According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) statistics, diabetes now afflicts 34.2 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, 88 million people are pre-diabetic and do not know it.
Type 2 diabetes is a combination of nutritional and hormonal imbalances. Diabetes starts to develop when there is 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.
Due to the interconnectivity of the body and the endocrine system, an insulin imbalance or resistance can be caused by other hormonal issues. 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.
Adrenal dysfunction, which results in high levels of cortisol, can also lead to glucose intolerance. Your adrenal glands release cortisol when stressed and diabetes can actually negatively impact your adrenals and cause them to release more cortisol. 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.
Reduced thyroid function is another major risk factor for diabetes. Thyroid hormones influence glucose transport and metabolization, which plays a significant role in blood glucose regulation. Thyroid hormones may also affect how your body metabolizes carbohydrates due to their influence over specific hormones including leptin, adiponectin, and ghrelin. The handling of carbohydrates by these hormones has a direct impact on glucose regulation.
Studies have also found that thyroid disease is exceptionally prevalent among patients with type 2 diabetes. Research shows that individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely to suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism when compared to healthy populations. Subclinical hypothyroidism is a mild form of hypothyroidism that is diagnosed when serum levels of TSH are elevated slightly. This condition is frequently undiagnosed but may play a significant role in diabetes development. Overt and subclinical hypothyroidism are associated with reduced insulin receptivity and poor glucose tolerance. Furthermore, subclinical hypothyroidism may inhibit glucose transportation and utilization. These inhibitory elements of thyroid disease can contribute to poor glucose regulation and by extension the development of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by performing certain blood tests that measure the level of glucose within a patient's bloodstream. Conventional doctors typically rely on the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood, which does not reflect mitochondrial function at a cellular level. TSH levels can only tell us that the disease has already occurred.
Detecting signs within the body prior to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes can allow for the prevention of this disease. It is believed that for 91% of individuals already diagnosed, changes in diet and lifestyle may have avoided this disease. Men and women are equally vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes.
If you think you may have type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic, it is important to address it. Diabetes is known as the “silent killer” as it impacts the cardiovascular system which can lead to congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Other organs that are also affected include the bladder, skin, teeth, nervous system, and eyes.
At Holtorf Medical Group, many treatments are available, depending on the results of specialized testing performed by our doctors. If previous testing has determined a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, a patient may be prescribed medication. Our doctors will discuss what treatment option is best for you. We focus primarily on dietary changes, lifestyle changes which may include supplements to lower blood level sugars.