This post is the kind of alternative post that, probably have less to do with Wealth. So if you are neutral on this topic do skip ahead.
Then again wellness affects your wealth.
This year have been peculiar. Suddenly, out of no where, the health department in Singapore starts telling us that we have a diabetes epidemic.
The International Diabetes Federation has estimated that Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed countries, after the United States. And numbers could rise to 1 million by 2050.
I guess the government doesn’t like to be top in so many things. That is a startling situation to be in. Diabetes, is predominately a rich man’s problem but slowly the poor living in a predominately rich man’s country are the biggest sufferers.
A task force have been set up into looking at preventing and care for diabetes.
Then we get the news that the government want to set up a National Diabetes Database to better help fight diabetes.
Channel News Asia have a profile that says for the poor, especially those earning $2,000/mth, eating healthy is very challenging. Dr Bhaskaran, who is also Vice-President of the Diabetic Society of Singapore, says we should switch to brown rice from white rice.
The whole narrative talks about eating healthy, trying to get people to replace white rice with brown rice, how hard it is for people to choose healthier substitutes such as oats, brown rice and olive oil.
It would seem that the government is late to the game that they didn’t prevent diabetes from happening. On the same note, I am not sure if they notice, but the amount of people in every hospital consulting on cancer is also very high.
The whole medical profession here is like other countries, very backward, very bureaucratic.
Nutrition is not look upon as a solution in the Medical Profession
Like other country, nutrition isn’t look upon as a solution for health problems. The competency is more tuned towards patching up problems based on the result.
If it is diabetes, they will recommend you some medicine. If its high blood pressure, it is this other medicine.
The nutrition advice provided is very backward, and if you listen to them it is going to make you worse. They believe the potency of the medication impacts your problem more than nutrition.
The Nutrition Advice Provided Have been Wrong
Speaking of nutrition, the doctors will advise you according to the health pyramid. The health pyramid is based on forming your meals with a big proportion of rice.
Rice, a kind of carbohydrates dominate the diet.
This new war on diabetes shows that this advice have been not correct.
Which begs the question: What if the solution provided is still wrong?
On Rice and Carbohydrates
The main message that I heard about how to fight this “war on diabetes” is to stay away from sugar and carbohydrates.
Here is taken from the health exchange:
Should I reduce or even avoid carbohydrates?
“Carbohydrates are foods that give you energy and should be included as part of a healthy meal plan. In fact, they should provide half of your energy needs”, says Ms Adaikan. However, not all carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels the same way. Carbohydrates can be divided into sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates).
Examples of sugars (simple carbohydrates): glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, jams, sweets.
Examples of starches (complex carbohydrates): bread, rice, pasta, noodles, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and peas.
The more refined the carbohydrate, such as sugar, the faster the glucose is released into your bloodstream. This can cause a surge in blood sugar levels, says Ms Adaikan. Thus, you have to watch out for simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates (or starchy foods) release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate compared to sugary foods, thus providing more stable and sustainable energy levels. This is better for appetite control.
Should I switch to brown rice?
Brown and white rice contain the same amount of carbohydrates, weight for weight, but brown rice provides more fibre. Fibre can slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, thus improving your blood sugar levels, says Ms Adaikan. Besides brown rice, try to include whole grain breads and high-fibre cereals in your diet, as these contain more helpful fibre too.
What about fruits and vegetables?
Fruits do contain sugar, in the form of fructose, but they are also a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre so they ought to be included as part of your meal plan and part of your carbohydrate intake. In general, most vegetables are recommended as they provide fibre.
No food is off limits. The important thing is to watch the portions of carbohydrates you eat in a day and ensure that these are evenly distributed throughout the day, says Ms Adaikan. For instance, make sure you count starchy vegetables such as potatoes as part of your carbohydrate requirements for the day.
Carbohydrate requirements will vary from one person to the next, depending on weight, age, physical activity levels and other health-related conditions. A dietitian can calculate your individual requirements and teach you carbohydrate-counting techniques for more flexibility in your diet.
I think the message is largely correct. The problem with diabetes is that a person becomes not sensitive to insulin. We all start off being sensitive to insulin. When your blood sugar spike up after you eat, insulin removes the excess carbohydrates from your body, storing them as fats as energy around your body.
If you eat too much carbohydrates, you have more insulin removing the excess carbohydrates and turn them to fats.
This is how you get fat. Your body has a natural way of storing excess fat (or energy) around the body.
When you consistently take in too much carbs consistently, your insulin loses its functionality and more insulin is needed for the same amount of carbs.
The chart on the right shows how our blood sugar is suppose to behave. After eating a meal, the blood sugar goes up and then gradually, the insulin, whose job is to remove the sugar/carbs from the blood stream, brings the blood sugar back down to the line.
The left chart shows what happens when your insulin becomes funky.
The sugar level in your blood spikes up, then the insulin brings the sugar down, but it doesn’t get to the line but overshoots.
