Today’s blog topic will be a little more familiar to you since most of us know someone living with diabetes; maybe it’s even you! I grew up around people that suffered with it – my grandmother, my Mom was diagnosed a few years ago, and my Dad too, a few years later.
Honestly, I never thought much about it assuming of course, “it won’t happen to me.” Mostly it was only the idea of sticking myself with needles that freaked me out; I wasn’t thinking about the REAL cost – my health. The seriousness of the disease and the ease with which it can be created, had been lost on me back then. And yes, I said create because I believe in most cases, our diet and lifestyle generally CREATE the environment for this disease to develop.
Here are a few startling and scary statistics about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association:
- Prevalence: In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes. Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type-1 diabetes.
- Undiagnosed: Of the 29.1 million, 21.0 million were diagnosed, and 8.1 million were undiagnosed.
- Prevalence in Seniors: The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed).
- New Cases: 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
- Pre-diabetes: In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had pre-diabetes; this is up from 79 million in 2010.
- Deaths: Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, with 69,071 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 234,051 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.*
If you have diabetes, you likely also have (or will develop):
- High Cholesterol
- Kidney Disease
- Eyesight problems
- Heart Attacks
- Non-traumatic limb amputations
- Dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression and anxiety
That feels like a double-whammy! But, that’s not all what about the financial costs?
As of March 2013, this is what we as a country pay to treat diabetes:
- $245 billion: Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2012
- $176 billion for direct medical costs
- $69 billion in reduced productivity
After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.
If you’re wondering what that all of that breaks down to for an individual family, it’s about $1,000 a year IF you have insurance that actually covers anything! I got this figure from my mother who has both diabetes AND high cholesterol AND hypertension. (As a side note: I’m happy to say my Mom has been cleaning up her diet with my programs, lost at least 20 lbs since December, and is off her statins!)
Let’s take a closer look at why diabetes causes so many issues
We start by looking at what all of the sugar and carbohydrates are doing to the body – they are making the body acidic, killing all of the good gut bacteria and paving the way for chronic inflammation. This is why people with diabetes tend to have more than just diabetes. Once the body becomes inflamed and acidic, all the good bugs are outnumbered by the bad the body is helpless to fight off disease and even cancer.
I hope by now you’re rightfully concerned about your own health or that of a loved one that is currently suffering from diabetes.
There is good news! I won’t end this blog with you wanting to leap off a building. In most cases diabetes can be reversed and worse case, significantly improved.
How? Change your diet and lifestyle. And by diet, I don’t mean go out and buy sugar-free everything! Sugar-Free labels are just marketing ploys that will keep you sick. Those same foods labeled as “sugar-free” usually contain various preservatives, additives and toxins. Which is like adding more fuel to the fire when your body is already sick.
No, when I say change your diet I mean fundamentally change how you think and interact with food. If ever there was a perfect case study, my Mom is it! Through working with me, she has learned how to balance her meals to support her blood sugar balance. It’s not that difficult, but it does take conscious effort.
I’ll give you my “secret” formula for blood sugar success:
Healthy fat + fiber + lean protein
It seems so simple, right? And it works, and I’ll explain why:
When you eat food, it gets broken down into glucose which the hormone insulin transports throughout to your cells. Your cells use the glucose for energy. Excess glucose which isn’t used gets stored as FAT!!! Think belly rolls, love handles, cellulite, etc.
When you add in healthy fat, fiber, and protein, you are slowing down that release of insulin, which in turn keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking too high (and then dipping too low). Additionally, the added fat, fiber, and protein keep you full longer so you consume fewer calories a day, which can help with weight loss.
The other neat thing about stabilizing your blood sugar levels – you avoid energy dips!!
Have you ever wondered why an hour after you have a typical snack you feel lethargic and tired? Well, your blood sugar spiked after you ate the snack and then plummeted when you pumped out too much insulin (hypoglycemia). So, by adding protein, fat and fiber to your meals and snacks will help you avoid those energy dips which often lead to another snack, a 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee or other harmful habits we’ve learned to pick up just to make it through our busy days.
I literally could go on for HOURS talking about blood sugar balance – it’s one of my favorite subjects to discuss!!
Here’s a tip, the next time you want a snack, even a healthy one like an apple, add a tablespoon of nut butter or have a handful of nuts with it. You can thank me later!
Next week we talk weight and obesity…are you ready cause I sure am!!