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Sweet blood, bitter destiny: how to fight diabetes effectively?

Sweet blood, bitter destiny: how to fight diabetes effectively?
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his article is especially for you if you don’t have diabetes (yet). And if you do, jump straight into the last section and see if there’s a candy surprise for you. 14th of November is World Diabetes Day, which is the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation. On this occasion, we would like to raise your awareness and point out preventive measures so you can avoid (or delay) devastating complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. Well, and the risk of premature death which is 50% higher in the case of diabetes [1].

How is diabetes relevant to you?

Chances you or someone you know has diabetes are ridiculously high. Picture this: every person you’d meet on the way to Bratwurst-Stand in St.Gallen and literally every single person from the fishermen in the North of Sweden down to Sicilian mama in the South had diabetes! It is estimated that around 500,000 people in Switzerland and 425 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes [2]. That’s the size of the population in the canton of St. Gallen (2019: 510,000) and the European Union (2019: 448 million) respectively! [3][4]. The struggle is real. Imagine all those delicious pastry, confectionery, and bakery shops going bankrupt. Well, at least not immediately as half of all diabetics do not even know that they have diabetes. Meanwhile, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death. Oops.

In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012 [5][6], and that’s where it becomes interesting to all of us because we do love our crunchy granola or croissant in the morning, preferably every morning, don’t we?

Why is it bad to have high insulin levels?

Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main energy source for the human body. It comes from the food we eat. The hormone insulin helps the cells of the body to convert glucose into fuel. Excess glucose in the blood is a problem because it can damage blood vessels. What’s more, the body’s tissues can’t effectively use glucose for energy because too much of it stays in the bloodstream instead of entering the cells. As the blood sugar increases, the body needs to produce larger amounts of the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. However, over time sensitivity to insulin can decrease and the blood sugar rises out of control. Left unchecked, this will lead to a vicious cycle: insulin resistance leads to high insulin levels, which make it easier to, for instance, gain weight by accumulating fat, which increases insulin resistance, which leads to high insulin levels, which leads to more weight gain, and the cycle goes on leading to complications such as:

  • High blood pressure, hypertension
  • Heart attack, stroke
  • Neuropathy, nervous system problems
  • Metabolic problems, diabetic ketoacidosis (blood becoming acid which can be fatal)
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney failure
  • Reduced eyesight, glaucoma, retinopathy, cataract, vision loss
  • Digestion issues, nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss in severe cases
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced fertility
  • Dry skin, blisters, bacterial or fungal infections
  • Reduced body's ability to heal when there is a wound or an infection [7].

What’s diabetes anyways?

Simply put, diabetes is a disorder of blood sugar (glucose) and insulin. It’s a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

  • Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. Neither the cause of Type 1 diabetes nor the means to prevent it are known.
  • Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. There are defects in both the production of insulin by the pancreas (insulin deficiency) and the use of insulin by the body (insulin resistance). The majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. When damage to the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells progresses to the point where the pancreas can no longer spontaneously release enough insulin to overcome the body’s resistance to it, blood sugar levels rise.
  • Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. These women and possibly their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future [7].

What causes diabetes?

Granola and croissants alone cannot be blamed for this chronic disease. The two key sources of origins are: nutrition and movement over years. The more sugar we consume, the more likely we get diabetes in the long run. The less we move, the more we exacerbate the conditions favorable to diabetes. Rapidly-digested carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta also cause a rapid rise in blood sugar unless you're an endurance athlete whose body burns lots of energy effectively. Regular people who eat more simple carbohydrates are more likely to get type 2 diabetes [8].

The more carbohydrate eaten in a meal, the more sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and the higher the blood sugar will be. Although very few people would agree that sugary foods are good for you, some foods that we think of as “healthy” — such as fruit — actually have a lot of sugar. And many people don’t know that starchy foods — such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes — quickly turn to sugar when you digest them. Eating a potato could raise blood sugar as much as eating 9 teaspoons of sugar! However, it can be hard to predict exactly how someone’s blood sugar will respond, as this will likely vary based on genetics and baseline insulin sensitivity which can be tested [9].

Am I at risk of getting diabetes?

Yes, including the person sitting next to you, unless you have sufficient muscle mass or are athletes. Age, sedentary lifestyle, family history, ethnic background, impaired insulin tolerance, infections and illness and an interplay of those factors, exacerbated by the environmental factors such as unbalanced, or high-carb diet, lack of activity, lack of sleep, stress, smoking and alcohol. Use the online diabetes risk assessment test by International Diabetes Federation or click here for the Swiss version to find out more.

Risk factors for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes

  1. Weight. People of all shapes and sizes can develop diabetes. True that the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. However, even thin people can develop diabetes if they have a type of fat called visceral fat. Visceral fat grows around organs instead of under the skin, so it isn’t visible. About 12.5% of U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes have BMIs that are in the healthy or normal range. Check your waist-to-hip ratio in your next 3D body scan with us. If your result is 0.8 or higher, it means you have more visceral fat. This could increase your risk for type 2 diabetes [10].
  2. Inactivity, or sedentary lifestyle. The less you move and the less muscle mass you have, the worse is your body's ability to cope with sugar. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. And guess what: High intensity resistance training is the most effective physical activity improving your insulin sensitivity!
  3. Epigenetics. Your risk increases if a parent has type 2 diabetes and you continue to eat bread and pasta and no greens, and keep on postponing the joy of moving.
  4. Race or ethnicity. Although it's unclear why, certain people — including Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian American people — are at higher risk.
  5. Age. Your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults.
  6. Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 4 kilograms, you're also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
  7. Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
  8. High blood pressure. Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  9. Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes [11]. Good news: the AURUM 6 Minute workout has been proven to counteract that! Keep calm and use your force.

