When a man applied for a job at the railway station, he was asked, “Suppose you saw a train coming from the east at 100 miles per hour. Then, you noticed a train coming from the west at 100 miles per hour. The trains are both on the same track and just a quarter of a mile apart. What would you do?”
The man replied, “I’d run and get my brother.”
“Why would you ever do that at such a critical time?” he was asked.
The man replied, “Because my brother’s never seen a train wreck.”
Today, diabetes and its complications make a perfect medical train wreck. According to the World Health Organization, every 40 seconds a new diabetic is diagnosed in North America. Can you imagine the hue and cry if there were a new case of SARS or measles every 40 seconds?
The figures are appalling. Fifty years ago, 90 percent of diabetes was the result of inheriting bad genes (Type 1 diabetes). Now 90 percent is due to obesity (Type 2 diabetes)!
Five percent of North Americans are diabetic. One child in five born today will become a diabetic. The dollars required to care for these patients is mind-boggling, and it will eventually decimate our health care system. So can you decrease the risk of becoming a diabetes statistic?
First, everyone must get scared to death about gaining weight. Excess weight not only sets the stage for diabetes but also triggers a series of other health problems. For instance, heart disease is listed as the No. 1 killer. But often it’s sheer fat that’s killing people.
The next thing to be scared about is packaged foods. Since most of us are no longer down on the farm, packaged foods have become a way of life. So develop the habit of never buying packaged food without looking at the label. You will be surprised at the number of calories present per serving.
Until everyone starts thinking calories, the battle of the bulge will never be won. Most people need about 1,800 calories a day.
Also get scared about other calories: the 14 teaspoons of sugar present in a piece of cherry pie and the 8 teaspoons of sugar in a soft drink.
I am sure readers would conclude I needed a psychiatrist if I poured this amount of sugar into a glass of water and drank it. But this is what kids have been drinking for years. And since many morning cereals contain 50 percent sugar, I tell my grandchildren it’s safer to eat the box!
It’s naive to expect that the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes will suddenly end. That would require a famine, a major public health assault on obesity, or millions of people getting scared. I don’t see this happening.
The great tragedy is that too many people look on diabetes simply as a problem of an excessive amount of blood sugar. They fail to realize that diabetes is a cause of narrowed, atherosclerotic arteries that gradually choke off the blood supply to vital organs.
The most appalling example of tragedy is what is happening to aboriginal patients in Manitoba. Because of diabetes and reduced blood supply to the legs, 90 percent of leg amputations are performed on aboriginals.
But look at other diabetes patients in North America: Diminished blood flow makes them 25 times more prone to blindness and 17 times more likely to need dialysis due to destroyed kidneys.
Narrowed arteries in diabetes patients also carry less blood to the heart’s muscle. This is why 50 percent of diabetes patients die of coronary attacks.
Aging is also responsible for narrowed, atherosclerotic arteries. But Dr. Sydney Bush, an English researcher, has shown that diabetes patients and the rest of us can restore normal blood flow by taking high concentrations of vitamin C and lysine.