What Are Obesity and Diabetes?
Michelle Obama, in her capacity as First Lady, launched her “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010 in hopes of bringing awareness as well as solutions to the American silent epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes. The reality is that currently one in every three children in the United States is obese, or severely overweight.
Along with obesity is diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, a chronic condition connected to obesity and traditionally identified by high levels of glucose in the blood or high blood sugar. There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 is insulin-dependent diabetes also known as juvenile onset diabetes and related more to autoimmunity
- Type 2 diabetes is a non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes and is usually related to obesity
Both obesity and diabetes in children are currently on the rise in the United States.
What Your Doctor May Tell You About Obesity and Diabetes
Your child’s pediatrician will likely tell you your child’s obesity problem may be due to:
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy eating patterns
- Possibly an endocrine disorder
- Genetic factors due to family history
Obesity is determined by Body Mass Index (BMI), which indicates how much body fat your child has. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so pediatricians usually suggest a calorie-based diet with more physical activity.
In certain situations, adolescents may be prescribed the medication Orlistat, which prevents the absorption of fat in the intestines; however, the long term risks are unknown. For severely obese adolescents, surgery may be an option if the child’s weight poses a greater health risk than the surgery.
In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the cells in your child’s body do not respond to insulin, and therefore, glucose levels build up and create a condition known as insulin resistance. In other words, the sugar levels get too high for the body to handle.
Your pediatrician will explain that your child ate too much sugar, got fat, developed Type 2 diabetes and long-term management is the only option. Metformin, a sugar-lowering medication, is often administered but there are nasty gastrointestinal side effects to deal with.
A hemoglobin A1C test is customary every three months to monitor sugar levels. On a daily basis, traditional finger prick tests for sugar levels or continuous glucose monitoring is the regular routine.
Your pediatrician will probably suggest a diabetic meal plan which consists of 50% to 55% carbohydrates, 30% to 35% fat and 10% to 15% protein and exercising every day.
Another Way to Think About Obesity and Diabetes
Researchers now know that the missing link to the traditional obesity and diabetes thinking is the hormone leptin. Leptin regulates blood sugar because it is responsible for controlling appetite and fat storage and for telling the liver what to do with its stored glucose.
The brain and liver are also extremely important in regulating blood sugar especially in Type 2 insulin resistant diabetes.
Traditionally, doctors believed that too much sugar led to obesity and diabetes, but today researchers have discovered a correlation between increased leptin levels, which are pro-inflammatory, and brain hyperactivity.
This means that the body may have an abnormal response to leptin which can lead to obesity. The only real way to establish proper leptin and insulin signaling is through diet.
A diet that is designed to incorporate good fats and control spiking levels of blood sugar by avoiding carbohydrates and sugar can modulate leptin and insulin levels. It is interesting to note that fructose is the leading cause of childhood obesity today.
If your child consumes a diet that is consistently high in sugar and grains, over time the body becomes “sensitized’ to insulin and requires more and more of it until the body becomes insulin and leptin-resistant and eventually diabetic.
Obesity and Diabetes Healing Checklist
- Get 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)
- Get outside every day
- Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
- Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
- Limit screen time as much as possible
- Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
- Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
- Drink half body weight in ounces of water
- Eat whole foods
- Buy organic foods
- Eat a clean diet
- Remove all GMO foods
- Remove all fast and processed foods
- Remove all foods with artificial colors, artificial ingredients, artificial flavors, natural flavors, preservatives, phenols and salicylates
- Strictly limit sugars, refined salt and refined carbohydrates
Use Only High-Quality Fats
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil (unheated)
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
- Grass-fed ghee
- Duck fat
- Grass-fed beef tallow
- Cod liver oil (unheated)
- Walnut oil (unheated)
Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal
- Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
- Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
- Wild-caught fish
Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics
- Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
- Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
- Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
- Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
- Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.
Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.
We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.
- Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
- Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
- Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
- Remove carpets
- Use non-toxic cleaners
- Use non-toxic building materials
Lower Stress Levels
Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.
By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.
NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
- Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
- NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
- Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
- Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
- Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
- Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)
Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance
- Betaine hydrochloric acid
- Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
- Proteolytic enzymes
Always work with your practitioner to determine the brand, type and dosage of supplements. Common supplements include the following:
- Cod liver oil
- Vitamin D3
- Methylated B complex vitamins
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
- Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
- Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
- See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
- Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
- Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children.
- Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
- Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.
They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.
Richard K. Bernstein MD, author of The Diabetes Solution, recommends maintaining an optimal blood sugar level of 83 mg/dl, even after eating. Dr. Bernstein also writes that the optimal range of hemoglobin A1C is 4.2-4.6% (correlating to blood sugar of about 72-86 mg/dl), which is far below the 5.7% level that is considered normal. To achieve these blood-sugar levels, your child may need to limit consumption of carbohydrates with a low-carbohydrate diet such as the Paleo/primal diet or even the ketogenic diet. We recommend working with a healthcare practitioner to monitor your child’s progress in undertaking these more-restrictive diets.
Avoid food before bedtime:
A primary cause of night-waking is a drop in blood sugar. Food, especially carbohydrate-rich food, before bedtime can cause a drop in blood sugar in the middle of the night. Be sure that all meals include plenty of fat, fiber and protein.
Increase physical activity:
Have your child do sports or physical exercise daily and limit the amount of television and computer time each day.
Eat dinner together as a family:
Eating as many meals as possible at home can reinforce healthy eating habits. Children pay attention to what you as a parent do on a consistent basis, so be sure to model how enjoyable it is to eat healthy food.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep:
Insufficient sleep and sleep that is not in sync with the body’s circadian rhythm can cause stress on the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands not only respond to stress by producing adrenaline, but the cortisol produced by them also controls the body’s circadian rhythm.
Many studies have shown that high levels of cortisol lead to excess weight gain. Therefore, have your child go to bed on the earlier side.
You’ll know when you’ve hit your child’s bedtime sweet spot when they wake up full of energy in the morning, usually between 5:30am and 6:30am.
Normalize serotonin levels:
Low levels of serotonin can lead to hunger and sweet cravings as well as sleep issues. Have your practitioner test levels of your child’s neurotransmitter serotonin.
Optimize your child’s thyroid levels:
Low thyroid activity is typically linked to excess weight gain. Have your child work with a functional medicine doctor or naturopath who can test and optimize thyroid levels.
Test leptin levels:
A key to understanding your child’s excess weight may be leptin levels. Have your child work with a functional-medicine doctor or naturopath who can test and optimize leptin levels.
Hypnotherapy can help with over-indulgence, comfort food and emotional eating.
Still Looking for Answers?
Join us at Healing Together, where you’ll find even more resources plus a community to support you, every step of the way.
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