life is to break that cycle. You need healing. You need to not expose your body to things you can control. It may be drugs, alcohol, or smoking (anything, not just cigarettes). But it may be your diet too. Type 2 diabetes is preventable. But you need to break the sugar cycle. A fast now and then, being hungry at times, being exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and intense exercise are perfect ways to reset your body. Instead of your homeostasis being a mildly straight line, give it lots of peaks and valleys instead. You can always come back to the center. A status quo of sedentary life isn’t enough. Find the challenges in the extremes.