Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Sugar. Wars have been fought over it. Historically it was part of the slave trade triangle. Europe had an enormous craving centuries ago and it was a luxury food. Now it is in most processed food to enhance flavor and shelf life and comprises a substantial percentage of calories in our diet – and it has no nutritional value. In fact, it has a negative influence on our health and waistlines. 34 million people in the US have diabetes and 25% of them don’t know they have it. Another 88 million people are prediabetic, which means if they don’t do something to counter it, their likelihood of becoming diabetic down the road is high. Let’s take a look at the risks, symptoms, types, and clearly understand what we’re dealing with and what we can do about it. Our lifestyles can play a significant role, fortunately or unfortunately!
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes. The culprit in diabetes is the hormone insulin, produced in the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for moving sugar out of the blood stream and into the cells to be used for energy. It can work effectively or not, which is the condition of diabetes. Hypoglycemia is when sugar is too low, hyperglycemia is when your sugar is too high. Neither is safe of good for your health.
Type 1 diabetes
This is often referred to as juvenile diabetes as it’s often diagnosed in children. However, it’s possible for adults to get it also. The pancreas is not producing enough of the hormone insulin in type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
This is a condition when the cells in the body are not responding to the production of insulin. The body may keep producing more and more insulin trying to do its job but it doesn’t succeed. The result of either type, untreated, is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood stream, which causes damage to our bodies over time
Type 3 diabetes
There may be a third type of diabetes. Alzheimer’s is now being associated with insulin resistance inside the brain.
This blog post is focusing primarily on type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms - How do I know if I have diabetes?
Most doctors do a fasting blood sugar test as a routine part of a check-up. If you go annually to the doctor, you may already know our numbers. There are several tests which are related to diagnosing whether your sugar is too high, too low or in the normal range. Symptoms you might experience include:
Urinating a lot more than normal
Urine having a ‘sweet’ odor
Blood test results out of normal range (which is the ultimate determination if you have it or not)
What are the tests and numbers to know?
The A1C test is routinely done on diabetics and as a follow-up to the fasting sugar test. It is a measure of sugar molecules attached to red blood cells over time - (approx. 3 months). It gives an average result of hemoglobin blood sugar instead of a quick snapshot.
There is also a Post Prandial Test which can be done. The individual drinks a glucose substance and has their sugar monitored every half hour to see how the level decreases over time.
Some doctors allow fasting sugar to be higher than 100 without concern. They may say “keep an eye on it”. It’s easy to ignore blood sugar since you have to either have your own glucometer or go to the doctor. If nothing is done, no dietary or other lifestyle changes, it is highly probable the sugar will not improve!
You can purchase a glucometer at your local drug store, which will let you test your own blood sugar. I don’t recommend taking matters into your own hands, however, as the numbers are influenced by what you eat, timing of meals and more. Go see your doctor to get accurate info and onto the right path. That said lifestyle factors are always helpful for avoiding health problems. Let’s take some action on behalf of our health!
Some Risks which contribute to getting diabetes
Examples include: vitamin D deficiency, omega 3 deficiency, viruses, Celiac disease, , damage to the gut, exposure to cows milk at an early age, genetics (5-10% only) e.g.
Examples include: excess body fat (abdominal especially), stress, inactivity, poor diet -high in starch and sugar, genetics, smoking, excessive alcohol use, environmental toxins, lack of sleep and or apnea, e.g.
And your body may suffer if you let the chips fall where they may
Taking one or more medications or having an insulin pump to manage
Having the expense of those medications
Needing to monitor your blood sugar optimally daily
Damage to your kidneys
Damage to your vision – possible blindness
High blood pressure
Negatively impacted lifestyle
Key Takeaways - What you can do to improve your blood sugar
Now that you understand diabetes a bit better and know the potential impact, let’s start making some changes. Although a dietary makeover is probably necessary, lets start slowly so you don’t just wig out and forget the whole thing. Start with a simple plan – and get in touch if you need support from me!
Start eating A LOT more fiber (veggies, whole foods, psyllium husks, avocado)
Reduce/eliminate sugar and starch in your diet (very IMPORTANT)
Call a friend and start walking regularly (the phone counts your steps)
Get rid of toxic people in your life (they don’t deserve you)
Get enough sleep so your body can repair (no screens an hour before bed)
Claire Denise is the founder of Positive Aging and takes pride in promoting lifestyle as a tool to improve your health/resilience. She has 20 years of experience as a personal trainer, nutritionist, health coach, and yoga instructor. Her classes are easy, informative, and fun.
If you would like to increase your potential lifespan, have healthier activities, and feel younger again, then join the Positive Aging Community today and get your first BrainEx session free!