The number of diabetes cases have increased five fold over the past fifty years. An estimated 16 million people in the US have diabetes and $150 billion is spent annually on the treatment of diabetes. But amazingly, almost half of these people don’t even know that they are diabetic. |
Although diabetes itself is a big enough health problem, the side effects are also ominous. For example, one-third of the new cases of end-stage kidney disease are the result of diabetes. Four out of five patients will die – not from diabetes itself, but from cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease) initiated by the diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of amputations and blindness in older people.
Diabetes mellitus has reached epidemic proportions.More than 90% of these cases are known as type-2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes). We must seriously consider what is going wrong. Type-one diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes, because this type of diabetes is usually found in children and is the result of an autoimmune attack on the pancreas. Which leaves these children without any insulin and therefor they must take insulin to survive. However, there is a way to decrease the risk of developing diabetes.
Syndrome X Dr. Gerald Reavens, a physician and professor at Stanford University chose this term to describe a number of problems that have a common cause: insulin resistance. Through medical research, Dr. Reavens estimates that more than 80 million Americans have insulin resistance, or Syndrome X.
What is the common cause of developing insulin resistance? Over the years, our diet has taken its toll. Because of a high carbohydrate and high fat diet, many people have become less and less sensitive to insulin as a result.
The body desires to control our blood sugars. Therefore, when the body becomes less sensitive to its own insulin, it compensates by making more insulin. In other words, our bodies respond to increasing blood sugar levels by forcing the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin in order to control our blood sugars.
Insulin is basically a storage hormone that drives sugar into the cells to be utilized or stored as fat. We know that diabetes damage from sugar occurs mainly by oxidation of fat molecules, to form toxic lipid peroxides. Insulin enables the body to deal with sugar. But people usually don’t know that insulin also controls fat and muscle.
People with insulin resistance need more and more insulin as the years go by to keep there blood sugars normal. Although these elevated insulin levels are effective in controlling our blood sugars, they also may lead to some serious health problems. Here follows a list of harmful effects caused by elevated insulin levels, called syndrome X.
* significant inflammation of the arteries, which can cause heart attack and stroke * elevated blood pressure (hypertension) * elevated triglycerides – other fat in the blood besides cholesterol * lowered HDL (good cholesterol) * increased LDL (bad cholesterol) * increased tendency to form blood clots * development of significant “uncontrolled” weight gain – usually around the middle
When all the syndrome X factors are combined, our risk of developing heart disease actually jumps twenty fold! When we consider the fact that heart disease is the number one killer in the industrialized world today, we can’t afford to disregard a growing risk of developing it!
After patients have had Syndrome X for several years, possibly even ten to twenty, the beta cells of the pancreas simply wear out and can no longer produce such high levels of insulin. At this point insulin levels begin to drop and blood sugars begin to rise.
At first only mild elevations of blood sugar may develop, which is known as glucose intolerance (preclinical diabetes). More than 24 million people in the United States are at this stage of glucose intolerance. Then, usually within a year or two, if no change in lifestyle occurs, full blown diabetes mellitus will develop. The aging of the arteries then accelerates even faster as blood sugar begin to steadily rise.
The cause of Insulin Resistance There are several reasons which are suggesting why we become less and less sensitive to insulin over the years. But I truly believe that insulin resistance is the result of the Western diet. Although we are cutting back on fats, we still like to eat far too much carbohydrates. Most people don’t realize is that carbohydrates are simply long chains of sugar that the body absorbs at various rates. White bread, white flour, pasta,rice, and potatoes release their sugars into the blood stream even faster than table sugar. That’s why these foods are called high-glycemic.
Compared with foods such as green beans, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, apples, and oranges , which release their sugars into the bloodstream much slower and are therefore considered low-glycemic foods.
