One in eight adults worldwide now has diabetes (mostly Type 2 Diabetes).
Another one in three has Prediabetes. This is an epidemic. Three cases of diabetes are diagnosed every minute, day and night, all around the world.
The annual cost of this high blood sugar epidemic has reached $327 billion as of 2017 and climbing. Some official reports tell us that everyone may be considered prediabetic worldwide within 10 years…
There are many challenges in helping everyone face diabetes. And perhaps your family includes people facing these challenges today? As we talk about in the “Frustration May Have Lead you to Holland Health Coaching” blog post, you may have tried many ways to improve your health. In this follow-up article, I’d like to make sure you’ve got the Diabetes 101 basics under your belt. Before we can make a plan for better health, it’s important to know for sure how our bodies work.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic
Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes are now at epidemic proportions. One of the key tasks for everyone in the health care field is to help people address Prediabetes and Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes. That is our mission at Holland Health Coaching in Colorado.
In 2018, researchers in England published the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) results. Before this study, doctors and researchers considered Type 2 Diabetes a lifetime condition. They offered medications and stern conversations. The 49 health care practices in England who participated in the DiRECT study have shown diabetes educators like me that the root cause of diabetes can be healed in many patient groups. Before you can make commitments to habit change, it’s vital that you understand where you are on the path to Type 2 Diabetes.
Each of the yellow stars in this image represent an opportunity for self-care. When we make new choices at these places along the path, we have the best chance of creating dramatic health gains.
Why is body size a determining factor with diabetes?
The solution for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes includes new habits that will help people drop around 5% of their current weight. This isn’t about fitting into jeans or swimsuits. This is about reducing the fat that surrounds internal organs.
It’s true that there are many diabetics with a lean body. Even though they look trim, there still may be too much fat collecting on their liver and pancreas. I’ll explain below why that’s a problem. While not every client I coach needs to drop weight for his or her health, a majority of people with prediabetes are overweight.
Twenty years ago, research began on the topic of the health risks of being overweight along with having unstable blood sugar. Researchers suggested that excess fat in the liver was making the body resistant to its own insulin. They also told us that excess fat in the pancreas also makes it more difficult to produce the right amount of insulin.
The epidemic of diabetes then can be traced back to one specific commonality: a lifestyle of being overfed and sedentary.
It’s been proven that overfed people tend to have excess fat in their liver and pancreas. In 2011, a pilot study illustrated that when these individuals drop 5% of their body weight through mindful eating, more physical activity, and lowered stress, their liver-involved insulin resistance can be solved. Furthermore, after more than 8 weeks of continued body-fat reduction, the fat that surrounds the pancreas can also be reduced.
As I talked about in my “Frustration May Have Lead you to Holland Health Coaching” blog post, low-calorie and low-fat diets are not the answer in this or any other health challenge. The removal of excess body fat from the liver and pancreas is a matter of more mindful eating, more physical activity, and lowered stress.
If hard-core dieting isn’t the answer, what is?
A lead researcher in the diabetes field, Roy Taylor of Newcastle University in England, explains that as the level of fat in the liver and pancreas normalize, the pancreas is able to ‘ramp up’ the output of insulin again. This science is why the Solution Starter Prediabetes Program is designed to help people drop 5% of their body weight, keep it off, and avoid Type 2 Diabetes permanently.
It may have been a long time since you enjoyed a science class, so here’s a little review for you and your family…
Just like cars need an energy source to run, our bodies need fuel to help us do all the things we love. Here’s how our body works:
When we eat a meal, our bodies break down the food into different sugar molecules. The main type is glucose, which is the fuel our cells need for energy. That glucose level in our blood is what people refer to as blood sugar.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It plays a critical role in moving essential “glucose fuel” into our cells. A healthy pancreas senses rising blood sugar levels after we eat. It also sends out the proper amount of insulin to escort that much-needed glucose into cells. Think of insulin as the key that opens the cell doors to let the glucose in.
For cells to function properly (and for us to have energy), our bodies need the right balance of insulin and glucose.
In Type 1 Diabetes, autoimmune damage to the pancreas causes insulin production to plummet. That situation needs direct medical intervention. It is not the kind of diabetes I, as a health coach and educator, can help you solve. For Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes, the culprit of an imbalance in blood sugar is often Insulin Resistance.
The first stage of Type 2 Diabetes is insulin resistance. This refers to problems that occur when the body can’t properly use the food. In other words, the pancreas starts to fail at regulating the distribution of insulin. What causes this? People who have a history of increased fat tissue around the pancreas, liver, and muscles tend to have more “free fatty acids” roaming around those parts of the body.
