A Healthy Idyllwild: November 10, 2016: Diabetes

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Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your own healthcare provider for any questions or issues concerning you own health status. 

It turns out that dietary sugar is the big problem. Dietary sugar contributes to obesity (body-fat accumulation). Obesity is at the root of many health-related evils. Current medical research is substantiating this.

In fact, the leading edge in research suggests that the root causes of obesity are quite complicated and not due only to caloric intake outstripping caloric output.

Nevertheless, diet is the easiest and most immediately modifiable plank in our platform of healthy self-management.

November is National Diabetes Month. Understanding diabetes helps us focus on some problems associated with obesity (www.diabetes.org).

For instance, childhood onset of type 2 diabetes has been on the rise for years now (especially in teens) and for children, being overweight/obese is the primary risk factor. Compared to the world, the World Health Organization states that “The United States has the most obesity per capita …” They also recommend that adults eat absolutely no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar/day, preferably no more than six. Sugary beverages (read: sodas) appear to be a major culprit in high-sugar consumption and the development of obesity, especially in the young.

Both diabetes and prediabetes (blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes) lead to higher risk of early death, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and worse. When these disorders occur in the young, it is quite possible that that person’s life span will be shortened.

On the other hand, prediabetes is reversible through lifestyle changes. The earlier people are diagnosed with prediabetes, the more likely they can reverse it and prevent it worsening into type 2 diabetes.

One of the foremost means to prevent problems of high-blood sugar is to maintain a healthy weight. One of the first lines of treatment for high-blood sugar is to lose weight. Studies show that losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that’s only 10 to 15 pounds

Here’s the crazy thing: You may have diabetes or prediabetes and have no noticeable symptoms at all. For instance, one in three American adults has prediabetes and the majority don’t even realize it, while 25 percent of people with full-blown diabetes are not aware they have it either. On the other hand, you might notice blurry vision, feeling unusually thirsty or hungry, tiring easily and urinating frequently. Bear in mind, these symptoms can be due to many other factors, not necessarily serious health issues.

Prevention: Oh, here’s a big surprise: Manage your weight; eat healthy (prize antioxidants, plant food, probiotics, nuts, soy and omega-3 fatty acids); stay active; and quit smoking. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Changes need to be permanent. This is your new forever lifestyle.

Coming: gluten-free diets; benefits of stretching.

Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in Psychology.

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