When you eat too many high-glycemic foods,it causes blood sugar to rise very rapidly and stimulates the release of insulin.When our blood sugar drops, we feel hungry. So we grab a snack or have a big meal and the whole process starts all over again. After a period of time, the release of insulin has been overstimulated so often that our bodies simply become less and less sensitive to it. In order for the body to control the blood sugar levels, the pancreas need to put out higher levels of insulin. It is these elevated levels of insulin that cause the destructive metabolic changes associated with syndrome X.
How do you know if you have Syndrome X? After a blood test, you should get the level of HDL (good) cholesterol . LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (the other fat in the blood). If you divide the triglyceride level by the HDL cholesterol, the ratio you get is an indication of whether you are developing the syndrome. If the ratio is greater than two, you may be starting to develop Syndrome X. Also, if you notice that your blood pressure or that your waistline is increasing, it is even more likely that you are developing a serious case of Syndrome X.
When a patient treats his insulin resistance with simple but effective lifestyle changes, not only does he prevent accelerated damage to the arteries, but he also avoids diabetes itself.This is true preventive medicine. A healthier lifestyle, not the drugs doctors prescribe, will make the difference.
Diagnosis of Diabetes The most common test for diabetes is a fasting blood sugar test. Physicians also use a sugar-challenge test, in which a patient is given a sugar load (a pop-like drink that is loaded with sugar), and then takes a blood sugar level test two hours later.
Most physicians believe that a two-hour blood sugar above 200 is the level to diagnose diabetes. A normal two-hour blood sugar level should be less than 110. Patients who have a slightly elevated fasting blood sugar and a two-hour blood sugar between 130 and 190 are classified as having glucose intolerance- preclinical diabetes- and not actual diabetes.)
Since a blood sugar measurement indicates only how a patient is doing at a particular moment, another helpful test is a hemoglobin A1C, which reveals the amount of sugar found in a red blood cell. This test is preferably done every four to six months. Since our red blood cells remain in our body for approximately 140 days, this test is a great indicator of how well a patient is truly controlling his or her diabetes. The normal range for a hemoglobin A1C in most labs is 3.5 to 5.7. A diabetic should keep good control so that the hemoglobin A1C level remains below 6.5%. Then the risk of complications is less than 3%.
Of greater concern is the fact that at the time of actual diagnosis of diabetes, a majority (more than 60% ) of these patients already have major cardiovascular disease. This is why it is critical for physicians as soon as possible and encourage lifestyle changes that can correct the problem. A patient may have Syndrome X for many years before he truly becomes diabetic.
Obesity People who are seriously overweight, men and women over 50-60 lbs, are 3000% more likely to develop diabetes. Even if you are moderate overweight, your risk of diabetes increases by 100%. Insulin resistance (Syndrome X) leads to central obesity, not the other way around. In fact, obesity is a major aspect of this Syndrome.
What do we mean by “central obesity”? This has to do with how your weight is distributed in your body. If it is evenly dispersed all over or you are heavy in the bottom (pear shaped), you may need to drop some weight. But in relation to Syndrome X, you are fine. But if you have gained substantial weight around your waist line (apple shaped), you may be in trouble. You have developed a resistance to insulin. If you have essentially a high- carbohydrate, low fat diet, this makes the insulin resistance worse. The solution is to balance your diet by eating low-glycemic carbohydrates with good protein and good fat and when this diet is combined with a modest exercise program and cellular nutrition, the insulin resistance may be corrected.
Treatment of Diabetes All physicians agree in order to improve their patients condition that they should encourage them, firstly: to pay more attention to insulin resistance, the underlying problem in most cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and not simply focus on treating blood sugar levels. This accounts for the fact that 80% of diabetics still die from cardiovascular disease. Secondly: they should encourage patients to make effective lifestyle changes that will improve insulin sensitivity. Physicians should rely on medications only as a last resort.
Healthy Diet The American Diabetic Association primarily encourage diabetics to have a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. When we want to treat the underlying problem of insulin resistance, we have to take into consideration that there are low-glycemic and high glycemic carbohydrates.The Glycemic Index gives an indication of the rate in which the body absorbs various carbohydrates and turns them into simple sugar.
