New York City's Diabetes Epidemic

One in twenty people has diabetes in this country, more than 16 million Americans. New York City in particular is quietly approaching a diabetes crisis. N.R. Kleinfield of the New York Times reports:

An estimated 800,000 adult New Yorkers - more than one in every eight - now have diabetes, and city health officials describe the problem as a bona fide epidemic. Diabetes is the only major disease in the city that is growing, both in the number of new cases and the number of people it kills. And it is growing quickly, even as other scourges like heart disease and cancers are stable or in decline.

The dangers of diabetes are twofold. Not only is the disease itself dangerous, but more than 70 percent of adults with Type II diabetes die of heart attacks and stroke. Kleinfield points out additional complications resulting from diabetes:

Diabetics are two to four times more likely than others to develop heart disease or have a stroke, and three times more likely to die of complications from flu or pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most diabetics suffer nervous-system damage and poor circulation, which can lead to amputations of toes, feet and entire legs; even a tiny cut on the foot can lead to gangrene because it will not be seen or felt.
Women with diabetes are at higher risk for complications in pregnancy, including miscarriages and birth defects. Men run a higher risk of impotence. Young adults have twice the chance of getting gum disease and losing teeth.

There is a simple explanation for instances of diabetes in New York City and the entire country. As our country's weight has risen, diabetes has increased accordingly. The worldwide explosion in diabetes parallels the increase in body weight. Kleinfield presents the factors attributed to climbing rates of diabetes in our sedentary nation:

  • An aging population
  • A food supply spiked with sugars and fats
  • A culture that promotes overeating and discourages exercise
  • In Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live he outlines a vegetable-based, high-nutrient diet that is instrumental in preventing and reversing disease. For those already stricken with the disease he offers some dietary suggestions to help control its effects:

  • Refined starches such as white bread and pasta are particularly harmful; avoid them completely
  • Do not consume any fruit juice or dried fruits. Avoid all sweets, except fresh fruit in reasonable quantities. Two or three fruits for breakfast is fine, and one fruit after lunch and dinner is ideal. The best fruits are those with less sugar grapefruit, oranges, kiwis, strawberries and other berries, melons, green apples
  • Avoid all oil. Raw nuts are permitted, but only one ounce or less
  • The name of your diet is the "greens and beans diet"; green vegetables and beans should make up most of your diet
  • Limit animal food intake to no more than two servings of fish weekly
  • Try to exercise regularly and consistently, like dispensing your medication. Do it on a regimented schedule, preferably twice daily. Walking upstairs is one of greatest exercises for weight loss
  • Check out this previous post for success stories about how how the Eat to Live diet can help defeat diabetes.

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    Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
    Leni Fe Mendoza - January 10, 2006 12:28 PM

    I'm an underweight Type I diabetic
    taking a total of 20 units of insulin.
    does the 'greens and beans' diet mean
    that i should avoid including rice or
    oats in my meals?

    bonnynemia - January 11, 2006 5:44 PM

    I have been a type 2 diabetic since July 1991. My diagnosis fasting sugar level was 468 mg/dl. Our family physician at that time ordered me to take diabetes pills right away, but I begged him to give me a week or two to try my own way of diabetes control. He agreed on condition that I first pass a stress test.

    In less than two 2 weeks after passing the stress test, I was already getting normal sugar levels due to the 2-hour daily exercise I was on. I reported this to our doctor and he encouraged me to continue doing it.

    14 1/2 years later, I am still getting excellent blood sugar readings. My A1c two days ago was 6%. I don't have diabetes complications yet, despite my having drastically reduced my exercise time to about 50 minutes/day divided into 4 sessions of 12 minutes/session. I run the stairs.

    This exercise is so safe and so effective that I feel like I am only 30 when I am actually 70 years old.

    I have no other diabetes medication except exercise. All the heart-healthy foods I have been eating are for my overall health and not necessarily for diabetes control. I don't count calories, nor limit my carbohydrate intake, nor take into consideration the glycemic index of foods. I avoid as much as I can animal fats, processed foods and foods especially prepared for diabetics, foods with artificial ingredients, fried foods, snacks, and all kinds of soft and hard drinks.

    I have been wondering if exercise is the best drug against type 2 diabetes. Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas claims that his diabetes was cured by exercising. Dr. Nic Kormas, an Australian endocrinologist, has been telling his diabetes patients to use more of exercise and less of diabetes pills and insulin.

    Bonny C Damocles

    Sheena - January 16, 2006 3:01 AM

    This is great information no wonder people can get a bit alarmed. It should be better to be informed rather than keep our eyes shut on what's happening. Diabetes claims many lives, and endangers the lives of those who are still young and able. This blog has been really helpful, and every bit informative. In fact, many of us still do not know how much endangered we are of this type of disease. Let this be our canary in the coalmine, as the saying goes.

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