Heart Disease + Diabetes are chronic conditions in the United States. They are usually a result of low nutrition and physical activity over the course of many years.  More than ever, it is important for mid-lifers (35+) to be educated on the statistics for these chronic conditions. If given the right tools, they could lower their risks or possibly prevent these conditions through blood sugar management. 

Some interesting statistics

10% of people age 40-64 have reported diabetes in California, per a study conducted in 2012 by the California HealthCare Foundation.  This means for every 10 friends over the age of 40, 1 friend already has this chronic condition. In a more recent report by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, based on the data from the California Health Interview Survey; 49% of the 40-54 year old age group in California is pre-diabetic. 

Pre-diabetes is the condition in which, an individual has elevated levels of glucose over a period of time, but are not yet diagnosed with diabetes.  It is the single biggest indiction that a person is likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.  This could mean, that at least 5 of 10 friends who are over 40, are already pre-diabetic. And they are likely to become diabetic in the future. That’s 6 out of 10 friends who are glucose intolerant or living with Type 2 diabetes.

The risk of diabetes doubles as an individual enters into their retirement years (over 65), making it possible that more than 6 friends will have diabetes. Per the American Heart Association, 68% of adults over 65 with Diabetes die from a form of heart disease, and 16% of them from stroke.  Applying the same ratios to our 10 friends, this means that of our 6-8 friends with a condition due to glucose intolerance, 4-6 of them will die of a type of heart disease or stroke.  

Glucose in a nutshell

Most adults do not get the correct amount of nutrition or physical activity.  The body breaks down food eaten in order to create glucose. It is then stored in the cells of the body for immediate energy.  Insulin is released by the pancreas during the digestion process. It acts as a tour guide for the incoming glucose and helps the glucose find its way into our cells.  If the cell needs energy, likely due to physical activity, then the cell stores the glucose inside. However, in the case when the cell has not used the glucose for energy then the cell doesn’t need any more glucose. Leaving glucose in the bloodstream.

The pancreas releases more insulin in order to lower the blood sugar in the blood stream, and thus the cells start to “tune out” the insulin’s request to store the glucose.  Over time, the pancreas creates less and less insulin to help transport the glucose to the cells. Therefore, the glucose stays in the blood stream even longer, resulting in elevated blood sugar for a longer period of time. 

A lack of physical activity can be adding to this problem. With proper exercise, the body has the ability to utilize excess blood sugar.

Glucose over Time

Once the blood sugar levels are higher, it slows down the blood flow significantly.  Once the blood flow slows down, numerous issues arise, such as nitric oxide production slows down, which helps with expanding and relaxing the arteries to help with blood flow. Reduced blood flow can cause pain in the heart, known as Angina.  Additionally, if blood has been slowed down, then LDL “bad” cholesterol isn’t transported correctly causing the blood to become thicker. Also, free radicals increase due to the presence of higher glucose in the bloodstream, causing oxidation or damage to artery walls. 

Collectively they create plaque along the artery walls, a condition called Atherosclerosis.  The plaque build up further increases the blood pressure flow.  Over time the plaque can build up to the point of blocking blood flow to the heart, which is known as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and Peripheral artery disease (PAD), if the the blood flow to your limbs is blocked. These blockages can lead to a loss of limbs or even a heart attack. So it is critical to keep the blood properly flowing in the first place, to avoid all of these possible problems.

High Blood Sugar = Heart Disease?

In conclusion, the domino effect of glucose production in the body can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. If left unmanaged, it will lead to diabetes and eventually heart disease.

The best course of action for anyone over the age of 35 is to take their diet and physical activity very seriously. A diet consisting of whole foods along with cardio strengthening activities, can significantly reduce the blood sugar in the bloodstream. Managing blood sugar before a diagnosis can help create long term health by maintaining insulin levels, lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has launched a program to promote lifestyle changes to educate people on Diabetes prevention.  The program provides all the tools and resources for adults wanting to manage their risk for diabetes. Also, you can track your blood sugar regularly to determine what factors impact your blood sugar the most.

Tools:

National Prevention Program

Blood Sugar Monitor

Additional Resources:

Arbonne 30 days to Healthy Living Program

The Blood Sugar Diet

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