Complex carbohydrates (the ones with a lot of fiber) like beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and apples release their sugars slowly. When we combine these low-glycemic carbohydrates with good proteins and good fats, in a balanced meal, our blood sugar does not spike. Few people know that high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar much faster than when you eat candy.
The best protein and fats come from vegetables and vegetable oils. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, beans, and soy are great sources of protein and contain fats that will actually lower your cholesterol. The best carbohydrates come from fresh whole fruits and vegetables. Avoid all processed food. An apple is better than apple juice.Whole grains are essential and avoiding processed grains is critical in developing a healthy diet for everyone, especially the diabetics. The worst fats and protein comes from red meats and dairy products, except low-fat cottage cheese, milk and egg whites.
Trans-fatty acids are one of the worst fats you can eat. These are called rancid fats, because they are so harmful to our bodies. Look at labels when you shop. When you read “partially hydrogenated”, don’t buy it.
If everyone would eat this way, exercise, and take some basic nutritional supplements, the diabetic epidemic would be nonexistent.
Exercise Modest exercise has tremendous health benefits. And exercise is especially critical for people with Syndrome X or diabetes mellitus. Because exercise makes patients significantly more sensitive to their own insulin and is therefore a critical part of the lifestyle changes needed for diabetes and those who have insulin resistance.
Nutritional Supplements Several studies have indicated that all antioxidants may improve insulin resistance. It is important for diabetics to take a good mixture of several antioxidants in supplementation at optimal levels.
Chromium is critical in the metabolism of glucose and to improve insulin resistance. A study has shown that 90% of the American population has a chromium deficiency. Chromium significantly increase insulin sensitivity, especially for those who are deficient in this mineral. Diabetics and patients with Syndrome X need 300 mcg of chromium in supplementation.
Vitamin E not only improves antioxidant defenses, but also seems to help the body in the problem of insulin resistance. People with low levels of vitamin E have a five fold higher risk of developing diabetes than those with a normal amount of vitamin E.
Many studies have proven that vitamin E can protect animals with diabetes from this damage. It works by complex mechanisms that also neutralize sugar directly, besides reducing peroxide formation. Vitamin E works in humans too. In a study by Dr. Guiseppe Paolisso at the University of Napels in Italy gave groups of diabetics 900 IU of vitamin E. After four months the diabetics showed a remarkable reduction in blood sugar.
Magnesium Magnesium deficit has been associated with both type1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as an increased risk of retinopathy in diabetic patients.Studies have shown that when this deficiency is corrected in the elderly, insulin function improves significantly.
Unfortunately, diagnosing magnesium deficiency is very difficult. Typically, serum magnesium levels are tested where only a trace amount of the body’s total magnesium is located. Cellular levels of magnesium are much more sensitive and accurate; however, these can only be tested in research labs, not in hospitals. This is why magnesium deficiency is so under diagnosed. We all need at least 400 – 500 mg of magnesium in supplementation.
Vanadium Vanadium is not a well-known mineral, but it is very important for the diabetic patient. It has been shown to significantly increase insulin sensitivity when taken in supplementation. A diabetic needs to take 50 – 100 mcg of vanadium in supplementation each day.
As I said before, diabetes is increasing at epidemic proportions. In spite of the billions of dollars spent on this disease, we are losing the battle. Physicians and laypeople alike must refocus their attitudes and attack insulin resistance rather than elevated blood sugars. When we see elevated triglyceride levels along with lower HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension, or unusual weight gain, we need to recognize the possible development of Syndrome X and accelerated cardiovascular damage that may have already begun.
Rather than simply treating the diseases that insulin resistance causes, we need to aggressively treat the insulin resistance itself. Isn’t it amazing that such simple lifestyle changes can effect a near-miracle: the disappearance of diabetes? .
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diabetes, syndrome X, obesity, high glycemic, diet, antioxidants, vitamin E, Magnesium, Chromium, Vanadium,