November is Diabetes Month
Written by: Dave Johnson, MD, FACC
Taking small steps can have huge impacts!
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.
One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people and another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This means about half the adult population have prediabetes or diabetes.
The good news!
People who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes. These changes include: eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and losing weight.
Over the last decade, the incidence of new-onset diagnosed diabetes in U.S. adults has increased by 90% (1). Although there has been a steady rise in type 2 diabetes, the rate of increase markedly changed around 1990 (2). Interestingly, this rate of increase parallels the rate of increase in chemical production and consumption of increasingly calorically dense processed foods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 84 million Americans are living with prediabetes, yet almost 90 percent don’t know they have it. This means they may be unaware of the long-term health risks associated with progressing to type 2 diabetes and the increased risks of heart attack and stroke (3).
Diabetes is a condition when your blood becomes too sweet, that is too say, that your body is no longer able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Although there are many factors involved in the development of diabetes the simplest explanation is that insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, can no longer adequately keep blood sugar at healthy levels as a result of insulin resistance. The muscle and liver are the primary storage sights for sugar in the body. Insulin resistance, which can progress to diabetes, occurs when the channels the sugar uses to get into the cells become gummed up and requires increasing insulin to force sugar into the cells. Eventually, insulin can’t keep up despite the production of very high levels and blood sugars rise uncontrollably causing diabetes. The rising blood sugar is like shrapnel circulating in your blood damaging tissue as it passes through leading to a wide range of complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney damage and nerve damage. Multiple mechanisms play role in insulin resistance leading to diabetes, including consumption of a highly processed standard American diet and sedentary lifestyle, along with increased exposure to toxic chemicals that contaminate our air, water, food, clothing, furniture, household products, and even our personal hygiene and beauty products.
Don’t let the sweetness in your blood ruin your sweetness in life.
Seven steps to preventing (or reversing) prediabetes and diabetes
1. Eat delicious whole plant-based foods filled with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plant-based foods optimize cellular health while providing abundant fiber to help you remove unwanted waste products from your body while helping support healthy blood sugar levels.
2. Move your body. The human body is hardwired for physical activity. Exercise plays a major role in the prevention and control of insulin resistance, prediabetes, gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and diabetes-related health complications (4).
3. Sleep well. Too much or too little sleep can impair blood sugar control. Aim for consistent, high-quality sleep of 6-8 hours duration (5).
4. Live cleanly. Toxic chemicals have managed to find there way into our food, air, water and even our health and beauty aid products. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) can provide you with useful information to make healthier choices whether it is organic foods, filtered water, skincare products and household cleaning products.
5. Live lean. Perhaps one of the most important contributing factors to diabetes risk is excessive weight gain from the accumulation of body fat, especially the type that occurs around the waist. Following steps 1 through 4 will help you lose excess weight and maintain a healthier body.
6. Supportive supplements. If your blood sugar is elevated some dietary supplements have been shown to aid insulin sensitivity helping you to control your blood sugar.
· Chromium picolinate: Taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate three times daily with meals can help improve insulin sensitivity (6).
· Cinnamon: Taking 120 mg/d to 6 g/d of cinnamon (1 teaspoon equals about 2.60 grams) can help lower blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity (7).
· Omega 3 fatty acids: Fish oil contains DHA and EPA may necessary for proper insulin function (8). Your doctor can do a simple blood test to make sure you have healthy amounts of these essential fatty acids. Sustainable and vegan-friendly algae sources are increasingly becoming available.
· Bitter melon extract: Bitter melon is used widely throughout India and in the practice of Ayurveda to improve blood sugar regulation (9).
7. Know your numbers. In the upcoming post, I will show you how you can assess yourself and monitor your blood sugars for as little as a $20 investment.
In the next blog, you will learn how as little $20 could provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to prevent the wrath of diabetes on your body. To learn more about diabetes prevention and reversal contact a knowledgeable health care provider willing to support you on your health journey.
If you would like to learn more about preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes, then schedule an appointment with me at Grand Rapids Natural Health where we will work in partnership to achieve your health goals.
2. Diabetes 2011 Jul; 60(7): 1838-1848.
4. Diabetes Care. 2010 Dec; 33(12): e147–e167.
5. Diabetes Care 2013 Mar; 36(3): 611-617.