blood sugar levels

  1. Diabetes statistics on the rise

    How to avoid diabetes

    It's the "it" disease of the 21st century -- and if you don't know someone who has it now, just wait.

    Odds are, you will soon.

    "It" is diabetes, and new diabetes statistics from the CDC show it's on the rise in nearly every state -- and most of the increases are as super-sized as the nation's growing collective waistline.

    In Oklahoma, for example, diabetes statistics shot up by 226 percent between 1995 and 2010. In Kentucky, the increase was 158 percent.

    I could give you the rest of the diabetes statistics, but we'd be here a while: The disease rate shot up by 100 percent or more in 18 states, and 50 percent or more in 42 of them, according to the CDC.

    In total, close to 19 million Americans have now been diagnosed with diabetes, while 7 million more are believed to have the disease and not know it.

    Don't expect these rates to slow anytime soon, since another 80 million people have pre-diabetes, or the elevated blood sugar levels and other risk factors that will lead to the disease in up to 30 percent of them within five years.

    That means the diabetes statistics could actually double by 2018. And if the current trends continue, a third of all Americans -- more than 100 million people -- could have the disease by the middle of the century.

    Not next century... this century.

    Diabetes means more than a lifetime of checking blood sugar levels and an endless supply of meds. It means a higher risk of serious and deadly health problems -- including an early death from heart disease.

    If you don't have the disease yet, the time to act is now. There are three simple steps you can take starting today to stop yourself from becoming one of these diabetes statistics.

    1. Lose weight. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes -- and the same diet of processed junk foods that will expand your waistline will also cause your insulin levels to spike and fall until you develop insulin resistance. You can make dramatic improvements to your diet, improve your blood sugar control, and kick-start your weight-loss program all at the same time with step number 2.

    2. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup. This sweetener has become one of the most common food additives in the United States, in everything from bread to salad dressing. But studies have shown it may cause more weight gain than regular sugar and increase your risk of diabetes at the same time. I'll have more on this link later in the week, so keep an eye on your inbox.

    3. Be sure to get enough vitamin D. It's one of the nation's top nutritional deficiencies, and people with low levels of the sunshine vitamin have a higher risk of diabetes. Your own needs will vary, but most people need a supplement with between 2,000 IU and 5,000 IU per day.

    There's more to it than that, of course, and there are some nutrients and even specific foods that can help cut your risk.

    For example, one new study finds that black tea drinkers have a lower risk of diabetes than people who drink little to no tea. Green tea has also shown to help lower the risk.

    If you're one of the nation's 80 million prediabetics, speak to a holistic physician who can help you come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid the disease. And if you're in the southern California area, make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

  2. Easy ways to avoid diabetes now

    Stop diabetes before it starts

    Diabetes is a lifetime of pricked fingers, insulin injections, and enough drugs to open your own pharmacy -- and who wants to live like that?

    You don't have to, of course. You don't have to if you have the disease and work hard to get it under control and even cured (and yes, it can be cured). And you certainly don't have to if you've been diagnosed with "pre" diabetes.

    All you need to do is get your blood sugar levels under control.

    It's obvious, of course, but apparently not obvious enough since 70 percent of the 80 million people with pre-diabetes are expected to go on and get the disease anyway.

    But if you have the condition, you don't have to share their fate -- because a new study of more than 3,000 pre-diabetics confirms that normalizing your blood sugar levels even briefly can cut your risk of the disease by 56 percent.

    The key word here is "briefly." Don't settle for "briefly," like the patients in this study -- control your blood sugar permanently, and you can slash your diabetes risk by 100 percent.

    The researchers claim it didn't matter how the patients brought their blood sugar levels down. Whether they did it with the drug metformin or through lifestyle changes, the reduction in risk was the same.

    And they're wrong on that, because out in the real world it matters quite a bit.

    There's been a big rush to put pre-diabetics onto metformin, and some doctors are even giving it to obese patients as a weight-loss tool, but this drug comes with far too many risks to be used that widely.

    Some of the risks are simply embarrassing -- like bad gas and diarrhea. Others are downright dangerous, including a potentially deadly condition called lactic acidosis in which too much acid enters the blood.

    Healthy lifestyle changes, on the other hand, can do so much more than slash your risk of diabetes every bit as effectively as the drug and then some. They can also lower your risk of just about every major killer today: heart disease, cancer, stroke and more.

    Don't wait for pre-diabetes to set in. Make those changes now. I'll have more on some simple ways to slash your risk of diabetes in Sunday's House Calls, so keep an eye on your inbox.

  3. The wrong way to 'cure' diabetes

    Despite what you've heard, type-2 diabetes doesn't have to be a lifelong sentence. You don't have to live with the disease or even "manage" it. It can be cured -- and I mean really, truly cured: No more drugs, and no more insulin.
  4. Government guidelines lead to heart disease

    The U.S. government's dietary guidelines released last year allow people to get as much as 25 percent of their calories from added sugars. If it's not immediately obvious why that's a bad idea, a new study spells it out.
  5. Slash your diabetes risk with this simple vitamin

    It's so easy it seems unreal: A key weapon in the fight against diabetes might be hovering right outside your window, right now. It's the sun -- the primary source of vitamin D, and a new study shows how this pancreas-boosting super nutrient can help stop the disease before it starts.
  6. Cinnamon extract lowers blood sugar levels

    Cinnamon isn't just a tasty spice… it could also help you beat diabetes.
  7. Lifestyle trumps meds... again

    Bad news for Big Pharma--a slew of new studies finds that diabetes meds do little to prevent diabetes-related death, and virtually nothing at all to stop new cases of the disease.
  8. FDA drops the ball on diabetes drug

    Several recent studies on a popular diabetes drug have linked it to an increased risk of cancer.
  9. Diabetes: Even worse than you thought

    The latest data links the disease to an increased risk of Alzheimer's, and shows how diabetes appears to help dementia take hold faster once it sets in.

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