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As Millions of Diabetes Cases Emerge, Prevention is Crucial

Photo: Courtesy of William Felker

With millions being diagnosed with diabetes each month, taking steps to prevent it is a crucial part of fighting the disease.

Diabetes is, arguably, the most insidious disease facing humanity worldwide. There are over 400 million people already affected, and that number is aggressively climbing higher. Within the next two decades, that number is expected to top 600 million. An increasingly industrialized, globalized and urbanized world has led to the spread of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. These conditions are the principal culprits for the rise of conditions like obesity and related diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes.

Risk populations

In the United States, approximately 30 million Americans are diabetic. An additional 90-plus million are pre-diabetic; they will surely get it unless they change their dietary and lifestyle choices drastically and immediately. The highest rates of Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. are now found in minority populations. However, it’s rising across the board and being diagnosed in alarming numbers in children and adolescents. Whereas Type 2 diabetes used to be known as “adult-onset” diabetes and a “disease of affluence,” it now truly crosses all divides.

Prevention methods

While there is no known cure, there is prevention. It’s believed that at least 90 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases are preventable. Through a combination of a healthy and balanced diet and living lives full of activity, diabetes can be prevented.

Diabetes occurs when the food we eat is not properly converted to the energy our 60 trillion cells needs for survival. While the body is deteriorating there are no symptoms until much of the damage is done. Technically speaking, it is a chronic disease characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Irreversible methods

Diabetes occurs when insulin is not produced in sufficient amounts by the beta cells of the pancreas, or the cells of the body are unable to use insulin in the proper way to metabolize glucose (known as insulin resistance or decreased insulin sensitivity). Over time high blood glucose levels can lead to serious diabetes complications. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, decreased insulin production by the pancreas, or a combination of the two.

Unchecked or poorly managed, diabetes causes blindness, amputation, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, dental problems, Alzheimer’s disease and much more. On top of that, costs related to diabetes in the U.S. are currently over $245 billion annually and that cost is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2050.

In addition to obesity and pre-diabetes, some other known modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Consumption of processed, refined foods and sugary beverages
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being sedentary
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Ethnicity
  • Birth-weight
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