This month we will be addressing diabetes. What it is. What we can do to prevent it. And finally what can be done if I or someone I know has diabetes.
What is Diabetes
The description given by the CDC: Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.”
I really like how Dr. Fung explains the conventional treatment strategy of the past few decades. To hear more from Dr. Fung, you can listen to the entire interview here. He calls it the “lock and key paradigm,” where we view insulin as a key that “unlocks” cell walls and allows glucose inside. He explains, “What [scientists and doctors] said was, ‘Well, there’s something gumming up the mechanism, just like if you had some gum and stuck it into the lock. Your key is fine, your gate is fine, but it’s not working because there’s something in there that’s blocking.’ If you think about it that way, then the natural solution is to pump up the insulin. That was the strategy for years, decades really. If you have type 2 diabetes, you’d take medication. When the medication wasn’t enough, they’d give insulin.” Unfortunately, the result was that people would need more and more insulin over time, and it didn’t necessarily make the patients any healthier.
Why then, even with the amazing invention of insulin injections and pills to help diabetes, do people with these conditions become sick-er? Persons with diabetes are at higher risk of heart attack, strokes, kidney & eye problems to name a few. American Diabetes Association has a good resource to learn more about complications of diabetes. Their focus is how take better care of people with diabetes to prevent devastating complications.
Wait there is more
Let’s first look at the two main types, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile onset diabetes, may account for 5 percent to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics are severely lacking insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to be used by the cells for energy. Without insulin, the body cannot store incoming energy from food, so blood glucose levels skyrocket. So, for type 1 diabetes, giving insulin is crucial.
Wait! That means 90-95% of diabetics actually have type 2 diabetes. Why is this such an important fact, you ask? Type 2 diabetes is totally preventable and even reversible.
Lifestyle changes like diet, exercise and getting proper rest can influence your health greatly!
Follow Novembers post for more preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes.