Accelerated aging – that’s really what diabetes is about. So it’s best to avoid diabetes. We have 312 million people in the United States and one-third of them either have diabetes or pre-diabetes (26 million with diabetes and 79 million with pre-diabetes). Yet, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, and you have control of that. Now you can understand the reason for the title of this FoxNews article.
Here’s the sad reality. When it comes to life and death decisions, only 10% of the population has what it takes to make the necessary life-altering changes. This is highlighted in Alan Deutschman’s Book Change or Die. Given that reality it’s best not to tempt fate and think you’ll change your lifestyle after you get diabetes, because chances are you won’t.
The Devastation of Diabetes
The hallmark of diabetes is elevated blood sugar. In type 2 diabetics, high sugar initially provokes a release in insulin leading to elevated levels. The combination of high sugar and insulin is injurious to our cells. Diabetes is a total body disease. It leads blindness, kidney disease, neurologic disease, and vascular disease, and is associated with depression and hearing loss. Simply said, it’s not a disease you want and it leads to a slow yet premature death causing 5 million deaths each year.
Diabetes and Accelerated Aging
Diabetes is a model of accelerated aging called the Cross-Linking Theory or Glycosylation Theory of aging. Excess sugar binds to the many proteins leading to deactivation of them. Hormones and enzymes that enable the body to run smoothly and effectively are made of proteins. Sugar may also bind to our DNA increasing the risk of mutations and cancer.
Preventing diabetes isn’t rocket science – there’s no hidden formula, but it does take effort. Dr. Ken Cooper, author of the book Aerobics that jump started the fitness movement in this country, and an early mentor of mine is known for saying “it is much easier to maintain good health than it is to regain once it is lost”.
That’s especially true when it comes to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in many by healthier eating and regular exercise. All agree on that. I also believe that having optimal sex hormone levels further reduces that risk. See “How Declining Sex Hormone Levels Lead to Fat Gain”.
Nutrition and Exercise
The key, and where you will get some disagreement, is what to eat and how to exercise. We advocate a low glycemic nutrition program (see related article below) one lower than the American Diabetic Association typically recommends. We also believe in more protein to facilitate muscle growth. Guess where most of the insulin receptors are found? The muscles.
The more muscle you have, the more insulin receptors you have, and the better sugar control you will have. That leads us to exercise. While aerobics has been shown to be effective in reversing and preventing type 2 diabetes, resistance/strength training to build muscle, and incorporation of high intensity interval training appear to be better. See “Exercise in Quick Spurts”.
Strive for Optimal Blood Sugar and HgA1C
Our target levels for blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C are too high. Those targets are designed to get people to average risk for diabetes. Striving for average risk for a common disease like diabetes or heart disease does not make sense. Do you want to be at average risk for diabetes? Probably not.
Optimal fasting blood sugar is 86 mg/dl or less and a HgA1C less than 5.1 (at those levels heart disease is reversible). Neither is easy to achieve, but by simply striving to reach those levels many more will be spared the devastated consequences of diabetes. Live longer – avoid accelerated aging by avoiding type 2 diabetes. It’s really in your hands.
See related articles.