November is American Diabetes Month and since November 14th is World Diabetes Day, a day dedicated “to raise awareness of diabetes, its prevention and complications, and the care that people with the condition need,” I wanted to share some information on the Type 2 Diabetes epidemic in the United States.
According to the CDC’s website: It is estimated that 34 million people have diabetes in the United states, which amounts to nearly one in ten people. Since only 5% of those with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, I want to focus on the more wide-spread type 2 diabetes. With over a million new cases being diagnosed annually, it is important you understand your risk factors, and how your lifestyle choices can influence the likelihood of becoming diabetic.
Something I often see is too many patients are under the misconception that their diabetes is genetic and therefore permanent; that there’s nothing they can do to improve their outcome. Many people too often say, “My mom or dad had it, so I knew I’d get it.”
But, it isn’t (entirely) genetic.
Like many disease processes, there is a genetic component, but genes merely show someone’s propensity towards health or illness – they are not Tarot cards; they don’t predict our future. Research shows us that genes can be turned on and off depending on our diet and lifestyle choices, so using “genetics” as a reason for having type 2 diabetes cripples the person’s hope of turning their disease around.
And, it can be reversed (or prevented).
With proper supplementation, dietary and lifestyle changes, we are able to reduce people’s blood sugars significantly, and for many, completely reverse their diagnosis.
The general rule is that for every year a person has been sick, it takes one to two months for the body to heal. And keep in mind, the diagnosis of diabetes does not come over night. A person may have received their diagnosis last month, but before we begin to see the markers of diabetes show up on labs, there has been years of overstressing the pancreas with sugar and simple carbs and muscle wasting from minimal amounts of weight-bearing exercise. People need to have patience with their bodies. We can get blood sugar levels normalized rather quickly, but it can take months to years to retrain the pancreas and rebuild muscle mass.
What can you do to help turn around your disease prognosis?
Making any change is difficult. Try changing things up a bit tonight and brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It’s so awkward! No-one would continue to pursue such a change without good reason. When making any changes, you need motivation to do it and a reason to continue. When it comes to motivation, we recommend patients watch, “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days.” Now, virtually none of our patients with type 2 diabetes can stop their lives and go off to an in-patient facility to eat raw food for 30 days, but it’s exciting to see how quickly health can be regained when the body is given time to rest and is nourished well. “Fed Up” is another documentary that many of my patients say helped to get them motivated to make the changes needed to reduce their blood sugar levels.
Most patients are more likely to succeed at any treatment plan when their community gets involved with them.
We often bring an entire family in when we’re discussing a person’s diabetes treatment plan. However, too often family doesn’t want to get involved. This is why, starting in January, AIM will have a 12-week, group weight-loss program run by our Registered Dietitian, Katherine Mattox. Not only will you have the support of a registered dietitian but there is an online Facebook group of like-minded individuals trying to better their diet and improve their health! Many of my patients are really looking forward to this program getting started.
What about exercise? Does it help?
Short answer – yes! Increased muscle mass can help control your glucose. Of all our cells, muscle cells require the most amount of energy, or glucose, just to stay alive. When you have dense muscle mass, you can be sitting watching TV and still be quickly reducing your blood glucose levels. We HIGHLY recommend that everyone work with a personal trainer when they finally decide to get strong. The last thing we want is to see our diabetes patients having to come in for acupuncture or chiropractic appointments for stressed tendons, torn ligament or injured backs.
Are there any supplements that you would recommend for people to try?
MediBolic is a great meal replacement for those with blood sugar issues. Most other supplements to improve blood sugar need to dosed according to the severity of someone’s illness, so I cannot safely suggest other products to the general public.