Diabetes Deception Month
November is Diabetes Awareness Month (again) -- which means you'll hardly be able to flip on the TV or open a newspaper without being reminded of it.
You'll also be bludgeoned by the horrible health statistics as diabetes continues its epidemic spread across America and the world.
To kick off the month, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is sounding the alarm (again) in nationwide press releases that remind us:
"With nearly 24 million children and adults in the US living with diabetes, and an additional 57 million Americans at risk, there is no time to waste. One out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes if current trends continue. Diabetes is not merely a condition. It is disease (sic) with deadly consequences. Drastic action is needed. From everyone."
This Certainly Sounds Urgent
From the ADA's tone, you'd think diabetes was some menacing new virus that just popped up on our shores and started infecting people by the millions.
But diabetes has been ever-mounting public health threat for decades, with rates steadily increasing year after year.
My research shows that the first "National Diabetes Month" was designated by Congress in 1986 as Public Law 99 - 460. Its stated purpose was "to increase public awareness about the dangers of diabetes and the need for continued research and education efforts."
Back then, a little over 5 million adults had diabetes -- but it was a menacing enough problem to declare a national proclamation.
That Awareness Didn't Seem to Help
By 1989, the ADA announced the rate of diabetes had doubled to more than 11 million Americans, or 6.5% of the adult population.
The following year, an Associated Press headline announced: "US diabetes rates soar in 1999." This article included a quote from then director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Jeffrey Koplan stating "this dramatic new evidence signals the unfolding damage in the US" with another CDC official chiming in that "the message is out there -- 'lose weight by increasing physical activity and changing diet.' But nobody's doing it."
Things Only Got Worse From There
There is no arguing with the fact that there's been a dramatic rise of diabetes in the US over the past three decades. It's utterly mind-boggling how diabetes has gotten out of hand.
Even worse are new CDC projections announced last week, which predicts that 33% of our adult population will be diabetic by 2050 "without more trips to the gym or a serious shedding of those extra pounds."
What really got me was the CDC's solution to this serious epidemic:
"The treatment for this kind of diabetes is: Bringing weight down, and eating a better diet, in many cases. And health apps can help, although we're not really using them much."
So that's the answer. Shame on all you diabetics for not using your iPhone apps.
Yes, They're Really Serious About This
It would be laughable if it weren't for the tragic amount of human suffering these cold statistics fail to reflect.
Equally sad is the failure of the medical community to halt the diabetes juggernaut -- and of current medical treatments to contain it.
It's heartbreaking to think of the millions of people struggling to afford diabetes medications and test strips in the mistaken belief that these will improve their condition -- or protect them from the horrible complications that the vast majority of diabetics eventually succumbed to.
Yes, I'm saying that monitoring your blood sugar levels is practically useless for people with Type 2. This was proven by both the ESMON study and the Diabetes Glycemic Education and Monitoring (DiGEM) Trial.
The conclusion of these studies is summed up by report in the medical journal Endocrine Today which states: "High costs and reports of decreased quality of life make self-monitoring more of a hindrance than a help." (A polite way of saying "worthless.")
Yet, despite this well-published research, doctors continue to instruct Type 2 diabetics to test their blood sugar levels regularly.
More Diabetes Mistakes
But what about lowering your blood sugar with diabetes drugs? Surely that helps, right?
Hardly. The medical community was shocked by results from the 2008 ACCORD study which found that Type 2 diabetics who use drugs to lower their blood sugar to normal levels (6%) actually suffered more heart attacks and deaths than those who allowed their levels to float higher (7%-7.9%).
The findings were so stunning that the study was halted early to save the lives of the remaining participants.
More Drugs, More Deaths
Then there are all those other drugs that many diabetics are taking to protect against the nasty complications of their condition, such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, and kidney failure. Are they effective?
Nope. Another part of the ACCORD study showed that this intensive drug therapy failed to reduce heart attacks, strokes or death from cardiovascular causes.
In effect, zero protection -- and then there were all those drug side effects. For what?
This Is "Awareness?"
Despite all this reliable research, the ADA and most doctors continue to advise Type 2 diabetics to test their blood sugar regularly ... drive down their glucose numbers with drug therapy ... and take various "protective" drugs to guard against diabetic complications.
