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Statistics proves a compelling relationship between a proper diet and good health
By Cheryl Tillman LeeFamily Editor
November is Diabetes Month. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.
There are millions who have pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.
Statistics proves a compelling relationship between a proper diet and good health. But, what determines what each of us thinks tastes good? Attachments formed at an early age? Our ethnic background? Income?
The availability of products where we live? It's all these factors and more that shape our eating habits, and also make it difficult to change them.
People really want to make their diets healthier, but fear that eating better means giving up great taste and the foods they love. With all this happening, it's also a time we enjoy the best of foods that's ripe for the season.
So how about some crisp green apples and juicy pears. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life.
In order to determine whether or not a patient has pre-diabetes or diabetes, health care providers conduct a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).
Either test can be used to diagnose pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the FPG because it is easier, faster, and less expensive to perform.
With the FPG test, a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl signals pre-diabetes. A person with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher has diabetes.
In the OGTT test, a person's blood glucose level is measured after a fast and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. If the two-hour blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl, the person tested has pre-diabetes.
If the two-hour blood glucose level is at 200 mg/dl or higher, the person tested has diabetes.
Covering this area can help ease your fears and teach you more about living with diabetes, or caring for someone with diabetes, and connect you with others affected by diabetes who will listen and share their own experiences.
Major Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10 percent of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women - about 135,000 cases in the United States each year.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
As the holiday approaches, that's where control comes in. Many like to savor the season's crops with warm satisfying meals.
Diabetes is said to be a "lifelong disease." Obesity and lack of exercise could possibly play a role, but continues to be a mystery, says the American Diabetes Association.
The Diabetes Association says, "for years our medical focus has been on carbohydrates found in sugars and how they build up in the blood. But we have an exciting new insight, we recognize that the body should be able to handle the sugars, and it can do that if the hormone insulin is working properly."
Insulin is like a doorman. It is a hormone made in the pancreas and it waits there to escort sugar from the blood to the cells.
When it's working correctly, the sugar that comes down the bloodstream can go right into the cells of the body. Insulin opens the door of the cell, puts the sugar inside and closes the door.
The problem is our diets are often so fatty that the doorknob is covered in grease. Insulin's hand is slipping on this greasy doorknob. It can't open it up. The sugar builds up in the blood, unable to enter the cell. The solution is a change of diet.
The new approach says if we get greasy foods out of the diet, bring in vegetables and fruits in as natural a state as possible, we restore the body's natural insulin sensitivity, or as close to it as we can get.
That's going to do two things; it can prevent the likelihood of adult onset diabetes; if you have it, you can reduce your use for medicines and if you are like most people, get off the medicine completely.
With just ten pounds added, the extra fat will begin blocking the uptake of insulin in the cells. The pancreas will then respond by producing more insulin.
With an extra 20 pounds of fat, a person might be producing one and a half times as much insulin as someone of normal weight.
If they gain 30, 40 or 50 pounds of extra fat, production of insulin might go up four to five times. And with a significant gain of 80 to 100 pounds of extra body weight, they may be producing eight to ten times as much insulin as a normal sized person.
Some people can go for years with the pancreas overworked like this, pumping out all of that extra insulin, they're not diabetic yet. But, after five to eight years, the pancreas poops out. It can't keep up with this increased amount. It's an unnaturally high demand of insulin, which it cannot maintain for the rest of its life.
So, then it begins producing only twice as much insulin as a normal person would need, which is not enough for this person's overweight body.
And remember, in some people even 20 pounds of extra body fat can result in them becoming diabetic.
When you're overweight, the heightened insulin is an increased risk factor for heart attacks.
Upon examination, the doctor says to them, "did you know you have diabetes? Because your glucose level is high. It's all those years of high levels of insulin being pumped out that contributed to their heart attack."
Insulin itself promotes atherosclerosis. It accelerates the rate at which the body lays down plaque on the inner wall of the blood vessels. Even though they've just recently been diagnosed for years.
Type 2 Reversible
Type 2 diabetes is a completely reversible condition. Exercise, lose weight and eat the right foods. Ask your doctor for information and be sure and talk to your doctor about questions you have regarding diabetes.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "pre-diabetes" - blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
There are 57 million people in the United States who have pre-diabetes. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system may already be occurring during pre-diabetes.
The good news is that the Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.
Diabetes is a common disease, yet every individual needs unique care.
They encourage people with diabetes and their families to learn as much as possible about the latest medical therapies and approaches, as well as healthy lifestyle choices. Good communication with a team of experts can help you feel in control and respond to changing needs.