Diabetes: Choosing between Nutrition or Medication
The degree to which Drugs prevent Type 2 diabetes is mediocre in comparison to the effectiveness of diet and life interventions
Diabetes is often thought of as a sugar and insulin disorder with serious side effects if ignored or left untreated. Rarely do we consider that diabetes, like many prevailing chronic conditions, can be an outcome of unbalanced and insufficient essential nutrient supply to hard working cells and organs in our body.
It is now widely accepted that the severity and final outcome of diabetes onset and progression is modifiable through diet and lifestyle factors.
Type II diabetes is a slow onset disease that can go undetected for years. In its final form it manifests as dangerously high blood sugar levels. It creeps up via a slow and insidious decline in the ability of insulin and the insulin receptors on cells around the body to do what they are meant to do. On the other hand Type I diabetes indicates a processes of beta-cell destruction in the pancreas that may ultimately lead to diabetes in which insulin is required (usually via injection) for survival.
Factors that predispose a person to Type 2 diabetes are unbalanced diet with sub-optimal nutrient intake, sedentary lifestyle and obesity, progressive insulin resistance, genetic pressure via presence of this disorder in other family members and for women, the occurrence of gestational diabetes or PCOS.
In addition, PRE-diabetes, manifesting as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose levels (IFG), are risk categories for the future development of BOTH diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
As diabetes is characterised by chronic high blood sugar, it is also important to note that certain MEDICATIONS can elevate blood sugar levels.
Diabetes screening is now more common in standard medical practices due to its rising prevalence and associated health care costs. However a more PROACTIVE screening is required to detect onset and progression in many of us who have no noticeable symptoms.
This involves revealing your history and diet via a short but thorough interview, some laboratory tests and a simple assessment of body composition like height, weight and waist measurements.
What’s wrong with diabetes anyway?
Most of the consequences of diabetes result from complications and damage to our fragile blood capillaries and nerves.
“Death, mostly due to CORONARY HEART DISEASE (CHD) in many populations, is 2–4 times higher than in the non-diabetic population, and people with diabetes have a 2-fold increased risk of STROKE.
Diabetes is the leading cause of end stage KIDNEY FAILURE in many populations in both developed and developing countries.
Lower extremity AMPUTATIONS are at least 10 times more common in people with diabetes than in non-diabetic individuals in developed countries, and MORE THAN HALF of all non- traumatic lower limb amputations are due to diabetes.
In developed countries, diabetes is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and BLINDNESS” Report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Other side effects include chronic pain, depression and autoimmune disorders like thyroid and arthritic conditions.
Nutrition and lifestyle VERSUS Medication to prevent Type II Diabetes
Several well designed large clinical trials have shown that diet and lifestyle modifications can be used to effectively PREVENT Type II diabetes. The degree to which Drugs prevent Type II diabetes PALES in comparison to the effectiveness of diet and life interventions.
A well documented study using 3234 subjects with pre-diabetes (they ALL had impaired glucose tolerance) in 2002 demonstrated that lifestyle and diet modifications reduced the incidence of Type II diabetes by 58% while a common medication only reduced its incidence by 31% compared to a placebo. This drug that can also sometimes have serious side effects.