November: National Diabetes Month

We are frequently hearing information on the news or in the print media about type 2 diabetes and how the incidence in all age groups is escalating. Yet every day many are diagnosed with diabetes and are surprised to find they have become a statistic.

Since November is national diabetes month there is likely to be considerable emphasis on the topic. Hereís my message. 

Type 2 diabetes is preventable. First, itís important to know if you have risk factors for developing this deadly condition. Some risk factors you canít control but many you can-- so address those you can fix. It is never too early or too late to make changes in your lifestyle.

It is important that everyone takes this topic seriously. It was once unheard of to see type 2 diabetes in middle aged or young people. Since the 1990ís younger and younger people, even kids are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

 Review the following risk factors for type 2 diabetes and note those that apply to you or to the people you care about: 

  • Obesity heads the list of risk factors especially if that weight is around the belly.
  • Any diet that causes weight gain predisposes to diabetes. But a diet high in added sugars and refined carbs is especially stressful on the insulin and blood sugar mechanism.
  • Couch potatoes beware. A sedentary lifestyle increases insulin resistance (not a good thing) and leads to loss of muscle mass.
  • Even though youíre stuck with your heredity, it is the interaction of genetics and lifestyle that really increases your risk for diabetes. So start making those lifestyle changes now. Note that you donít have to have a family history to get diabetes: poor lifestyle choices over time can lead to diabetes as well.
  • Ethnicity-people of African-American descent, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders are particularly prone to diabetes. Some groups develop the disease earlier and with smaller weight increases that Caucasians.
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes or delivered large babies- more than 9 pound are at additional risk. It is now known that the children of Momís with GD are likely to experience additional health problems during their lifetimes because of their exposure to excessive insulin and blood sugar levels while in the uterus.
  • Metabolic syndrome is a group of 5 signs, that if you have at least 3, means you are prone to diabetes and heart disease. See   for much more info about metabolic syndrome.
  • High blood sugar levels-- even those that are not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes-- means you need to take action.
  • Abnormal blood lipids. Everyone thinks of cholesterol but high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are more important numbers than your total cholesterol.
  • High Blood Pressure. Most people think overeating salt leads to high blood pressure. In some people that may be true but many people have hypertension because of high insulin levels made worse by a high carb intake. High insulin levels occur long before one becomes diabetic.
  • Age. Although advancing age increases our risk we canít fix that one. Once again, address the things you can and you will likely be able to avoid or delay the onset of diabetes.

 Why is diabetes such a dangerous disease?

 Type 2 diabetes creeps up on you slowly. Since there are no early symptoms, more than 20 % of people with the illness donít know they have it. Unfortunately, damage to the body can begin well before fasting blood sugar levels are elevated enough to diagnose the disease. Remaining undiagnosed is dangerous. Many people donít find out they have diabetes until they are treated for an infection such as recurring vaginal yeast infections.

Once the disease has progressed common symptoms such as extreme thirst, extreme hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, unusual fatigue, blurred vision and the slow healing of cuts and bruises makes the diagnosis easier. But by the time these symptoms are apparent, blood sugar levels have been elevated for a long time causing silent damage to every cell in the body.

It is the long term elevation of insulin and blood sugar levels that leads to the damage to the large and small blood vessels in the body and the complications of diabetes. This damage results in cardiovascular disease. (About 75% of people with diabetes die from heart disease). It also leads to kidney failure, blindness, amputations, stroke and painful nerve damage.

Diabetes may also put you are higher risk for cancer and even Alzheimerís.

 The American Diabetes Association relies primarily on a low calorie diet including sugar and refined carbs and medications for the treatment of diabetes. Once diagnosed with this condition most people take anywhere from 3 to 6 meds. Not only is this strategy costly, the drugs often make weight loss more difficult and increases risks for serious side effects. Additionally, by eating foods with added sugars and refined flour products the blood sugar is higher requiring more meds. Yet even with expensive drug protocols people are not meeting their treatment goals.  Is it no wonder that many people simply give up trying to make lifestyle changes and surrender to the expectation of progressively poorer health?  It is time for another approach. 

 Think Low Carb

 Diabetes is a condition of insulin and blood sugar dysfunction. Since carbohydrate foods cause elevation in blood sugar and require insulin to metabolize them, it makes sense that controlling the quality and quantity of carbs is the key to controlling blood sugar and insulin. Controlling carbs also makes weight management easier. Not only is the Atkins Lifestyle an intelligent approach to weight management and the prevention of type 2 diabetes it is an effective treatment option for people who already have type 2 diabetes.

 Research has been done comparing Atkins type low carb diets with typical low calorie diets in people with diabetes. The results demonstrate better blood sugar and insulin control, better weight loss and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors without putting additional stress on the kidneys. Many people with diabetes on an Atkins type program can decrease or even stop most medications. In fact, this approach can be so effective at lowering high blood sugar levels that it is often necessary to decrease medication doses immediately to avoid low blood sugar reactions. Any healthy approach that allows for less medication use is certainly an advantage.

 Be sure to educate yourself on how to safely make dietary changes using low carb with the assistance of your physician since medication doses need to be adjusted as your carb intake is lowered. For more information read Atkins Diabetes Revolution and Dr. Atkinsí New Diet Revolution.

 The most important message in national diabetes month is to know that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and that most risk factors are under your control.


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The information presented on this site is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment. This information should be used in conjunction with the guidance and care of your physician. Consult your physician before beginning this program as you would any weight-loss or weight-maintenance program.  Those of you on diuretics or diabetes medication should proceed only under a doctorís supervision as changing your diet usually requires a change in medication dosages. As with any plan, the weight-loss phases of this program should not be used by patients on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women. As with any weight-loss plan, we recommend anyone under the age of 18 follow the program under the guidance of their physician.