Diabetes - Myths and Prevention
Diabetes, Myths, Medicine and Management
There are a lot of myths about diabetes. A simplistic view of metabolic science is the usual culprit! Are you prejudiced against people with diabetes? What is your reaction when someone is diagnosed as pre-diabetic? Do you make fun of them? Do you say "I have no sympathy for diabetics, they're digging a grave with their teeth?" Of course you don't, that would be crass, rude and horrible! But many people actually do, including some doctors.
As someone who has staved the worst of this genetic illness off for many years with strict diet, exercise and herbal medicine alone I know what I am talking about. Help should be given sooner before it seriously impacts on work and family life. To be honest, the diagnosis came as a relief - years of exhaustion and illness were finally resulting in medical treatment. The only thing I have to do now is remember to eat - I starved myself before to no avail...
Diabetes and Blood Sugar
In diabetes, blood sugar is abnormally high. Often (but not always) sugar is found in the urine. Sugar in the blood is made from all foods, including healthy protein, fruit and vegetables. It is not there because the patient eats too much sugar, in fact it is not there because the patient necessarily eats too much of anything. It is there because it cannot be transported into the cells to produce energy. Either there is not enough insulin for the job, or the patient suffers insulin resistance.
Is Diabetes Self-Inflicted?
Or should we think twice before heaping unjustified blame on patients.
The condition of diabetes is often regarded as self-inflicted. In an era of zero tolerance some patients are receiving little help for serious and potentially fatal medical conditions on the grounds that they are self harming. Smoking and cancer maybe? Alcoholism and liver failure perhaps? No, genetically predetermined conditions: impaired fasting glycaemia and metabolic syndrome!
Why? Because all overweight people are deemed to be to blame for their state! However, impaired fasting glycaemia and metabolic syndrome hit the slightly overweight and the morbidly obese alike! For the slightly overweight person who is already eating less than the recommended daily allowance of calories and whose weight remains an absolute constant for years the constant carping of health gurus about diet and exercise is a cruel joke! Add this to the exhaustion that accompanies such a regime of pointless diet and frantic exercise to no avail and it becomes an irritation too....
This might be a controversial view, but it needs stating publicly. Patients with these conditions deserve proper medical treatment before they become seriously ill, not nagging about a problem they may not be able to solve with diet and exercise alone! What is true of the 25 stone glutton is not true of the 13 stone sufferer of a genetic disorder! Whilst Type 2 diabetes CAN be caused by the kind of extreme gluttony that IS accompanied by rapid and easy weight loss on a diet it can also be caused by genes passed on from parents!
What is the St Vincent Declaration - A Charter for Diabetes Sufferers
The St Vincent Declaration is a promise that sufferers will receive the best available medical care to avoid the worst complications of untreated diabetes which include blindness, kidney failure and gangrene
Although the St Vincent Declaration is often forgotten and hardly ever applied, it is available to download and read. Be informed of this when you speak to your doctor. You deserve the best treatment, treatment you would expect for any illness, not being put off until your illness becomes life threatening.
Are you Ignorant about Diabetes?
Do you subscribe to cruel myths about diabetes?
Too many people are ignorant of the real causes of Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes and prefer to perpetuate blame myths about sufferers. If the same amount of blame were thrown at non-smoking lung cancer victims or non-drinking liver failure patients there would be uproar! It is time the blame culture was recognised for the damaging and unprofessional set of myths it is. It is time that doctors focused on early treatment instead of hiding behind these myths. These are myths which can hide potentially lethal illnesses at worst and cause unhappiness at best. The necessity of treatment should be decided by patient symptoms, not numbers and targets. It is time to end inaction and suffering!
In addition there are several serious medical conditions that can go dangerously untreated without that definite diagnosis. The assumption that the patient is "pre-diabetic" and can be cured with "lifestyle changes" is itself dangerous. It is like refusing to treat angina because it could be indigestion.
Living with metabolic disorder is no picnic. The treatment for metabolic disorder, PCOS and Type 2 diabetes are exactly the same drugs. The three conditions are so linked as to be nearly indistinguishable but the treatment options are not equal. In Type 2 diabetes you will be offered drug treatments after three months of lifestyle change has failed, in PCOS you will be offered those exact same drugs pre-menopause if you are attempting to get pregnant.
However, if you have metabolic disorder you will be offered treatment for blood pressure and elevated cholesterol but the basic cause - impaired fasting glycaemia - will almost certainly be untreated for years until the full onset of Type 2 diabetes inevitably kicks in. If you are a woman post-menopause the exact same symptoms are likely to go completely untreated although you might be offered HRT! This is not a level playing field. A little bit of help with the identical medication would save so much anguish....
I can't say this strongly enough for medical professionals to hear. People with borderline diabetes are not to blame for their illness! Impaired fasting glycaemia and metabolic disorder have a genetic basis, not just a lifestyle component, PCOS and sub-clinical thyroid problems can cause these symptoms too. Actual treatment should be offered, not JUST lifestyle advice! Patients: if medical treatment is refused or denied, you could consider naturopathic medicine, herbal medicine or Ayurvedic treatment. These do help regulate metabolism and help lifestyle changes make an actual positive difference instead of just slowing the inevitable.
What is Insulin?
... a short explanation....
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that breaks down glucose. It does this so the glucose can enter the cell and be converted into energy by the mitochondria. If you are insulin resistant the cells react slowly and this slows the rate of glucose use. The glucose level in the blood increases leading to pre diabetes. The free glucose in the blood goes to the liver where it is turned to lipids and some is stored as fat. The pancreas struggles to make more insulin and this insulin in the blood stream stimulates the liver to produce more lipids and cholesterol - a viscious circle which makes you more prone to arterial disease and heart attacks.
Diabetes can have several causes.
Diabetes - Type 1, Type 2 and Metabolic Disorder
Type 1 diabetes is usually due to pancreatic failure, is more frequent in young people and is often a consequence of a severe viral illness. It is thought to be caused by an auto-immune reaction.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by failure of the pancreas and increased insulin resistance over time. It may be due in part to an unhealthy lifestyle and is more common in the elderly and obese. Diet and exercise can sometimes delay the onset if started early enough.
Metabolic disorder is a syndrome characterized by high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. There is a genetic predisposition to diabetes and the patient is not necessarily morbidly obese or leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
Diabetes - Herbal Treatment - Are there natural treatments for diabetes?
Many self help books and products are largely feeding off the myth that only obesity causes the condition, but if you ARE obese (and that means a BMI of 34 and above does it not) and regularly overeat you could do worse than think about herbal remedies to regulate appetite!
Treat Diabetes or Wait? - A Doctor's Dilemma, A Patient Refused Help, A Fiscal Saving, Dangerous Medicine....
It seems that to get treatment for type 2 diabetes in the early stages is virtually impossible. Doctors are handicapped by treatment guidelines that do not allow for individuality or early onset of symptoms. It seems common for pre-diabetic patients to suffer a euphemistically titled "honeymoon period" during which they are only offered re-testing and lifestyle counselling. If lifestyle counselling and change does not work you wait, and wait, and wait until sugar levels rise sufficiently to cause permanent damage to eyes, feet and kidneys....
Actually, what makes this even worse is there are several other metabolic disorders that cause consistent rises in fasting blood sugar and symptoms resulting thereby which have nothing to do with diabetes. To name but two dangerous conditions that go untreated as "metabolic syndrome treatable by lifestyle changes" in the diabetic "honeymoon period": thyroid imbalance and Cushings Syndrome. The tests to identify them are not often undertaken because they do not fit the script and are comparatively rare. Thyroid problems are rarely identified early anyway because of a huge "normal" range in results. Cushings can be due to cancer which makes late detection even more reprehensible!
