This Friday's article is a summary from the IDF (International Diabetes Foundation) Diabetes Atlas. My hope is to help you understand some of the severe (and underestimated) complications associated with this condition & how best to approach resolving it.
Increased Prevelance Worldwide:
The image attached here is a brilliant info-graph showing us the rapid rise in Diabetes around the world and the estimations expected by the year 2045. On one end we see Europe with a very problematic rise of 16% relative to where it stands now, but shockingly, Africa are estimated to rise by a staggering 156%
Europe - 58 million > 67 million
Africa - 16 million > 41 million
(Number of people)
Unfortunately, seeing as we are hearing more and more about people being diagnosed with diabetes, we are beginning to some what shrug it off as a less severe illness than many others. This may be true to begin with, but the long term consequences can be fatal and with T2D now affecting people from a much earlier age, we are beginning to see a lot more people reach the critical stages of these illnesses, which I'll mention below;
"Diabetes is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation."
None of the above could be brushed off as not being serious. Now what should you do to prevent any of these from happening?
Well, the first thing we need to understand is that Type 2 Diabetes is not specifically genetic. What does this mean? It means that the main cause of it is environmental and lifestyle based.
"...a chronic condition that occurs when there are raised levels of glucose in the blood because the body cannot produce any or enough of the hormone insulin or use insulin effectively. Insulin is an essential hormone produced in the pancreas gland of the body, and it transports glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells where the glucose is converted into energy. The lack of insulin or the inability of the cells to respond to insulin leads to high levels of blood glucose, or hyperglycaemia, which is the hallmark of diabetes."
Below I will point out some of the well known causes, as well as some of the new potential causes and treatments (non medical) from the current research:
Obesity - Obesity is the number one cause of T2D. If you are obese, you have a huge chance of becoming diabetic. Whatever approach you take, a sure fire way to get a handle on your T2D is by losing weight.
Age - Although we can't do much about our chronological age, we can certainly do our best to avoid ageing biologically by looking after our nutrition, exercise and mental health.
Family History - It is not strictly a genetic issue, but a mother with Gestational Diabetes or a strong family history of T2D can increase your risk factors for this condition.
Hyperglycaemia - Chronically high circulating glucose (predominantly from over indulgence of refined carbohydrates) leads to excessive insulin secretion, over time, our cells become resistant to this as well as our pancreas becoming tired of producing any insulin. This all leads to ineffective uptake of glucose (sugar) by your cells, leaving it circulating in your blood causing the start of any number of the chronic co-morbidities mentioned above, including obesity (leading cause of T2D).
Toxicants and Pollutants - There is lots of new evidence linking the likes of PCB's found in poor quality farmed Salmon, Plastics leeching from BPA bottles, Household cleaning products and Herbicides and Pesticides sprayed onto in-organic vegetables. Paying close attention to the quality of foods you consume and the cleaning products you use will help get a handle on this one.
So, What do we do now?
If you are worried about the possibility of having Diabetes, or even Pre Diabetes (As the name suggests, just below the cut off line for T2D, but still dealing with insulin resistance), make sure to go to your doctor and get your fasted glucose, fasted insulin and HgA1C tests done. Alternatively, pick up an inexpensive blood glucose monitor form your local pharmacy and test your blood sugars at home (plenty of easy to follow online resources on how-to-do's and what to look out for).
Secondly, take a look at your exercise frequency. Are you involving yourself in any rigorous exercise throughout the week? This has a two pronged approach; firstly, you can utilise some of that stored glycogen (storage for of glucose) for energy - intense exercise demands this type of fuel. Secondly, we become more insulin sensitive when we exercise intensely, which is a big thumbs up.
Arguably the most important: Lower your carbohydrate sources. What's the best thing about T2D? It is completely reversible (for the most part) with dietary and lifestyle changes. What causes diabetes? Chronic elevated glucose. What would be a logical way to lower your blood glucose? Eat less carbohydrates. Carbohydrates no matter what form they take (except for fibre), break down into glucose. If you have been tested and are either Pre Diabetic or T2D, current research has suggested to drop the huge volume of carbohydrates you consume. Increase your protein to increase satiety (leads to less over eating - combats obesity) and healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
One last exciting piece of research that I have been and will continue to look into is 'Intermittent Fasting'. There are many different variants of fasting, but almost all of them have shown in studies to aid with insulin resistance and circulating glucose levels, no matter what the food choices are.
“Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for around 90% of all cases of diabetes."
- IDF Diabetes Atlas - 8th Edition
As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me, I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. My goal is to educate the layman and encourage a healthier, happier future for us all.
- Austin Rhatigan