for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts, that number could increase to one in three by 2050.
The CDC analysis predicts that new diabetes cases each year will also increase from eight per 1,000 people in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050. In all, they estimated that one-third of U.S. adults will become diabetic in the next four decades.
Diabetes cases are expected to rise on the global scale as well, from 285 million in 2010 to 438 million in 2030, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Diabetes Can Go Unrecognized for Years
Diabetes currently costs the United States $174 billion a year, $116 billion of which is for direct medical costs, according to CDC data. These costs are easily incurred because of the extreme toll type 2 diabetes can take on your health; in fact, the CDC notes that people with diabetes have twice the medical costs as those without it.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or has become resistant to it. Anytime you eat, your body depends on insulin to take the glucose from the foods you eat and transfer it to your cells where it’s used for energy.
If your body does not have enough insulin, or your body has become resistant to the insulin it does have, glucose builds up in your bloodstream, leading to serious complications.
Already, 24 million Americans have diabetes, but one-quarter of them do not know they have it. An estimated 57 million also have pre-diabetes, a stepping-stone to the actual disease, and again many do not know it. This is because symptoms often develop slowly, sometimes over a period years, and may be easy to miss.
Initial diabetes symptoms include:
Increased thirst, caused by excess sugar in your bloodstream pulling fluids from your tissues, and frequent urination
Feelings of hunger, as your cells are not getting enough glucose for energy
Unexplained weight loss, as your body burns through fat and muscle since it’s not getting energy from glucose
Fatigue, since your cells are not receiving glucose for energy
Blurred vision, caused by fluid being pulled from your eye lenses
Diabetes Poses Serious Risks to Your Health
If left untreated, diabetes can be a devastating, even life-threatening, illness. As of 2007, the latest year for which data is available, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, as well as the leading cause of:
New cases of blindness in those under 75
Leg and foot amputations (non-accident related)
Type 2 diabetes also increases your risk of:
Heart disease and stroke
Blindness or vision problems
Neuropathy (nerve damage), which can lead to toe, foot or leg amputation
Problems during pregnancy
Bacterial and fungal skin infections
Based on the CDC’s report, one in three Americans could be at risk of developing not only type 2 diabetes, but also this laundry list of serious, even life-threatening, complications over the next several decades. This is an alarming prospect, but one that you and your family can use completely to your advantage because type 2 diabetes is often entirely preventable.
Do You Want to Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes by More than Half?
A trial from the National Institutes of Health Diabetes Prevention Program showed that lifestyle intervention programs reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent — and that was among people already at higher risk of the disease.
What this means is that you can take steps right now to drastically reduce your risk of succumbing to diabetes, even if you’re currently overweight, insulin resistant, pre-diabetic or otherwise showing increased risk factors for the disease. In fact, even if you already have type 2 diabetes, these same lifestyle changes can help you to manage the illness and, oftentimes, reverse it.
What types of lifestyle interventions am I referring to?
First and foremost, attention to proper diet and regular exercise. These will be your tickets to staying diabetes-free, but you’ve got to make sure you’re eating the right diet and doing the proper types and intensity of exercise.
Unfortunately, if you see most physicians in the United States, they’ll typically give you drugs for diabetes, which not only ignore the underlying causes of the disease, but typically make you get worse, not better, over time.
For instance, more than half a million Americans currently take the diabetes drug Avandia, which has been linked to a 43 percent greater risk of heart attack and an increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes.
Insulin injections are also fraught with their own set of problems, as most type 2 diabetics do not lack insulin — rather their body has lost the ability to utilize it. Adding even more insulin to your system is therefore not the solution, and in fact can cause a set of new health problems in and of itself, like increased risks of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain, all from excessively high insulin levels.
It’s a complex issue and one that requires the guidance of a health care practitioner who can help you look beyond the label of the disease and uncover WHY you developed diabetes in the first place. There may be nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, organ dysfunction or other factors at play that need to be addressed.
So, if you currently have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, or have risk factors for the disease like family history, a sedentary lifestyle, or excess weight, it’s important to understand that drugs and insulin are not the solution. If your physician prescribes them, it may be time to seek the help of a new health care provider who can offer you a customized treatment program to reverse the course of the disease, naturally, without drugs or insulin.
And for those of you who are interested in preventing the disease outright, be sure you eat a range of healthy foods, including plenty of fresh veggies, stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
This will all but ensure that one, two or more decades from now you’ll be completely diabetes-free.