An HB1AC would rule out pre-diabetes, sending the patient en route to an endocrinologist if necessary, but it is not generally undertaken in the UK until the diagnosis of diabetes is complete!
Thank you for reading this far - please stay with me for a little longer!
Should diabetes treatment be offered earlier but on a normal paid prescription basis?
You deserve the best medical treatment available!
It is vital you understand the consequences not only of not making necessary lifestyle changes, but also of not receiving the proper medical care you deserve!
Consequences of Diabetes Mismanagement - Diabetic Foot Problems - Seeing is believing
Follow these links to see photo evidence of diabetic mismanagement and details of diabetic and prediabetic conditions.
- Foot problems can be much worse with high blood sugar!
This short slide show illustrates common foot problems which may even lead to amputation in untreated diabetic patients
- Information on diabetic retinopathy
Yes, type 2 diabetics can also lose their sight if untreated for too long. This site explains everything about diabetic retinopathy....
How Diabetes is treated - Books about Diabetes Treatment
These books give the conventional medical information on the condition and may be useful resources.
Dangerous Myths About Diabetes
Blaming the patient for the illness
1. Pre diabetes is a condition with no physical symptoms
2. Diabetes and pre-diabetes are caused by sedentary lifestyle, obesity, insulin resistance, smoking, too many cakes and sweets, alcoholic abuse and an unhealthy lifestyle
3. Standard blood and urine tests are effective in diagnosis and prevention
4. Insulin resistance is reversible simply by losing weight and living a more active, healthy lifestyle.
5. Pre diabetes symptoms are due to obesity.
If the definition of obesity also includes a range between 20 pounds underweight and 20 pounds overweight perhaps.....
6. "A marked weight loss is observed in spite of an increase in appetite for the reason that the body cannot utilize the food, specifically the carbohydrates, into energy and fat, so it cannot be stored and you lose weight."
This myth is only true once the pancreas has completely failed as inType 1!
7. " resistance to insulin and being overweight, which can be corrected by changing to a balanced regular exercise a nutritious diet and support to encourage healthier lifestyle changes".
When the patient has already made those changes this is very unhelpful advice and support indeed!
8. Being overweight is the main cause of insulin resistance which causes the development of diabetes.
No, diabetes is a condition that is predominantly hereditary. Thin people may also have it if they have a genetic predisposition. Some people can be morbidly overweight, yet still not develop the condition because good genes protect them!.
9. "Other conditions and symptoms like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels that may arise because of pre diabetes should ...... be treated with medications until weight is controlled and lowered to normal levels. As soon as the diet affects insulin production into normal, cholesterol and blood pressure will also normalize."
Not only bad grammar, but also untrue! Blood pressure caused or aggravated by insulin resistance and hormone imbalance is often entrenched by the time insulin resistance is discovered. Unless the patient is actually morbidly obese through overeating, these changes will not reduce the need for a lifetime of medication!
10. One size fits all. Lose weight, exercise and give up unhealthy habits and you will either cure yourself of or prevent diabetes.
Diabetes and Cinnamon - Cinnamon Treatment for Raised Blood Sugar
If your doctor says you are not diabetic, but you are just a little short of it and showing symptoms, you might get some relief from taking cinnamon and chromium supplements. This is not a complete myth as both these substances help the body to control glucose levels. I still use these myself and feel my blood sugar and symptoms are better controlled when I add these supplements to using Metformin. I asked the diabetic nurse about it, and she said to go ahead as she couldn't see them doing any harm! However, it has to be said that neither is actually a cure for serious diabetes or other metabolic disorder. An analogy - you have a headache due to stress, a painkiller will cure the headache but the stress if not dealt with will cause it to return!
Cinnamon without pills!
