Wednesday, November 16, 2011

body energy

The Emperor of All Maladies is about cancer.  Some diseases get lots of attention (but of course, once we find we have a particular problem or condition, that's the one we care about at the time.)  When I was in elementary school, the disease I worried about was polio.  Kids my age would come down with it and become permanently paralyzed to spend the rest of their lives in an iron lung.

I suppose that it may be more helpful, if you are going to develop a disease, to get one that is common and had by many others.  That way, I guess, there will be more experience with it and more market for companies to work on medicines and treatments for it.  

Ten years or so ago, my doctor said that my blood sugar reading was 113 but "should" be below 100.  He emphasized that a few years earlier the American Diabetes Association had moved its standard to above 100 for pre-diabetes and 126 for diabetes.  He warned me to watch my sugar and carbohydrate intake.  At the same time, since I was getting older, he told me about "syndrome X" or "metabolic syndrome", a cluster of conditions in the body that may be the first sign of more severe problems to come.  That was the first mention of diabetes in connection with me.  Weight gain, waist and abdominal fat, high blood pressure and high blood sugar go together to increase the chance of heart, artery and diabetes problems.

I went right out and got books on the subject, naturally.  I also bought a blood sugar meter and began testing myself.  The most helpful thing I read was in the introduction to a diabetes book written by a nurse.  She said that most people think of diabetes as a disease related to sugar intake but that it is smarter to think of it as a calorie problem.  Our food-rich civilization, our advertising and cooking that creates very tempting foods and urges us to eat them frequently, our aging bodies that continue to desire snacks, sweets, dough products, and most of our "comfort" foods.  It can seem cruel of life to create a barrier to these sources of pleasure but that is just one way of looking at the phenomenon.

I find it is helpful to think of my body winding down, processing food energy less and doing so less efficiently.  I try to attune myself to that picture and act accordingly.  Now, just like my grandparents, I can see the value in splitting a banana and just eating half.

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