The Insulin Epidemic
Even though it is nearing the end of the month, do not let these final days slip away without insuring that a silent killer is not sneaking up on you. November is Diabetes Awareness month in Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association is inviting everyone to visit their website at www.diabetes.ca to read some inspirational stories about volunteers, researchers and real people who live with this disease every day.
Over 9 million people in Canada, including more than 205,000 people in Alberta, have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition that can lead to developing Type 2 diabetes. This means that one in four people in Canada are already suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes and more than 20 people every hour are diagnosed with the disease.
There are two different types of diabetes which are most easily distinguished by the type of medication needed to control it. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas, which naturally creates the body's insulin, stops working. People affected by Type 1 diabetes require daily injections of insulin to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. This is also the most common form of diabetes diagnosed in children.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and medication in a pill form. Some experts believe that Type 2 diabetes is not "true" diabetes but rather the body becoming insulin resistant due to poor dietary habits. Until recent years it was also unknown for children to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (which was formerly known as Adult Onset Diabetes) but within the last 20 years it has been frequently diagnosed in children, with African American, Latino, and Aboriginal children particularly at risk. Type 2 diabetes now accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes cases diagnosed and if left untreated can progress and eventually require insulin injections as well.
There is also gestational diabetes which can occur during pregnancy but usually goes away after the baby is born.
The danger from diabetes is that without the proper amount of insulin in the system, which must be released by the pancreas, or introduced by injection, at the right times, the extra sugar which is naturally created by almost everything we eat, enters the blood stream. These copious amounts of sugar that have not been "refined" with insulin for proper absorption into our system thicken the blood, which puts stress on the heart by having to work extra hard to push the syrupy liquid around the body. The sugar crystals are also not properly processed and scrape and damage the inside of the veins as they travel. This causes damage to almost every organ in the body but particularly the kidneys and liver which are tasked with filtering the toxins out of your body.
Terrible side effects can occur from undiagnosed or untreated diabetes including, but not limited to, blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputations. The bottom line is that people with diabetes are at double the risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes than people without diabetes.
In an effort to raise awareness about diabetes which has now reached epidemic proportions in Canada, the Diabetes Assoc. has posted inspirational stories from people from across the country about what keeps them motivated in battling this disease in a series called "Who Are You Fighting For?"
At www.diabetes.org, if you click on "diabetes basics", there is a free type 2 diabetes risk test anyone can take, as well as suggestions to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Thankfully, today diabetes can be controlled with diet and medication but being a chronic disease it does have to be managed for the rest of a person's life. And with Type 2 diabetes, the earlier it is diagnosed the more chances you have of reversing some of the damage and leading a normal life. A healthy, happy, long life is certainly now possible for those living with diabetes so please make the time to take the risk assessment test and if you are at risk, make an appointment with your doctor and go into this holiday season having already received the greatest gift ever; your health!