Five Reasons You Don't Want Diabetes

December 06, 2013

Don't be a statistic. Here's a view of what life could be like after diagnosis.

November was American Diabetes Month, and since we have entered the holiday season where indulgent eating moves to center-table, it's a perfect time for SupermarketGuru to issue this cautionary story. In it, we detail five reasons why consumers should eat, manage stress, limit sugar intake, and behave in ways that help them keep from becoming Type 2 diabetics.

Think of this as our text-equivalent of the graphic anti-smoking commercials. We hope it makes people think twice before they continue on a potentially dangerous dietary and lifestyle course.

Already, more than 25.6 million Americans have diabetes. Another 79 million are pre-diabetic, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Here's a view of what life could be like after diagnosis -- to help inspire people not to become statistics like these. Share it with your loved ones - help them avoid the disease too.

Sugary foods and many carbohydrates in processed foods are key culprits. Today, the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day - that's 45% higher than 30 years ago. Sugar inflames and generally stresses the body, and adds calories without nutrients. Tip: fill your meals and snacks with nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits such as berries. The more nutrients in your body through these colorful foods, the better your cells will function. Your moderated blood sugar and insulin levels will thank you.

1.  Inflammation. High blood sugar and insulin levels damage and inflame our cells. Medical science implicates inflammation in almost every disease process these days. Isn’t that reason enough to keep your blood sugar in check? Tip: consume more anti-inflammatory foods. Best choices: walnuts, flax, salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, dark leafy greens, avocados, berries and more.

2.  Brain Health. Our brains are quite sensitive to the amount of sugar or glucose in our blood. Spikes and dips in sugar and glucose levels, along with the inflammation associated with diabetes (and pre-diabetes), can upset brain health. A recent study from Germany found that people with higher long-term blood-sugar levels could recall fewer words than test subjects with lower blood sugars. Researchers also found that people with higher blood-sugar levels had smaller volumes in the size of their hippocampus, the portion of the brain associated with memory. "It's not surprising that glucose levels can potentially have these kinds of negative impacts…  the risk of dementia is higher in people with diabetes,” says Robert Ratner, the chief scientific and medical officer for the ADA. This study found an association between the two, not a cause and effect. 

3.  Mood Swings. Blood sugar fluctuations can cause major mood shifts in people. Think of a sugar “high” and the crash that follows. People joke about this, but it is serious -- it perpetuates stress on our cells and organs that control and use blood sugar, such as the pancreas, liver and brain. This also exacerbates insulin resistance. Tip: Eat on a regular schedule.  Have meals and snacks about every 3 hours, or before you anticipate feeling hungry. Meals and snacks should typically include a balance of protein, fats and carbs. 40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbohydrates is generally a good blalance.  One example: guacamole, and a few small pieces of chicken in a lettuce wrap.

4.  Blindness. If left unchecked, blood sugar can wreak serious havoc on your body!  ADA says diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years.  In 2005-2008, 4.2 million people with diabetes aged 40 years or older (28.5%) had diabetic retinopathy; of these people, almost 0.7 million had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

5.  Amputations. Another possible grim outcome: more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes, notes ADA.

General tip: Lose weight! The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that people who lose weight (even just 5% to 7%), keep it off, and engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, can significantly delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also improves insulin sensitivity— so the body responds to insulin more effectively.

SupermarketGuru wants you to feel empowered. Take charge of your health and your body, and start making some positive changes today!

Information gathered from the American Diabetes Association and the Diabetes Prevention Program.