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Book review: ‘The Blood Sugar Solution’

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-05-2017 Pooja Singh

Do you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease or obesity? Are you overweight? Is your waist size more than 35 inches (for women) or 40 inches (for men)? Do you have sugar cravings? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you may already have diabesity (the continuum of health problems ranging from mild insulin resistance and being overweight to obesity and diabetes) or may be headed in that direction. So says Mark Hyman, an American physician and a New York Times best-selling author, in the introduction of his new book.

The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Programme For Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, And Feeling Great Now! tackles a pressing question: What can be done about global obesity and diabetes epidemics? “Diabesity affects over 1.7 billion people worldwide. Scientists conservatively estimate it will affect one in two Americans by 2020,” writes Dr Hyman, who was a health adviser to former US president Bill Clinton. The book is packed with information and suggestions. It is also timely for India, which has the largest diabetic population after China—65 million people—and the third-highest number of obese people (over 40 million), after the US and China.

Here are some of the important points that the book makes:

■The author blames the epidemic of diabesity on nutrient-poor, calorie-rich diets. “The paradox is that the most obese children and adults are also the most nutritionally deficient. Rickets and scurvy are now being seen in obese children. Most of us don’t realize that the more calories you eat, the more nutrients you need. Our current diet is energy- dense (too many calories) but nutrient-poor (not enough vitamins and minerals),” he says, stressing on “creating health”. He offers a step-by-step approach of preparing the body for healthy living: “prepare your mind, body, kitchen (throw toxic substances out, stock it with healthy, non-processed foods), inner shopper and chef (buy and cook your own food)”.

■Dr Hyman has a clear-cut agenda: Use food and exercise as medicine to tackle diabesity, and lead a healthy life. “Billions and billions have been wasted trying to find the ‘drug cure’, while the solution lies right under our nose. This is a lifestyle and environmental disease and won’t be cured by a medication,” writes Dr Hyman. He offers the secret to preventing diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer and obesity: balanced insulin levels. There are seven key elements to this—managing nutrition, hormones, inflammation, digestion, detoxification, metabolism, and keeping the mind calm.

■ Are you stressed? If you’re not sure, you can take the “Stress and Adrenal Fatigue” quiz (with options of yes and no) in the book. Sample some of the questions: “I feel tired but wired”, “I crave sweets”, “I crave salt”… Stress and the resultant high levels of cortisol worsen diabesity, damage the brain and affect appetite control, making you hungrier and increasing the craving for sugar, he warns. Again, there’s a solution: meditation, exercise, dancing, laughing, praying…. Do what makes you happy, he says.

■The last section of the book is dedicated to a six-week meal plan that Dr Hyman says would help tackle diabetes and obesity. Each week has a day-by-day menu, with recipes of dishes like Red Lentil Stew, Tofu Fried Rice and Rice and Chickpea Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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