Dr. Josh Axe (www.DrAxe.com), founder of Exodus Health Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is a wellness physician, popular radio show host and national speaker committed to helping people live life to its healthiest and fullest. Dr. Axe earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Palmer College in Port Orange, Florida.
Diabetes is not a new health concern. Chances are that you are well aware of its widespread impact and that it is a potential killer—since it is noted as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and takes the life of a person every three minutes. It’s no wonder, either. Almost 21 million Americans have diabetes and over 6 million others don’t even know they have it. But it doesn’t stop there. It is a growing problem that is expected to escalate.
But what exactly is diabetes, and how does it affect more than blood sugar?
Diabetes is a chronic degenerative disorder of metabolism (the way our bodies use food for growth and energy) caused by lack of or resistance to the hormone insulin, which is essential for the proper metabolism of blood sugar or glucose.
Under normal circumstances after eating a meal, blood sugar is supposed to make its way into the bloodstream, which causes the pancreas to produce enough insulin to return the blood sugar level to its normal range. Here’s how it is supposed to work: After digestion, glucose passes into the blood where it is used by cells for growth and energy and it is assisted by insulin’s role—which is to inject the blood sugar into cells. It’s an important role, too, because every cell in the body depends on blood sugar in order to keep alive and to function.
For those with diabetes, however, the pancreas produces little or no insulin or cells don’t respond fully to the insulin that is produced. The bottom line here is that the cells don’t get the fuel they need and, in the meantime, the excess glucose builds up in the blood, overflows to the urine, and is passed out of the body. The result? The body loses its main source of fuel and, over time, this causes serious damage to the kidneys, the eyes, the vital organs, and to nerves.
In fact, people with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from heart disease or have a stroke than those without diabetes, and it’s also the leading cause of new blindness for people from ages 20 to 74. Additionally, it’s the primary cause of kidney failure and leads to 60 to 70 percent of diabetics having nerve damage.
If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it’s that type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of diabetes (about 9 in 10 cases), can be prevented by keeping weight under control, by exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking. The truth is that about 80 percent of the people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, so losing that weight is a good place to start.
No one wants to encounter the complications that can come along with diabetes: heart and blood vessel disease, blindness, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, or nerve damage.
It’s just not worth the risks, so be sure to eat right, including “real” foods, not processed foods, exercise regularly, and keep your weight in check.