Diabetes Awareness: What You Should Know

Dr. Amanda Hegnauer, Naturopathic Doctor

 

There are different forms and stages of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, and was formerly known as juvenile diabetes. This form of diabetes is generally developed because of a genetic predisposition. However if type 2 is less untreated it can develop into type 1. Approximately 5% of Americans with diabetes have this form of the disease. With type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce a hormone called insulin. The body utilizes insulin to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Insulin therapy is used as the primary treatment for this condition. Type 2 diabetes, otherwise known as diabetes mellitus type 2 (formerly known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes) is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) due to insulin resistance (prediabetes) and/or a lack of insulin. For those of you that don’t know, prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to make the diagnosis of diabetes. When the body is not able to use insulin properly the organ that makes insulin, the pancreas, makes extra insulin to compensate. However, over time, the pancreas is not able to keep up and cannot produce enough insulin to manage normal blood sugar levels. Again, insulin therapy is initiated by one’s physician. Gestational diabetes is the final form of diabetes which can only develop during pregnancy. Ordinarily women develop this condition around the 24 th week of their pregnancy. This diagnosis does not necessarily mean that you had diabetes before you conceived, or that you will have diabetes after giving birth. Nevertheless, it does mean that it is imperative that you follow your doctor’s advice regarding balancing your blood sugar levels so that both you and your baby remain healthy.

 

Unfortunately, diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States. In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the country’s total population, were diagnosed with diabetes. Presently, the percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors. In 2010 there were 1.9 million new cases of diabetes compared to 1.7 in 2012. Additionally, in 2012 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes; a 7 million person increase since 2010. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 3,600 people under the age of 20 are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year.

 

There are many symptoms of diabetes, however, some individuals with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild they go unnoticed. The following are some common symptoms that one may experience if living with undiagnosed diabetes:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

 

If diabetes continues to go undiagnosed one is at risk of developing one, if not more, of the following complications:

  • Skin Complications
  • Eye Complications
  • Amputation
  • Neuropathy
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Kidney disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Gastroparesis

 

In 2012, the total cost spent toward the diagnosis of diabetes was $245 billion. Perhaps Americans should consider allocating their hard earned money towards an exercise, diet and lifestyle plan to prevent and strengthen one’s body against this vulnerability verses being hit even harder in the wallet after a diagnosis has been made. Here’s how one can make this happen: consult one’s Naturopathic Doctor about glucose balancing herbs such as Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Bitter Melon and Gymnema. Furthermore, inquire about the importance of the appropriate tests for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Additionally, make a trip to the Concord Co-op to plan one’s healthy food strategy. Choose wisely starting with one’s low glycemic super foods that contain calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins such as A, C and E.

 

In moderation these foods include:

  • Beans
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Citrus fruits
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh fish
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt

 

 

Updated August 29, 2015