What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus (“Diabetes”) is a group of metabolic diseases that affect the way your body metabolizes glucose (“blood sugar”). Glucose is vital to your health because its an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues of the body. The underlying cause of Diabetes varies by type, but all have in common high glucose levels (“hyperglycemia”) that result from problems with insulin secretion, its action, or both.
- Type 1 - Formerly known as juvenile-onset or insulin dependent diabetes. Believed to be an autoimmune condition, which destroys the insulin producing beta-cells of the pancreas.
- Type 2 - Most common form of Diabetes as it accounts for almost 85-90% of all people living with Diabetes today.
- Gestational Diabetes - Occurs in pregnant women, usually mid-way through the pregnancy (~24-28 weeks)
- Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA) - A form of Type 1 Diabetes, LADA is an autoimmune condition which destroy the insulin producing beta-cells of the pancreas. However, unlike Type 1, the signs and symptoms develop over a longer period of time. This is why LADA is often mistaken for Type 2.
- Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) - A very rare form of Diabetes caused by a genetic mutation in a gene which disrupts insulin production.
- Type 3 - Many people do not realize that Diabetes is more than just "high blood sugar", it is also a condition of high inflammation and oxidative stress (excessive oxidative stress on your car causes "rust" and the resulting damage). This is why Diabetes is associated with much higher risk for heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's. In fact Alzheimer's is now considered Type 3 Diabetes. Yes, you read that right!
What Is Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes?
Prediabetes is a serious health condition, don’t let the “pre” fool you. In fact, before people develop Type 2 Diabetes, they almost always have Prediabetes, a condition that occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood glucose into cells for use as energy. With insulin resistance, the cells in your body don’t respond to normally to insulin, resulting in your pancreas producing even more insulin to try to get cells to respond. The CDC estimates 1 in 3 adults have Prediabetes, while more than 8 in 10 adults do not even know they have Prediabetes. This is important as Prediabetes increases your risk for Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Metabolic Syndrome (sometimes call Cardiometabolic Syndrome) is another increasingly common serious health condition not to be taken lightly. It may sound like a single condition, but it is a group of metabolic disorders that often occur together. While each disorder by itself is a risk factor for serious disease, developing more that one of these conditions substantially increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People with Metabolic Syndrome are twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease and three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who do not have the syndrome. Having just one of these conditions does not mean you have Metabolic Syndrome, a diagnosis of “Metabolic Syndrome” requires at least three of these metabolic disorders:
- Insulin Resistance - increased fasting blood glucose levels >100
- High Triglycerides - High levels (>150) of a type of lipid ("fat") in your blood
- Low HDL - Low levels of the "good cholesterol" (< 40 in men, < 50 in women)
- Hypertension - High blood pressure (130/85 or higher)
- Large Waist - Abdominal obesity or "apple shaped" (>40 inches for men, > 35 inches in women)
Type 2 Diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of Diabetes today. It’s occurs when your body is not able to properly use the insulin produced by your pancreas (insulin resistance) or when your pancreas is not producing enough insulin (beta-cell dysfunction). Either or both of these cause an increase in your blood glucose level, a condition called hyperglycemia.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
The are many potentials factors the will increase the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, but overall it is considered mainly a lifestyle disease. Factors that may increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Prediabetes (see above)
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – (obesity, irregular menses, excessive hair growth – all driven by insulin resistance)
- Gestational Diabetes
- Being Overweight or Obese
- Fat Distribution – (Abdominal Obesity, "Apple Shaped")
- Poor Diet Choices - poor nutrition, eat sugar and refined foods, Standard American Diet (SAD)
- Physical Inactivity
- Age (> 45 years old)
- Family History
- Race/Ethnic Background – (Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms vary from person to person, with the early stages having very few symptoms. In fact, because the symptoms develop slowly, many people do not realize they have diabetes for years. Some common symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Frequent urination
- Frequent infections (skin, gum, bladder, yeast)
- Slow-healing sores
- Blurred vision
- Dry, itchy skin
- Areas of darkened skin, typically on the neck and axilla (armpits)
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Type 2 Diabetes Complications
Although long-term complications of Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) develop gradually overtime, eventually they can be disabling and life-threatening. Potential complications of T2DM include:
T2DM significantly increases the risk (~2-4x) for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and atherosclerosis (narrowing of the blood vessels). About 2 out of every 3 patients with T2DM will die of heart disease. Women with T2DM have a higher risk of heart disease than men with T2DM do.
T2DM increases the risk for serious eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma and blindness (a.k.a. diabetic retinopathy, the number one cause of blindness).
a.k.a. Diabetic Nephropathy, T2DM increases the risk for and can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), which may require dialysis or kidney transplant. T2DM, along with high blood pressure (common in T2DM patients) are the two leading causes of kidney failure.
a.k.a. Diabetic Neuropathy, T2DM increases the risk for damage to nerves causing tingling, numbness, burning and pain, usually in the extremities. Eventually, you may lose all sense of feeling in the affected extremities. Damage to nerves that control digestion can cause gastroparesis (due to nerve damage, stomach cannot empty in normal fashion), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. For men, erectile function is a common issue.
Common in people with T2DM, although obesity may be the main contributing factor to both conditions.
a.k.a. Type 3 Diabetes. T2DM seems to increase the risk for of Alzheimer’s Disease, though at this time it’s not clear why.
Since T2DM can damage blood vessels resulting in decreased blood flow (blood flow is needed for proper wound healing), sores such as cuts and blisters, left untreated, can become serious infections. Severe damage might require amputation of the toe, foot or leg.
Because T2DM damages blood vessels and nerves, which are crucial for proper sexual function, erectile dysfunction may be an issue (common with diabetes).
Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Options
Our Physician, Dr. Todd A. Smith, a Board-Certified Naturopathic Endocrinologist, has a special clinical interest in Prediabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes, the treatment and prevention of their associated complications, and ultimately the prevention of heart attacks, and strokes, the most common cause of death for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
He takes a completely different approach to helping his patients prevent T2DM and those suffering with prediabetes or T2DM. He helps you uncover the real causes and provide personalized treatment based on your unique needs and goals to help you truly heal. He offers a variety of treatment options, including:
Nutrition and Lifestyle Counseling – Many of our lifestyle choices can increase our risk for Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes and their associated complications. Type 2 Diabetes is a “lifestyle disease”. Nutritional and Lifestyle modifications are the “cornerstone” or “foundation” for both the prevention and treatment of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Good lifestyle choices include healthy nutrition, physically active vs sedentary lifestyle, quality and restful sleep , effective management of our stress, and healthy and loving relationships.
Nutrient IV’s & Injections – Nutrients delivered intravenously and intramuscularly that help support healthy glucose metabolism and treatment of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes and its’ associated complications, along with increasing overall health and well-being.
Professional-Grade Supplements – Natural substances, which may include vitamins, minerals, fish oils, botanical medicines, animal tissue (i.e. glandulars), and other therapeutic natural substances, which help support healthy glucose metabolism and treatment of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes and its’ associated complications, along with increasing overall health and well-being.
Diabetic Medications – There is a wide-range of diabetic medications, including insulin, than can be prescribed when necessary. Metformin is the most common medication prescribed initially for Type 2 Diabetes.
Every Journey Starts With One Step
Take Your First Step Today
We invite you to schedule a free, no obligation “Discovery Meeting” to meet our doctors, or Personal Physicians as we like to say. In this meeting they will discuss your health goals, treatment options, and answer any of your questions.