Do you know someone with diabetes? Have a family member with diabetes? Do you have diabetes?
Odds are the answer to one of those three questions is “yes.”
New research from the CDC shows the number of Americans with Type 2 Diabetes has doubled since 1988.
When I first started practicing back in the 80s, you saw an occasional patient with the disease. These days, it seems like it’s almost like every other person has what we doctors call “sweet blood.”
The actual rate is one in 10. That’s a lot of people.
So what’s changed since 1988? Our waistlines.
As the rate of obesity goes up, so does the rate of diabetes. The explanation behind that is straightforward.
With Type 2 Diabetes, your body still makes insulin. (With Type 1, more commonly seen in children and young adults, the body stops making insulin and you need to take insulin shots to live.)
Type 2, on the other hand, mainly affects adults (with an ever increasing number of kids).
And while the body still makes insulin, it doesn’t make enough to keep the blood sugar normal. An over-simplified explanation: when you have a lot of fat cells in your body, you body stops responding to the amount of insulin you make — so sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
And blood vessels don’t like too much sugar or other sugar byproducts — they causes vessels to clog.
That’s why people with diabetes lose blood flow to the heart, brain, nerves, kidneys, eyes … you name it.
The purpose of anti-diabetes medicine is to beat a tired horse — they make your body produce more insulin to try to keep blood sugars levels down, but they can only do so much, and certainly don’t work as well as a slimmer body.
That’s why you can take all of the pills in the world and you won’t have much luck unless you watch your diet and get some exercise.
Which is also the best way to prevent diabetes — eating well and exerting yourself more. That means something as simple as a 30 minute walk per day.
(And by the way, eating too much sugar doesn’t cause diabetes — it’s the extra calories from sugary or any other food that push up weight, and trigger your blood test to give you the diagnosis you don’t want to hear.
More on signs, symptoms, and testing in the days to come.
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