American lifestyle out of harmony with human biologyTragically, type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is now epidemic, nationally; one in three Americans are expected to become diabetic in the coming decades. I view it as tragic because almost all (over 9 of 10 cases of T2D) could be prevented with fairly simple changes in lifestyle. Virtually all health care providers (i.e., MDs, Naturopathic Doctors, etc.) are in agreement that type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle-driven condition. There has been a 500% increase in diabetes, overall, in the last 50 years, and a 1,000% increase in diabetes among adolescents in just the last decade! The good news remains, however, that you can cut your risk of diabetes, stop the progression of, or even reverse type 2 diabetes, if you follow some of the guidelines below. The good news also applies to people with type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent). While the standard American lifestyle of: stress, lack of movement, overeating and a system that encourages poor nutrition is currently killing us, we can overcome this system, make healthy choices, and choose to live and thrive. Preventing, stopping the progression of, and/or reversing T2D begins with “natural medicine,” that includes making daily lifestyle choices that are in accordance with human biology, such as: movement, both aerobic and resistance exercise (such as muscle-building); whole food nutrition; abdominal fat reduction; managing stress, enjoying and simplifying life; sleeping soundly for seven to nine hours each night; and a supportive emotional life. Testing for, and daily monitoring of, diabetes is absolutely essential for preventing and/or reversing T2D. To determine how significant lifestyle is in preventing obesity/T2D, a research study was conducted with 98 Amish men and women, who do not use modern conveniences, and wore pedometers to measure their daily steps. Only 4% of the Amish in this community were obese/overweight, while a whopping 73% of the American people were obese/overweight. Amazingly, from this study, Amish men and women walked an average 18,000 and 14,000 steps, respectively. Non-Amish Americans average 2,000 steps. Even though the Amish eat a fairly traditional farming “meat and potatoes” diet, because they average 7-9 times more exercise per day than other Americans, almost no overweight/obese issues exist in this community. Diabetes is said to be “epidemic,” not because it is contagious, like an infection; it is epidemic because the American lifestyle is out of harmony with human biology.
” Researchers say we have an exercise biology, meaning our bodies have a genetic blueprint that requires huge amounts of physical activity to be healthy. The discrepancy between our genes and our modern lifestyle is largely for an epidemic of inactivity-related disease. When we’re inactive, these genes misfire and, in some people, it may lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke or cancer. Movement is essential for good health.” – Laurie Tarkan
Exercise, both aerobic (walking, bicycling, etc.), and resistance (muscle-building), is critical to not only preventing/reversing diabetes, but to attaining optimal health and maximum vitality. As an avid runner, walker, and physician that treats diabetes patients every day, I have found that pedometers (can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store for $10-25) are extremely helpful in beginning a walking program, or to inspire an even deeper commitment, if you are already walking for exercise. Before beginning the walking program, get cleared by your physician that your cardiovascular system is ready to begin an exercise program. Begin by getting a baseline of how many steps you normally take from am rising to pm sleep, for three days. After you find out how many steps you average for the 3 days, add 100 steps per day. In one month’s time, you will have increased 3,000 steps….a safe way to increase your aerobic exercise. I recommend that you record the steps that you have walked each day in a notebook at bedside, for inspiration and accountability. Most people find pedometers to be a fun, interesting, and a great way to walk more because we can’t be in denial about how much exercise we are doing or not doing. 10,000 steps or more per day is the long term goal. Remember that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!”