- Diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. and affects about 9.4% of the population
- Rates of Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) have almost quadrupled worldwide since 1980
- Conventional diabetes treatment includes managing blood sugar with glucose-lowering drugs which have side effects and can even lead to a heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes symptoms are often less pronounced and the condition may go undetected or untreated for long periods of time, leading to complications.
- Type 2 diabetes can be managed and even reversed naturally through dietary & nutritional changes that address insulin resistance.
Diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. with 9.4% percent of the population having the condition. Even more alarming is the fact that 95% of the 30.3 million people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes1 which in most cases is preventable or reversible. Additionally, type 2 diabetes is increasing in children.
The prevalence of diabetes is also rising globally almost quadrupling between 1980 and 2014 from 108 million to 422 million.2 The World Health Organization recently published a global report on diabetes which stated that the rise is mainly due to a population that is becoming more and more overweight and obese. The report encouraged people to eat healthier, exercise regularly and prevent weight gain.3</span
Diabetes can lead to stroke, heart attack, blindness, amputation of limbs, kidney problems, and more. Let’s explore the types of diabetes, symptoms, causes, and what can be done naturally to address diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of the population and usually occurs in children and adolescents. However, Type 1 diabetes can also develop in adulthood. It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is not able to produce insulin or produces very little or not enough to manage blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes has no cure and must be treated with insulin, although dietary changes that reduce or prevent blood sugar spikes and lifestyle changes can improve the condition and prevent complications.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, affects about 95% of people who have diabetes. It is a condition of insulin resistance and can lead to low insulin production over time. In Type 2 diabetes, insulin does not have the same effect on blood sugar as a healthy person and sugar is not removed from the blood effectively. In addition, the pancreas may become overworked from needing to produce so much insulin that it becomes unable to produce enough over time.
2015 statistics reveal that 33.9% of adults age 18 and older had prediabetes in 2015.1 This is an alarming statistic with over ⅓ of the adult population heading toward diabetes. In prediabetes, fasting blood glucose levels are between 100 and 125 mg/dL. This is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
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Symptoms of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes symptoms are similar to type 2 except that they are usually less pronounced so that type 2 diabetes may go undiagnosed and untreated for much longer. Diabetes symptoms typically include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst, even with drinking plenty of water
- Increased hunger even to extreme hunger
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision and vision changes
- Mood changes
What Causes Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes Causes
The cause of Type 1 diabetes is still a mystery however some possible causes may be:
- An auto-immune response happens in the body in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas and destroys the islets of Langerhans that produce insulin.
- Exposure to a virus
- Environmental factors
Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes Causes
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is almost always caused by diet and lifestyle choices. The main cause of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is a poor diet, particularly a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. These foods raise blood sugar quickly and cause the body to release insulin to pull excess sugar from the blood.
The American diet began to change in the 1970s with recommendations from the government to reduce fat. The concerns were with saturated fats, however, Americans were told to reduce all fats.4 Since that time changes to the American diet include:
- Saturated fats were replaced with hydrogenated oils which are now known to cause damage to the cardiovascular system.
- Saturated fats were also substituted with vegetable oils, which increased the Omega-6 fatty acid ratio in the diet to an unhealthy ratio.
- Processed foods became more and more popular for their convenience.
- Fat was replaced with carbohydrates and sugar.
- The shelf life of packaged foods was increased with hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.
- In 1992, the U.S. government published new guidelines that recommended 6 to 11 servings a day of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta – all high glycemic foods and relatively low quality.
- Meals became larger and super-sizing became a craze, especially in fast food restaurants.
- Soda and juices became standard drinks with meals.
It’s no wonder the statistics for diabetes are so alarming. The nation has not recovered from these food changes, despite dietary recommendations to combat it, and the diabetes statistics show the devastating effects of these changes.
Today, 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.
One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level in the blood, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system.
In addition, 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, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cells are resistant to the effects of insulin because they are already overloaded with sugar.
As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of entering cells, which causes cells to be deprived of energy. If high glucose levels in the blood persist, it may damage the eyes, heart, kidneys, or nerves.
Sugar also causes inflammation in the body which causes increased auto-immune responses.
Other causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes include:
- Overweight and obesity
- Lack of physical activity
- Age 45 years or older
- Suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Previous gestational diabetes
What Are the Complications of Diabetes?
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes has a host of complications including but not limited to:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Eye problems and vision loss
- Kidney damage and kidney failure
- Nerve damage
- Amputation of limbs due to poor blood flow
- Foot ulcers and infections
These and other complications can arise from diabetes.2
How is Diabetes Conventionally Treated?
If you are an American diabetic, you may 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.
Other treatments include:
- Reducing types of foods that cause blood sugar spikes
- Nutritional therapy and education
- Losing weight through diet and exercise
- 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise
- Managing stress
- Getting support from medical teams and support groups
How We Treat Diabetes Naturally at LifeWorks
At LifeWorks we believe that prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are preventable, treatable, and can even be reversed naturally through dietary and lifestyle changes.
We first do a complete evaluation to see what your particular issues are and find the causes. We look at what you are eating and do blood work to find out what nutrient deficiencies you may have.
We check your Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) levels, which is a hormone that regulates cell growth and we discuss insulin resistance.
We also look into the possibility of food allergies, overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, and leaky gut. In addition, we check to see what environmental and lifestyle factors may be affecting you such as lack of exercise, stress, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Treatment plans vary depending on the individual and the goal is to develop a plan that improves your diabetes naturally.
Address Your Diabetes Naturally at LifeWorks
If you are looking for natural treatments for diabetes, we look forward to working with you to develop a plan specifically designed to meet your needs and get you on a path to better health.
To discuss your health issue or to schedule an appointment, call us at our Clearwater clinic at (727) 466-6789 or submit an online patient inquiry.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2017.
- World Health Organization, Diabetes, 2018.
- World Health Organization, Global report on diabetes, 2016. WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data.
- Frontline, Did the Lowfat Era Make Us Fat?, Interview with Marion Nestle, 2004.