Happy Diabetes Awareness Month
Hello and welcome to blog number one. To get to the point, I have a passion for making a difference in the lives of people who have diabetes. I thought November, Diabetes Awareness Month, would be a good time to launch my first blog.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, a staggering one in three Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes, including an estimated 2 million with undiagnosed diabetes. Our friends in the US are doing just as poorly. In October 2017, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) announced that 40% of American adults were clinically obese. Factoring in that about 80% of obese people have diabetes and we are looking at the same 1 in 3 figure.
1 in 3!! Imagine if 1 in 3 people had cancer. Or Alzheimer’s. Or heart disease. Or kidney problems. Or longer stays in the hospital to recover from surgery. Or skin issues. Well, people with diabetes are much more likely to have these as well as several other health complications. Furthermore, it is an economic tsunami that is going to cripple the healthcare system. As a Canadian I know all about high taxes. Well, get ready for diabetes to dip into your wallet for more money to support healthcare in the upcoming years. In the US diabetes is costing the healthcare system about $200 billion annually. In a few short years, it will reach $1 billion a day. In 2009 the first report on the economic impact of diabetes in Canada was announced with an estimated annual cost of $12 billion which is now closing in on $20 billion. So, we are about 1/10th the cost of the US with about 1/10th the population. About equal.
It really is a global disease with similar numbers in all regions of the world. The figures for diabetes in the Arab world are particularly startling as the number of people with diabetes is projected to increase by 96.2% in less than 20 years as published in the World Journal of Diabetes in 2016. The World Health Organization, in a recent report, indicates that gulf countries have some of the highest rate of obesity. Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates made the list of top ten countries worldwide in term of obesity. China is the worst. 7 years ago, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report stating that 50.1% of Adult Chinese have diabetes or prediabetes. Over Half of China! It hasn’t gotten any better. That’s going to cost a few Renminbi for sure.
Even the continent of Africa is facing an obesity crisis. The World Health Organization estimates that 12.7% of African children will be overweight or obese by 2020, compared with 8.5% in 2010.
So, diabetes is a disease that is going to have an enormous impact on the health and finances of individuals, families and governments around the globe. You could be a fitness nut who eats properly and lives alone, but its tentacles are still going to reach you in some manner, whether its higher taxes or a longer wait for healthcare.
Skin in the game.
As a diabetes biochemist, personal trainer, nutritionist and lifestyle coach I have studied the disease from medication to meditation. I think most people understand the importance of diet and exercise. Although this usually isn’t done properly, leading many people to give up. Diets don’t last and people stop going to the gym. No wonder the rate of type 2 diabetes and gym memberships have increased at nearly the same rate over the past 25 years. When I teach people about the nutrition their body needs, based on solid scientific facts, not opinions, and without an agenda, they are often surprised at what they can eat and shouldn’t eat.
However, rather than focus on nutrition or exercise, something many people have heard over and over again, I thought I would use my little piece of the internet to bring awareness to the skin and to launch a product that would benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
Yes, we are vain.
Imagine pouring maple syrup on your hands and then trying to fold paper towels. If the sugar content in your blood is high enough, for an extended period of time, the proteins, especially collagen, in your skin behave like the paper towel in this example. Sugar ages the skin. Google ‘Sugar Sag’ and think twice about eating that donut. The appearance of sugar bound collagen is first observed at age 20 and accumulates with a yearly rate of about 3.7% reaching 50% increase by age 80. So,sugar contributes to the natural aging process of skin, but why speed things up with a high sugar / carbohydrate based diet?
I say this because when working one-on-one with my clients this fact seems to wake them up to the issues of diabetes rather than brain, heart or kidney issues. We all want to look good and the taking care of our skin is key to looking our best.
Skin is a crystal ball.
A primary reason for focusing on skin is because its involvement may be the first presenting sign of diabetes. A large percentage of the population has prediabetes, or is not aware they have diabetes. Making people aware of their skin health is a major step and something I want to contribute to. The skin, especially around the legs and feet, can be thought of as a silent messenger saying “hey, you may have diabetes or are on your way to getting it” when you know what to look for. It is important to catch it early as once the complications of diabetes start, it’s difficult to unring that bell. Terms such as ‘hyperglycemic memory’, ‘metabolic memory’ and ‘legacy effect’ have been used to describe the fact that even after you control your blood sugar with drugs or lifestyle modification, the damage has started. But the sooner diabetes is addressed, the less the damage.
Once someone knows they have diabetes or prediabetes, a daily skincare routine is paramount as echoed by all national and international diabetes organizations. People with diabetes are much more prone to dry skin and keeping the skin moisturized is the cornerstone to such a routine. Creams and lotions are mostly water and don’t have the intensity of a skin balm, which is why I went in this direction with a skin product.
Naturally its Natural.
The ingredients in my skin balm are found in nature and proven to help moisturize and nourish the skin. This isn’t to be trendy or ecofriendly. This is based on the fact that chemicals, known as EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) found in plastics and cosmetics, contribute to causing diabetes. EDCs are man-made chemicals that can attack our endocrine system (i.e., pancreas) and effect our insulin function. A detailed study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2015showed that EDC exposure contribute substantially to the diabetes and obesity epidemic in Europe. A classic EDC is Bisphenol A (BPA). You have likely seen plastic bottles and containers labeled as ‘BPA free’ when shopping. In 2016 a study published in Environment Research stated that urinary concentrations of BPA were positively associated with indicators of diabetes in Canadians.
The last thing someone with diabetes needs in a skincare product with EDCs in the product itself or the container than holds it. I made sure my skin balm met these criteria.
When I asked someone if they have type 2 diabetes, I want them to include their HbA1c level (a primary blood-sugar marker of type 2 diabetes) in their answer. If they aren’t sure of this number, then they don’t’ know if they have type 2 diabetes. Yes, even skinny people can develop type 2 diabetes. My advice is to see your doctor and get it checked out and catch it early. Your heart, kidneys, brain, eyes, limbs and skin will thank you.
See you in December with blog #2!