With October being Diabetes awareness month, there's no time like to present to give some helpful Diabetes prevention tips.
But first, a little shocking statistics of where we have been and where we are at in relation to Diabetes....In the 1980’s the United States had among the lowest diabetes rates in the world. But now, Americans are in the upper third of nations. Currently, almost 10% of the U.S. population and about 26% of over 65 years of age have diabetes. In 2012, the total cost of diabetes in the U.S. was $245 billion and has continued to increase.
Diabetes is a red flag sending us a message that something important has gone awry. Diabetes has significant associations to many other health issues, such as neurological conditions, kidney disease, stroke and cancer. When comparing adults with a healthy weight (BMI values from 18.5 to 24.9), those with body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher are 2 to 7 times more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and asthma.
In 1990, no state had an obesity rate over 15%. In 2013, no state was under 20% and 18 states were over 30%. If we combine individuals who are obese and overweight, together this consists of about 2/3 of American adults.
Remember, the body is complex with its interwoven web-like connections throughout. When our bodies are malnourished, inflamed or giving us signs that something is not feeling right, this does not just impact one area of the body but the body as a whole.
There are three types of Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3.
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. Currently 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have T1D. This has been linked to genetics, however genetics is not the sole reason behind why someone acquires T1D. Type 3 diabetes (T3D), also known as Alzheimer’s disease, has been linked to higher plasma insulin levels and reduced insulin clearance resistance, resulting in long-term reduction in brain insulin. Though both T1D and T3D are very important to discuss, we are only going to dive deeper into type 2 diabetes (T2D).
T2D is the most frequent type of diabetes. Formerly called ‘adult onset’ diabetes, but is now seen in younger ages, T2D occurs from the combination of insulin resistance with relative insulin deficiency. Insulin resistance is where the body fails to properly use the hormone insulin, thus impairing the ability to adequately dispose of glucose. Insulin resistance is an underlying biochemical imbalance not only in T2D, but cardiovascular disease, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome and even colon and some breast cancers.
Some key diagnostic clues for diabetes are excessive thirst, urination and/or hunger.
A few additional signs for diabetes:
Those individuals who are at high risk for T2D, as noted by the American Diabetes Association, are:
All of the above factors are essential root causes to mend, let’s look at the last factor – high blood glucose.
It is important to maintain a healthy blood glucose level, not only for those with diabetes, but for all individuals as poor blood glucose levels (low and high) affect our hormones, our weight and leave us more susceptible to chronic disease like heart disease and cancer, in addition to autoimmune conditions.
Fasting plasma glucose test is a tool we can utilize to monitor an individual’s blood glucose level.
Blood sugar = glucose in the blood
Glucose is the most basic form of sugar. Glucose is necessary by all cells in the body for energy, from your brain to your red blood cells to your muscles. The other forms or chains of sugars, known as carbohydrates, need to be broken down by your digestive system to be transformed into the glucose that feeds your cells.
Simple carbohydrates vs. Complex carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates have fewer sugar molecules bound together. Foods that are typically known as “white foods” are refined foods, which are digested quickly and move into the blood stream at a fairly rapid rate. Refined sugars are simple carbohydrates, in addition to raisins, potatoes and juices.
Complex carbohydrates are molecules that have many sugars bound to them. These multiple branches slow the digestion of sugars allowing them to enter the blood stream at a slower and more consistent rate. Complex carbohydrates are usually filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals with the sugar branches, such as green vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
To keep your glucose levels in the healthy ranges and minimize insulin resistance, it is important to look at the glycemic index and glycemic load (GL) of foods. The glycemic index and glycemic load were developed to express the issue of carbohydrate digestion and how quickly foods break down into sugar (or glucose) in the body.
The glycemic load is a measure we prefer to utilize as it considers the total amount of rapidly absorbable carbohydrates – the starch or the sugar in food – in addition to the glycemic index. For instance, when isolating the sugar in a carrot, as the glycemic index does, the sugar content is rather high. But if you consider the rate of which those sugars are absorbed, due to all the wonderful fiber in the carrot (chewing is key!), as the glycemic load does, the absorption of the sugars is rather low, or slow.
Be in control of your blood sugar by consuming foods that slowly absorb sugar giving you more sustainable energy, weight management and overall health.
When you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises and releases the hormone insulin. Insulin helps your cells pull sugar from your bloodstream to use as fuel. Simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels high and then results in an extremely low blood sugar drop affecting your hormones, moods, weight and leave you more susceptible to chronic diseases, immune complications and fatigue. Eating more complex carbohydrates allows your blood sugar levels to stay more even keeled, giving you fuel to function throughout the day.
Low GL Foods:
Feel your best and choose low!
Diet, lifestyle and environment have significant influence on the way we as individuals metabolize specific substances based upon our own genetic uniqueness. Keeping in mind that we are all individuals, here are some functional medicine approaches to combat diabetes:
For most type 2 diabetics, the disease can be prevented, delayed or reversed. It’s about giving your body the tools it needs to function at it’s optimal level and maintaining a healthy weight while minimizing disease.
PS - Wanting new recipe ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some yummy and creative ideas.
See this week's blog published in the Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine
Hello, my name is Stacy Phillips, licensed Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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