Today, I’d like to share with you an important statistic of which most people are probably not aware.

The statistic is:

Most American adults are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

A full 50% of American adults meet the prediabetic or diabetic diagnostic criteria.

This means they have too much sugar in their blood.

That 50% number apparently doesn’t include the very early stages of prediabetes where fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and even sugar levels after eating are normal, but insulin after meals is elevated. These early stages are thought to go on for 5 or 10 years before prediabetes is typically noticeable with elevated fasting blood sugar.

Add this category to the 50% and we have a large majority of people who have problems digesting sugar.

To look at it from another angle, NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) says that only 12% of American adults are in optimal metabolic health.

What is wrong with us?

Is it cheap, processed (industrialized) sugar (corn syrup)? Is it cheap, processed (industrialized) fat? Is it the stress of modern society? Is it the sedentary nature of modern life? Are there other issues as well?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Some people would also add that it’s also a lack of clarity on how to treat prediabetes from a dietary standpoint.

Two camps

There are two camps about how to approach diabetes with diet.

One group promotes a low-fat, low-calorie diet to treat diabetes. Part of the thinking is that fat coats the cell in an unfavorable way and makes it insulin resistant. You can find a TED talk where a caring doctor describes taking his patients off all fats and reversing diabetes that had been long-standing for years.

Another camp would protest and say the low-fat approach was never founded on science. Instead of fat restriction, these protesters are saying strict carbohydrate restriction shows promise. If you’re going to cut sugar, you have to greatly increase dietary fat. And that’s just what they call for. Low fat over there and high fat over here! And, I’ve seen a TED talk where a kind doctor is giving her patients advice to go on a high-fat, low-carb diet and describes reversing diabetes in patients and taking them off insulin.

So, which is it?

Do we cut out the fat or increase the fat to fight diabetes? There appear to be contradicting approaches.

Dealing with Contradictions

Our “knowing” minds assume there must be a true and an untrue path, and we assume that we’re better off if we know which is which.

Camps develop. The pro-fat camp versus the anti-fat camp. Contradictions and camps are normal.

Enter our “unknowing” mind

What if instead of trying to solve the contradiction we just let it be, compassionately. Contradiction is a reality. It can be allowed. It can be embraced. Happiest is he or she who sees the two camps and knows that both can be valid.

Have you heard of the intelligence of ignorance? As soon as you start to identify with the content of your knowledge, you become incredibly small. The truth is what we don’t know is without end. But if you remain open, if you remain honest about your ignorance, about how boundless our unknowingness is, then our intelligence remains alert to all possibilities. “If you always know that you don’t know, your intelligence will remain alert to everything.” (— Sadhguru). This is the intelligence of ignorance.

And in THAT intelligence we realize other possibilities: maybe it doesn’t matter what diet (or whatever) you are prescribed. Maybe it’s the presence of the caring, enthusiastic doctor and the patient’s trust in the intervention that are the difference makers.

These are the three keys:

  • Be curious. Ask questions; stay open to someone else’s view. 
  • Have empathy. Be generous with giving the benefit of the doubt. Remember that contradiction is valid.
  • Be kind.

Using these keys is a difference-maker in your health efforts.