Diabetes Is Slowly Killing You

Do you want to die?

Diabetes is kicking our collective asses every day and we’re lying down and asking, “Please, Mother, may I have another?”

Pretty please with a big fat cupcake on top?

To make matters worse, the internet is full of misinformation, half-truths, and outright bullshit about diabetes and its effect on your health.

Do you think that only fat people have diabetes?

Has a friend told you to be careful around a diabetic because you can “catch” diabetes from them?

Maybe you’ve heard that donuts and candy cause diabetes?

Do you know a diabetic who says they can eat whatever they want because they use insulin?

Let’s set the record straight: Anybody can develop diabetes. Anyone. And no,while insulin is life-saving for many individuals, it does not cure diabetes.

Diabetes Is Kicking Your Ass
Image Public Domain by BruceBlaus

Diabetes is a complicated disease. Over 32.5 million Americans have it and some 88 million more are waiting in the wings with pre-diabetes.

Diabetes is not just a problem in the United States. The World Health Organization estimates 422 million people worldwide have diabetes and directly attributes 1.5 million deaths per year to diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Approximately 90–95% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. People with Type 2 suffer from insulin resistance, a condition in which their body’s cells don’t respond to insulin, resulting in the body not receiving proper nourishment.

Metabolism is a complex process in which your body breaks down the food you eat into simple components of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, turning them into glucose, which is then absorbed by your cells for energy and nutrients.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder.

Metabolic disorders occur when there is an interruption of the complex metabolic process, causing the body to have too much or too little essential substances to remain healthy.

When glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas secretes insulin, the hormone that unlocks the body’s cells so they can receive the nutrients we need to live and thrive.

Think of your body’s cells like a bunch of hungry people inside a house with a locked door. Nothing can get through that door because it’s locked. Insulin usually opens the lock, but with insulin resistance, the key no longer turns the lock. Food can’t get through the door to feed the hungry people inside.

All that glucose floating around in the bloodstream signals your pancreas to pump out more insulin, but if you are insulin resistant, your cells remain locked up, tight as a drum, and nutrients can’t get into your cells. Eventually, your pancreas can’t make enough insulin to keep up with the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

Extended exposure to high blood sugar can damage pancreatic beta cells, causing your pancreas to stop making insulin.

Your body can’t use the nutrients/energy it needs to survive, even if you eat.

Diabetes Is Kicking Your Ass
Image Public Domain, by Mikael Häggström

Diabetes Changes Your Body

Over time, the excess sugar hanging around in your bloodstream damages your body’s cells, which can lead to organ failure, long-term damage of the vascular & circulatory system, nerve damage, cardiovascular damage, damage to the eye that includes glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.

Chronic uncontrolled high blood sugar can also cause countless other damage to your body. You may have heard of people losing toes and feet to diabetes, but do you understand why? Chronic high blood sugar desensitizes your skin and, coupled with poor circulation, diabetics lose feeling in their lower extremities.

Bumping your foot into a chair or an ill-fitting shoe doesn’t catch your attention because it doesn’t hurt like it did before you were insulin resistant, so you don’t notice the bruise or the blister or the cut or the break when you bang your foot on the coffee table.

Diabetes Is Kicking Your Ass
Image Free for Public Use

But it doesn’t stop at your extremities. That loss of sensitivity also affects your sense of bladder and rectal fullness. Use your imagination on how horrible that could be.)

It affects your sensitivity to heat and cold. Your body is working itself to death to cool you down or heat you up but you haven’t even felt the temperature change yet.

It affects your sex life, too, resulting in a myriad of sexual dysfunctions for women, erectile dysfunction in men, and general de-sensitivity to sexual arousal for both women and men.

It’s Dead Serious

2020 stats from CDC show:

· Just over 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes

· New cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes have significantly increased among America’s youth

· Age group 10–19 years show the incidence of type 2 diabetes increased for all races, but especially for non-Hispanic blacks

· For adults diagnosed with diabetes, 15% were smokers, 89% were overweight, and 38% were physically active

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2017, based on death certificates that listed diabetes as an underlying cause of death. Diabetes may be severely under-reported as a cause of death because only 35% to 40% of diabetics had diabetes listed on their death certificate.

The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes is responsible for 4.2 million deaths among 20–79-year-olds and about half of those deaths occurred in people under the age of 60.

What Can You Do About Diabetes?

Those stats should scare the hell out of you. But what do they really mean to you and your loved ones?

You should worry about two takeaways from the above stats.

  1. No one is immune from developing diabetes. Not a single person alive. Yes, family history and race may present a greater risk of developing diabetes, but no one is invulnerable to diabetes.
  2. The biggest risk factor for developing diabetes is your weight. 89% of people diagnosed with diabetes are overweight. That’s damn near 100%.

If you are insulin resistant, you can learn to manage and improve your symptoms and possibly reduce or eliminate the need or dependence on artificial insulin and other pharmaceuticals.

The first thing you should do is talk to your primary health care provider about your risks for diabetes. Ask the doc for a Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test.

The A1c test measures your average blood sugars for the previous three months. If your test result is below 5.7%, great news! Your blood sugar is normal. Prediabetes registers at 5.7%-6.4%, and you’re considered diabetic if your HbA1c result is 6.5% or more.

Whatever your result, you now have decisions to make. How do you remain non-diabetic if your result was normal? How do you get your numbers down if you tested pre-diabetic or diabetic?

If your blood sugar is normal or if you fall in the pre-diabetic range, you should be happy to know that you can make a dramatic improvement in your next HbA1c test by making simple changes to your diet.

If your test shows you are diabetic, your diet will still help a lot, but you’ll need to talk to your doctor about medications that can help you get your blood sugars under control.

You may not want to hear it, but here’s the simple, no-bullshit truth: The single most meaningful factor in your health outcomes is you.

You control your health. It begins and ends with you. Not your doctor, not your spouse, not your friends, and with 100% certainty, a thousand times no, not a celebrity.

Looking Forward

It’s never too late to improve your health status. Well, maybe it’s too late when you’re lying in the morgue, but up until that very last breath that you take, you have choices.

I believe that almost anyone can manage their diabetes without dependence on artificial insulin and pharmaceuticals.

I know that’s a radical statement. I stand by it.

We were born to live.

Yes, we die a bit every second, but we have some control over how much and how fast.

It will not be easy, but with the help of your health care professional and taking personal responsibility, you can take control of your health.

“Every human being is the author of his own health or disease” » Buddha

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist. I’m a writer and a diabetic. I find value in information about diabetes and how nutrition affects my health and I want to share that information. If you or someone you love is a diabetic or if you have a family history of diabetes, I hope you talk to health professionals who are knowledgeable about the disease and will help you manage your health. I really hope, however, that you will take responsibility for your better health and research answers to living well while managing your diabetes. It is possible to live long and healthy with diabetes, and I hope you do.

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