Over the past 30 years the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has skyrocketed, from about 6 million in 1980 to almost 19 million today. As this problem spirals out of control, researchers are racing to find new treatments for this devastating disease.
More than 25 million Americans have diabetes
- 25.8 million: Americans with diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed)
- 79 million: Americans with pre-diabetes
- $174 billion: Annual cost of treating diabetes
Recently, scientists at Newcastle University in England reported that a 600-calorie-a-day diet appeared to reverse type 2 diabetes in a small group of patients who had diabetes for less than four years. Seven patients out of 10 were still diabetes-free three months after they stopped the extreme eight-week diet, which consisted of meal-replacement drinks and three daily servings of non-starchy vegetables.
On the surgical front, a weight-loss surgery known as a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass has proven surprisingly effective at reversing type 2 diabetes: 80 percent of patients undergoing this surgery — which involves creating a pouch in the upper part of the stomach and attaching it farther down the small intestine — experience dramatic remission of their diabetes. These results are seen just days after weight loss surgery and before much weight loss occurs.
Such findings have led to a surge of research attempting to understand how gastric bypass affects the regulation of blood sugar. While it’s unclear exactly how this works, most theories focus on the previously underappreciated role of the small intestine and stomach as endocrine, or hormone-releasing, organs. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in particular seems to alter specific hormones that help regulate the body’s response to sugar.
Still, the last thing I would recommend is that people rely on extreme diets or radical stomach-rerouting surgeries to solve an often preventable problem. If your fasting blood glucose level is above 100, the time to act is now.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large multicenter research study, has shown that overweight people with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk for diabetes by 58 percent if they lose just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight. Most important is getting 150 minutes of physical exercise each week: Physical exertion helps muscle cells better use glucose and can lead to weight loss, which can help ward off diabetes.
FICTION: Diabetics need a special diet.
FACT: Not long ago diabetics were urged to forgo sweets and drastically limit their intake of carbohydrates. But a slew of new research suggests that diabetics are best served by following the same healthy guidelines everyone else does: plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and dairy products, and sparing amounts of heart-healthy fats.
FICTION: There’s a cure for diabetes.
FACT: Halle Berry’s claims to the contrary — in 2007 she announced she had been cured of her type 1 diabetes — there is no cure for either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, says Sue Kirkman, M.D., senior vice president at the ADA. According to a study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, however, 56 percent of type 2 diabetics who followed a Mediterranean-style diet could control their blood sugar without medication.
FICTION: Being overweight causes diabetes.
FACT: Just because you’re heavy doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get diabetes. In fact, 34 percent of adults 20 and older are obese, but just 10.7 percent have diabetes. Still, experts agree that being obese, especially combined with a genetic predisposition for diabetes, can trigger the disease. Research in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that those who were obese at age 50 and gained 20 pounds were five times likelier to develop diabetes than those who weren’t obese at 50
Submitted By: Therapy
References: Article by AARP – Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardio-thoracic surgeon