There is a recent rise in the incidence of adult onset diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Type II, and this rise is directly related to obesity. Diabetes has two forms, Type I and Type II. Type II Diabetes is an inability to use the insulin properly. Simply put, the more fat cells you have, the more insulin you will require. Think of fat cells as a huge sponge that soaks up insulin.
Type I Diabetes, is also called juvenile diabetes…
…and is caused from a lack of production of insulin by the pancreas. This occurs mostly in children, although sometimes in young adults.
Weight loss will increase the body’s ability to use its own insulin
So, if you have Type I Diabetes and lose weight, you will probably not need to use as much insulin as you did before. If you have Type II DM, you may also use less insulin, or less pills, or you may even be able to get off the medication for DM entirely. Insulin helps the body convert blood sugar into useful fuel. If you have a high blood sugar level, that means you are not using it as fuel and this can lead to diabetes and a host of problems that come with it. Diabetes is directly linked to heart disease, obesity, blindness, strokes, and loss of legs. If you have DM and are treated for it, you will have more energy, be able to do more of the things that you enjoy doing, and feel much better overall.
High blood sugar levels will also make you quite thirsty…
…as well as make you urinate more. I am a bit of a hypochondriac. Okay, being a doctor means that I am more than a bit. I don’t get headaches, I get brain tumors—undiagnosed and untreated they go away. One weekend, during a hot Arizona summer, I was golfing with my friends. It was 105-110 degrees so I drank a lot of water, along with ice tea, in the clubhouse. I worked with Pima Indians who have the highest incidence of Type II diabetes in the world, and have the same genetic background as me (I am one quarter Alaska Native—Athabascan to be exact), and I was convinced I was going to get this disease. Monday morning I was concerned because I had been so thirsty, had drank so much and had been peeing a lot, so I went to visit my favorite internist and told her I was sure I had diabetes. A quick blood test later confirmed my blood sugar was about 49 (normal), and that instead, what I suffered from was too much heat, too much water, too much tea, and too much hypochondria. The internist told me to exercise and lose weight—and I did lose some weight. I figured that golfing was good enough exercise—alas; as I have grown older, I have discovered that a bit of exercise does actually make me feel better. I wish I had started that program sooner—but that is another story.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is caused by fatty food
If your little heart has to pump to an extra hundred pounds it might need to increase the pressure it uses to pump. Furthermore, the narrower the arteries become because of atherosclerosis (not just those to the heart) the higher your blood pressure must be to deliver the same amount of blood to your body.
Think of it this way: if you have a garden hose delivering water to your plants and you kink the hose, the pressure in the tube goes up and you have to have more pressure to deliver that same water. But, if you deliver water at a higher pressure to that garden, you will disrupt the garden a bit—you have to be gentle with the garden (at least that is why I think Mom didn’t want me running through hers).
The same goes for organs like the kidneys, the eyes, or the brain—the higher the blood pressure, the more damage is done. Just like to mom’s garden, you need to water it, but you have to water it at a pressure that won’t disrupt the plants. Hypertension delivers blood at a pressure that will cause damage to the organ that receive it—like the heart, kidneys, eyes, or brain. Hypertension can lead to strokes, blindness, kidney failure, as well as heart attacks and impotence. So, get your hypertension under control and be gentle when watering the garden. Strokes are one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States, and the elimination of obesity will greatly reduce the risk of strokes.