Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, according to a new study based on recent national surveys, it is the third leading cause of death. The American Diabetes Foundation defines diabetes as “a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose).” There are several types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin. This condition can develop at any age and there is no known way to prevent it. In adults, about 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes are Type 1. With Type 2 diabetes the body cannot use insulin properly. It can develop at any age, and in most circumstances it can be prevented. Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 million people (9.3%) in the United States have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. More than one in every 10 adults who are 20 years or older has diabetes. For seniors (65 years and older), that figure rises to more than one in four. Another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have pre-diabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes.
In most cases when someone is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, most doctors prescribe medicine to lower blood sugar and address insulin programs. There are many different drugs prescribed, and most of these drugs are aggressive, lead to other health issues, and do not address the underlying metabolic causes or imbalances. Therefore, it is wise to consider addressing the underlying causes first.
What are the main underlying issues that cause blood glucose levels to be high and lead to diabetes? They include an unhealthy diet consisting of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar sweetened foods and drinks, and too many unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Also, lack of exercise and lifestyle factors such as chronic stress, frequently skipping meals, smoking, and excess alcohol can be contributors. These things need to be addressed to manage diabetes and limit the risks.
Significant risk factors include:
- Older age (65 and older)
- Excess weight, particularly around the waist
- Family history
- Poor diet
- Physically inactive
- Certain ethnicities such as African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic Americans/Latinos are at a higher risk
- Medical conditions such as hypertension and high cholesterol
The CDC recommends that anyone over age 45 with any of the risk factors mentioned above ask for a diabetes test from their doctor.
Complications and Effects
Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with pre- diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years reports the American Diabetes Association. In addition, people with diabetes who do not manage their condition are at increased risk of serious health complications including the following:
What can you do?
- Vision loss
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Amputation of toes, feet or legs
- Premature death
Diabetes is increasingly prevalent, but fortunately it is largely preventable. According to the CDC, “research studies have found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes among adults at high risk of diabetes.” To manage diabetes, work with a nutritionist to learn how to eat healthy, what lifestyle factors to change, and an exercise program to stay active. Dr. Osama Hamdy sums it up: “Nutrition can be used as a medicine to prevent and control diabetes in a very effective way.” You have the power and can heal by making smart choices starting today. Take charge of your health!
If you are at risk for pre-diabetes, or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes and would like more information, call Lynn Tandler, Certified Nutrition Consultant in our Wheat Ridge office for a free phone consultation at 303-333-3493, ext. 2.
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American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org
Joslin Diabetes Center: http://www.joslin.org/info/what_is_pre_diabetes.html
Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html