World Diabetes Day
Each year, World Diabetes Day takes place on Nov. 14 to coincide with the discovery of insulin. The original purpose of this commemorative date was to serve as a "globally celebrated event to increase awareness about diabetes."
Awareness, however, is no longer a problem.
In the United States alone, more than 34 million people have diabetes—that's more than the entire population of Texas. On top of that, another 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic, which means nearly one in every three United States residents is either diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Awareness is plentiful, but understanding and effective treatment are not.
Many people fall into the behaviors that disrupt blood sugar levels and actually cause type 2 diabetes, and then treat the disease with drugs that are often ineffective. Figuring out how to prevent new diagnoses of diabetes should be our next course of action.
Prevention is possible and cost-effective
According to his 2010 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David M. Nathan said that changing the way we eat and live has been shown to reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
"Not surprisingly, addressing the underlying lifestyle behaviors—overeating and inactivity—that result in obesity, the primary cause of the epidemic, has had a major and consistent effect in reducing the cumulative incidence of diabetes," Nathan said. "Lifestyle interventions have reduced the cardiovascular risk factors that typically accompany the pre-diabetic and diabetic states."
The National Health Institutes sponsored the Diabetes Prevention Program, which was a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in safely treating type 2 diabetes. In this study, lifestyle intervention was "aimed at modest weight loss through diet and exercise."
Lifestyle interventions were demonstrated to work for people of all genders, ethnicities and genetic backgrounds. It was most effective in people over 60 years of age. The study concluded that "lifestyle intervention led to substantial health benefits and health care cost savings."
Despite this evidence, preventions is not widely practiced in the United States. Insurance plans rarely cover prevention programs.
Sugar's role in diabetes
Foods and ingredients (like high fructose corn syrup) that have been closely linked to soaring levels of type 2 diabetes are among the most commonly sold foods.
Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist and outspoken critic of fructose in all forms, thinks the prevalence of fructose in the modern American diet is the culprit behind the national decline in health. Lustig says sugars, especially fructose, are addictive.
The human tongue consists of five kinds of taste receptors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (the meaty, savory taste). Sugar overpowers and blinds the other four receptors. "The food industry knows that when they add fructose we buy more," Lustig said. If we're buying more, we're likely eating more, too.
Lustig contends that Americans don’t need to eat less overall to combat diabetes; we just eat less added sugar.
“It's important that people recognize that the quality of our diet also dictates the quantity."
What You Can Do
World Diabetes Day is Wednesday, Nov. 14, but it's never too late to take action. If you or someone you know is affected by diabetes, remember: professional guidance, strong mentorship and a proven treatment program are more effective in helping people defeat this debilitating disease than any drug.
To learn how you can help you and your family stay diabetes-free, contact your nearest Maximized Living doctor. Our doctors are trained in the 5 Essentials of Maximized Living, a comprehensive health system proven to help prevent—and in some cases, reverse—type 2 diabetes.