November is American diabetes month, and Dr. Jasbir Kang at Adventist Health/Rideout hospital wants to raise awareness about a disease which affects nearly 10 percent of Yuba-Sutter residents.
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and another 84 million have pre-diabetes, which can lead to the full disease.
There are two types of diabetes with distinct differences. Type 1, Kang said, is when the body doesn’t produce insulin and the diabetic has to take insulin to replace what is not produced. Type 1 cannot be prevented through diet and exercise.
Type 2, the more prevalent of the types, is diagnosed when the body develops a resistance to insulin. Risk factors for developing Type 2 include genetics, lifestyle and diet Kang said.
He said people who have parents with Type 2 diabetes have about a 30 percent higher chance of developing Type 2, and he said that certain ethnicities are also at a higher risk to develop the disease. Aside from family history, leading a sedentary lifestyle with a poor diet also puts people at risk for Type 2, he said.
There is also that third group, known as pre-diabetics, who have higher levels of blood glucose than average but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Kang said there are steps Type 2 and pre-diabetics can take to manage or prevent their diabetes from progressing.
“Genetics, which you can’t change,” Kang said. “Lifestyle and environment, which you can change.”
Kang said Type 2 is largely a disease of nutrition, with excess carbohydrates intake being a large contributor. He recommends replacing simple carbs like white bread, rice and potatoes with complex carbs found in garbanzo bean flour and lentils, and increasing consumption of vegetables while reducing added sugar.
Working hand-in-hand with a balanced diet, Kang said, is exercise. He said patients often will work out for about a month and then quit, so he advises diabetics find a way to move which is fun, like dancing, golfing, riding a bike or his personal favorite – hiking.
“People need to find whatever excites them,” Kang said, noting that there is no one activity which is better than another. “Any activity is better than none.”
He acknowledged preventative measures for decreasing diabetes complications come with barriers including awareness, education and affordability. He also said that every culture has “different menus” which can dictate a person's diet as well.
“Obviously healthy foods are expensive... in some places you can buy a sweet beverage for less than water,” Kang said.
The affordability of fast food and junk food is part of a larger issue of systemic obesity Kang said, calling it a “domino effect” with obesity leading to other issues such as depression, Type 2 diabetes and heart complications.
He said since he started practicing medicine in 1991 he has seen a “significant increase” in young people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“Parents sometimes think the kids can eat whatever they want,” Kang said. “Kids develop bad habits and then by 18 or 19 start showing signs.”
He said he hopes nutrition education can be integrated into the educational system so kids can learn healthy habits, as well as be offered healthier food choices at school.
“Our legislators and elected officials need to pay more attention to this epidemic,” Kang said.
While diabetes provides challenges for those with the disease, Kang said it shouldn’t stop those diagnosed from living full lives.
“Type 1 or Type 2 is not a barrier for how you live your life,” Kang said. “You can do everything.”
To increase education, Adventist Health/Rideout will host a diabetes symposium for healthcare providers on Nov. 14. There will be presentations for physicians to learn more about prevention, new technologies and medications.
Kang said he hopes the symposium helps doctors learn more about prevention and how to individualize care for each diabetic patient.
“There should be more focus on prevention and reversing in early stages,” Kang said.