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Type 2 Diabetes: A Raging Epidemic

Type 2 Diabetes: A Raging Epidemic

In 2007, there were a staggering 23.6 million Type 2 diabetics in the U.S. in which 1/3 of them are undiagnosed. Another 67 million are said to have pre diabetes.

And by 2020, it is predicted that more than half of Americans will have diabetes or be pre diabetic (metabolic syndrome) at a cost to the U.S. Health Care system of $3.35 trillion if current trends go on unabated, according to analysis of a new report released by health insurer United Health Group. Another recent study found that Insulin Resistant people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop plaques in their brains which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. At this rate, diabetes, pre diabetes and the complications of these conditions could alone bankrupt our country.

Here are some more statistics:

70% of diabetics have peripheral neuropathy (numbness, burning, tingling and pain in the feet and/or hands).

60% of diabetics have some form of sexual dysfunction

Diabetes is the #1 cause of blindness in the U.S.

Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure in the U.S.

Approximately 55% of Americans are overweight, a sign of metabolic syndrome (pre diabetes). In addition, 25% of thin people have insulin resistance, the cornerstone of metabolic syndrome. Based on these numbers, more that 65% of American adults either have or are at risk of metabolic syndrome. These numbers are staggering. The primary medical treatment for diabetes is either insulin or some form of oral medication. There are six main categories of medications for treatment, all different in function. The most common medication for treatment currently is metformin. While it is not my intention or this article to discuss the different categories, one needs to be aware of the different classifications.

The purpose of this article is to point out that even with all the different types of medications currently available to consumers, people who develop diabetes or are becoming pre diabetic are rising at an epidemic rate. It should also be noted that Type 2 diabetes and pre diabetes are lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases are problems caused by a person’s current lifestyle and most of the time, can be reversed.

Most people who have this condition know the importance of diet and exercise and it is recommended by most physicians. What is not recognized or overlooked is the type of diet. There are certain foods that should be decreased or eliminated completely by these groups of people (diabetics, pre diabetics). One of the biggest contributing factor for driving people towards diabetes is the type of foods that they are eating. This is twofold. The first being the standard American diet (SAD). This consists of the following:

• High in animal fats

• High in unhealthy fats: saturated, hydrogenated

• Low in fiber

• High in processed foods

• Low in complex carbohydrates

• Low in plant-based foods

The second being something called gluten. Gluten is a protein which is found in grains. For many diabetics and pre diabetics, eating foods containing gluten can wreak havoc with their blood sugars. Interestingly enough, a lot of the patients that I treat for diabetes and pre diabetes also have some form of digestive problems. Most of the time, this can be related to a gluten intolerance or some other type of food sensitivity. When this happens, the person’s body will react to the gluten, causing inflammation in their body. While inflammation is not the sole cause of causing blood sugar problems, it is one that is often overlooked.

It is important to reiterate that Type 2 diabetes and the complications of it are primarily a lifestyle disease. If someone truly wants to get their condition under control or to even get off the medications that they are currently taking for diabetes, they must be willing to make some lifestyle changes and seek care from someone educated and confident in treating this disease.