June 12, 2014

The Growing Diabetes Epidemic, and Study Suggestions for Lowering Risk

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide an alarming report about the diabetes epidemic in America. Among the findings:
  • The number of diabetics has risen from 26 million in 2010, to 29 million now. That’s a 16 percent jump.
  • Fully one quarter of Americans with diabetes don’t even know they have the chronic condition. Thus, they do not get treatment and risk very serious health consequences.
  • About one third of all Americans older than 20 – that means 86 million people -- have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by blood sugar levels that are high, but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. The CDC breaks down the numbers a little more. Who has pre-diabetes?
     39% of non-Hispanic blacks
     38% of Hispanics
     35% of non-Hispanic whites
  • About 90 percent of all pre-diabetic American adults do not know they are pre-diabetic.
What’s the financial impact of diabetes in America, in terms of medical costs and lost wages?
  • 2007:  $174 billion
  • 2012:  $245 billion
As the epidemic rages, those costs surely approach $300 billion by now. Combine the diabetes pricetag with the developing burden on the system from aging and ailing Baby Boomers, and it’s not hard to see the jeopardy our healthcare system faces.

Yesterday’s link focused on sugar – glucose, sucrose, lactose, fructose – and how food manufacturers get us hooked on the tasty stuff, and devilishly conceal the true amounts of sugar in their products.

The big picture: blood glucose – the sugar in our blood – is essential for life. It provides energy for our cells, our muscles, and it functions as a key supplier of fuel for our brains. Maintaining the right level of blood glucose is a keystone of health.

When the blood sugar levels get too high, however, serious consequences develop, including diabetes. More and more, medical experts categorize diabetes in a variety of ways:
  • Type 1, previously called “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin-dependent diabetes.” In type 1 – which represents less than than 10 percent of all diabetes cases -- the pancreas produces little or no insulin to balance blood glucose. People with type 1 must take insulin and scrupulously monitor their blood sugar through every day.
  • Type 2, previously called “adult onset diabetes,” represents about 90 percent of all cases. For these people, either the pancreas doesn’t produce adequate insulin to control blood gluscose, or the body resists insulin’s effects. About 80 percent of all type 2 diabetics are overweight. If diet and exercise can’t control blood sugar, then medication – oral or injectable –may be necessary.
  • Type 1.5 or LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) is a variation of type 1 that develops more slowly and is often incorrectly diagnosed as type 2. These diabetics are usually 35 and older.
  • Gestational diabetes sometimes develops during pregnancy when hormones disrupt the effect of insulin. This type typically passes, but women who experience it during pregnancy have increased risk of developing type 2 later.
  • Surgically-induced diabetes sometimes occurs after surgery on the pancreas, which can effect – temporarily or permanently -- its ability to produce insulin.
  • Chemically-induced diabetes can occur when medication – like steroids – elevates blood sugar beyond the pancreas’s ability to balance it. Medication – oral or injectable – may be necessary.
Can People Avoid Getting Diabetes?
According to Gayl J. Canfield, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition Research at Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida, it boils down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and doing all the things people already know they should do: keep blood glucose under control, eat wisely, exercise, and monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Recent studies suggest that certain lifestyle behaviors can lower diabetes risk, particularly the common type 2 variety. Here are some of those strategies:
  • Drink more coffee. A new study published on April 24, 2014 by the Harvard School of Public Health reports that people who increased their coffee consumption by at least one cup over a four-year period showed an 11 percent reduced risk compared to subjects who did not drink more coffee.
  • Eat nutsA study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that eating almonds, walnuts, and other tree nuts is associated with lowered risk of diabetes among women. Peanuts, too. But beware: calorie alert.
  • Bag the booze. The American Diabetes Association reports that occasional binge drinking – four drinks in two hours for women, five for men – may increase risk for type 2 diabetes by impairing the brain's response to insulin, even long after the alcohol has been cleared from the body.
  • Walk after meals. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports that the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes increases with time spent sitting, especially in men. A 15-minute walk after eating can lower blood sugar levels for about three hours.
  • Lift weights. The American Diabetes Association reports that aerobic exercise and -- more recently acknowledged -- weight (or resistance) training -- are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The American College of Sports Medicine now recommends weight training for type 2 diabetics.
  • Don’t drink sodas. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that drinking just one to two sugar-sweetened (non-diet) beverages a day can increase type 2 diabetes risk by 26 percent, and metabolic syndrome risk by 20 percent, compared to people who drink less than one sugar-sweetened drink daily. 
  • Eat Less Red Meat. Again, the Harvard School of Public Health reports that increased consumption of red meat – and especially processed meat – can increase diabetes risk. Just 3.5 additional servings of meat a week increased study participants type 2 diabetes risk by a whopping 50 percent.
  • Eat More Fresh Fruits. The British Medical Journal reports that eating whole fruits -- especially blueberries, grapes, and apples -- can lower type 2 diabetes risk. On the other hand, drinking fruit juices is associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk.
And Now, Gluten-Free Mice Mothers
One last piece of recent news about diabetes. As reported on the Live Science website (and elsewhere), mice -- a variety of which were particularly predisposed to develop diabetes and whose mothers ate gluten-free diets during pregnancy and nursing -- had a significantly reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

1 comment:

Managing Diabetes said...

Really Nice and Interesting Post. I was Looking for this Kind of Information and Enjoyed Reading this One. Keep Posting. Thanks for Sharing.