These studies show that current conventional therapy for diabetes is ineffective, dangerous, expensive, diminishes the quality of life for the average patient, and fails to improve ultimate outcomes.
What it does do is make billions of dollars for the Diabetes Industry ($174 billion in 2009), for which the ADA is the prime cheerleader.
Can't we do better?
We Absolutely Can.
We've had research since the 1980s showing that insulin resistance (prediabetes) and Type 2 diabetes can be completely reversed with simple diet and lifestyle modifications. (Incredibly, this research appears in the ADA research archives!)
Numerous subsequent studies have confirmed that reducing the consumption of those refined carbohydrate foods and beverages which trigger spikes in blood sugar and insulin is the simple solution to the Type 2 diabetes "epidemic."
This not only prevents the occurrence, but also reverses its presence. It is prevention, treatment, and cure rolled up into one neat, inexpensive bundle.
If there is to be a Diabetes Awareness campaign, these little-know points should be its focus.
Is This Really a Cure?
It certainly appears to be. At least it's the most successful option we have so far.
Diet and lifestyle modification dramatically lowers blood sugar levels and reverses the insulin resistance that underlies Type 2. Patients are able to withdraw from medications entirely and remain symptom-free as long as they keep eating sensibly.
Critics contend this is not a true cure because the patient can't resume eating the junk that caused their diabetes in the first place. (Who in their right mind would want to do that?) They maintain that diet-and-lifestyle merely "controls" symptoms.
This Is Splitting Hairs Unnecessarily
If a Type 2 or prediabetes patient is able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, lower their risk of heart attack and other complications to that of non-diabetics, and stay off diabetes medications, then that's "cure" enough for me.
It also should be convincing enough for the ADA and the medical community.
But it isn't. And I believe the reason for their skepticism has everything to do with money.
You see, that $174 billion spent for diabetes treatments every year pays a lot of executive salaries, employs a lot of workers, generates healthy stock dividends for investors, and basically transfers money from the pockets of patients to the balance sheets of drug companies, manufacturers, and suppliers. (Less than 1% of that $174 billion is spent for public education.)
Total expenditures for diabetes treatments worldwide were $400 million last year. By the end of this decade, that figure will spike like your blood sugar after downing a pint of Ben and Jerry's to one trillion bucks annually. This is a very big "industry" indeed.
It's Simple Freakonomics, Folks
If we even put an end to diabetes, most of that diabetes revenue would dry up.
The shameful fact is: There's more money in treating diabetes than curing it -- which is why I believe we'll never see the long-awaited medical cure in our lifetime.
That's why the ADA and the medical community pay lip service to diet-and-lifestyle by castigating diabetics for not losing weight or using their iPhone apps, while continuing to push its high-carb, low-fat diet and drug treatment as the mainstays of their strategy.
If they really wanted to wipe out diabetes as their new Stop Diabetes® implies, they could do it in a single generation.
How? With an aggressive campaign that made people truly aware of the foods and beverages that elevate blood sugar and spike insulin. (No more of that vague "eat a better diet" jazz.) If more people realized the direct influence that our current high-carb diet has on diabetes and obesity, we'd see dramatic improvements in both conditions.
It's not only cowardly not to point fingers at the food products that are directly responsible for bad blood sugar and bulging waistlines, but it's irresponsible -- especially for physicians who have taken an oath to protect the public well-being.
And telling patients to "lose some weight" passes the buck entirely (as if it were the real solution anyway). This puts the blame squarely on the patient without us ever having to look at the roles our food, agricultural and medical systems play.
Don't Fall for the Hype
If the ADA was serious about taking the "drastic action" its November press release called for, we'd see them proposing mandatory posting of calorie content on menus ... a health tax on the foods and beverages that are overburdening our healthcare system ... regulation of junk food ads that target our kids ... incentives and payments for physicians who take the time to educate their patients about diet and other non-drug treatments for diabetes ... and reform in our agricultural policy so taxpayer dollars no longer subsidize Big Corn, Big Sugar, and Big Grain, while penalizing vegetable growers.
And that's just for starters.
In short, we'd see a real diabetes awareness campaign, not the hype you'll be swimming in for the rest of this month.
End Diabetes? Fat Chance.
