Adult-onset diabetes, or type 2 diabetes mellitus, is quickly becoming the most significant disease in the world. The costs related to diabetes and its complications are more than 100 billion dollars per year and will continue to climb until the population gains control over the factors that cause the disease.

Adult-onset diabetes leads to increased heart attacks, strokes, risk of cancer and an overall decrease in quality of life and lifespan. Diabetics have higher rates of blindness, as well as nerve damage in the hands and feet. The truth is that the main causes of this disease are, in fact, preventable. Adult-onset diabetes is a disease of lifestyle.This article will outline the many factors that contribute to diabetes and the tools needed to prevent or reverse those factors.

Simply put, this condition is the inability of the body to properly regulate blood sugar. The body has a constant supply of sugar, or glucose, in the blood. When sugar is ingested, the hormone insulin is naturally released to help drive the excess sugar into the tissues that use sugar for food. If the body continually ingests more sugar than it can handle, it will try to compensate for this by making more insulin. In diabetics, this process slowly becomes less and less efficient, and the blood sugar rises over time. This rise in insulin and blood sugar leads to the dreaded side effects associated with diabetes.

The Standard American Diet (notice the acronym appropriately spells the word “sad”) is much to blame for the rise of diabetes in this country. Most Americans have a distorted understanding of what foods offer high nutritional value. With diabetes, the body will no longer tolerate the amount of sugar it’s ingesting.

Glucose is an end result of carbohydrate consumption. It is paramount that diabetics understand what carbohydrates are and their role in the body. This class of macronutrient includes fruits, vegetables, pastries, potatoes, wheat and other grains.

Making the initial changes to decrease carbohydrate intake are the most important, but often the most difficult. Most patients think that bread and potatoes are healthy choices. Unfortunately, these foods cause an instant spike in the level of blood sugar. Those with diabetes can no longer tolerate a heavy carbohydrate load. Vegetables and proteins such as baked or grilled fish, and chicken typically contain lower amounts of carbohydrates, thereby keeping a more balanced blood sugar level.

Second to diet, exercise is the pillar that supports diabetes control. Physical activity drives the excess sugar out of the bloodstream and increases the stamina and metabolism of the muscle cells. As these hungry cells grow, their demand for energy increases. The increased muscle mass from exercise pushes the extra blood sugar into the muscle cells and begins to burn the stored sugar in the body, fat. Added beneficial effects of exercise are lower blood pressure, improved bone density, improved mood and a lower heart rate.

Many diabetic patients also have two key hormone deficiencies: Thyroid and testosterone. Low thyroid hormone can cause fatigue, weight gain and elevated cholesterol. Signs of thyroid deficiency include cold hands and feet, dry skin, fatigue, constipation, thinning eyebrows and brain fog. Testosterone deficiency has similar warning signs, often causing fatigue and weight gain, as well as loss of muscle mass, decreased stamina, low sex drive, weight gain around the middle (especially in men) and sleepiness after meals. The evaluation and administration of these hormones can easily be done by a physician with hormone metabolism training. Correcting the situation has a significant impact on energy, metabolism and overall blood sugar control.

On the next page, learn about supplements to help with blood sugar control.