Not keen on all these pills? Cinnamon was a real life saver for me while I was waiting for my GP to offer treatment. One way of enjoying it is to sprinkle cinnamon on top of your coffee. I like to put it in to the mix with the water, stir well and add milk afterwards. You can also cook with cinnamon, add cinnamon sticks to a kettle for making instant coffee or too a cafetierre for filter. When you make a curry with rice, add cinnamon sticks and cardamons and maybe a little saffron to the pan to make your own pilau rice. It tastes nice and helps you handle the carbohydrates in the rice. Although you will still need to be careful with quantity as rice is very high GI and will make blood sugars spike and dip, the cinnamon helps your pancreas handle it.
Symptoms of "Pre-Diabetes"
Diabetes is a condition that can easily be lived with if caught and treated early and correctly. Prejudice and ignorance prevents this. It is time for a change!
So you too were told there is no such thing as Pre-diabetic symptoms?
Think again! This is the most deadly myth of all!
Interestingly, the medical profession in the UK now no longer acknowledges "pre-diabetes" as a medical condition at all. It is now called "Impaired fasting glycaemia". What this means, is that the short term first insulin response is adequate, but the long term continual one is impaired. This is why you have no energy, put on weight despite dietary control, and have elevated cortisol levels in the blood. This condition is a major stressor and when it affects cholesterol levels and blood pressure you will be offered statins and blood pressure tablets - but nothing to help your basic metabolic problem.
The symptoms of this condition are real and frightening. In the UK, diagnosed diabetics receive free medical treatment for life. I may be called cynical but I believe early diabetics are kept untreated to avoid costing the NHS money. In the USA "impaired fasting glycaemia", metabolic syndrome and PCOS are treated with Metformin and relief from symptoms is quick. Not so in the UK where drugs are reserved for those already in much more serious trouble. It is a false economy! The consequence of serious untreated illness makes a mockery of prevention. The symptoms can and do poison the lives of sufferers and their families and also undermine earning (and tax!) potential!
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below and your vision is blurred at times, please visit your optician and ask for diabetic screening. The first damage is often caused to the eye and you could be well on the way to blindness due to AMD, cataract or diabetic retinopathy before your diabetes is treated! Diabetic retinopathy screening is offered, but only to those who have been formally diagnosed. A good eye examination will show up any changes due to elevated blood sugar and you will be referred to a proper specialist at the hospital. Many people are diagnosed this way on the advice of kindly doctors, nurses and diabetic acquaintances!
1. Polyuria, or increase in urination, the body is trying to flush out the excessive glucose in its cells with water.
2. An increased feeling of thirst is due to dehydration caused by polyuria
3. Tiredness occurs because glucose is not being utilized by the cells, this is not normal tiredness and can be accompanied by mood swings and fiery temper.
4. A feeling of being ill headaches, nausea or dizziness may occur due to decrease in energy production by the cells.
5. Blurred vision occurs when high glucose levels cause water to deform the lens of the eye making vision unfocused, it may also be caused by cataracts due to high steroid levels in those with metabolic syndrome.
6. Thrush is caused by the drying up of skin due to increased blood sugar.
7. Insulin resistance causes cardiovascular disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disorder that may lead to infertility.
8. Related to 6, skin rashes and fungal infections may also occur on scalp and nails posing as psoriasis.
9. Decreased sensation, numbness, pins and needles in extremities. Can eventially lead to gangrene if untreated!
10. Pain in region of pancreas, a dull ache obviously indicates all is not well!
Recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is NOT your fault. Your genes failed you, you fought a constant battle for years and years and did really well to keep it at bay as long as you did. There is no cure, but there is help...
Author to donate profits to juvenile diabetes research
As a writer myself, I get a lot of messages from other writers publicising their books. Sometimes one just hits home, as this lady did.
- Julie Hodgson's website
Here you can find out about her life, her books and why she donates the proceeds of her writing to charity and particularly research on cancer and juvenile diabetes. If there is one thing worse than finding out you have diabetes as an adult it is hav