U.S. government data shows that the number of newly diagnosed diabetics dropped from 1.7 million in 2009 to 1.3 million in 2017 (BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, May 28, 2019, 7(1)e000657). This number should not make anyone feel good because huge numbers of diabetics have not been diagnosed, so they do not know that they have the disease. The authors note that obesity, a major risk factor for Type II diabetes, has increased over the past 10 years, and that prediabetes remains high, affecting 84 million adults or 34 percent of the U.S. adult population. To me it appears that doctors are not diagnosing diabetes nearly as often as they should.
Having a normal fasting blood sugar (below 100) does not rule out diabetes. You are diabetic if your blood sugar rises over 140 mg/dl one hour after you eat, even if your fasting blood sugar is normal (Diabetes Care, 2001;24(8):1448-1453). Spreading this confusing information on the prevalence of diabetes could give diabetics and pre-diabetics a false sense of security so they will not even try to change their unhealthful lifestyle habits that cause diabetes in the first place.
Lifestyle Factors That Increase Diabetes Risk
When blood sugar levels rise too high, sugar sticks to the outer membranes of cells. Once attached, sugar cannot get off and is eventually converted to sorbitol that destroys the cell. This process can destroy cells everywhere in your body to cause dementia, heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis, nerve damage, certain cancers, blindness, deafness and all of the other complications of diabetes. Diabetes shortens lives, with 70 percent of diabetics dying of heart attacks and 16 percent from strokes.
Most cases of Type II diabetes can be prevented and cured with lifestyle changes. Drugs can help to control the symptoms of diabetes, but they do not cure it. Lifestyle factors that increase risk for diabetes include:
• storing excess fat, particularly in your belly
• not exercising
• eating sugar-added foods, sugared drinks, mammal meat, processed meat and fried foods
• not eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds
• drinking alcohol
If you have not been checked for diabetes, particularly if you store fat in your belly, I recommend that you ask your doctor to test your blood sugar level one hour after you eat a meal. If it is greater than 140, your doctor should tell you that you are already diabetic and should immediately begin working to change the lifestyle factors listed above.