As many of you know, my blood glucose levels tend to go wonky every now and then. While I used to believe that phenomenon was connected to the amount of carbohydrates I was eating, that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Yes, the number of carbs I eat matters while my sugars are not under control, but so far, carbohydrates have never turned out to be the cause. Instead, food sensitivities such as gluten and GMO corn have always sat at the heart of the problem. Once I uncover the offending food and removed it from my life, my glucose levels have always returned to normal.
When I started reacting to something again this past summer, I was at a loss as to what was causing it. I wasn’t eating gluten, dairy, or GMO corn. I’d been off gluten for over three years. I’d been without dairy for more than two, and GMO corn for a year. But my numbers weren’t improving. So what was left? Soy? I removed my organic gluten-free tamari, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. My blood glucose levels continued to be wonky, and my weight continued to climb as my blood glucose level tipped over the line into diabetic territory.
Needless to say, I was extremely confused -- and worried!
I have a lot of health problems that interfere with my quality of life. One of those problems is bi-lateral vestibular dysfunction, otherwise known as vertigo. Vertigo isn’t a simple dizziness or light-headedness. It’s a spinning motion that occurs inside your head. Sometimes, it manifests as the world tipping sideways, and sometimes, your legs just go out from underneath you. When that happens, you hit the floor before you realize what’s happening because no matter how hard you try, nothing you attempt to hold onto will keep you from going down. Nothing.
Before anyone asks, no I do not have broken-off crystals in my ears messing me up. That’s already been checked out. I had a massive smoke inhalation from a series of Southern California forest fires more than 10 years ago. The Neurologist I went to back then believed I have Meniere’s Disease, but my Primary Care Physician wasn’t willing to accept that diagnosis. I’m pretty much on my own because even the ENT I was seeing told me to stop being lazy, go back to work – I was a floor supervisor and personal one-on-one educator for low-functioning developmentally disabled adults in a workshop setting – and just learn to live with it.
It’s not fun, by any stretch of the imagination, but such is life for me. If I visit a chiropractor regularly and stay away from the foods I’m sensitive too, the only disruptor in my life is the weather. I always know when bad weather is coming. My inner ears are far more accurate than any weather man. The blessing is that the swelling inside my ears and my vertigo always alerts me to things I need to stay away from, but sometimes that message gets confused. Like any typical elimination diet, the number of variables can easily interfere with figuring out what’s going on.
One of the constants that I’d been noticing lately was that my ears always swelled and the vertigo seemed to suddenly appear shortly before my husband got home from work. That didn’t make any sense; it was just what I was noticing. I also was able to clearly see that it grew worse after dinner, especially when I was cleaning the dishes to get them ready for the dishwasher. I kept thinking it was something I was eating or something to do with our city’s water because nothing else made any sense.
What I’d forgotten was that my dish soap wasn’t 100-percent fragrance free. Our local health food store had been out of the Dishmate Free & Clear that I typically use, so I’d had to settle for a bottle of Dawn from Walmart – somewhere around the beginning of the summer. I’d bought the least offensive, “pure” type of dishwashing liquid the store had, but it still did have a light scent. What I didn’t know then was that some types of Dawn have an Endocrine Disruptor in them.
An Endocrine Disruptor is a chemical that interferes with your hormones. They can cause attention issues, cognitive problems, learning disabilities, make men more feminine or give women more masculine characteristics. Basically, any body system that’s controlled by hormones can be upset. That’s because these chemicals interfere with secretion, synthesis, transport, binding, action, or elimination of hormones associated with that system in the body. So when you come in contact with an Endocrine Disruptor, insulin doesn’t work properly.
The pancreas is an endocrine organ. It secretes the hormone insulin to take care of the glucose in your blood after you eat. Chemicals that interfere with this process are called Endocrine Disruptors. There are many types of Endocrine Disruptors: the PCBs in plastics, bisphenol A (found in the inner lining of most food cans), dioxin, pesticides, phthalates (found in many shampoos and other soap products), and arsenic (currently found in rice). These disruptors can affect your adrenal glands and thyroid, as well as your pancreas.
That means your immune system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, central nervous system, digestive system, metabolism, and adipose tissue (body fat cells) are all targets for disruption!
As low-carb dieters, we seem to spend a lot of time focusing on the amount of carbohydrates in our diets, but some Endocrine Disruptors can actually increase insulin resistance regardless of how many carbs you’re eating. Bisphenol A, dioxin, PCBs, some pesticides, and the phthalates found in Dawn, shampoo, and other soaps increase insulin resistance.
They also play a role in Type 1 and Type 1.5 Diabetes – the type of diabetes that runs in my family.
This is particularly important because Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, the same as celiac disease, and phthalates have been found to induce autoimmune problems in certain strains of mice. This all seems to run akin to what I’ve learned about myself this past summer. Within only a couple of days of dumping the Dawn dishwashing detergent last month and returning to my trusty Dishmate, my blood glucose levels totally corrected themselves.
The lesson for me always seems to circle back around to balance. While too many carbs can cause insulin problems for many people, carbohydrates should never be our only focus. Endocrine Disruptors literally saturate our environment. We need to become more aware of their presence in our lives and take a more holistic approach to our low-carb lifestyle – instead of just focusing on our diet.