According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) statistics, diabetes now afflicts 25.8 million Americans or 8.3% of our population. Only 5% of diabetics are type 1, where through autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta-cells, they are told they have a lifelong dependence on insulin. The rest are classified as type 2 diabetes, resulting from insulin resistance (the cells of the body stop responding to insulin) combined in some cases with insulin deficiency. Additionally, according to the ADA, 1 in every 4 Americans has pre-diabetes, or 79 million.
Blaming “bad genes” on diseases like diabetes is a convenient way to escape the obvious things we can do individually, and as a culture, to prevent the escalation of an already epidemic problem.
Diabetes is a combination of nutritional and hormonal imbalances. It’s important to correct these imbalances at an early stage before pre-diabetes develops into full-fledged diabetes.
Diabetes can lead to many complications and can impact your cardiovascular health, nervous system, mental health, and more. It can even lead to congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and, if you have diabetes, you have 2 to 4 times the risk of dying from heart disease as someone who does not have diabetes. Stats from the ADA paint a clear picture: diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in the year 2007 alone.
The Hormone Link
Diabetes actually starts with an imbalance in the hormone insulin that leads to glucose intolerance. Glucose is created from the sugars and starches in the food you eat and insulin converts it into energy. However, when you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that your body does produce cannot do its job – this is known as insulin resistance. When this happens, the glucose levels in your blood elevate, leading to the many symptoms and complications of diabetes.
All of your hormones work together and affect each other, so imbalances of other hormones can lead to insulin imbalances or insulin resistance. This may be particularly evident around menopause. During perimenopause, your progesterone levels decline. This decline in progesterone affects your insulin metabolism and, as your progesterone levels become low, you develop a predisposition to glucose intolerance.
High levels of cortisol, which is produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress, can also lead to glucose intolerance. In fact, this can lead to an unhealthy cycle, because diabetes can affect your adrenals, causing them to produce more cortisol, which in turn can make your diabetes worse.
Is Diabetes Reversible?
In a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, Walter Willett, MD, PhD, and his colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that 91% of all Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented through improvements in lifestyle and diet.
New science shows that it’s possible, through an aggressive approach of lifestyle, nutritional support, and occasionally medications. It is important to diagnose Type 2 diabetes early, but it is often not diagnosed until very late.
Most doctors are not concerned until the blood sugar is over 110 — or worse, over 126, which is diabetes. Early testing with anyone who has a family history of Type 2 diabetes, central abdominal weight gain, or abnormal cholesterol is highly recommended.
Balancing your hormones is an important part of treating diabetes. There is a huge network of overlapping hormones in your body, each affecting the other. This network requires a delicate balance and, if that balance is not maintained, your diabetes may become worse. That’s why your hormones have to be balanced in order to get an optimal response to diabetic therapy.
Lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy, life-long diet, are also extremely important in the treatment of diabetes. It is essential that you understand proper nutrition – and especially the importance of avoiding any foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a tool used to measure how quickly sugars and starches in various foods increase your blood glucose levels.
Simple sugars, such as white flour or white bread, are particularly high on the glycemic index – avoid them at all costs. These refined sugars are converted directly to glucose. Other foods that are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates can also be problems. Processing can also increase a food’s GI, so it’s a good idea to focus on organic products. You should also avoid foods that are high in calories.
Dealing with Diabetes
If you are suffering from diabetes and feel like you are not getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today. Our experienced team of reliable doctors will not just treat your symptoms, but address the root cause.