If you are prediabetic or have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Bill Sears suggests using this one simple tool for making smarter food choices .
Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes are common but very serious conditions. Poor blood glucose management is associated with an elevated risk of heart disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease. “This association is so strong that I use the term ‘pre-Alzheimer’s’ to describe prediabetes when talking with patients,” confirms William “Dr. Bill” Sears, MD., a practicing family health physician for more than 40 years and co-founder of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.
“All medical practices, including mine, now see a lot of patients with prediabetes. Most people don’t understand what Type 2 diabetes does to them or that it is the most preventable disease. At first, they feel fine, so they don’t think they need to do anything differently. But when I tell teens and adults that they may lose their sight, damage their brain, damage their heart and lose their ability to do the activities they enjoy, they finally get it.”
After explaining how high levels of Hemoglobin A1C, which attaches to glucose, can clog blood vessels, he tells patients: “Two medical terms which will influence your health for the rest of your life, especially your heart and brain, are: Avoid Spikes. Every organ of your body is only as healthy as the blood vessels supplying it.”
Sears, who is known for his science-made-simple approach to family health, explains that our unique gut microbiome predicts how specific foods affect your blood sugar. Now, he’s anxious to share what he’s learned from personal experience about a new tool for better blood sugar control. Called DayTwo, this tool may soon be offered as part of your health insurance wellness program.
Get to know your internal pharmacy
Years ago, a group of microbiologists asked Sears for a fun, simple way to describe the gut microbiome. “We talked about what the microbiome does for you and why you need to take care of it,” Sears recalls. The microbes living in our gut play important roles in our digestive system, our immune system and even our moods. “People love it when I say they have an internal pharmacy in their gut. Each of us has tens of trillions of our own micro-pharmacists in our gut, working 24/7 to manufacture compounds to keep us healthy.”
Since then, Sears has watched interest in our gut microbiome thrive. “Microbiome testing kits are becoming popular. But I look for published research done by universities and hospitals before I even evaluate something. What intrigued me about DayTwo is that this test does just one thing: evaluates your microbiome to predict how different foods will affect your blood sugar. And it’s validated by research published in JAMA and Cell.
“Just as the pedometer taught us what 10,000 steps per day feel like, now we have a mechanical tool based on a reliable algorithm that will teach you how your blood sugar will respond to specific foods.”
After reviewing the research, Sears’ next step was to try this for himself. “I received this list of bugs in my gut. I wondered: Do I need to eat differently to change my bugs? Or, is the diet I’m on fine for my bugs? During my conversation with the DayTwo dietitian, she assured me that my microbiome happens to enjoy what I’m eating so I don’t have to make any changes.”
The tool uses a scoring system to rate thousands of different foods and food combinations based on an individual’s gut microbiome analysis and lifestyle factors. The app provides you with your personalized scores on more than one million foods and food combinations including brand-name items, like Kirkland or Clif Bar, and restaurants, like Chipotle or Panera. Follow these scores to choose the food you like and that won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Your personalized recommendations can be used for normalizing blood sugar levels throughout the day and night. You’ll get food recommendations specific to your gut make up, such as top meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Surprisingly, depending on your individual gut microbiome, some foods that you might think are healthy may instead cause your blood sugar to spike,and vice versa.
“The app and scoring are simple and easy to understand,” says Sears. “They motivate the person to improve their food choices. If you see that a meal scores a 3, you start thinking about how to get it up to an 8 or 9.”
Sears emphasizes that, especially if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, you must start thinking about what you are putting into your body.
He concludes, “How we feed ourselves and our families is directly connected with the most serious health conditions that unfortunately cut most of our lives short.
Biography: William Sears, M.D.
William Sears, M.D. has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for over 40 years. He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the world’s largest children’s hospital, where he was associate ward chief of the newborn intensive care unit before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto. He has served as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and University of California: Irvine. A father of 8 children, he and his wife Martha have written more than 45 books and hundreds articles on parenting, childcare, nutrition, and healthy aging. He is the co-founder of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute for training health coaches, and he runs the health and parenting website AskDrSears.com. Dr. Sears and his contribution to family health were featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in May 2012. He is noted for his science-made-simple-and-fun approach to family health.