Did you know:
- There are 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8% of the population, who have diabetes.
- While an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, a further 5.7 million people are unaware that they have the disease.
- In 2001, 934,550 Americans died from out-of-control side-effects of this disease.
Source: The American Diabetic Association
For 2,000 years diabetes has been recognized as a devastating and deadly disease. In Roman times it was referred to as “sweet death.” Ancient Indians called diabetes “sweet urine disease,” and observed whether ants were attracted to urine as a test for diabetes.
Diagnostic methods have progressed since then, but trying to effectively respond to the underlying cause of diabetes is still a long way off for many. If you are an American diabetic, you will probably have been told that you can consume sugary and sugar-producing foods multiple times daily as long as you take enough insulin to cover yourself. Sadly, when treating diabetes there has been little recognition of the fact that high levels of insulin are just as dangerous over time as sugar is.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of insulin can be very detrimental. Glucose-lowering drugs usually succeed in lowering blood sugar levels, but may increase the death rate from heart attacks. These drugs also are associated with weight gain, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, drowsiness, and headache.
What Causes Diabetes?
Nearly 5,000 years ago in India, the physician Susruta described a disease “brought on by gluttonous overindulgence in rice, flour, and sugar,” in which urine is “like an elephant’s in quantity.” And today, the picture is hardly any different. In most cases, diabetes is a direct response to the way a person is living.
The average American consumes an astounding 2-3 lbs. of sugar each week in the form of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup. Foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and microwave meals all contain very high levels of ‘hidden’ sugars. So, it’s no wonder the statistics for diabetes are so alarming.
In the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased from 26 lbs. to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year. One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system.
An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body’s blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level.
Sugar, in the form of glucose, is the main source of fuel for body cells. Insulin allows glucose in the blood to enter cells. In type 2 diabetes, (the most common form of diabetes) either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cells are resistant to effects of insulin because they are already overloaded with sugar.
Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:
- Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
- Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we believe the most important clue to treating diabetes is for the patient to understand his disease. By educating the patient, we can show him that he can have more control over his condition. The LifeWorks’ approach to helping the patient with diabetes is unique, and follows a step by step approach. Over time, and with careful monitoring, it may be possible for him to reduce his medication and in some cases, cease it altogether.
Our practitioners and dieticians take the time to teach the basics of a healthy lifestyle, which is an important part of recovery from diabetes. You can regain your good health and not just be symptom suppressed. LifeWorks can help you do it. Call for (727) 466-6789 for more information or an appointment, or visit www.lifeworkswellnesscenter.com.
Sue Morgan is an ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) at LifeWorks Wellness Center, where she specializes in diabetes prevention. She also works with patients who are diabetic to help them prevent common diabetes-related health complications.
“I am a severe diabetic from a third world country, where medical aid is poor and I couldn’t afford to buy insulin. However, recently I was lucky enough to be sponsored to travel to the US to seek medical attention. On my first visit to LifeWorks, the level of glucose in my blood was over 400mg/dL (a good level is below 120mg/dL). Immediately, my practitioner put me on a combination of medicine and a diet which LifeWorks recommends. I was monitored daily and within two weeks my glucose level was down to 128mg and I did not need insulin. I will have to watch the quality and quantity of the food I consume for the rest of my life, but it’s a small price to pay for good, drug-free health!”*
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of American diabetics have type 1diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most American diabetics have type 2 diabetes.
High blood sugar during pregnancy can occur as a result of the body not being able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Immediately after pregnancy, 5% to 10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have diabetes, usually, type 2.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Even with this condition, long-term damage to the body may already be occurring. There are 57 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 23.6 million with diabetes.