Updated: Apr 12
According to medical opinion, Diabetes, as a disease, has reached epidemic proportions and has become a major public health problem. The American Diabetes Association reports that over 37 million Americans had diabetes in 2019, of which 8.5 million had not yet been diagnosed. The truth of the matter is that many of us are unaware we are at risk of contracting this disease until we have already been afflicted. During our discussion, we will discuss how critical it is to prevent or control this disease in order to achieve optimal health.
What exactly is Diabetes?
Diabetes is commonly characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. Sugar levels rise not only from sugary foods, such as cake and cookies, but also from stress and high carbohydrate foods that become sugar, such as fruit, bread, rice, pasta, and soda. Diabetes comes in several forms, including Type 1, an autoimmune condition typically discovered in early childhood that results from the body's own immune cells gradually destroying the pancreas preventing it from making insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. To provide energy to the body, sugar in the blood must be transported into the cells through insulin. As a result of a non-functioning pancreas, a person with Type 1 Diabetes cannot secrete insulin, which results in elevated blood sugar levels.
Type 2 Diabetes differs from Type 1 in that our body’s pancreas had the ability to regulate blood sugar through insulin secretion at one point. However, excessive consumption of sugar, often hidden in food not commonly associated with sugar, eventually causes the body to be unable to keep up with blood sugar demands. As a result, insulin is no longer effective in controlling blood sugar. In time, the body stops responding to insulin as the amount of insulin required to control blood sugar increases.
It is when the body is no longer responding to insulin that we have reached the first precursor of Diabetes known as Insulin Resistance.
There was a time when children were being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, also known as Juvenile Onset Diabetes. However, due to the proliferation of products containing hidden and known sugar, as well as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), we have seen a sharp increase in the incidence of childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes among children in the United States. It is particularly pronounced in underserved communities surrounded by food deserts.
Our Pancreas in the body.
What are the risks associated with developing Diabetes?
Excessive sugar in the blood thickens the blood and damages the blood vessels that supply oxygen to our organs. As a result, diabetics are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, amputations of limbs, blindness, infections, and kidney failure. As an example, if our toes don't receive adequate oxygen from the blood due to damaged blood vessels, the tissue that makes up the toe will die, also known as necrosis, and may require amputation. Blindness will eventually result from damaged blood vessels in diabetic eyes. In spite of the seriousness of the disease, it remains very common.
A person who visits their primary care provider regularly may be diagnosed with Prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes. The question then becomes, “Do we know enough about Prediabetes to reduce the risk of developing Diabetes?”
So what exactly does it mean to be diagnosed with Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is commonly characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Diabetes. An additional 96 million Americans suffer from Prediabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. How helpful would it be if there was a way to detect Diabetes before Prediabetes sets in? Our Primary Care Team at Innovative Wellness Clinic believes there may be hope. Fortunately, several warning signs of Type 2 Diabetes can be recognized before it develops. Additionally, we believe that Prediabetes may also be accompanied by warning signs.
We at Innovative Wellness Clinic Inc, A Primary Care Center, emphasize Insulin Resistance as an early warning sign or probable precursor to Prediabetes, which eventually leads to Type 2 Diabetes. In preventive Primary Care, the comprehensive assessment of Insulin Resistance is critical to achieving the highest chance of preventing Prediabetes and the development of Diabetes. In fact, this is exactly the reason we screen at risk patients for insulin levels during their primary care visit. Our commitment to delivering the very highest quality care is what drives us to take this extra step during a patient visit.
What does Insulin Resistance look like?
Here are some clues:
Obesity, especially when it is carried around the abdomen
Darkened skin under our armpits and behind the neck known as acanthosis nigricans
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Elevated blood pressure
If any of these symptoms are present, it is time for us to take diabetes prevention seriously.
Here are some tips to help you control Type 2 Diabetes or prevent it from occurring:
Check our blood sugar
The most accurate way to determine if we have diabetes or whether we are at risk for diabetes is to test our blood sugar levels. Results can be obtained from simple blood tests at the laboratory. Goals for blood sugar levels include:
Fasting blood sugar less than 120
Random blood sugar less than 200
Hemoglobin A1C, which averages the blood sugar over 3 months, should be less than 7% for diabetics. Prediabetes is defined as a hemoglobin A1C between 5.7%-6.4%
Check our insulin level
Insulin resistance is often characterized by consistently elevated insulin levels, which can be detected by comparing previous lab results. Insulin Resistance can be reversed when elevated insulin levels are caught early by working with a primary care provider.
The recommendation is to exercise for 30 minutes five days a week. By exercising, insulin resistance can be reversed by making muscles more sensitive to insulin. Moreover, exercise reduces blood sugar because cells need sugar for energy. Blood sugar will improve with 15% weight loss.
Adopt a Healthy Nutrition
Diabetic patients should consume a diet high in fiber, such as vegetables, and low in carbohydrates, which are converted into sugar. In preparing a meal, we should aim to have adequate amounts of vegetables and fewer portions of fruit, bread, rice, pasta, and other high-carbohydrate items. In addition, we should be mindful of the sugars in beverages like sodas, teas, and coffee. Furthermore, healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil, seeds, and fish rich in omega 3s, such as wild caught salmon, should be eaten in large quantities. It is helpful to learn to read food labels and keep our daily carbohydrate count below 250 grams while increasing fiber and healthy fats.
There are many benefits of fasting, such as lowering blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, and losing weight. Fasting can be done in a variety of ways. It is recommended to consult a primary care provider for a safe fasting plan.
Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has a very high glycemic index, making it a very dangerous food for our bodies. HFCS is derived from genetically modified corn, processed into a syrup, and then consumed via food and beverages. If consumed in excess, HFCS may increase blood sugar levels, cause fatty liver disease, and cause inflammation. It is possible to find high fructose corn syrup in a number of different foods, including bread, sodas, ketchup, and pancake syrup, to name a few.
The following healthy, non-processed sugar alternatives are recommended to maintain healthy blood sugar levels:
Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which increases blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. The key to managing blood sugar levels is to reduce stress. You can achieve this through regular therapy sessions, mindfulness, exercise, yoga, hobbies, or rest and relaxation.
To learn more or to have an assessment from one of our knowledgeable practitioners, visit Innovative Wellness Clinic, Inc. to book an appointment in order to start the journey to optimal health.
Insulin Resistance and Diabetes. (2021, August 10). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 31, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/insulin-resistance.html
Understanding Insulin Resistance. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved July 31, 2022 from https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/insulin-resistance
Blood Sugar and Exercise. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved July 31, 2022 from https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/fitness/getting-started-safely/blood-glucose-and-exercise
Werner, Carly. (2021, March 31). Intermittent Fasting and Type 2 Diabetes: Is It Safe?. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/intermittent-fasting-and-diabetes-safe
Avoid the Hidden Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved July 31, 2022 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/avoid-the-hidden-dangers-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup-video/#:~:text=High%20fructose%20corn%20syrup%20has,diabetes%20and%20high%20blood%20pressure.
Statistics About Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved July 31, 2022 from https://www.diabetes.org/about-us/statistics/about-diabetes#:~:text=Diagnosed%20and%20undiagnosed%3A%20Of%20the,seniors%20(diagnosed%20and%20undiagnosed).