Diabetes: The Growing Epidemic

According to the Diabetes Association, someone is diagnosed with diabetes every 20 seconds. In 2013, diabetic cases hit a worldwide record of 382 million. The USA is number two of the heaviest cases. The facts are astounding! What can we do about it? First, we need to understand the mechanics.

Diabetes Mellitus results when pancreatic B cells are unable to maintain adequate insulin secretion. In Type I, there is cellular-mediated autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic B cells which results in lifelong dependence on injectable insulin. In Type II, the reduction in the B cell mass is associated with varying degrees of insulin resistance and the reduced functional capacity of the remaining B cells.

Why are B cells important? They are responsible for the distribution of insulin into the blood stream for efficient nutrient uptake and storage by tissues. Insulin plays a role in glucose regulation, fat metabolism, and protein synthesis. The key regulator of fuel homeostasis or energy is insulin. It influences blood sugar by:

  • uptake of glucose into cells and tissues
  • stimulates storage of glucose in the form of glycogen in liver and muscles
  • inhibits hepatic glucose production

Insulin is a critical regulator of fat cell biology because it promotes the formation of new fat cells, inhibits fat breakdown, and stimulates fat synthesis. Insulin regulates cell growth and differentiation. The hormones, insulin and glucagon normally ensure that blood sugar is maintained in a narrow range, (70-110). The beta cells secrete insulin and the stimulus for its release is high blood sugar. The pancreas will secrete more insulin as the blood sugar rises. Glucagon is secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas in the same manner, but in a different direction. When blood sugar is low, more glucagon is secreted. Its main effect is to get the liver to release its stored glucose into the blood. Together these hormones work to keep the blood sugar within a normal range.

Once glucose is sucked up by the cells,

  • it can be burned as energy
  • stored as glycogen in the muscles and the liver
  • can make protein
  • convert to fat as a storage unit of energy

Why are people developing diabetes? One problem is obesity. Too much fat in the pancreas destroys the liver and too much fat in the muscles and liver affect insulin resistance. Scientists predict by the year 2048, 100% of adults in the USA will be overweight.

What can we do about it?

  • watch your diet
  • exercise
  • drink plenty of water
  • get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day

Sound simple? In today’s busy world and conveniences at our fingertips, people are harming their bodies. Did you know just 3 whole grains a day can actually help get rid of belly fat? Soluble fiber such as fruits, oats, barley, legumes, peas, and beans can help lessen the extra visceral fat. By the way, liposuction may make your abdomen look good on the outside, but it doesn’t get rid of the visceral fat layer covering your organs and therefore you can enlarge your abdomen again. If you are a woman and your waist is over 35 inches, you are at risk for diabetes. If you are a man and your waist is over 40 inches, you are at risk for diabetes. Those of you that drink those mega sodas are sucking in a cup and a half of sugar. Think about it. Drink water and you will feel fuller, satisfied, and hydrated. Read the labels on products before you buy them. Many items in the grocery stores are full of corn syrup, sugar, and fat.

Many of you are probably frowning at exercise or stating you don’t have time. Do you have time for circulation problems or a heart attack? So you don’t have time for the recommended 30 minutes of exercise in one setting. Split it up over the day. Be creative. Try squats while you’re waiting in a line, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park farther out so you have to walk.

Another problem is our internal clocks. The body depends on our peripheral clocks located in our pancreas, liver, and adipose tissues. If any of these clocks are out of sync with our master clock, the disarray can set the stage for obesity, diabetes, depression, and other complex disorders. Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, irregular sleep habits, and irregular work environments contribute to metabolic alterations which is characteristic of diabetes.

Did you know 1 out of 3 children born, in the year 2000, will develop diabetes in their lifetime? Diabetes is a serious disease. it can affect your vision, your heart, and your circulation. As adults, children look up to us. Are we going to watch our children die young from this disease or are we going to do something about it? We need to fight this epidemic before it is too late and show our children we care about them and ourselves. The children are our future and without them, there is no future.





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