Dr. Jody Stanislaw received her doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine in 2007 from the acclaimed holistic medical school in Seattle, Bastyr University. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator, Type 1 Diabetes Specialist, and a founding board member of the Low Carb Diabetes Association.
Below is the full text of her TEDx Talk titled “Sugar is Not a Treat” at TEDxSunValley conference. This event occurred in September 2017.
Take a few moments to think about your most vital organs in your body, those organs that you cannot live without. Okay, got them? Excellent.
You probably thought about your heart. I bet “brain” popped into your mind. Lungs.
But did any of you think, “My pancreas, I can’t live without my pancreas”?
I’m assuming most of you probably didn’t.
I’m a naturopathic doctor, and I love educating people about the importance of the pancreas, which is located right here, tucked behind your stomach, behind your left lower rib cage.
Inside your pancreas is a small cluster of cells called beta cells. You only have two grams actually; it’s the size of, like, two almonds.
Well, these life-giving cells surprisingly get no attention, yet if they were to wither away, in the absence of medical intervention, you would literally die within a few weeks. That is how important your beta cells are; you would die.
Here’s how they work: Anytime you eat sugar or highly-refined carbohydrates, that sugar circulates in your blood from your head to your toe, throughout your body.
The beta cells are the security guards for your blood, and as soon as they see this rush of sugar, they send the alarm bells off. They call in a team of dump trucks to haul all of that sugar out.
Well, the dump trucks are called insulin, and insulin’s job is to pick up all that sugar out of the blood and feed it to your liver, your muscles, or store it as fat because you don’t want all that excess sugar hanging out in your blood.
This seems pretty innocent, right?
But here’s the problem: Millions and millions today are overworking their security force. Overworking your beta cells doesn’t happen only with obvious foods, like cake and ice cream, but it also happens with highly-refined carbohydrate foods, like yogurt and granola, cereal, bread, pasta, alcohol – even when used in moderation.
Anytime you eat these foods, your beta cells send the alarm bells off to make more insulin. And this is scary because – just like anything that gets overused, from cars to computers – the parts eventually wear out, leading to beta cell burnout. This is another name for pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes which you really don’t want to suffer from.
Beta cell burnout can happen to anyone, and it has a lot to do with your food choices. As your beta cells weaken through the years, the blood sugar level starts to rise to a dangerous level, maybe even unbeknownst to you.
If the beta cells get really weak, and you don’t pick it up – your diet doesn’t change – you’ll likely need to take insulin injections every day for the rest of your life to stay alive.
But the good news — the good news is reversing beta cell burnout is entirely possible. Just with a few small dietary tweaks and lifestyle changes, especially when caught early; I specialize in diabetes. I also am an expert because I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was just seven years old.