The latest statistics indicate there are up to 24 million people in the U.S. with diagnosed diabetes, which is eight percent of our total population. However, the picture is even grimmer when it comes to the prevalence of pre-diabetes (impaired fasting glucose).
Almost 26 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 20 and more than 35 percent of seniors (age 60 and older) are pre-diabetic. In total, that’s 57 million Americans walking around with pre-diabetic conditions, in addition to the 24 million who have already crossed the line.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 is called insulin-dependent diabetes (also known as juvenile-onset diabetes). In Type 1 diabetes, your body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, resulting in a complete deficiency of the hormone insulin. This deficiency of insulin is why Type 1 is called “insulin-dependent”—because more often than not, Type 1 Diabetics must give themselves supplemental insulin. Type 1 is relatively uncommon, affecting only about 1 in 250 Americans. It usually occurs in people before the age of 20. There is no known cure.
However, recent research has shown that our preoccupation with sun avoidance may play a major role in the development of type 1 diabetes. The further you move away from the equator, the greater your risk for this disease. Women can help reduce their children’s risk of type 1 diabetes by optimizing their vitamin D levels prior to, and during their pregnancy as vitamin D has been shown to suppress certain cells of the immune system that may play a role in the development of the disorder.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is called non-insulin-dependent diabetes (or adult onset diabetes). If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body is producing some insulin but is unable to recognize insulin and use it properly. This is an advanced stage of insulin-resistance. Since your insulin is inadequate, sugar can’t get into your cells and instead builds up in your blood, causing a variety of problems. This is why diabetics have elevated blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a disease of insulin and leptin signaling, not a disease of blood sugar, which is why the medical community’s approach to its treatment does not work.
Gestational diabetes is high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
Diseases related to Diabetes
- Heart Disease: narrowing of large arteries that supply the heart, increased risk of strokes, high cholesterol and triglycerides due to high sugar level in blood
- Peripheral Vascular Disease: poor circulation to the legs and feet leading to gangrene and amputations
- Retinopathy: narrowing and breakage of blood vessels in the eyes, resulting in blindness
- Neuropathy: tingling, burning, numbness, and pins and needles sensations, especially in legs and feet
- Kidney Problems (due to high sugar in urine): kidney failure is the cause of death for many diabetics
- High Blood Pressure due to narrowing of the blood vessels
- Infections (diabetics are more prone to infections and often don’t heal well)
What are the Symptoms?
Type 1 Diabetes:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Weight loss in spite of increased appetite
Patients with Type 1 Diabetes usually develop symptoms over a short period of time. The condition is often diagnosed in an emergency setting.
Type 2 Diabetes:
- Blurred vision
- Increased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
What are the Causes?
There are many risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes, including:
- Poor diet is a primary factor in 90 percent of Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses
- Obesity, where body weight is 30 percent beyond ideal
- Not getting enough exercise
- Age over 45 years
- A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
- Delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Heart disease
- Polycystic ovary disease
- Previous impaired glucose tolerance
- Some ethnic groups (particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic Americans)
Diabetes and Statin Drugs
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a nearly 50 percent increase in diabetes among longtime statin users. A 2011 analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association and a 2010 analysis in The Lancet also found a higher risk of diabetes among those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Vivian Fonseca, the American Diabetes president for medicine and science in response to the link between statin drugs and diabetes was quoted as saying, “You don’t want people to have heart attacks because they are so worried about getting diabetes.” Yet according to the American Heart Association, “Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.”
Diet and Lifestyle
#1 Way to Approach Diabetes: EXERCISE
Exercise removes glucose from the blood without insulin. Exercise is crucial for getting diabetes under control. It is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance.
Conventional wisdom of avoiding fat has some complications when it comes to blood sugar. When you eat a meal devoid of fat, you will crave sugar and carbohydrates because fat brings flavor, satiety, holds blood sugar levels, and is imperative for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K; all important for metabolism and health. Without it, your blood sugar becomes more manic, and your body will signal for quick sugar to try to regulate it. The focus for meals is protein, fiber, healthy fat at each meal, and complex carbohydrates and fiber in the form of vegetables.
In fact, research has shown that people who consume whole-fat dairy products — as opposed to their processed, lower-fat versions — have a 60 percent lower incidence of diabetes. In a study from Harvard published in Annals of Internal Medicine, a team of researchers has found that people with the highest circulating levels of a type of fatty acid that is found only in whole-fat dairy are one-third as likely to get diabetes as those with the lowest circulating levels. Higher levels of the fatty acid — called trans-palmitoleic acid — were also associated with lower body mass index (BMI), smaller waist circumference, lower triglycerides (potentially harmful blood fats), higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, less insulin resistance and lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for general inflammation.
