Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the U.S. — 8.3 percent of the population. While approximately 18.8 million of those are diagnosed, the other 7.0 million haven’t been diagnosed or treated.
To make matters worse, 79 million people are estimated to have “prediabetes.” These people have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. However, they are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (previously referred to as juvenile diabetes because it’s normally diagnosed in kids and young people) occurs when the body doesn’t produce insulin. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes are type 1. Those persons with type 1 diabetes are usually prescribed insulin therapy to help control their diabetes.
With type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. With type 2 diabetes, insulin levels can often be managed with oral medications.
Insulin is necessary for the body to be able take the sugar from the blood and put it into use as fuel for the cells. If the body is lacking insulin, glucose builds up in the blood, leading to a number of serious diabetes complications.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness or other life-threatening ailments, as well as a shortened life span.
Diabetes and Diet
A healthy diet is necessary whether you have diabetes or prediabetes. Your doctor can help develop the right eating plan for you. You can also find a number of online resources to learn about successful meal plans for those with diabetes.
- Diabetes Diet: Create Your Healthy-Eating Plan (Mayo Clinic)
- Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet (American Diabetes Association)
- The Basics of a Healthy Diabetes Diet (Web MD)
Is Diabetes Curable?
While many doctors say that you can’t reverse diabetes, some experts disagree. Dr. Joel Fuhrman of Eat to Live fame, believes that type 2 diabetes is a preventable, reversible lifestyle disease.
“Don’t live with your diabetes, don’t simply control your diabetes — get rid of it,” Fuhrman says. Fuhrman’s book, The End of Diabetes, outlines how a high-nutrient (Nutritarian) diet is the answer for reversing diabetes.
Fuhrman isn’t the only doctor who thinks diabetes can be cured.
“If the person is a type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetic there is an excellent chance of either curing or significantly lowering blood sugar with diet and exercise.” says Dr. Michael Wald, double board certified nutritionist and director of Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco. “It is much more difficult for the type 1 or insulin dependent diabetic, but major gains can be made with the right dietary and lifestyle approach.”
A 30-year-old female, Juliet, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Without any medications, her fasting blood glucose levels were consistently over 240. So, what’s normal?
A level between 70 and100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered normal. A level of 100-125 mg/dL means you have impaired fasting glucose, a type of prediabetes. A level of 126 mg/dL and higher most often means you have diabetes.
As you can see, her numbers were well into the diabetes range. Her doctor prescribed a combination of different medications, which kept her glucose levels in the normal range. Juliet decided to ditch the medications and try to diet her way out of diabetes. By following a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, she has been able to maintain fasting blood glucose levels between 65-80 for over two years without any medication at all.
Do you have diabetes? We’d like to here your success stories (and what hasn’t worked) to keep your glucose numbers under control. Leave a comment and let us know what medications, dietary changes and other methods have worked for you.