diabetes, sugar

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Sugar & Diabetes: What Even Young, Fit People Need To Know

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ILLUSTRATED BY MARY GALLOWAY.

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and although most people are aware of the disease, for many it’s still a somewhat abstract concern. Diabetes is often chalked up to genetics, deemed inevitable, or dismissed as something only old or extremely overweight people have to worry about — but this is far from the truth. Type 2 Diabetes can affect anyone, at any age, and usually it’s not the result of cruel fate, but our own choices. What you’re eating now plays a direct role in whether you could develop Type 2 Diabetes; we talked to the experts to understand just how this disease takes over and what we can do about it.

Which type is which?
The two main types of Diabetes are Type 1 and 2. “In a nutshell, Type 1 is an autoimmune condition, while Type 2 is a lifestyle disease,” says Francesca Orlando-Baldwin, CGP and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. The difference is all about insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that takes sugar out of the blood and stores it as glucose in the liver, muscles, and fat cells. “Type 1 Diabetes typically affects young people and only represents about 5 to 10% of the population,” says Ron Rosedale, MD, author of The Rosedale Diet, and co-founder of the Colorado and Carolina Centers for Metabolic Medicine. With Type 1, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, whereas “Type 2 is a disease of insulin excess,” he says. “There is too much insulin in the body, brought on by too much sugar in the blood.”

Eating for illness
When people eat diets high in refined carbohydrates — Butterfingers, bagels, and pretty much anything on the Buddy The Elf Diet — they are essentially filling their blood with sugar, as these foods quickly break down to sugar once inside the body. The body responds by pumping out insulin to get the sugar out of the blood. “When our cells are bombarded with insulin day in and day out, they eventually become desensitized to its presence, or insulin-resistant,” says Orlando-Baldwin. Our cells start ignoring the insulin. When this happens, insulin can’t get the sugar into the cells, and our blood sugar remains high. As a result, our body pumps out even more insulin, according to Jamie Busch, MD. A vicious cycle. Eventually the pancreas can wear out, unable to produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance, and blood sugar remains perpetually high.

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