The prevalence of diabetes has continued to grow over the years, almost reaching epidemic numbers recently. Obesity has been increasing at a quick rate, as well, with over one billion adults worldwide being overweight, 312 million of this number being in the obese range. More children than ever are also at larger weights, with around 150 million children being overweight or obese. There is no question – diabetes is becoming an epidemic. What can be done to fix this?
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops from the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the body’s inability to use the insulin created. Insulin is a hormone that the body utilizes to help keep blood glucose levels in check. If diabetes goes unmanaged, it can cause prolonged high blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, leading to organ systems becoming seriously damaged.
Many symptoms can develop with diabetes, including extreme thirst, needing to pee more frequently, blurred vision, exhaustion, and unintentional weight loss. As diabetes goes unmanaged, damage can occur in the blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys, potentially leading to permanent blindness, poor blood flow, or severe foot ulcers.
There are three forms of diabetes – type I, type II, and gestational. Type I diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin efficiently, so the body must receive daily insulin doses. There is no specific reason why people develop type I diabetes, so there is no solution yet on how to prevent it. With type II diabetes, the body is more sensitive in utilizing glucose. The body cannot use insulin correctly, so blood sugar often becomes high in these cases.
Type II diabetes can likely be prevented by fixing certain factors, including a healthy lifestyle and incorporating exercise into the daily schedule. Gestational diabetes develops specifically during pregnancy, with high blood sugar levels but not as high as type I and II diabetes.
Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes are at risk of having complications throughout their pregnancy or at the time of birthing. The mother and child are also more likely to develop type II diabetes later in life.
When Did Diabetes Become An Epidemic?
As early as 1994, diabetes was declared an epidemic and considered a worldwide public health problem. However, nothing has been done to improve the situation ever since then. Because of this, type II diabetes has since tripled in number, and health complications along with deaths caused by diabetes have increased dramatically.
One major problem with diabetes today is that nearly 25% of cases go undiagnosed, so they are not being treated. Also, almost 90 million people have been diagnosed with prediabetes, so they are significantly at risk of developing diabetes.
What Is Causing The Diabetes Epidemic?
The Western viewpoint on diabetes is that diabetes is caused by destructive health behaviors, consuming too many drinks packed with sugar, and eating too many calories. So, the two leading causes of diabetes must be obesity and poor physical activity. Those who were considered obese were four times more likely to develop diabetes. Other components need to be considered when looking at the cause of diabetes, including aging and life changes.
Where In The World Is Diabetes The Highest?
The ten countries worldwide that lead in number of adults with diabetes are China, India, Pakistan, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh, Japan, and Egypt. China is at the top, with a little over 140 million. According to scientific predictions, by 2045, the countries will be the same except for Japan, which would likely be replaced with Turkey. If countries were to be compared by percentage prevalence instead, the top ten countries are Egypt, Mexico, Sudan, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the Pacific Islands. All these countries have at least twelve percent of their country being diagnosed with diabetes, with Pakistan being at the highest with just under 31%.
How Can We Solve The Diabetes Epidemic?
The best ways that those with diabetes can potentially get rid of their diagnosis are to control their weight, increase amounts of exercise, live an overall healthier lifestyle, and omit smoking and heavy alcohol drinking if participating in those activities.
Being overweight or obese is the leading cause of diabetes diagnoses. You are seven times more likely to develop type II diabetes if you have excess weight. Specifically, being obese makes one twenty to forty times more likely to develop diabetes. If at least some excess weight were to be lost, anywhere between seven to ten percent of your current weight, your risk of developing type II diabetes decreases by fifty percent.
Being inactive and sitting around most of the time is another main reason for type II diabetes diagnoses. Using your muscles more and focusing on them during exercises increases their ability to use insulin as it should be used and absorb glucose. Even just going on a moderate-paced walk for thirty minutes daily reduces the chance of developing type II diabetes by thirty percent.
For those who smoke, their chances of developing type II diabetes increase by fifty percent, even more so for heavy smokers. Also, there are mixed opinions on how drinking alcohol can impact one’s chances of being diagnosed with diabetes. Studies have shown that light to moderate alcohol consumption can improve heart health, reducing the chances of heart disease. It has also been shown that when women drink one alcoholic drink daily and men up to two, it increases the body’s efficiency of utilizing insulin properly, potentially decreasing the risk of developing type II diabetes. However, if someone drinks alcohol excessively, this will lead to adverse health impacts, including a higher risk of developing type II diabetes.
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight-loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are a man or woman looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!
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Friedell, G.H., & Joyner, J.I. (2015, March 27). The Great Diabetes Epidemic. National Women's Health Network.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (N.d.). Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Kennedy, E.D. (2023, March 1). Which countries top the global diabetes numbers table? EASD e-Learning.
Tabish, S.A. (2007). Is Diabetes Becoming the Biggest Epidemic of the Twenty-first Century? International Journal of Health Sciences.
World Health Organization. (2023, April 5). Diabetes. World Health Organization.
Zimmet, P.Z. (2017). Diabetes and its drivers: the largest epidemic in human history? Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology.