Roughly 18.2 million people in the United States have diabetes – 6.3% of the population. Of that number, nearly one-third (5.2 million people) are unaware they have the disease. Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms seem relatively harmless – frequent urination, excessive thirst, unusual weight loss or increased fatigue. But diabetes is a serious disease. The good news is that early detection and treatment will decrease your chances of developing complications.
Diabetes defined the conventional way
When the body digests food, it converts part the carbs in the food to blood sugar or glucose.
As levels of glucose rise in the blood, this signals the pancreas to release the hormone insulin.
Insulin “unlocks” the body’s cells, allowing glucose to enter and be converted to energy.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body:
- either does not produce insulin
- or does not use it properly.
When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells when those cells need it, it can starve these cells for energy. Over time, high glucose levels may damage organs and body systems, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
The conventional way of diabetes treatment is giving the patient more insuline: a symptomatic approach that doesn’t cure the underlying problem. Insuline (Diabetes type 1) simply makes sure that the glucose from the blood will reach the cells.
For diabetes type 2, medication is given and/or:
- to increase the sensitivity from the cells to respond to the available insuline.
- to increase the production of insuline by the beta cells in the pancreas (islets of langerhans).
4 types of diabetes :
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
1. Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes primarily strikes children and young adults, accounting for 5 to 10% of all diagnosed cases.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, the body fails to use insulin properly because cells are resistant. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
3. Gestational Diabetes
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. This type affects about 4% of all pregnant women in the United States every year — approximately 135,000 cases. Women who have had gestational diabetes have up to a 60% chance of developing permanent diabetes later in life.
Previously known as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), pre-diabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to merit a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Roughly 47 million Americans age 40 to 74 fall into this category. With these kinds of numbers, pre-diabetes is getting more attention from the medical community; it deserves your attention, as well.
How to live with diabetes?
If you already have diabetes, you can live a full, healthy life by actively managing it. This means monitoring blood sugar levels, planning balanced meals, exercising, getting regular check-ups, working with a team of diabetes professionals and possibly taking medication. Yes, it’ll change your lifestyle.
Eat various foods at various times
Good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight are dependent on more than just the right number of calories and your physical activity levels. It’s also about eating a variety of foods. And that’s especially true if you are a person with diabetes.
For a balanced diet, make sure to include choices from all food groups for a wide range of nutrients. To help fuel your body evenly throughout the day and achieve an optimal weight, eat regular meals and occasional snacks every day. This will help you avoid excessive hunger that can lead to overeating.
Before insuline was available, a low carb diet (quality carbs only: no refined sugars, no refined grains, no potatoes…, which nowadays is achieved with a strict paleo diet, was – and still is – the best way to keep your body healthy, to loose weight and in more and more cases: even to reverse diabetes type 2.
Diabetes-friendly ways to eat right
- Try for three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruits from several colors each day. This is also a good way to make sure you get a variety of nutrients.
- Serve everyone in your household the same meals. It helps the person with diabetes maintain control and saves work for the chef at work. Everyone eats healthier.
- When eating out, be mindful of how many exchanges (“units” of food) from each food group you normally eat at mealtime. Plan to share. Restaurant portions are much larger than normal portions.
- Fast intermittently.
- If it looks like you’ll have a longer wait at the restaurant, order a healthy appetizer like a small salad with fresh fish or fresh meat, or cheese, and any dressing free of (hidden) sugars.
How to prevent Diabetes Type 2?
If you’re overweight or obese, you are at risk. The good news is that losing a relatively small amount of weight can make a real improvement in reducing a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions.
Don’t wait to lose weight
Did you know that nearly 9 out of 10 people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are overweight? If you or a loved one is overweight, shedding some pounds through diet and regular exercise can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes – and will even help control the blood sugars of those individuals who have already been diagnosed.
When you are a couch potato, the easiest way to loose weight is going on a strict paleo diet. That is: obviously no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and no potatoes. Your carbs will mainly come from vegetables and fruits and if you feel hungry: snack on healthy fats from seeds of nuts or grab some protein (a piece of meat, boiled eggs…). Due to this easy carb decrease, most people will loose weight.
Put healthy professionals on your side
Losing weight and keeping it off is a real challenge. That’s why it’s important to begin a weight loss program with the help of your health care team, including, if possible, a healthy dietitian or anybody who encourages to eat healthy "quality" foods. These medical professionals with a feeling for healthy produce, will help you find ways to decrease calories but still consume the foods you enjoy.
Even trimming 5 to 7% will help
Losing 5 to 7% of your body weight and increasing physical activity, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a person with pre-diabetes by more than half.
Going LCHF (low carb/high fat) may even be able to decrease or completely get you off your insulin or oral diabetes medications. Don’t expect the latter to happen overnight: if you have been on insuline of the past 25 years, it could well take a couple of years before you will be insuline free again.
How to loose weight? Check out our lose weight page.
Diabetes defined the correct – hence more complex – way
All types of diabetes are induced by too high glucagon levels: glucagon signals the liver to add glucose in your blood. The real solution – cure – of diabetes is "balancing correct" glucagon levels.
"In healthy people that are eating healthy food", production of glucagon stops during and after a meal. This happens because the pancreas starts producing insuline to stop the sugardump by the liver in the bloodstream. This is how it works, all in a healthy pancreas:
Remember the isles of langerhans we mentioned above? They contain:
- alfa cells producing glucagon,
- beta cells producing insuline and,
- delta cells producing somatostatine.
So when a healthy person eats healthy food:
- the beta cells produce insuline in the pancreas,
- this insuline tells the alfa cells to stop producing glucagon.
- Hence the liver stops pushing glucose in the blood.
Mind you: all the happens without any extra insuline, added to the bloodstream (by a pump or a needle). All this hormonal activity happens in your pancreas to regulate the entire amount of glucose – sugar – in your bloodstream.
So Diabetic type 1 could simply stop glucagon production with the hormone leptine. Unfortunately, laboratory made leptine is scarce and used for aids patients. Laboratory insuline is aplenty. So "modern medicine" let these T1 diabetics pump or inject "enough" – an humongous amount of extra insuline – in their bloodstream that:
- does makes sure their bloodglucose gets into cells (these people tend to become fat as a consequence, which makes things even worse, see below),
- at first doesn’t reach the alfa cells, and the liver keeps on dumping glucose in the bloodstream.
- At a later stage the overdose of insuline reaches the alfa cells:
- the liver stops adding sugar to the bloodstream
- resulting in the typical hypo’s
- or in other words: keeps them alive, makes them fatter and doesn’t cure them a bit.
T2 diabetics have a "sick" pancreas. Sick because overdoses of insuline have been storing the bloodsugars into fat: also around the pancreas and liver. These insuline overdoses are a consequence of high intakes of (hidden) sugars, wheat and milk (lactose).
In this too fat "sick" T2 pancreas, especially the alfa cells are "sick": although the beta cells keep on producing insuline, the alfa cells don’t react on it and the liver keeps adding sugar into the bloodstream.
The treatment and cure here is theoretically simple – yet not much advocated – and consist of 2 pillars:
- slim down the pancreas
- stop eating concentrated carbs, as is advocated in a strict paleo diet: eat like our ancestors were eating: plants and animals. This was what T2 diabetics were doing before the invention of insuline, about 100 years ago.
Summarized: diabetes shouldn’t be treated with extra insuline in the bloodstream, but should be cured by controlling the glucagon production. The latter needs to be worked out more in detail.
More research for a glucagon solution is needed for those who want a lasting cure. Meanwhile diabetics will be able to reduce their insuline intake following a low carb paleo diet. T2 diabetics will even be able to reverse diabetes following a low carb high fat paleo diet.