Jane Gillian was an obese fifty-six-year-old when she became seriously ill and was hospitalized. She experienced an embolic stroke, paralyzing her left side, and, while at the hospital, they also found that she had severe diabetes. Jane had a family history of diabetes;
both parents were overweight and diabetic. Her medical history included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and placement of two medicated stents in her coronary arteries. When she was admitted to the hospital with an HbA1C of 9.6 and a blood pressure of 200/100, Jane was on two blood pressure medications as well as other prescription pills. She was placed on insulin and remained in the hospital for almost a month. Finally, she was discharged wheelchair bound and on two insulin injections a day for a total of 60 units daily plus eight other medications including three blood pressure–lowering medications.
A friend recommended Jane read Eat to Live, and one month later, she started the nutritarian diet. Her insulin needs soon tapered and then stopped. Her results on the highnutrient diet were exciting. Three years later, Jane has lost a total of 117 pounds—her weight went from 248 to 131 pounds. Her HbA1C and glucose levels are in the nondiabetic range. She is no longer diabetic. Her cholesterol dropped from 219 to 152, triglycerides from 174 to 66. Her blood pressure, which used to run around 160/80 on the two blood pressure medications, now runs around 125/75 without any blood pressure medications. The best news of all is that Jane is no longer in a wheelchair and can walk on a treadmill set at a fifteendegree incline for more than fifteen minutes.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that causes serious health complications including renal (kidney) failure, heart disease, stroke, and blindness. As mentioned, this serious disease has seen a drastic increase in the number of Americans who are affected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a 2011 report stating that over 25 million Americans are currently plagued by diabetes. That’s an increase of 15 percent, or 3 million people, in only two years and over 700 percent in the last fifty years. More than 40 percent of Americans aged twenty years and older have either diabetes or prediabetes according to a review of data from the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Approximately 30 percent of adults older than sixty have been diagnosed with diabetes, and its prevalence is the same in men and women.
Many people are either unaware that they are diabetic or are in a prediabetic state that will lead to diabetes within a few years. The standard American diet (SAD) causes susceptible individuals to develop diabetes. Unfortunately, most people in America are eating themselves into a premature grave. The American diet is at the core of our health care crisis, and diabetics suffer even more tragic medical complications, such as:
- Heart disease—Death from heart disease and risk for stroke is three times higher for diabetics.
- High blood pressure—75 percent of diabetics have high blood pressure (130/180 or higher).
- Blindness—Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults.
- Kidney disease—Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
- Nervous system disease—The majority of diabetics develop nervous system impairment such as reduced feeling in the feet, impaired digestion, and erectile dysfunction.
- Amputations—Diabetes is the leading reason for limb amputations.
- Cancer—Diabetes increases the risk of cancer, including a 30 percent increase in colorectal cancer.
Diabetes is also taking a huge financial toll on America. Our unhealthy eating habits may eventually bankrupt our nation. The average type 2 diabetic incurs $6,649 in health care costs directly attributable to diabetes per year. More than half of Americans will have diabetes or be prediabetic by 2020 at a cost of $3.35 trillion to the U.S. health care system if current trends go on unabated, according to analysis of a report released by UnitedHealth Group. Diabetes and prediabetes will account for the largest percent of health care spending by the end of the decade at an annual cost of almost $500 billion—up from an estimated $194 billion in 2010 according to the report titled The United States of Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities in the Decade Ahead.
In order to prevent this, we have to change the way we approach diabetes—and we must emphasize prevention. Earlier this year, the editors of the Lancet medical journal called it a “public health humiliation” that diabetes, a largely preventable disease, has reached such epidemic proportions. In reference to this year’s ADA national meeting, the journal reported, “. . . there is a glaring absence: no research on lifestyle interventions to prevent or reverse diabetes. In this respect, medicine might be winning the battle of glucose control, but is losing the war against diabetes.”
These authors are correct—this is a public health humiliation because type 2 diabetes is both preventable and reversible. The SAD of refined grains, oils, sugars, and animal products is at the root of the crisis. Using drugs to keep glucose under control in individuals who continue to consume this diet will not prevent diabetes complications. The cure for type 2 diabetes is already known—removing the cause can reverse the disease.
Understanding the Cause
Every cell in the human body needs energy in order to function. The body’s primary energy source is glucose, a simple sugar resulting from the digestion of foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches). Glucose from the digested food circulates in the blood as a needed energy source for our cells.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. Insulin bonds to a receptor site on the outside of cells and acts like a key to open a doorway into the cell through which glucose can enter.
When there is not enough insulin produced or when the doorway no longer recognizes the insulin key, glucose stays in the blood rather than entering the cells. So diabetes is the rise of glucose in the bloodstream due to a relative lack of the insulin that is responsible for the transfer of glucose from the blood into the tissues or cells. Normally as we eat and the glucose rises in the bloodstream, insulinproducing cells in the pancreas sense the glucose rise in the bloodstream. They then secrete the appropriate amount of insulin to drive the glucose into the body’s tissues, lowering the level in the bloodstream back to an appropriate range.
|Blood sugar||greater than 125||= diabetic|
|Blood sugar||110–125||= prediabetic|
|Blood sugar||95–110||= not ideal|
When a person has type 2 diabetes, the amount of insulin produced is insufficient to lower the glucose level to normal; the level of glucose in the blood remains too high. In type 1, or juvenile, diabetes, the beta cells in the pancreas have been destroyed, so the body does not produce insulin at all. In type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, usually the body is not adequately responding to the insulin being produced. Fat on the body coats the cell membranes and impedes insulin function. The pancreas produces more and more insulin in response, but over time as the pancreas struggles with the extra workload, it eventually loses the fight and becomes unable to meet the unnaturally high demands. As insulin production starts to falter under the increased demands, the glucose in the bloodstream starts to rise. In both cases, with type 1 or type 2, insulin lack or insulin insensitivity, the glucose rises in the bloodstream. If it gets high enough, it also spills over into the urine. Initial symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, lethargy, excessive thirst, and hunger.
The body will attempt to dilute the dangerously high level of glucose in the blood, a condition called hyperglycemia, by drawing water out of the cells and into the bloodstream in an effort to dilute the sugar and excrete it in the urine. It is not unusual for people with undiagnosed diabetes to be constantly thirsty, drink large quantities of water, and urinate frequently as the body tries to get rid of the extra glucose. This creates high levels of glucose in the urine.