You might think, “What on earth does Downton Abbey have to do with health and fitness?” Well, if you were listening closely, you may have heard the conversation last week between Isobel Crawley and Dr. Clarkson, regarding the “invention of a new drug called insulin.” Well done, Downton Abbey writers!
Not many people are aware that insulin was invented in Canada in the 1920’s. Until then, a diagnosis of diabetes was an imminent death sentence. At the time, there were institutions in New York where people could send their children with the hope of extending their lives. The doctors there experimented with severe restrictions of carbohydrates and calories. Some of the children actually starved to death, but with a diabetes diagnosis, it was their last chance. My father, who was born in 1919, had Type 1 diabetes, and was one of the luckier patients there. When insulin was invented and made available in the United States, it saved thousands of lives, including his, emptying out all of those institutions. (Unfortunately, my father had what they called “brittle diabetes,” which spiked frequently and was difficult to control. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1963, and died from complications seven very long years later.)
His life, long illness and death factor strongly into why I am in the business of health and wellness, especially how the body processes sugar. And it’s why I am so concerned about the amount of sugar people eat nowadays. Overconsumption of sugar can cause illnesses ranging from type 2 diabetes to heart problems to dementia. It’s in almost every box, can, or jar in the grocery store under various pseudonyms (high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, etc,), and it’s in everything from ketchup to crackers to marinades.
So what can you do?
Stick it to the man! Start reading those labels! Better yet, buy fresh foods that don’t even need labels. Keep your grocery shopping on the circumference of the store rather than down the aisles. It’s not an easy adjustment to make, but it’s worth it.