This article is going to share some good news about preventing and reversing diabetes.
In the past half-century diabetes rates have soared to record highs. If current trends continue, the number of people suffering from this disease will double within the next 25 years…affecting an estimated 300 million people worldwide.
For many years, there was no known cure—but not anymore! Today many people are disarming diabetes by making healthful lifestyle changes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body becomes unable to handle glucose (or sugar), which builds up to dangerous levels in the bloodstream. Over time, these high blood sugar levels are extremely taxing on the body, resulting in a dramatic increase in risk of death and disability.
There are two kinds of diabetes.
The most common form of the disease is known as Type II, accounting for… more than 90% of all cases. This type of diabetes is not so much a problem with a shortage of insulin; in fact, when diagnosed most of these diabetics have plenty of insulin in their bodies. But something blocks the insulin so that it cannot do its job properly.
The other kind of diabetes is called Type I, insulin-dependent diabetes, which is a different disease altogether… affecting approximately 5 to 10% of all diabetics. These individuals have lost their ability to make adequate amounts of insulin, and must take insulin by injection. Because of this, Type I is known as insulin-dependent diabetes. These diabetics typically develop the disease as children or young adults and they are usually thin. In this article, I will focus on Type II diabetes, non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
How does this disease work?
The main fuel for our bodies is a simple sugar called glucose. What gasoline is to your car, glucose is to the cells of your body. However, glucose can only be converted to usable energy in the presence of insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. It works like a key that opens the “doors” of the body’s cells allowing the glucose to enter.
However, if there is not enough insulin (as in Type 1 diabetes), or if the locks on the doors are “gummed up” so that the insulin keys have trouble opening them (as often occurs in Type II diabetes), then the blood sugar levels can rise to dangerous levels.
What are the warning signs?
- The classical symptoms are:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination (and) Excessive appetite
These warning signs are often very subtle. In fact, it’s estimated that of the millions of Nigerians with diabetes… up to half of them don’t even know they have it! Many become aware of their disease only when they begin to experience potentially irreversible problems. As this disease progresses, its effects are devastating, affecting all organs of the body and gradually destroying them.
Here are some of the typical complications:
- Eight out of ten diabetics develop eye problems, including blindness.
- Diabetics are 18 times more likely to experience serious kidney damage. Many eventually experience kidney failure.
- Diabetes is a potent promoter of atherosclerosis—the plugging of the arteries.
For this reason, diabetics are 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes. In addition, diabetes increases one’s chances of:
- Sexual impotence,
- Ulcerative sores,
- And for women, Breast and uterine cancers.
Keeping your blood sugar levels near the normal range is the best possible defense against the complications of diabetes.
What causes non-insulin-dependent (Type II) diabetes?
Is it a matter of genetics? It’s true that certain population groups are especially prone to diabetes. For example, among the Pima Indians of the Southwestern United States, half of all adults suffer from Type II diabetes. But genes are not the primary culprits. It took the western diet and lifestyle to turn their genetic tendency into “an epidemic of diabetes.”
More and more, researchers are concluding that heredity is not destiny—especially if you eat well and exercise. A closely related tribe of Pima Indians living in Mexico has an active farming lifestyle, eat a traditional diet, and experience far less diabetes.
So what is the real problem in Type II diabetes?
In most cases the problem is a lack of sensitivity to insulin, rather than a shortage of it…that is, the cells simply fail to respond to the insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, thwarting vital processes and damaging vessel walls. This resistance to insulin appears to be directly related to certain lifestyle factors.
Many studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between fat and diabetes—both fat in the diet and fat on the body. The more fat there is in the diet, the more difficult it is for insulin to get glucose into the cells. Diabetes is rare in areas of the world where fat intake is low and obesity is uncommon.
What about inactivity?
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the primary contributors to obesity and insulin resistance. Too many calories and too little exercise are recognized as the key risk factors for Type-II diabetes
So what can we do to disarm diabetes?
Numerous studies suggest that a comprehensive lifestyle approach is the best defense to protect us from the ravages of diabetes. Many diabetics can normalize their blood sugar levels, often within a matter of weeks, by adopting an optimal lifestyle program. Here are the key points:
Lowering the amount of fat and oil in the diet plays a crucial role in the prevention and reversal of Type II diabetes. When less fat is eaten, the sensitivity to insulin is gradually restored. The best way to achieve this is to eat an unrefined plant-based diet with the exclusion of all animal products and refined foods. In addition, eating more natural, fiber-rich foods plays an important role by helping stabilize blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include: whole grain cereals and breads, cooked beans and peas, fruits, and vegetables.
What about exercise?
Through regular exercise, the need for insulin injections can often be reduced, and oral medications frequently become unnecessary. Exercising muscles need fuel. Regular physical activity enables the sugar to enter the body’s cells, even without insulin. Achieving a healthy weight is of vital importance in disarming diabetes. Health experts are warning that obesity is rising to epidemic proportions.3
For example, in the Nigeria in 1991, only seven states had obesity rates over 15%. By 1998, only five states didn’t! By 2001 most states were reaching already the 20% mark. The majority of Type II diabetics are overweight, and normalizing weight is often all it takes to bring the blood sugar back to normal.
The best approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not dieting, but a permanent change in the way we live. Making the switch to a low-fat, plant based diet, and eating most of our calories at breakfast and lunch, are excellent choices. Coupled with active daily exercise these things can help you experience lasting success.
As you can see, diabetes is largely preventable. The good news is that those who already have the disease can control it and many can even reverse it without drugs by following a healthy lifestyle. It is tragic that it often takes irreversible complications before people really get serious about their diabetes. Don’t wait until a heart attack, blindness, or amputation serves as a wake-up call.
As serious a disease as diabetes is, the old adage certainly applies, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Start now. Disarm diabetes before it happens.
1 Kenny SJ, Aubert RE, Geiss LS. Prevalence and Incidence of Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes. In: Harris MI, Cowie CC, et al, editors. Diabetes in America—2nd edition. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; NIH Publication No. 95-1468, 1995 p. 47. (Source: Proof Positive, p. 174)
2 (90-126 milligrams per deciliter [mg/dl]), Source:www.diabetes.org
3 The Leisure Media Company Limited, UK, Obesity rising to ‘epidemic’ proportions; 31 May 2001 (Quoted from 11th European Congress on Obesity)