That is when you develop the symptoms of low blood sugar, getting hungry, hands shaking, low energy.
Some of us are pre-diabetic without realizing it.
Our blood sugar spike up and down, with frequent low sugar crashes in the day, having hunger spells, shaking hands, sleepiness. We think we have low blood sugar, but contrary, it is because we lose insulin sensitivity.
The solution to Diabetes and Obesity
The solution, if you know how the problem occurs seems simple.
The recommendation provided is not wrong. Eat more fiber rich carbs, proteins so that your blood sugar do not spike up. When it does not spike up, your insulin gets re calibrated, and so they become sensitive again.
If you continue to focus on fiber rich carbs, such as vegetables, you can get cured from this problem.
The problem always with the general message is this: You must eat a balance diet.
And if you look at this message, they always want folks to eat some starchy rice, even if its brown rice. You must have a bit of everything.
The only recommendation that is tilted, which I agree, is to keep away from sugar. We do not need to take sugar externally. Most of our food contains carbohydrates already.
To re-calibrate your insulin level, going through an extreme diet without non-fiber carbohydrates that contain:
- white sugar
- white flour
- white rice
- all grains
Can be rather helpful.
Stay away from:
- cakes, pastry, bread
- processed food
- gluten based stuff – sauce on your western food meat, soy sauce in your food
- fruit juice
- soft drink
I don’t believe in having a balance diet. Why?
If you know that one of the food stuff you are eating is equivalent to rat poison, will you still tell your children it is good to have a balance diet and take some rat poison?
You most likely won’t tell that to your children.
The solution is to know what is the right things to eat, what are the things that you shouldn’t eat, and stay away from those that you shouldn’t as a lifestyle.
Frugality and Solving your Diabetes Problem
The article does highlight the challenges for low income family to resolve this diabetes problem from the nutrition angle.
The problem is the same as other countries. The cheap and easy to prepare food are the processed food, which enhance this problem.
They buy this kind of food because:
- most of the time they are working so they do not have time to prepare food
- processed and ready food are cheaper
- they also ‘tastes better’
The solution is to prepare your own food. Eat fresh food.
The difficulty is they do not have the time. And the knowledge what is eat healthy. Most folks still think cholesterol is a problem and stay away from fats. They also do not know how to cook.
I think its not that big of a problem.
Your success in tackling health and diabetes is similar to building wealth. Do you
- have the motivation to improve, rectify your situation
- the knowledge to know what generally works and not work
- the recurring systems and processes
Meal Prep for 7 days
I prepare my own lunch for 7 days. Each of my lunch comes up to $2.00. There are protein and fiber rich carbs. No grains. And the portion is enough to keep me satiated.
To do this, it requires knowledge which means you need research, then practice to cook and work on the cooking process.
Then we do it again and again and again, until it is like looking at financial reports.
I started the year not knowing how to cook much. It is doable.
If you look at preparing well, a family of 3 can come up to $600/mth
You do not need to eat 3 big meals – Ghrelin, Leptin and Intermittent Fasting
One thing about not eating grains and sugar is that you do not take the food with high with the Ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone, or the thing that triggers your brain to make you feel hungry.
If you do not take them, you feel hungry less. When you are less hungry, it is less of a problem because you won’t be a hungry monster hunting for food.
To enhance this, take more healthy fats such as avocado (expensive), coconut oil and olive oil. This increases your Leptin hormone. Leptin opposes Ghrelin, and it makes you full.
If you take a diet that does not contain sugar and grains and more fats, you are more satiated.
If you couple with Intermittent Fasting, which is a controlled fasting, it will enhance reversing diabetes, which we have more medical proof that it is helping.
People have bad thoughts of fasting, but you are already fasting. When you finish eating at 7-8 pm and go to sleep, wake up and eat breakfast at 9 am, you just fasted 13 hours. There are many different intermittent fasting methods, but the most doable is to do a 16 hour fast and eat within an 8 hour window.
Within that 8 hour window, you can eat as much as you can.
I think that is not difficult to do.
If you are poor, this knowledge might create an environment where you:
- have energy
- less hungry all the time
- eat less
- control your food budget
- improve your diabetes situation
My Experience with Diabetes
Both my parents took medication for diabetes. After learning all this, it has been an extremely challenging problem getting my parents to buy the idea of not eating grains, eat more meat, more oil.
The result is that my mom is off her diabetes medication and my dad got his polyclinic doctor to reduce his diabetes medication.
There are other by products, such as better quality of life, less hunger, less demands, more stability as human being.
The task of solving a wellness social problem like diabetes is as challenging as personal finance.
Education is not the solution. We had this education to eat healthy and look where it got us. People try to eat healthy by staying away from oil, fats, eggs which are really not the big problems.
There are deeper social stigma such as the Chinese culture of eating rice and starches.
That is a tougher problem than asking people to save.
I made my peace on this subject. No one will make much change unless they are a progressive human being, or that they are near their death bed.