Diseases Linked to Diabetes

Nearly 58 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, 95 percent of who have type 2 diabetes, and amazingly half are unaware that they even have this disease. Since the majority of people with diabetes have the type 2 variety, this is the type that will be addressed in this article. It used to be that this disease would develop around the age of 45, which is why it used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes, however now it is becoming increasingly common at younger and younger ages, even among children.

Along with the millions of Americans with diabetes, another 27 million Americans have “pre-diabetes,” which is literally months to years away from progressing into full-blown diabetes. My concern is that being diagnosed with diabetes is becoming so commonplace that many people don’t realize that this is a devastating illness that can cause a lifetime of health complications. Even more concerning is the fact that diabetes is essential preventable, which I’ll discuss later, yet is still on the rise.

There are several tell tale symptoms of full-blown diabetes including:

* Frequent urination
* Excessive thirst
* Extreme hunger
* Unexplained weight loss
* Increased fatigue
* Irritability
* Blurry vision
* Frequent vaginal yeast infections in women

However, the absolute best test for diagnosing diabetes is the eight-hour fasting blood sugar test. It is absolutely amazing how powerful and sensitive this test is. I have checked over 10,000 blood tests on my patients and can tell you quite confidently that the fasting blood sugar should be below 100.

Previously I believed the fasting blood sugar should be 87. It now seems that the numbers should be closer to 80. My definition of pre-diabetes is when that number rises above 100. Traditional standards state that diabetes is formally diagnosed at 120.

With insulin levels, the lower the better. I like to see them below 5, but 2 or 3 would be far better. Any fasting insulin level over 10 is a major problem and is a huge risk factor for diabetes.

If you have diabetes, or suspect that you do, it is important to take measures to control it, or even reverse it, as uncontrolled or ignored diabetes can result in serious complications including:

* Heart disease
* Kidney disease
* High blood pressure
* Accelerates the aging process
* Blindness
* Stroke
* Nerve damage
* Blood flow problems
* Loss of feeling, particularly in the lower legs
* Burning, sensitivity and coldness of the foot
* Higher-risk pregnancies
* Coma
* Death

Further, diabetes can cause chronic liver disease and cancer of the liver, according to a study published in the February 2004 issue of the journal Gastroenterology. Researchers found that among diabetic patients, the incidence of chronic liver disease and cancer of the liver was about twice the incidence of patients without diabetes.

There is also a strong relationship between type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression. About 80 percent of people with diabetes are also significantly overweight and depression together with obesity is a strong risk factor for diabetes. It is clear that people with diabetes are more likely to be depressed, but whether it is a result of obesity or diabetes–or both–remains unclear.

However, as I said earlier diabetes is close to 90 percent preventable, as it is often a direct result of dietary and lifestyle factors. The sooner you begin to treat the diabetes, the easier it will be to control, so it is important to take action as soon as possible. In other words, if your fasting blood sugar is approaching the 100 level don’t wait for it to go up before making changes to your diet and lifestyle. So what changes should you make?

The most basic changes would be to restrict all grains and sugars from the diet, while increasing your exercise. The primary focus on most diabetic diets has been on the relative amounts and types of carbohydrates and fat to include in their diet. But the problem with nearly all traditional nutritional studies is that they do not account for Metabolic Typing differences.

While nearly all type 2 diabetics need to swap out their grains for other foods, as I discuss in my Total Health Program, some people will benefit from using protein for the substitution, while others will benefit from using more vegetable-only carbohydrates. Therefore, along with reducing grains and sugars, determining your Metabolic Type will give you some insight into what foods you should use to replace the grains and sugars.

Exercise works by increasing the sensitivity of insulin receptors so the insulin that is present works much more effectively and your body doesn’t need to produce as much.

Most people, especially doctors, tend to not appreciate how powerful exercise is. However, I believe it needs to be viewed like a drug–you have to be very careful with the dose. If the dose is not high enough, it will not work.

Making these changes in your lifestyle will help to optimize your insulin levels. As some people may know, blood sugar is only the symptom in most diabetics; the real challenge is to control your insulin levels. Once the insulin levels are stabilized it is common for the blood sugar to come back to normal levels. Along with controlling your diabetes, these basic lifestyle changes will also lead to several inevitable side effects like increasing your energy and normalizing your weight, so getting started today will likely lead to an increased quality of life on many different levels.