Thursday, May 29, 2008

Even thin people get diabetes

An article carried on MSNBC (reprinted from the magazine "MensHealth") began with this promising headline.

Unfortunately, the headline of the article was probably the best and truest part. At least 33 percent of type II diabetics have never been fat in their lives.

But the article itself is typical from what can be expected from "MensHealth" magazine - MensHealth is a real pop science mag and not an accurate source at all. We KNOW that MSNBC would LIKELY NOT print a REALLY informative article about anything regarding obesity or diabetes and in that way, this article did not disappoint.

Most people will NOT slog through the verbiage which is very extensive ... I slogged through about 3/4 of it and then, decided the rest was more of the same.

The picture most people will take away with them from reading a couple of paragraphs, however, is the gaunt emaciated father (whom the author carefully avoids directly SAYING has diabetes by the way, so he may not even have the disease) who is in a nursing home and obviously suffering from Alzheimers. Well, news flash...Alzheimers is not only NOT related to diabetes (it's a gene also) but it's one of those diseases which fat people seldom get for some reason.... My FIL, a thin man who had diabetes and lost his legs to the illness, was intelligent and sharp up to the day he died just short of his 70th birthday. And my hubby's cousin is the same age as the author's gaunt father, has diabetes, takes medication and has a BMI which is in the high 50's or even the 60's - she travels all over the place, goes on cruises and doesn't even particularly adher to avoiding the sweets she's always liked. And she certainly is NOT senile in any way - she still lives on her own, having out lived her slim, health minded husband by several years, by the way.

Most people will just read the first couple of paragraphs and take with them the frightening picture of the senile father with Alzheimer's which the author has now connected with diabetes. But the media has that covered - most will scan the sub-headlines and get the message they want to convey anyway. One of these, is suggesting "low carb diet" for diabetes. But in reality that the reason even the ADA has NOT embraced low carb diets for diabetes is because there is NO PROOF that these diets are of ANY benefit to reducing sugar levels. It seems logical but people forget that EVERYTHING ends up glucose for energy. And I've seen my hubby, GG, a diabetic diagnosed 15 years ago, eat an all carb dinner and have a high reading in the morning and then the next night eat totally not only carb but fats and simple carbs and sugar and then have a low reading the following morning.

Diabetes sugar levels do apparently not rely on what you eat. They MAY rely on HOW MUCH you eat but the jury is still out on that one also. However there is certainly more observational evidence that eating less can bring down sugar levels but some of the slimmest diabetics have very high sugar levels so who really knows?

I have a friend who BELIEVEEEESSSS in the low carb way... she is an apostle for low carb eating. But her husband on much more metformin than GG even though HER husband is newly diagnosed, and who eats faithfully low carb, has sugar levels which range in the 300's (morning reading). She is not deterred however. Low carb dieting has not been kind of her figure either - she's got a high BMI even with never touching sugar and seems unable to lose the weight which has bugged her for decades. (We know she IS upset about her weight because she had weight loss surgery which was a health disaster for her, many years ago)

The article has a short blurb about exercise and this is about its only saving grace however, in the length of it, I bet most folks will have missed the paragraph about exercise so here it is for your convenience:

*** Just how powerful an antidote is exercise? A study published recently in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that insulin resistance in rats decreased more from exercise than from taking metformin, the leading diabetes drug.***

That's it... pretty slim for what probably is the ONLY thing they know of to help control sugar levels besides medication. And by the way, they have a lot more than RAT studies suggesting the benefits of exercise for everyone and specifically for diabetics (i.e. intentional cardio).

More inaccuracies of the article? Diabetes is NOT the fastest growing disease. In fact, levels have DECREASED slightly in the last decade or so. How they are proclaiming that the incidence of diabetes has increased, may be because they are now counting everyone with a slightly elevated sugar level as in the realm of diabetic. Also they count women with gestational diabetes however, it has been observed that only about 50 percent of those with gestational diabetes actually come down with the illness. Often fat people even those with normal sugar levels are counted among the "pre diabetics".

The statement about diabetes greatly rising in incidence among children is erroneous also. People are BORN with insulin resistance - what is rising in incidence is our ability to DIAGNOSE insulin resistance in kids - something we were not able to do a couple of decades ago. But are we using this to get ALL KIDS to exercise or re-instituting P.E. on a daily basis in the schools? NOPE! It's just used as a scare tactic to sell diets and diet foods and impose diets on our children in their most vulnerable years.

What IS scary is not the "shockers" this article promises but rather than there is so much misinformation floating around about diabetes, it's frightening. Few doctors REQUIRE exercise of diabetics even though that's the only thing which has been shown to help.

Luckily we have medications which are excellent like metformin and do not have to rely on the "pancreas" burners like our parents were stuck with.

Many diabetics die of heart disease (which the media is quick to blame on the disease thus forgetting that heart disease in general IS the leading cause of death of ALL Americans not only diabetics!). And the greatest help in preventing or healing heart disease... The big "E" word, exercise.

Only 25 percent of Americans exercise cardio (which is what strengthens your heart) 3 times a week. Only 5 percent of Americans do daily cardio which is really what you need.

That (and not this inane article) is sobering and scary. Have YOU done your cardio today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...interesting. I ran into this blog while trying to find information on thin people with Type II DM. I was diagnosed with prediabetes at age 18, and at the time I was technically underweight (5'7", about 115 lbs). Since treatment with Glucophage (metformin HCl), I have gained about 15 lbs (I'm 22 years old now). My weight fluctuates, but I have never reached the 140 lb mark, which is still a normal weight for my height. Exercise helps some, though it is remarkable how much my fitness varies from day to day--some days I can run 2 miles without stopping in 15-20 minutes, and then I might wake up the next day and have to walk/run the same two miles in about 28 minutes, all the while feeling like my heart is going to explode and my legs are going to crumple!!
What has helped my fitness and blood sugar levels more than metformin is L-carnitine supplementation. I was diagnosed with an L-carnitine deficiency this year, so I was temporarily put on an L-carnitine supplement. During this time period, my fitness levels improved gradually and were much more stable from day-to-day, I gained 8 lbs without increasing clothing size, and I stopped experiencing heart palpitations (diagnosed as "pre-mature left ventricular contractions"). Since the prescription ran out, running has been harder and I've lost about 7 lbs. I am going to ask my doctor to recheck my L-carnitine levels again. By the way, I have osteopenia too, which I think is linked to low L-carnitine.