Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes, medically known as diabetes mellitus, refers to a group of conditions that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems. So what are the types of diabetes and why is it important to avoid, if possible, this metabolic disease?

Types of Diabetes

There are four classifications of diabetes: Type 1 (juvenile diabetes); Type 2 (formerly known as adult onset diabetes – more on that later; Prediabetes (an attempt by the drug companies to push more medication); Gestational (occurs during pregnancy). Of the four, gestational diabetes of course only affects women and is generally resolved after the baby is delivered. Those with Type 1 diabetes are born with the condition, usually genetic, and do not make enough or too little insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose. For the rest of their lives, they are subjected to regular injections of insulin. As previously mentioned, Type 2 diabetes, formerly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is rampantly affecting a much younger population. Where Type 1 diabetes can be classified as a genetic, possibly susceptibility disease, Type 2 is classified as a lifestyle, environmental disease. (I.e. it can be avoided). Prediabetes, introduced first by the ADA (American Diabetics Association), is a fabricated state if you will, determining whether someone has a high susceptibility to becoming Type 2 diabetic. If the blood sugar concentration is between 100-125 mg/Dl (normal is considered 70-99 mg/Dl), they are classified as pre-diabetic. When you examine the proximity of the normal versus prediabetic ranges, about 85% of the population could be classified as prediabetic! A prediabetic diagnosis is a yellow flag that changes need to be made, which should not include medication which is generally prescribed.

The Best Treatment

Unfortunately for the Type 1 diabetic, there is no treatment, only management. Drugs are sometimes prescribed as a precaution to keep the patient from developing Type 2 diabetes. But the same non-drug treatments that a Type 1 diabetic should follow is the same prescription for the Type 2 diabetic – plenty of exercise, moderation of the diet, and monitoring of their weight. Someone diagnosed as being prediabetic is a wake up call to “get your ass” moving. Most will claim to exercise but believe me, it’s not enough. They’ve reached the point where exercise has to become something they do daily, not just here or there or when they feel like it. Exercise comes down to one simple function: muscles move, they require glucose. If high blood sugar levels are detected, movement is a simple, pain free, drug free method of keeping it in check. Monitoring the diet goes without saying. Ingesting a bunch of simple sugar is not a good idea and it’s what has caused the great fear of sugar. Sugar is not bad or evil. Added sugar is and it’s everywhere. Eating fruit isn’t an issue as when you eat fruit you’re also eating the fiber with the fruit. Strip it down to just fruit juice and we’ve got a problem. Extra weight, which is one of the top precursors to developing Type 2 diabetes, should and can be controlled by doing the other two. With extra weight comes an increased resistance to insulin. Overtime, it progresses to the point where insulin no longer works. So, what’s the inherent dangers of becoming diabetic?

The Dangers of Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death. Bad news is that it’s on the rise because an increasingly growing number of individuals do not take good enough care of themselves. But just in case you needed the motivation, following are increased risks of a diabetic diagnosis:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy)
  • Foot damage
  • Skin disorders
  • Hearing impairment
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

If you’re not a Type 1 diabetic, the good news is that you have a 100% chance of changing it all for the better. If your doctor tells you your blood sugar is higher than he or she is comfortable with, let them know that that’s the last time you’ll ever hear them say that to you again.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Your Nutrition Isn’t That Bad

healthy-familyBefore you read too much into the title of this article, let me first explain I haven’t the faintest clue about how or what you eat but like the recent headlines, apparently neither do they. Nutrition has taken a beating this week in the news: processed meat causes cancer; sugar is toxic. The endless cycle repeats of what’s good to eat, what to avoid eating, and what to eat more of as the media spreads more propaganda based on shoddy research and ratings grabbing attention. While I whole heartedly agree that processed meats aren’t the best choice nor is copious amounts of sugar, it is more than apparent that we have a calorie surplus issue. But the problem isn’t that we’re unaware of the issue. The real problem is that we’ve just become so diluted in our knowledge of separating nutritional fact versus nutritional fiction that we just don’t have a clue about what are we supposed to eat. The result: too many experts; too much information; too many blind followers; too many faux products; no solution to a worsening problem.

Correlation is Not Causation

We’re a desperate society, wanting results now and/or blaming someone or something else for not achieving them. When that route hits a brick wall, it’s easier to just believe and buy into the thought that if X causes Y then it must cause Z. For example, smoking is correlated with, but not the single cause of lung cancer. You have a better chance of developing lung cancer if you smoke but there are many factors that potentially cause lung cancer. Eating more than you burn is correlated with weight gain, but there are several factors that can cause weight gain that have nothing to do with calories consumed. It’s an important distinction to make and one that will serve you well when making healthy food choices. Chances are you probably do make good choices. Question is how often and how consistent are you with making those choices.

Everything is Processed

Unless you live on and off your own farm, everything on your plate has had some degree of processing. The movement of “clean eating” is a good thing and isn’t too far-fetched for it emphasizes eating whole, real foods as close to their natural state as possible. A simple, common sense idea that’s hard to argue or disagree with in theory. When the report came out earlier in the week about processed meat causing cancer what they were really referring to is meat that is treated, handled, or consumed in a highly processed state with numerous salts, chemicals, nitrates, etc. such as bacon, ham, lunch meats, etc. Well here’s the part the media forgot to mention. Of the 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012, only 34,000 were attributed to consumption of processed meat. You have a better chance dying in a car crash (10.7 for every 100,000 drivers). Some bacon at breakfast or ham during the holidays certainly isn’t going to be the stake to the grave. It’s a bit more involved than that.

Insulin and Insulin Resistance

There are hundreds of hormones in the body each with its own purpose and function, none of which is more popular than insulin and rightly so. Insulin is an anabolic (or growth) hormone with the primary responsibility of being the feeder or transport of energy to all of our living cells. Without sufficient insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or an inefficient insulin mechanism (Type 2 diabetes) in which the cells don’t respond to or are resistant to the insulin markers thus staving off energy to the cells. This overtime leads to elevated blood sugar levels (not good for the body) and the gradual increase of adipose (fat) tissue. (also not good for the body). The very important concept here (and often taken out of context) is that elevated blood sugar levels can happen from several factors, most of which (and preventable) are caused by dietary influences. High intake of sugar is generally to blame, and not just added sugar but simple carbohydrates that are easily converted to sugar thus raising the insulin response levels. Long story short, while there’s plenty of data to show the effects of certain foods on raising insulin levels, a nationwide hysteria grew that carbohydrates are bad for you, spawning fear of literally thousands of types of foods, everything from breads to pastas and beyond. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates too but no one said a thing about decreasing their intake. So before you banish all “carbs” from your existence, the important concept to remember here is how your blood sugar levels respond (a simple blood test will determine that for you) correlates to any weight loss or weight gain issues, and not what the guru in the book or on TV has to say.

Common Sense

The subject of nutrition is very gray, not as black and white as some would have you believe. Why? Because we are all different and don’t consume and process food the same way whether here in the good ol US of A or the Far East reaches of the world. Food is fuel and fuel is energy. We need to eat and variety as well as moderation is the spice of life. There is food that is healthier to consume in larger quantities and there is food that is better consumed in lower quantities. Chances are as previously stated, you’re nutrition is probably not all that bad. It’s senseless to make yourself crazy on eating a particular food item or group just because it was correlated to cause unfavorable outcomes. There are thousands of things that can be correlated to just about anything with never being the cause. Not eating snacks or sweets doesn’t necessarily make you a healthier eater any more than an occasional adult beverage makes you an alcoholic. Do yourself a favor and don’t get fooled by media sensationalism.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.