Diabetes, and What you Should Know

What You Should Know About Diabetes

Actors Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Former American Idol judge Randy Jackson. Tennis champion Billie Jean King. Former major league pitcher David Wells. Singer Patti LaBelle. Comedian Drew Carey. Former The View cohost Sherri Sheppard. What do these celebrities have in common? They all have type 2 diabetes: a disease that anyone – even world-class athletes and the rich and famous – can be diagnosed with.
With more than 5.3 million Canadians living with diabetes and more than 5.7 million with prediabetes (that’s almost one third of all people in this country), it’s easy to think that this disease is unstoppable…
…until you listen to what Dr. Jamie McManus, Chief Advisor of Medical Affairs for Shaklee Corporation, has to say about it.
This is absolutely not true. In fact, type 2 diabetes is 100% preventable.
Look at Sherri Sheppard; she credits type 2 diabetes with saving her life.
In her book Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even if You Don’t Have It), Sherri tells how when she was diagnosed, her doctor was blunt about her high blood sugar. She said, “Sherri, you love wearing those shoes, don’t you?” Sherri said, “Yes, I do.” Her doctor then said, “You won’t be wearing them with your foot cut off, because if you keep eating the way you’re eating, that’s where you’re headed.”
Sherri is now eating healthier, exercising, has lost a significant amount of weight, and feels better than she has in a long time.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes can be defined as having abnormally high blood sugar because the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar), or because the cells of the body don’t respond properly to insulin (or both).
There are three types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in young people, although it can occur in later life (up to around 40 years old), and is a condition where the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas stop producing insulin. The destruction of the insulin-producing cells is thought to be an autoimmune reaction. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5–10% of diabetics; type 1 diabetics will always require insulin.
Type 2 diabetes can happen at any age, although until very recently was quite rare under the age of 40. It develops first as insulin resistance in the cells of the body, meaning that the cells have a difficult time utilizing glucose from the foods you eat. This occurs as a result of eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet and becoming overweight or obese. If untreated, blood sugar levels will continue to climb until you’re diagnosed with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases in Canada, with more than 60,000 new cases yearly. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition affecting 3–20% of all pregnancies. It carries an increased risk of future diabetes for both mother and child.
There’s also prediabetes, which refers to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Nearly 50% of those with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
One of the biggest concerns with diabetes is that it is a silent disease in its early stages. According to a 2011 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there may be one million undiagnosed cases. You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Are a member of a high-risk group (of Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent)
  • Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Have been diagnosed with prediabetes
  • Had gestational diabetes (i.e., diabetes during pregnancy)
Diabetes symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination, constant hunger, excessive thirst, blurry vision, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, and slow wound healing. Diabetics have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation, sexual dysfunction, and nerve problems.

Prevention is the key!

There’s much you can do to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes. Recent research shows that an anti-diabetic diet is not only good for diabetics, but also for anyone. (So start now!) Take a look at the risk factors above and see what you have control over: exercise, diet, and your weight. Make changes here:
  • Eat smarter: avoid all white foods (such as white bread, white rice.) Focus on a plant-based diet and include plenty of fruit and vegetables. A 2012 Canadian study showed that beans and other good proteins help support healthy blood sugar. Avoid sugary drinks (especially soft drinks) and all desserts other than fresh fruit. Fibre is another great way to control blood sugar, so make sure to eat plenty of high-fibre foods.
  • Exercise: being active not only burns calories but has been shown to improve blood sugar control. Exercise that builds muscle can also help with blood sugar control.
  • Lose weight: being overweight can definitely raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. As always, choose a weight-loss program that offers tons of support and helps you maintain your lean body mass.
To me, type 2 diabetes is the disease that shouldn’t be. It is the most preventable major disease we have and there is no way that one out of every three of us should be setting ourselves up for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, loss of eyesight, and amputations that this disease will potentially cause! Yes, it will take effort on your part to make the changes outlined above, but those changes have far-reaching effects on your overall health. So, make a commitment and get started today.
If you want help getting started, there are national diabetes programs and support services all over the country that will help you learn how to eat more healthfully and begin a reasonable exercise routine.

Check out my website for more info.


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