This won't happen because, despite its feel-good smokescreen campaign, the ADA makes big money by selling their "seal of approval" to food manufacturers that market high-carb products and beverages that cause blood sugar problems. (It recently inked a $1.5 million deal with the global candy-maker, Cadbury.) The New York Times reveals that it costs a minimum of $500,000 to even qualify for the ADA seal.
In fact, the ADA received more than $23 million in support in 2005 from the food and pharmaceutical industries. There's no mystery why.
While the lion's share of the ADA's $210 million budget is spent promoting "treatments" (in other words, drugs), very little goes toward prevention, genuine awareness campaigns, and patient education. (More about the ADA's connections and roots next week.)
"Don't Look At That Man Behind the Curtain!"
Remember that line from The Wizard of Oz when Toto the dog pulled back the curtain to reveal that the Grand and Glorious Oz was only a man -- and a deceitful one at that?
That what Diabetes Awareness Month reminds me of: One Grand Distraction.
So get ready for a tsunami of TV programs, newspaper articles, and special reports, which subtly blame diabetics for their condition.
Which cajole them to quit being so lazy.
Which saddle them with the burden of losing weight in order to save their lives (but never explain exactly how to go about it).
Which chide them to eat less (while, at the same time, bombarding them with ads for the very foods that are upsetting their blood sugar).
Which continue to advocate a high-carb, low-fat diet that is proven to be unhealthy.
And which will push the medical solution down our throats as the only alternative, while enticing us to believe we don't have to change our diet or habits -- just as long as we take out medicine.
Here's What They're Not Telling You
A true awareness campaign would inform the public that...
Too much insulin, not overeating, makes us fat. It isn't how much we eat that packs on the pounds. Rather, it's the type of foods we're eating. Refined carbs and sweeteners hit your bloodstream immediately as blood sugar and trigger a surge of insulin. Insulin turns that glucose into fat (triglycerides) and stores in it your fat cells. Limiting the foods that trigger the insulin response will solve your weight problem without dieting or exercise.
Obesity doesn't cause diabetes. It's just the other way around. When your bloodstream is always flooded with insulin, your cells become resistant to it -- so even more is required to move glucose out of your bloodstream. More insulin means more weight gain. Cut the insulin and you body will start burning its fat reserves for fuel.
Losing weight is a misguided goal. Sure, shedding pounds is healthy -- but it's like taking the long way home. The direct route to reversing Type 2 diabetes is to quit eating insulin-provoking foods. This will begin to repair your metabolism instantly. The pounds will fall off automatically as a result. Make "healthy eating" your goal, not weight-loss. That's a goal you can live with forever!
Exercise is a poor way to lose weight. Changing your diet is far more effective. Example: It takes an hour to walk off 100 calories. Eliminating one soda subtracts 150 calories. Which has greater impact? Which is easier?
Drugs won't save you. Some diabetes drugs stimulate insulin production, which actually increases your weight. Drugs won't save you from diabetic complications, either (and these are what's killing people with diabetes). Your greatest, best hope is to lower you insulin response by rejecting the foods that spike your blood sugar. This way, your doctor can withdraw your drugs as soon as possible.
Reversing Type 2 and prediabetes is easy. You don't need a weight-loss diet or a gym membership. You won't have to go on a weird diet or swallow expensive supplements. Yes, you can return to a normal, drug-free life and have a "second chance." Plenty of people already have. Now it's your turn.
About the author
Jim Healthy™ is a noted health reporter and author. During his 35-year writing career, Jim has helped break the news about the biggest healing discoveries of the past 30 years, including glucosamine-chondroitin, fish oil, omega-3 foods, and olive oil, as well as the inflammatory effects of eating refined carbs and processed food products. He also is the owner and editor of MyHealingKitchen.com, where he shares his discoveries about research-proven ways to reverse prevalent health conditions without drugs or painkillers. Jim is the co-author of The Healthy Body Book (Penguin, 1991) and The Fast Food Diet with Stephen Sinatra, MD (Wiley, 2005). His most recent book is The 30-Day Diabetes Cure (co-authored with Dr. Stefan Ripich).
Visit his website at MyHealingKitchen.com
To learn more about healing diabetes with diet and exercise, visit 30daydiabetescure.com