Diabetes - All about it

Diabetes is the Fastest Growing Disease in the World Today!

According to the Centers for Disease Control:
  • Diabetes is an epidemic.
  • 17 million Americans have diabetes . . .
    with 5.9 million completely unaware that they even have the disease.
  • Diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States . . .
    with over 200,000 deaths each year from diabetes-related complications.
  • Among U.S. adults, diagnosed diabetes increased 49% from 1990 to 2000.
    Similar increases are expected in the next decade and beyond.

What is Diabetes ?

In the simplest terms . . . diabetes mellitus (commonly referred to as just "diabetes") is a blood sugar disease . . . a disease in which the body either does not produce or does not properly utilize insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Because diabetics have a problem with insulin, their body's can't use glucose (blood sugar) for energy, which results in elevated blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and the eventual urination of sugar out of their bodies. As a result . . . diabetics can literally starve themselves to death.
There are three main types of diabetes:
  • Type 1 ("insulin-dependent" and previously called "juvenile diabetes"). Type 1 diabetes is associated with a malfunctioning pancreas which does not produce adequate amounts of insulin. It develops most often in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes is traditionally treated with insulin.
  • Type 2 ("noninsulin-dependent" or sometomes called "adult-onset diabetes"). Type 2 diabetes is associated with insulin resistant cells. It is much more common and usually develops in older adults. Type 2 diabetes is now being found at younger ages and is even being diagnosed among children and teens.
  • Gestational (pregnancy-related). Some women develop diabetes during pregnancy usually toward the end of pregnancy. It effects approximately 3 to 5 percent of all pregnant women. Although it goes away after pregnancy, these women have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Millions of people have diabetes and don't even know it because the symptoms develop so gradually, people often don't recognize them. Some people, particularly pre-diabetics, have no symptoms at all. Diabetics may have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Poor circulation

  • Poor sleep
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Irritability
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual

    • What causes Diabetes ?

      Type 1 Diabetes

      Interspersed evenly throughout the pancreas, is a very specialized tissue, containing cells which make and secrete hormones. This tissue, called the "Islets of Langerhans" is named after the German pathologist Paul Langerhans, who discovered them in 1869. Through a microscope, Langerhans observed these cells cluster in groups, which he likened to little islands in the pancreas.
      One such group of cells, the beta cells, produce insulin in response to blood glucose. These beta cells are tiny insulin factories that sense the level of glucose in the blood stream, and produce insulin in precise proportion to that level. Therefore, following a meal, blood sugar levels will rise significantly, and the beta cells will release a large amount of insulin. This insulin will cause body cells to take up the sugar, causing blood sugar to quickly return to its normal range. Once blood sugar is in the normal range, the beta cells will reduce the output of insulin to an idling state. In this way, the beta cells adjust their production of insulin on a minute-by-minute basis, always producing just enough insulin to deal with the amount of blood sugar presently in the blood stream.
      In type 1 diabetes, the islets are destroyed by the person's own immune system, which mistakenly identifies these essential cells as foreign invaders. This self-destructive mechanism is the basis of many so-called autoimmune diseases. Once the islets are killed, the ability to produce insulin is lost, and the overt symptoms and consequences of diabetes begin.

      Type 2 Diabetes

      The most common causes of type 2 diabetes are poor diet and/or lack of exercise, both of which can result in insulin resistance . . . a condition where the cells in our bodies aren't sensitive enough to react to the insulin produced by our pancreas.
      Recent research suggests that the root cause of insulin resistance is a breakdown in intercellular signaling. Insulin is a chemical messenger. It signals proteins called GLUT-4 transporters (residing within the cell) to rise up to the cell's membrane, where they can grab on to glucose and take it inside the cell. In patients with insulin resistance, the cells don't get the message. They simply can't hear insulin "knocking" on the door, which results in elevated blood levels of both insulin and glucose.
      In the early stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas compensates by producing more and more insulin, and so the "knocking" becomes louder and louder. The message is eventually "heard", enabling glucose transportation into the cells, resulting in the eventual normalization of blood glucose levels. This is known as "compensated insulin resistance".
      Over time, the stress of excessive insulin production wears out the pancreas and it cannot keep up this accelerated output. As a result, glucose levels remain elevated for prolonged periods. This is called "uncompensated insulin resistance" and is the essence of advanced type 2 diabetes.
      Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a series of chain reactions:
      1. The ingestion of too many carbohydrates leads to a spike in blood sugar levels.
      2. This is followed by a corresponding rise in insulin.
      3. This in turn causes blood sugar to drop.
      4. Eventually, this drastic up-and-down activity begins to take its toll on the body's ability to use insulin and thus metabolize sugar.
      5. Over time, the pancreas "wears out" and can no longer pump out enough insulin to overcome this insulin resistance.
      6. This results in a decreased insulin production and/or increased insulin resistance which propagates the cycle and leads to the onset of diabetes.

