Insulin resistance and diabesity are often accompanied by:
- Belly fat
- Fatigue after meals
- Sugar cravings (which may not be relieved by eating sweets)
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL
- High blood pressure
- Problems with blood clotting
- Increased inflammation
These clues can often be picked up long before you ever get diabetes and may help you prevent the disease entirely. Why is this important? Because insulin resistance can cause substantial health risks even in the absence of full blown diabetes.
Many people with pre-diabetes never get diabetes, but they are at high risk of many chronic diseases just the same. We could eliminate many of the long-term complications of diabesity if we simply addressed these symptoms and lab markers and diagnosed the problem much earlier in the disease process—that is to say, earlier in the continuum of diabesity.
The Continuum Concept of Diabesity
There are many stages of diabesity. Diabesity, like all disease, is a continuum that stretches from optimal health to full-blown illness. This is essential for you to understand if you want to fully grasp the concept of the development of diabesity and how to prevent or reverse this disease.
Most medicine is based on clear-cut, on-or-off, yes-or-no diagnoses. Most conventional doctors are taught that you have a disease or you don’t, you have diabetes or you don’t. There are no gray areas. This approach is not only misguided, it is dangerous, because it misses the underlying causes and more subtle manifestations of illness.
Practicing medicine this way completely ignores one of the most fundamental laws of physiology, biology, and disease: the continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Anywhere along that continuum, we can intervene and reverse the process. The sooner we address the imbalance, the better, in almost all cases.
When it comes to diabesity most doctors just follow blood sugar, which actually rises very late in the disease process. Conventional medicine tells us if your blood sugar is 90 or 110, you don’t have diabetes; if it is over 126, you do have diabetes. But these distinctions are completely arbitrary, and they do nothing to help treat impending problems.
Given our current level of scientific understanding of diabesity, this concept of watching and waiting until more serious disease occurs is very unfortunate, misguided, and in some cases it’s deadly.
It is also why diabesity is so woefully and inadequately diagnosed and treated. Millions of Americans are suffering needlessly from chronic symptoms, including chronic pain. Remember that hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin in the blood) results in chronic inflammation, which manifests as chronic pain. Nearly half of all diabetics are undiagnosed. Nearly all of the 100 million Americans with pre-diabetes are undiagnosed.
Most Doctors Take a “Wait and See” Attitude
Why are all these patients undiagnosed? Most doctors are not diagnosing it, or when they do, they don’t know what to do about it in the early stages, because there is no good drug treatment. Most doctors just take a “wait and see” attitude and wait until the patient requires medications. They know that diet and exercise are important but don’t know what else to do with them except to recommend a weight loss program. As the problem advances, these patients require more and more medications because the medications they are on are not addressing the underlying problem. And they don’t tell their patients they should plan to be on these medications the rest of their life unless they change their diet or lifestyle.
The truth is the road to diabetes starts as early as childhood.(1) We now know that there is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children as young as eight years old (2), and pediatric diabetic specialists who used to only care for type 1 diabetes, now find their offices are overwhelmed with cases of type 2 diabetes. Research is now showing by the time you get diagnosed with diabetes, your problems with insulin and blood sugar could have been detected twenty to thirty years earlier.(3) That is, if you knew where to look, which most doctors are not trained to do. The other problem with conventional medicine is, even after the disease is diagnosed, the focus of the treatment is directed toward suppressing the symptoms and risk factors, rather than addressing the underlying cause.
(1) Nelson RA, Bremer AA. Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome in the Pediatric Population. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2009 Nov 29.
(2) Silverstein JH, Rosenbloom AL. Type 2 diabetes in children. Curr Diab Rep. 2001 Aug;1(1):19-27. Review.