Diabetes is one of the largest world epidemics and its prevalence has increased at alarming rates. Today, over 10 million Americans suffer from Diabetes and over 40 million people suffer from pre-diabetes. These numbers are shocking and the modern diet mixed with the sedentary lifestyle often seen in modern generations only suggests that these numbers will keep rising. Some studies have even stated that they the rise in Diabetes could result in a bankrupt healthcare system! The biggest way to combat Diabetes is through a proper understanding of how it develops and then adopting a lifestyle that will prevent it in the future.
Diabetes is a disease process that begins well before the diagnosis and is greatly influenced by diet, activity levels, genetics, and in some cases hormonal levels. Diabetes is categorized into two major types:
- Type 1 Diabetes (aka Insulin-Dependent Diabetes): Type 1 Diabetes makes up about 10% of the diabetes cases in the US and is mostly diagnosed under the age of 30. It is characterized by the marked inability of the pancreas to secrete insulin because of an autoimmune destruction of the beta cells. Type 1 Diabetics are dependent on exogenous insulin in order to sustain proper function in life.
- Type 2 Diabetes (aka Adult Onset Diabetes): Type 2 Diabetes makes up most of the Diabetic cases. It most often occurs in adulthood although recently more teens and young adults have been diagnosed due to the above mentioned dietary and sedentary lifestyles. In some cases type 2 diabetics do not even know they have it. Treatment for this type of Diabetes usually includes lifestyle changes and medical or natural intervention which increases insulin receptor activity.
The Diabetic Cascade:
The earliest signs of Diabetes or pre-Diabetes can be seen using a metabolic blood test. Testing blood Glucose levels and a complete lipid panel including Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, and LDL, will give you a great picture of blood sugar function.
The problem that is encountered happens when a doctor only uses the blood glucose levels to test for diabetes. First, when testing only glucose it does not show enough information to understand what is going on, and when they use the pathological lab range, they are only looking for disease, not function.
What needs to be understood is that there are two functional changes in blood sugar that develop before the diagnosis of diabetes is given. Our diet greatly impacts our blood glucose levels and inevitably the diabetic cascade.
The cascade begins with what is called Reactive Hypoglycemia. Reactive Hypoglycemia is characterized by a marked decline in blood sugar within two to five hours after a meal. It is a state of low blood sugar that is reacting to abnormal diets and is caused by diets high in simple sugars in conjunction with a diet in which meals are missed. This is the first step towards Diabetes.
If not properly addressed Reactive Hypoglycemia will progress to a more aggressive Insulin Resistance. Insulin is a protein hormone that is secreted by the pancreas. Its job is to remove sugar from the blood and bring it to the cells so that it can create energy. When sugar levels are ideal, the insulin is able to function properly to maintain an normal blood sugar. Unfortunately, when a diet is high in simple sugars for a long period of time the pancreas starts to work in overload and is unable to release enough insulin to reduce sugar levels, thus the level slowly increases. If not properly addressed, Insulin Resistance will progress to the final diagnosis of Diabetes.
Traditional treatment for Diabetics is medication that increases the sensitivity to Insulin with the goal of controlling blood sugar levels. While this approach has helped many, is it the ideal way? When the patient is given medication, commonly, they believe that this replaces their responsibility to change their diet and lifestyle. The problem that then develops is that the disease progresses while the medication masks the signs. Is that treating the disease or treating the symptom?
An approach that is natural and focuses more on lifestyle changes is more effective than primarily focusing on medication. Removing the high amounts of simple sugars from the diet, taking a natural supplement that will increase insulin receptor activity to lower blood sugar, and including more physical activity to their lifestyle is the safer, more effective approach to treating Diabetes.
Stay tuned for our next blog as we discuss the signs and symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia and Insulin Resistant and how to prevent the Diabetic cascade from occurring in your life.