      It is not known if obesity causes insulin resistance; or if insulin resistance causes obesity; or if they develop independently. We do know that insulin resistance is correlated to obesity . . . particularly the type where your weight collects around your middle (like an apple). We also know that physical inactivity contributes to insulin resistance, as does eating too much dietary carbohydrate.

      Diabetes and Oxidative Stress

      Most researchers are in basic agreement that the theory of oxidative stress is central to explaining the cause of diabetes. To understand the theory, one must first conceptualize that a "free radical" is any atom or molecule which has an "unpaired electron" in it's outer ring. Because it is lacking an electron, it is unstable and very much wants to find one electron to fill its need. This "free radical" will steal an electron from any other molecule it encounters that is more willing to give one up . . . and thus it becomes satisfied . . . but now the victim molecule has become a free radical itself and so it now will look for another victim molecule to steal it's much desired electron from . . . thus propagating this cycle over and over again. This cycle is called "the chain reaction of free radicals".
      The chief danger of free radicals comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs.
      To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle antioxidants are: glutathione, SOD (superoxide dismutase), beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, CoQ10, melatonin, and alpha lipoic acid.
      According to the theory of oxidative stress, free radicals run rampant through the body reeking havoc. In the case of type 1 diabetes . . . damaging beta cells in the pancreas, negatively impacting their ability to produce insulin . . . in the case if type 2 diabetes . . . damaging cell membranes, leading to a breakdown in intercellular signaling.
      And if that were not bad enough . . . free radicals deplete our body's reserve of antioxidants . . . further contributing to the problem.
      This is why it is so important to lower the oxidative stress with better diet, more exercise, improved lifestyle; and to take all the antioxidant supplements known to neutralize the excess free radicals.
      There is still a lot to learn about the causes of diabetes, but what is known, is that our bodies may begin to malfunction five to seven years before we are ever diagnosed with diabetes. That is why researchers believe that nearly 30-50% of the people who have diabetes don't even know it.

      Risk Factors for Diabetes

      The two major factors contributing to today's alarming rise in diabetes are: poor diet and lack of exercise. In today's fast paced culture, with its emphasis on "fast foods", and it's de-emphasis on exercise, more and more of us are eating unhealthy diets and choosing poor lifestyles.
      Our typical diet has become way out of balance. We eat way too many simple sugars, way too often. Most people consume candy, french fries, potato chips, ice cream, pasta etc on a regular basis. We eat twice the calories we need, twice the protein we need, and each year the average person consumes over 160 pounds of sugars and sweeteners we don't need at all.
      When you consider that so many of us are overfed and so few of us get any regular exercise. . . and then add to that . . . the fact that many of us overuse alcohol and nicotine which increases oxidative stress. . . it's no wonder that millions of us already suffer from diabetes, or are at great risk of developing diabetes in the near future.
      The ever increasing number of overweight, out of shape, oxidatively stressed people in todayĆ¢€™s societies around the world, is directly proportional to the epidemic rise of diabetes.
      The following is a list of risk factors for getting diabetes:
      • Being more than 20% overweight
      • Physical inactivity
      • Having a first degree relative with diabetes (parents or siblings)
      • Belonging to any of the following ethnic groups:
        African American, Native American, Latin American, Asian American, Pacific Islander
      • Having an "Impaired Fasting Glucose" (IFG)
        or "Impaired Glucose Tolerance" (IGF) on previous blood tests.
      • Having Triglycerides (blood fats) which are more than 250 mg/dl
      • Having HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol ) which is less than 35 mg/dl
      • Having a history of hypertension (high blood pressure)
      • Having a history of gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes
        or giving birth to a baby which weighed more than 9 pounds