Unfortunately, those fatty acids can slow everything down and clog up the system.
The pancreas then struggles to produce enough insulin to help the cells take in glucose for energy. Sometimes the pancreas simply cannot keep up.
Without insulin to “open the doors” to the cells, the glucose just hangs out in the blood stream. And that’s why people with Prediabetes tend to have high blood sugar—also called hyperglycemia. In my experience as a coach, I hear people tell me that they have a “touch of sugar.” This means they know that their blood sugar is consistently high.
What’s the Role of the Health Care System?
There is more than one epidmic facing the health care system today. It is frustrating to realize that 9 our of 10 people with prediabetes do not know they have it. Some call diabetes a silent disease; people do not realize they have it until they’re in a health crisis.
Like I show in my Path to Type 2 Diabetes image above, there are multiple opportunities for people to make a dramatic difference prior to reaching the health crisis point. The health care system must do a better job of helping people all along this change path. We’ll talk about one of the basic medical tests you can ask for from your medical team.
“Everybody gets that the clinic walls are not the boundaries of health care, that primary care has to merge much more closely with the community, that out in the community there are not only the problems that cause disease but also the answers for managing it if we tap into them.” Politico Working Staff Editorial
Outside of your doctor’s office, what can you do to be part of the solution for this diabetes epidemic?
Prevention of type 2 diabetes requires two things: Mindful Choices and Enthusiasm to build a life of self-care at home. Beyond changing your own eating habits, the kind of self-care at home I’m talking about needs to become a community-wide attitude and practice.
A more effective Homemade Health approach needs to take into account many variables. Behavior change in a wide array of circumstances will look different in a case-by-case view. The foods that your neighbor can afford and will eat may be quite different in your circumstance. What’s needed is a system or program that is affordable and flexible. Solution Starter for Prediabetes is one of those options now available for use at home online.
What medical test can you request at the doctor’s office?
Hemoglobin A1c is a long-term measure of blood sugar and it is the easiest way for your doctor to test you for diabetes. It measures the percentage of your red blood cells carrying sugars. With an A1c number between 5.7 – 6.4%, you are considered prediabetic.
Other options for testing your blood sugar are a fasting blood sugar test from a blood-draw at a lab, an oral glucose tolerance test 2 hours after eating, or an in-home finger-stick blood test before and after meals.
In your community, it may be possible to make an appointment and easily get this test. Or, find community health workers within a clinic or hospital who better understand the day-to-day challenges you face. If you can speak with your area pharmacist, they are often a good resource for education and blood sugar management.
In the Solution Starter Prediabetes Program, I encourage my clients to make note of their blood sugar numbers. An elevated blood sugar is information from your body. Some clients do this tracking with their Food & Activity Journal. Others use a simple pad of paper to track at home.
HERE’S WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
When you eat certain foods and your body reacts with an unhealthy high blood sugar response, then you can make different food choices in the future. When you learn to test your own blood sugar, it helps you to become mindful about the power you have over your health. It’s very easy for people to ignore prediabetes, to push it back as if nothing is happening. Understanding blood sugar can help you to use personal awareness to guide daily actions.
If understanding diabetes and taking action to create Homemade Health are the answer, what can the outcome be?
Before we talk about favorable outcomes, please remember that diabetes is not something we ‘catch’. It’s not communicable like the Coronavirus or the flu. Those born with Type 1 Diabetes are in a different situation. Most will always need insulin and lifestyle skills to thrive. The epidemic I’m speaking of is the widespread, lifestyle-created illnesses of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
The CDC teach that without weight loss and physical activity, 15-30% of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 Diabetes within 5 years. Another study—this one by the CDC in 2002—proved that developing T2D is not inevitable.
We can make new choices and create a better outcome.
This epidemic can stop when people understand their options and then follow-through on new self-care habits. Don’t we all wish that other epidemics had the same treatment plan?
This list is the basis for what I teach my clients in the Solution Starter Prediabetes Program. It is the proven foundation of the Diabetes Prevention Program from the CDC.
Let me leave you with this…
Everyone in the world now has a new or renewed sense of what it’s like living in the age of a health epidemic. We are focusing on how we can better protect our own bodies and the bodies of our loved ones. This is likely a circumstance that will continue for many years into the future.
If you’ve known that high blood sugar or other chronic illnesses are a problem, the need to change is not a new feeling.
We’ve all got heartbreaking stories to tell. Unhealthy lifestyles causing health problems that take from us our precious loved ones. We also have stories about how we harm our own bodies in various ways.
Is this information about the epidemic of diabetes new to YOU? I want to make sure you know what you can PREVENT when you REVERSE diabetes with self-care at home.