6 steps to prevent or delay diabetes

To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications:

  1. Eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats
  2. Be physically active – do the sports that you love, or stick to the 6 Minute Workout routine once a week and simply move at least 30 minutes daily
  3. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  4. Sleep more and better
  5. Stress less and de-stress more
  6. Avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Easier said than done. But let's get to the most exciting part:

How resistance training helps fight diabetes

Now we know that the ability to metabolize glucose efficiently is vital to health. And diabetes has been associated with poor glucose metabolism, right? Well, strength training has been shown in a study to increase glucose uptake by up to 23% after only 4 months [11]. Let's understand how that happens. When you indulge into yummy (often sweet and processed) foods, excessive glucose stacks up in the bloodstream, and insulin levels rise, so there are large amounts of excessive glucose and insulin circulating in the bloodstream. That glucose gets transported to the liver, attached to fatty acids and from there on, the body understands to store all future pasta and croissants into nothing else but FAT. Yes, too much carbs in our body gets stored into fat.

One of the most important ways to reverse this process is to engage in physical activity that is intense enough that it taps into those fibers where sugar storage is greatest. This causes the release of adrenaline, or epinephrine, which creates an amplification cascade that cleaves large amounts of glycogen (sugar energy) out of the cell. That's like starting a firework and popping a bottle of champagne and making all those sugar guys come out of their bunker and join the pool party. The reason sugar is stored in muscles is for "emergency" situation, those "fight or flight" survival situations. And the high intensity resistance training as AURUM is does exactly that: it puts your body into emergency mode ("the party")and makes it deplete the glycogen storages in a way that no other form of physical activity can even approximate! While you resist throughout the 6 minutes, you trigger a release of adrenaline that cleaves 10.000x molecules of glycogen for immediate burn as energy for the musculature. This, in turn, creates room for glycogen to enter the muscle cell. The glucose that was previously floating in the bloodstream, can now enter the muscle cell. The insulin receptors can replenish and start operating again, thus the insulin sensitivity improves. With better insulin sensitivity, the sugar levels in the bloodstream fall. And the best of all: with increased muscle mass, you create more room for that sugar storage [12]. I'd like to finish here: and they all lived happily ever after.

For all AURUM clients, note one thing: The higher the strength output per kg body weight and the more muscle mass you have, the lower the risk to develop diabetes. Keep up the great work!

Diabetes is one of the largest modern healthcare issues and you don’t want to make it yours. Whereas it costs billions to our healthcare system yearly, it costs you time, energy, the quality of life and the joy to live it fully. Knowledge transforms. If you've made it to read thus far, we hope you've gained some awareness of what diabetes is and how to prevent it, maybe you've even got inspired to be more selective at the supermarket, and, well, feel proud of yourself for doing the 6 minute workout weekly, even on days when the performance output is not always green.


References

[1 ] Costs and Consequences of Not Treating Diabetes, 2015,
https://catalyst.phrma.org/costs-and-consequences-of-not-treating-diabetes

[2] Diabetes Schweiz, 2020, https://www.diabetesschweiz.ch/ueber-diabetes.
html#:~:text=Sch%C3%A4tzungsweise%20sind%20in%20der%20Schweiz,es
%20rund%20425%20Millionen%20Menschen

[3] Kanton St.Gallen Wohnbevölkerung, 2020, https://www.sg.ch/ueber-den-
kanton-st-gallen/statistik/themen/B01/wohnbevoelkerung.html

[4] European Union Population, Wikipedia based on UN Data, 2020,
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_von_
Staaten_und_Territorien_nach_Einwohnerzahl

[5] Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk--a meta-analysis of observational studies,
2008, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18326601/

[6] WHO Diabetes, 2020, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/
detail/diabetes#:~:text=Diabetes%20is%20a%20major%20cause,high%
20blood%20glucose%20in%202012

[7] Effects of diabetes on the body and organs, Medical News Today, 2019,
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317483

[8] Diet Doctor, Diabetes 2020, https://www.dietdoctor.com/diabetes

[9] Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk--a meta-analysis of observational studies, 2008,
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18326601/

[10] Diabetes Diagnosis: Does weight matter? Healthline, 2019,
https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/
can-skinny-people-get-diabetes#diabetes-and-weight

[11] Mayo Clinic, Diabetis, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/
diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444#:~:text=gestational%20diabetes
%20include%3A-,Age.,sibling%2C%20has%20type%202%20diabetes

[11] How to reverse your type 2 diabetes, Diet Doctor, 2020
https://www.dietdoctor.com

[12] Body by Science, Doug McGuff, 2009,
https://www.orellfuessli.ch/bodybyscience

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