In honor of November being national diabetes month, I thought I would share a little information on diabetes and help bring awareness to the disease. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high. Glucose is a type of sugar that you get from the food you consume. Your body uses glucose as its main source of energy. The glucose that travels through your bloodstream to your cells is called blood glucose or blood sugar. The hormone insulin, which is made in the pancreas, moves glucose from your blood into the cells for energy and storage. Issues arise when the body does not make enough, make any insulin, or does not properly use the insulin, ultimately causing glucose to stay in the blood and not reach the cells.
There are several types of diabetes, the most common being type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin. In a previous post (here) I discussed that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. With type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescents. Individuals with type 2 diabetes do not make or use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can occur at any age but is more common among middle aged and older individuals. There is an alarming increase in the amount of children being diagnosed due to the increase in childhood obesity.
Let’s focus on type 2 diabetes. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 29 million US adults have diabetes. Approximately 25% of those individuals do not know they have diabetes1. More than one third of Adults in the United States have pre-diabetes and approximately 90% of them do not know they have it1. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to other health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, eye issues, kidney disease, and many other issues if not managed. Type 2 diabetes is a preventable and reversible condition. Type 2 diabetes typically develops due to a combination of several factors including poor nutrition, having excess body weight, inflammation in the body, inactivity, high stress, family history, high blood pressure, history of heart disease, toxin exposure along with other factors. As I mentioned previously, diabetes and pre-diabetes are preventable and reversible. Here are a few tips on how to prevent and reverse diabetes:
- Make changes to your nutrition. Remove foods that affect blood sugar levels and lead to inflammation in the body. Cut out refined sugar, grains both gluten and gluten free grains, eliminate dairy, alcohol and stop using refined oils such as vegetable oil. Start incorporating more raw vegetables and consuming more high quality protein, eat healthy fats and incorporate more leafy green vegetable into your diet. You may want to consider taking supplements also.
- Increase your activity level. Exercise has been proven to reduce chronic disease and can help prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes. Exercise will help you burn fat and build lean muscle. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes per day of an activity that you enjoy. Add at least three days of resistance training to your weekly routine, which will promote lean muscle mass, which helps with blood sugar balancing.
- Reduce or relieve stress. Stress is how we respond to a threat; both physically and mentally. Stress hormones in the body may increase blood glucose levels. Stress may also lead to poor lifestyle choices. It is important to find a way to reduce stress levels that works best for you. Relaxation therapy, breathing exercises, meditation, light exercise and music are a few suggestions. Whichever stress relieving activity you choose it is important that you practice it.
- Reduce exposure to toxins. On a daily basis we are exposed to a large amount of chemicals. Toxins can be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the products we use. Toxins can cause inflammation and autoimmunity, which are ultimately the root cause of diabetes. It is important to reduce your daily exposure to toxins. To do this start with reducing your exposure in places you have control over such as your home. You can reduce toxin exposure by using an air purifier, drinking purified water, eating organic and/or properly washing fruits and vegetables and use non-toxic cleaning products and safer beauty care products.
Diabetes has become an epidemic in the United States. Thankfully the disease is preventable and reversible. Make changes to your nutrition, increase daily activity, eliminate stress and reduce your exposure to toxins and you can lower your risk, prevent and even reverse diabetes. Please share this article with your friends and family so we can bring more awareness to this preventable disease.
Jamey Floreck, NTP, CPT