Simple Solutions: Diabetes

Simple Solutions: Diabetes

Lifestyle Links to Better Health

Jimmy’s Story. Jimmy was a big baby—10 pounds at birth. By age ten, he tipped the scales at 150 pounds. Just baby fat, his mother reasoned. He will grow out of it. Jimmy did grow out of it and into something worse: diabetes. By age thirteen he was twenty pounds heavier, tired all the time, and constantly hungry. He satisfied his hunger with donuts and soft drinks. At school he chose pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and brownies or cookies for dessert. He rarely ate salad, whole grains, beans, or fresh fruit. He seldom exercised. He was thirsty no matter how much pop he drank, and suffered from depression and poor concentration. His pediatrician told him that on his current course, he would be dead by age 25.

Sadly, Jimmy’s story is not uncommon. One out of three children born in the US in the year 2000 will develop diabetes by young adulthood. There are roughly 20 million adult diabetics, and 40 million who are in the process of developing diabetes, called “pre- diabetes.” That means one out of four adult Americans either has diabetes or is developing the disease.

What is diabetes? Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that causes the body’s cells to be deprived of fuel (glucose). When uncontrolled, it causes problems with circulation, heart health, kidney function, eyesight, immune function, depression, mental processing, and cancer and dementia risk. Most diabetics, up to 95%, are type 2, a form of the disease that develops due to a combination of inactivity, poor nutrition, and overweight. Eight out of ten people who suffer from type 2 diabetes are overweight. Those who carry fat at their waist are at higher risk. Type 1 diabetics have an autoimmune disorder and require daily insulin. All forms of diabetes respond well to positive lifestyle choices.

Silent but Scary. The problem with diabetes is that so many of the “symptoms” are silent, and so the seriousness of the disorder is unrecognized. According to one expert, "Unless something is done to prevent it, diabetes will result in 35 million heart attacks, 13 million strokes, 6 million episodes of renal [kidney] failure, 8 million instances of blindness or eye surgery, 2 million amputations, and 62 million deaths, for a total of 121 million serious diabetes-related adverse events in the next 30 years." 1

Inactivity doubles the risk of developing diabetes. Being overweight triples the risk. When waist-size in women increases from 28 inches to 38 inches, the risk of developing diabetes in increased 6-fold! The good news is that as much as 90 percent of type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle improvement, even if diabetes runs in your family. 2 The great news is that the very tools that prevent diabetes also manage and reverse symptoms.

Prevention is the Cure. How can this terrible trend be reversed? Along with quitting smoking, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep, a few simple changes can make a big difference over time:

Make Memory Meals.

  • More home-cooked meals using more healthful choices
  • Eat a high fiber breakfast, including whole grains and fresh fruit
  • Start your meal with vegetable soup, salad, or fruit
  • Decrease meat and dairy intake
  • Increase beans, vegetables, and salads
  • Less high-fat fast foods and sweets

Ditch the Drinks

  • Eliminate soda pop, diet and regular
  • Replace high-calorie lattes and juice drinks with pure water
  • Replace alcohol and caffeinated beverages with herbal teas

Walk to Wellness

  • To begin, walk for 10 minutes after meals
  • Plan daily moderate exercise into your schedule
  • Create an exercise plan that builds up to a total of one hour a day
  • Exercise with friends to keep you motivated

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