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Dr. Beverly R. Goode-Kanawati, Director
6008 Creedmoor Road
Raleigh, NC 27612
Telephone: (919) 844-4552

Dr. Goode-Kanawati is board-certified in Family Practice and Emergency Medicine (ABPS).

Sugar Feeds More Than Diabetes

By Beverly Goode-Kanawati, DO

Most people hear “sugar disorder” and think “diabetes.” They may be familiar with its well-known complications, including decreased circulation, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and an impaired ability to heal

Dr. Goode-Kanawati

But there are several other sugar disorders that can occur even before a diagnosis of diabetes is given, each with serious health consequences.


The first phase of “sugar imbalance,” hypoglycemia, occurs when blood sugar dips too low because the system can’t keep a steady supply of sugar in the blood. Hypoglycemia can result from a diet containing too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, from missing meals, or even from too much life stress. Sometimes hypoglycemia can even masquerade as stress or anxiety!

“Susan” was a 26-year-old housewife referred to me by a psychologist who believed that her anxiety attacks stemmed from physical rather than emotional causes. Susan also suffered from drastic premenstrual symptoms, recurring fatigue, and brain fog. At other times, she would feel shaky, anxious, and irritable— sometimes culminating in a panic attack.

As we guided her to do, Susan remodeled her eating. She eliminated candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, soda, fruit juice, canned fruit and dried fruit. She also cut out white flour and white rice. Susan replaced these “empty” foods with complex carbohydrates combined with a protein and healthy fat every four hours, stabilizing her blood sugar. She also added basic nutritional supplements, including Vitamin C.

Six weeks later, Susan returned to my office and said, “I’m fine! No more anxiety, no panic attacks, and I barely knew when my last period was coming!”

Related Problems

Susan’s is a classic case of hypoglycemia, unusual only in that most of her symptoms resolved in six weeks. It usually takes three to six months to overcome these symptoms.

Although patients often express surprise when I first mention it, they come to learn how hypoglycemia may precipitate many of their challenges. PMS symptoms, heavy menstrual bleeding with cramps, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis and other reproductive challenges can all stem from blood sugar imbalances.

What happens is that the hypoglycemia stresses the adrenal glands, which then produce more cortisone, the “fight-or-flight” hormone. To do that, they have to “steal” progesterone from the latter half of the female cycle, creating an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone resulting in these and even more female problems. Sometimes a temporary course of bio-identical progesterone helps to help even out the imbalance and relieve symptoms. But without nutritional and lifestyle changes, symptoms will return.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is another step on the rode to adult onset diabetes. When “Melvin,” a 75-year old family friend, was diagnosed with this, he was worried. A retired optometrist, he had seen many patients lose vision and even go blind from diabetes.

Although Melvin had always found the way I practice medicine intriguing, he felt it would be too difficult for him to do. But facing serious health risks, he finally felt ready to tackle the changes.

We helped Melvin transition to a low-sugar diet with no refined carbohydrates. We identified other inflammatory foods for him to avoid using food allergy tests. But he balked at taking the supplements I recommended, saying they made him gag.

I told Melvin that diabetes has recently been characterized as an autoimmune disorder. This means that the tissues and even cells have become “leaky” to a point where the body’s own immune system sees them as foreign. Further, since the body has been under stress, the cells stop recognizing insulin.

This is termed “insulin resistance.” Insulin in essence is a growth factor. When the system is under stress (whether it be “sugar stress,” allergy stress, or life stress) the body does not utilize growth factors. Both of the above factors, diabetes as an autoimmune disorder and insulin resistance, come about because the system is in disrepair. The body needs nutrients to do its repair work. I mentioned to Melvin that we could give him nutrients intravenously. When he asked, “What do I have to do?” I said, “Just sit there.”

It is now a year since instituting these treatments, including a series of IV treatments twice per year. Both Melvin’s fasting blood sugar and lipid numbers have returned to the normal range. Even more exciting, for the first time in years his feet do not become painfully cold when he walks outside in the winter. Melvin can now walk twice as far without chest pain or shortness of breath. And we accomplished all this without prescription medication!

Maintaining Sugar Control

Some patients wonder if they can ever add sugar back— that’s refined sugar, not fresh fruit. Once we “repair” the system and resolve symptoms, individuals should be able to tolerate refined sugar on occasion. But I emphasize minimizing both refined sugar and white flour intake, as both create stress on several hormone systems.

One way to reduce sugar cravings is through vitamin C supplementation. For most of my patients, determining the optimal maintenance level of vitamin C also results in increased energy, decreased pain, and improved immune function.

At Beverly Medical Center, our team includes both a nurse practitioner and a nutrition specialist, as well as myself. Together, we craft a customized approach for each individual, including targeted nutritional supplements, nutrient-dense eating plans, hormone balancing therapies, and more.