Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Diabetes Threat: A Simple Overview

If you look like this, you may have Type II diabetes.>

I’ve been studying diabetes for several years now—because I have it—and quite possibly the best brief overview of it I’ve seen in that time is today’s column on the Huffington Post by Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The good doctor tells the tale simply, convincingly and with a positive message that you can beat this merciless disease with a little effort and some discipline.

About 90 percent of those of us with diabetes are Type II, meaning we developed it later in life and much of that is because we eat like pigs and don’t exercise. Belly fat is one of the primary culprits. If your pot is half your height, you have too much (at 5’ 10”, your waist should be 35”; I'm 4” over that).

Oz says there are 24 million diabetics in the U.S. (and six million don’t even know it). Those numbers are similar to stats on alcoholism. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a third of Americans will develop diabetes in coming years—and live 15 fewer years fewer as a result. The costs are huge ($175 billion now and looking at doubling in 25 years).

Oz says our culture has led to “a perfect storm” for the growth of Type II because our diets are awful (full of things like high fructose corn syrup—it’s ubiquitous—and sugar in nearly everything we eat that comes in a jar, can or box). We sit on our butts at work and after work, when we’re too tired from sitting on our butts at work to exercise.

I’ve been preaching for some time now to simply stay away from white food (except maybe cauliflower) containing highly processed flour, which turns into sugar. A physician once compared the flour to crack cocaine because it goes into your bloodstream without anything to slow it down.

Bad white foods include processed sugar, potatoes, pasta, white flour and the like and all have alternatives (sweet potatoes, whole grain flour in breads and pastas, for example). The doc says we eat 140 pounds of sugar a year. Each. Not per family or per neighborhood. That’s a little less than a cup of sugar per day. A soft drink has nine teaspoons of sugar in it.

Here’s what happens when diabetes is about to enter your life: you pee a lot; you’re tired; infections are frequent; your toes tingle (and this is not about sex, boys and girls), your vision becomes problematic. If your belly is big, you probably are diabetic or pre-diabetic. If you don’t exercise—an hour a day is good and don’t tell me you can’t do it; you can watch TV an hour a day—you’re being set up.

This one's up to you. Nobody can go to the greenway and take your walk and nobody can decline that piece of white bread except you.


  1. I've discovered that anything wheat (even whole grain) really shoots up my blood sugar. One of the best "owner's manuals" I've found for diabetics is Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solutions. you can read some of it online at

  2. I'm pre-diabetic and watch my blood glucose levels closely. A low-carb diet that allows copious amounts of veggies and some fruit keeps me stable. I'm almost certain I'd have developed diabetes if I didn't heed the warnings of my doc when I was in my 20s.

    And diabetes doesn't have to hit just the overweight or obese. I'm normal weight and the deadly disease still stalks.

    I tell everyone that if diabetes runs in the family, to purchase a low-cost blood glucose monitor. Test your blood sugars every morning and two hours after every meal. You want your blood sugars under 110 every morning upon waking and under 120 two hours after every meal. If your numbers are higher, talk to your doctor.

    If, at anytime, your blood sugar is over 200, run, don't walk to your doctor.

    And then throw all the crap out of your pantry and switch to a lower-carb lifestyle. Load up on veggies and lean meats. Vegetarian lifestyles can work, too.

    Exercise is essential. It's a no-brainer.

    Drink green tea. For some reason, my blood sugars are always more stable when I drink a couple of cups of green tea per day. (Not to mention that a cup a tea is good for the soul.)

    Dr. Oz's article was excellent. Huffington Post usually drives me to distraction, but every once in a while, they post something that makes me scream with delight. This is one of those times.