Decrease Your Risk of Developing Diabetes

The Center for Disease Control in May 2010, stated that “diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents; about 151,000 people below the age of 20 years have diabetes. When diabetes strikes during childhood, it is routinely assumed to be type 1, or juvenile-onset diabetes. However, in the last 2 decades, type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes) has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency.”

In Type I Diabetes (DM I) the pancreas no longer makes insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed the beta cells of the pancreas, where insulin is made. For some reason, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys these cells.

In Type II Diabetes (DM II), insulin resistance is the main risk (described below). The result is the body requiring more insulin to bring glucose into the cells to be used for energy.

Insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, is the immediate precursor to type II diabetes. This is a condition in the body where the body cells, cell receptors, begin to “resist” insulin’s work to pull glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream. The result is that blood sugar levels become higher than normal, but not high enough to diagnose diabetes. As the cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas puts out more and more insulin and eventually cannot meet this demand efficiently and the need for medications ensues. Within ten years, most people with insulin resistance who don’t engage in lifestyle changes will develop diabetes. The risks of having insulin resistance is not just the increased risk of developing diabetes, but the risk for having obesity, heart disease and stroke raises astronomically with blood sugars not being controlled. The challenge today is diagnosing and treating insulin resistance since we now know that type II diabetes, common in people over 40 years old, is becoming increasingly common in children.

Poor nutrition and inactivity are the major contributing risks outside of family history for the development of insulin resistance and diabetes. Although the incidence is prevalent among American Indians, the disease is not specific to this population.

The following tests are used for diagnosis:

  • Fasting Glucose – blood test taken after at least 8 hours of no food or drink. The following fasting glucose levels are used to screen for pre-diabetes or diabetes:
    • < 99 is considered to be normal
    • 100-125 is considered to be “pre-diabetes” or insulin resistance
    • 26 or higher twice in a row is diagnostic for DM II
  • Glucose Tolerance Test – a blood test taken fasting and then 2 hours after high glucose intake (glucose drink or high sugar meal). If the 2 hour glucose is in ranges below – certain diagnosis are made:
    • < 139 – normal
    • 140-149 – “pre-diabetes” or insulin resistance
    • 200 or greater – DM II

It is possible to decrease not only the risks of developing DM II, it is possible to decrease your outcome of DM II. Following these 5 steps will steer you in the right direction:

  1. Awareness – Understand the causes and signs of pre-diabetes and start now to decrease risks as it take ten years from onset of symptoms to be diagnosed. The causes of DM II are inactivity and obesity. There are varying degrees of this so don’t be fooled that you have to be severely either one of these – if you can lose weight do and if you can be more active – do. Simply think of these things on a daily basis and make efforts to move in the direction of optimizing these two lifestyle aspects. If you have a family history of DM, it is even more important for you to keep these in check.
  2. Make sure you are having regular screenings which include a fasting glucose and insulin level yearly.
  3. Exercise – stay active even if you are not overweight or have a family history of DM. A simple ½ hour walk three times weekly does wonders for weight control.
  4. Manage ideal body composition (which is more important than your overall weight). Again, this is important with or without risk factors as well as for an overall enhancement of quality of life. The main food that contributes to weight gain and pre-diabetes is carbohydrates.
  5. Get excited! You must, in your heart also find ways to fulfill internal joy. There is a link between Diabetes and a “lack of sweetness in life”. Be proactive in finding jobs that are fulfilling, only chose relationships that bring you joy, go to sleep with peaceful thoughts and wake with intentions of a day filled with happiness – and don’t veer from these commitments to self.

Warning! Lastly there is a warning for anyone taking the drug Avandia. The medication is used to keep DM II under control. It may work well at lowering blood sugar levels but it increases heart disease by 43%. The company that makes the drug is involved in many lawsuits and has already paid $450 million dollars to personal injuries from taking the drug. It is my opinion that the drug should have already been pulled off the market – but this decision has been made between the FDA and the drug company to keep allowing patients to take it.

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