Author: Dr Elias Markou, ND
Date: March 17, 2010
Diabetes Simplified – Men’s Health
Doug, a 52 year old firefighter, noticed he had excessive thirst, frequency in urination, and a ravenous appetite. John, a 42 year old accountant, on the other hand was overweight, had no issues with blood pressure, did not have cholesterol but had an increased appetite. Well if you ask any of these guys, they would tell you these are just normal symptoms in their everyday normal lives. Because these symptoms were not serious they did not seek medical attention. Many men who have diabetes do not seek medical care, quite often the issue of diabetes comes up during a routine annual blood test. Time and time again doctors have heard that old line, “I didn’t know I had diabetes, this happened so suddenly”. So what is it that men need to know about diabetes.
Diabetes is a significant public health problem in Canada today. In a 1996 document on diabetes, Heath Canada reported that officials diagnosed 30 000 men with diabetes, these numbers continue to increase each year. Treatment of diabetes represents a large portion of health care dollars spent on patients today. Let’s put some numbers into perspective. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association 2.4 million Canadians have type I or type II diabetes. Approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type1 diabetes, resulting in 240 000 Canadians depending on insulin. The remaining 90 per cent or 2.2 million Canadians have type2 diabetes. Of that 2.2 million, half are men with diabetes and many are unaware of their condition. Furthermore scientists and doctors do believe diabetes is a preventable disease. Lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The majority of the food we ingest (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) become sugar or glucose, this is the main source of energy in the body. The pancreas makes insulin, this helps sugar to enter the cells of the body. When one develops diabetes, the body either doesn’t make insulin or can’t use the insulin that the pancreas has created. This allows for sugar to build up and remain in the blood.
There are two major categories of diabetes, there is the Type I diabetes which was formerly know as the IDDM or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus and Type II diabetes which is more common among people and was once called Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. For our purpose only, we will discuss the Type II diabetes. Diabetes is a serious metabolic condition that becomes chronic and has tremendous impact on an individual’s health.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes include the following: unusual thirst, frequent urination, weight change (gain or loss), extreme fatigue or lack of energy, possibly blurred vision, frequent or recurring infections, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, men will have trouble getting or maintaining an erection .It is also very important to understand that many men who have type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms initially. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends you should be tested at least every three years.
In order for a medical doctor to properly diagnose type II diabetes, some of the symptoms must be present and blood must show high glucose levels present along with high A1C readings. To diagnosing diabetes in a person a doctor requires two high fasting serum glucose and a A1C readings. These values must both be high. The normal fasting blood glucose level is between 4.0-6.0 mmol/L. Before a meal, if glucose targets are greater than 6.0 mmol/L this results in a diabetes diagnosis by a medical doctor. An A1C reading greater than 8% is found in many people with diabetes.
Without getting into the deep psychology of the male mind and how it works, men have been know to not visit medical doctors for an annual physicaI exam. I have conducted physical exams on men that have informed me that their last exam and blood test was 7-10 years ago. Gentlemen, a lot can happen to your health in 7-10 years. Diabetes is a very serious condition. If left untreated or mismanaged, which is often the case with many men, diabetes can result in a variety of complications. These complications including: heart disease, kidney disease, eye complications, problem with erections, fertility and major nerve damage. The first step in preventing or delaying the onset of these complications is identifying signs and symptoms of diabetes and recognizing the risk factors.
Most patients with type II diabetes are obese and in their 40′s. High blood pressure, high insulin level, hardening arteries and high cholesterol are diseases associated with diabetes but are not inclusive.
Doctors, academics and scientists believe that lifestyle modifications can help prevent and or maybe even delay the begin stages of type 2 diabetes. Managing weight, making smart food choices and incorporating regular physical activity are all critical steps in the prevention of diabetes. Despite the genetic factor which is important in understanding diabetes, environmental factors are the major triggers in diabetes, this according Murray and Pizzorno in the Textbook of Natural Medicine. To quote Murray and Pizzorno, “many have identified a diet high in refined fiber-depleted-carbohydrates is believed to induce diabetes in susceptible genetic types, while a high intake of high-fiber, complex-carbohydrates-rich foods protect against the development of diabetes”.
The experts do agree that restoring insulin sensitivity can be achieved via dietary changes, exercise, weight loss, introduction of dietary fat and fiber, and addressing B vitamin, chromium and mineral deficiencies. Successful treatment of diabetes requires the integration of many therapeutic elements and the willing participation of the patient to achieve their goals. There must be an overall improvement in lifestyle. Research has shown that the adjunctive use of natural products and lifestyle changes can help address this chronic metabolic disease. Men, all we need now is your full participation.
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Diabetes in Canada- National Statistics and Opportunities for Improved Surveillance, Prevention, and Control. Ministry of Health Canada; Ottawa.1999.
Diabetes 1996 Vital Statistics. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association.
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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Statistics. Bethesda, MD: NIDDK; 1995 NIH publication no. 96-3926.
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