For many years the Dietary Guidelines have revolved around a low-fat diet that is high in grains (6-11 servings), which over the past few years has been under scrutiny. According to a Meta-Analysis in Diabetes Care that looked at 19 studies comparing a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet (LFHC) and a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (HFLC), the LFHC diet significantly increased fasting insulin and triglycerides by 8% and lowered HDL cholesterol by 6% compared to the HFLC diet. The authors suggested that replacing fat with carbohydrates could deteriorate insulin resistance.
Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, neotame and sucralose are permitted; however studies have reported a connection of these sweeteners to severe symptoms of hypoglycemia, with authors speculating that aspartame may enhance the cephalic phase of insulin secretion evoked by the recognition of the sweet taste, sight, smell, and expectation of food (Bruce et al 1987, Ferland et al 2007, Melanson 1999).A study done in 2008 found that rats given yogurt sweetened with saccharin had a smaller rise in core body temperature, consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later than rats given yogurt sweetened with glucose. The authors surmised that the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake. Since obesity is one of the major risk factors for diabetes, it would seem prudent to refrain from artificial sweeteners.
The Three Steps
1. Eliminate grains and sugar: This means bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, chips, muffins, corn (it is a grain) and even whole grains like rice. Eliminate sugary drinks and juice. Keep fruit to a minimum of 1-2 servings daily. By following these two principles, you can successfully stay under 60 carbohydrates and 25 grams of fructose without having to count each day.
2. Focus on protein, fiber and add healthy sources of fat with each meal like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, avocados and fresh raw and cooked vegetables.
3. Eat 5 small meals each day by the clock. 8:30 to 9:00am, 12:00 to 12:30pm, 3:00pm, 6:00-6:30pm and 9:00pm.
Prescription Drugs and Nutrient Depletion
Medications administered to Type 2 diabetics have strong potential to cause nutrient depletion and it is the depletions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Metformin is the most common prescription for diabetes. The side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Metformin depletes vitamin B12, folic acid and possibly CoQ10.
Other medications include Diabinesse, Amaryl, Glucotrol, Diabeta, Micronase or Glynase. These drugs can cause low blood sugar, water weight gain, gastrointestinal problems, and headaches.
Diabetics experience excessive mineral loss due to frequent urination. Due to poor agricultural practices and lower mineral content in food, a high-quality multi-mineral vitamin is helpful for a solid foundation. One mineral, in particular, chromium, appears to be the most beneficial for Type 2 diabetes. When chromium is available in sufficient amounts, lower amounts of insulin are required to move glucose into the cells. Contact Swanson Health Center for the best multi-vitamin.
One study from the British Medical Journal compared 390 patients using 850mg of metformin or a placebo three times a day for 4.3 years. The results showed that the metformin treatment was associated with a decrease in vitamin B12 and an increase in homocysteine levels. Supplementing with vitamin B12 and other B-vitamins would be prudent to maintain adequate B-12 concentrations and lower homocysteine levels.
Cordyceps: Cordyceps has been found to lower blood glucose levels and increase blood serum levels; however, the mechanism remains unknown. In 2000, subjects were given Cordyceps and other herbs five minutes before meals for a period of six months. The results found that 48.3 percent of the subjects showed marked improvement, 41.9 percent showed improvement and only 9.7 percent showed no improvement.
In 2010, a study found that the compound vanadium (found in Cordyceps) had an anti-diabetic activity in vitro, in vivo and even in patients. Multiple studies have found that Cordyceps have the ability to lower blood sugar levels and acts as a vasorelaxant (widening of the blood vessels). The improved metabolic control improves mood and satisfaction and is a potential strategy for the treatment of diabetes and depression.
One randomized, double-blind study looked at the effect of vitamin C with metformin on fasting and post-meal blood glucose, as well as glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. All the patients with Type 2 diabetes had decreased plasma ascorbic acid levels (vitamin C). After 12 weeks, vitamin C with metformin increased ascorbic acid levels, reduced fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood glucose and improved HbA1C compared to the placebo group. The authors concluded that vitamin C with metformin may be used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes to maintain good glycemic control.
Curcumin, from the spice turmeric, has been found to suppress spikes in glucose levels, reduce lipid levels and restore endothelial function. It works through multiple mechanisms including an increase in the number of insulin receptors on cell membranes. Perhaps a fascinating find is that it decreases the activity of enzymes in the liver that make new sugar molecules. In fact, it activates a liver complex called AMP-activated kinase at a rate comparable or higher to metformin.
Curcumin has also been found to suppress AGE-induced inflammatory changes that promote diabetic retinopathy along with delaying progression and maturation of cataracts in diabetic rats.
A study published in Diabetes Care found that people with prediabetes who took curcumin capsules were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. The study involved 240 people with prediabetes; they all took curcumin capsules for nine months. At the end of the study, 16.4 percent of people who took the placebo developed Type 2 diabetes, while no one in the curcumin group developed diabetes.
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