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An Epidemic of Type II Diabetes

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Seven to eight years ago a NIH-grant request from Washington U. to study Ginseng and type II diabetes treatment noted that by the end of the decade up to 10% of the U.S. would be type II diabetic and as many as 40% of Americans pre-diabetic. As 2010, the end of the decade, draws to a close, how did we fare? A new CDC analysis indicates we have reached the target of one in 10 Americans diagnosed with type II diabetes. The CDC report goes on to note that new cases of type II diabetes will rise from 8 in 1000 Americans in 2008 to 15 per 1000 in 2050.  I can remember discussing on air how incredible those 2003 numbers appeared to me and most Americans. Click here to read the CDC report in detail
We are again reminded of the words of Peter Libby, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham Women’s Hospital, Boston, “prevention does not have a face.” According to a New York Times report (click here to read further Dr. Levy was quoted that the success of prevention has “no personal stories, no individuals who can be pointed to as the success of prevention. It is just statistics.” However, Walter Willett, MD, MPH, of Harvard School of Public Health presented published research in a report to the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting in Philadelphia that stated up to 90% of type II diabetes can be prevented. Click here to read in further detail
Preventing up to 90% of type II diabetes using the points from Dr. Willett’s research is more than ‘just statistics.’ These points include the following:
• eat no bad fats (trans and hydrogenated fats)
• eat good fats (Omega 3 fatty acids in a balance of 1:1 with the Omega 6 fatty acids) daily
• eat no processed grains; if you eat a grain make it a whole grain
• eat a plant based diet (lots of fruits and vegetables (maintain normal protein intake)
• get daily activity
• supplement wisely

The front page of USA Today in 2006 proclaimed the news that a drug could prevent diabetes. Yes, Avandia could prevent about 60% of diabetes but with certain associated risks, side effects, and contraindications which unfolded during the subsequent 4 years. The article failed to mention that a lifestyle-based prevention plan as noted above was effective up to 90% of the time. The lifestyle-based prevention had certain beneficial side effects which reduced the risk of other diseases including an 80% reduction in the risk of heart disease. The Avandia heart-related side effects led to a change in prescribing status by the FDA in 2010. Click here to read further It appears to go beyond lifestyle-based prevention’s lack of face. It appears to be all in the marketing.
Many of us now see the trailers of the upcoming movie “Love and other Drugs” based on the book written by Pfizer Viagra sales representative (now former rep), Jaime Ready, entitled “Hard Sell.” The book is a must read for all Americans regarding how marketing sells drugs to address symptoms and how effectively marketing changes the standard of care in the practice of medicine in the U.S. Simply, a drug with lots of marketing dollars and sizzle can change the practice of American medicine. It’s not about science; it’s not about what’s best care for the patient; it is all about marketing medications.
The lack of public health and media focus on lifestyle-based prevention of type II diabetes does have a face. It is a face of misery and declining quality of life, associated risk of kidney failure, loss of vision, declining heart health, reduced ability to heal, risk of infection and amputation, and associated financial costs. No attention was given several years ago to the British news that there appeared to be a correlation between B vitamins and type II diabetes. Click here to read in further detail Yet it followed to earlier published news that type II diabetics who usually urinate excessively may have expensive urine, that is, full of vitamins. Click here to read the previous report Yet, the simple lifestyle steps mentioned by Dr. Willett included eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, all good sources of the B vitamins. Perhaps, the dots do connect…
Let’s examine the simple steps on which Dr. Willett’s research has focused. Their dietary recommendations may improve the nutritional status of the person. They certain minimize the foods of empty calories (soft drinks and processed foods) that are ‘high glycemic foods’ in which the Western diet is rich. Daily activity can improve insulin sensitivity. Good fats along with normal protein intake can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower fasting insulin levels. The nutrients found in Dr. Willett’s lifestyle recommendations include chromium have been shown in extensive USDA research (that of Dr. Richard Anderson and Dr. Gary Evans) to improve insulin sensitivity. Click here to read further
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in his book “Saving Lives and Saving Money” speaks about the possibility of the U.S. shaking up its approach to type II diabetes and its associated health complications which consumes 1 out of every 3 Medicare dollars. Perhaps it is time conventional medicine raises the “standard of care for the practice of medicine” as it relates to type II diabetes to equal that of the integrative medical approach to type II diabetes prevention and treatment. U.S. diabetic educators in 2004 heard at their annual gathering in Indianapolis about the 30-years of government-funded research on chromium and lifestyle changes on insulin sensitivity. Click here to read in further detail Yet, the only call-to-action was “send more money for more studies.”
Let’s get excited about the sizzle of delicious whole foods that are nutrient dense, daily activity to exercise our brains and our bodies, and wise supplementation. If every American decided to be a role model of these three principles to America’s children, think of the success we would realize in just one year. I know of no one who thinks the consequences reached in 2050 following this trend will be affordable for this country, business, and its population.
Deborah A. Ray, MT (ASCP)

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