Diabetes is the major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. The number of people affected by all types of diabetic disorders is now over four times higher than just 40 years ago. This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider diabetes an epidemic, predicting it will soon be the seventh biggest cause of death worldwide.
This event goes well beyond the initial vision of Wanderlust’s CEO, Sean Hoess, who sat down with me one morning by a hotel pool in running clothes. Hoess is 48, but like many Wellspring attendees looks a decade younger. He just renovated a house in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and is openly “not a wellness buff”—he prefers tennis. After graduating from Columbia University, he went to law school, but quit practicing to start a record label with a college friend, Jeff Krasno. Krasno’s wife, Schuyler Grant, ran a yoga studio above their office, and the three of them had the idea to start a festival combining the two fields.
One of the biggest hits in type 2 diabetes treatment is glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonists, which induce insulin production in beta-pancreatic cells while suppressing the secretion of glucagon. All big pharma have GLP-1 drugs on the market or their pipelines, including Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Roche, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim. But Novo Nordisk is going a step further with the first oral version of a GLP-1 drug, which is now close to the market.
The people at Wellspring were easy to talk to. They were into eye contact, and open about how what Brand had said was true: Beneath the good vibes and aerial-yoga acrobatics, many attendees at this conference told me they were sober or currently dealing with addiction. The ultra-runner Engle was not alone in the conscious replacement of substances with wellness. But addicted or not, many of the people I met had turned to wellness to explicitly fill some space previously occupied by a substance or behavior or person, so as not to relapse into self-destructive habits.
As a global network of medical research charities, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is driving research into new treatments that present tremendous opportunities to deliver enhanced health and wellbeing for people with type-1 diabetes. The technology I am currently most enthused about is glucose responsive insulin, which I think is going to transform how people treat and live with type 1 in the future.
As of 2016, 422 million people have diabetes worldwide, up from an estimated 382 million people in 2013 and from 108 million in 1980. Accounting for the shifting age structure of the global population, the prevalence of diabetes is 8.5% among adults, nearly double the rate of 4.7% in 1980. Type 2 makes up about 90% of the cases. Some data indicate rates are roughly equal in women and men, but male excess in diabetes has been found in many populations with higher type 2 incidence, possibly due to sex-related differences in insulin sensitivity, consequences of obesity and regional body fat deposition, and other contributing factors such as high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, and alcohol intake.
It's unclear how people get the disease — genetics plays a big role, though unknown environmental factors may also trigger the disease. Either way, the disease causes the immune system to mistakenly attack and kill insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. (This differs from type 2 diabetes, in which the body initially makes sufficient insulin but the cells cannot properly use it.) Without enough insulin working to remove glucose from the blood stream, and allowing glucose to enter the body's cells, blood sugar levels spike. Left untreated, this insulin deficiency leads to a deadly complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. What's more, having high blood sugar over the long term can cause life-threatening complications such as kidney damage or heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means the body cannot use insulin properly to help glucose get into the cells. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work well in muscle, fat, and other tissues, so your pancreas (the organ that makes insulin) starts to put out a lot more of it to try and compensate. "This results in high insulin levels in the body,” says Fernando Ovalle, MD, director of the multidisciplinary diabetes clinic at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. This insulin level sends signals to the brain that your body is hungry.
Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells) are damaged. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so sugar cannot get into the body's cells for use as energy. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Type 1 is the most common form of diabetes in people who are under age 30, but it can occur at any age. Ten percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1.
One benefit of these foods is that they generally promote weight loss, which is a major factor in reversing diabetes. A study following 306 diabetic individuals found that losing weight under a structured program (with the supervision of a primary care physician) resulted in almost half of the participants going into total diabetes remission. This means they were able to stay off their medications permanently (assuming they stayed on a healthy diet). Quality of life also improved by over seven points on average for the patients on the dietary regimen, while it decreased by about three points for the control group. (13)
Scientists are trying to figure out how to transplant islet cells and then protect them from the patient’s immune system so that long-term immunosuppressive medications aren’t required. Micro encapsulation is an approach scientists are testing to find out if a special coating to the transplanted islets can help the patient avoid rejection of those islets. These coatings let in nutrients to nourish the cells but prevent your body’s immune system from attacking them.
Diabetes has grown to “epidemic” proportions, and the latest statistics revealed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, including the 7.2 million people who weren’t even aware of it. Diabetes is affecting people of all ages, including 132,000 children and adolescents younger than 18 years old. (2)
What’s more, according to an October 2017 survey commissioned by John Hancock (an investment, financial services, and life insurance company), nearly half of people with diabetes worry that they won’t qualify for life insurance and 45 percent assume it’s too expensive. “It’s always on your mind, so you can become preoccupied and then overgeneralize your thoughts,” Bereolos says.
Exercise is often one of the best treatments for pain. Responding to an entry on pain in the Diabetes Self-Management blog, a Canadian man with Type 2 diabetes reported, “I have cured my back pain completely since starting weight-lifting exercises 18 months ago. I do horizontal and inclined bench presses. I started with 50 lbs and built to 150 lbs. The benches provide complete back support.”
A 2018 study suggested that three types should be abandoned as too simplistic. It classified diabetes into five subgroups, with what is typically described as type 1 and autoimmune late-onset diabetes categorized as one group, whereas type 2 encompasses four categories. This is hoped to improve diabetes treatment by tailoring it more specifically to the subgroups.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) resembles type 2 DM in several respects, involving a combination of relatively inadequate insulin secretion and responsiveness. It occurs in about 2–10% of all pregnancies and may improve or disappear after delivery. However, after pregnancy approximately 5–10% of women with GDM are found to have DM, most commonly type 2. GDM is fully treatable, but requires careful medical supervision throughout the pregnancy. Management may include dietary changes, blood glucose monitoring, and in some cases, insulin may be required.
The review affirmed how effective surgery is at treating diabetes (possibly even type 1 diabetes). Around two-thirds of patients with diabetes experience a full remission soon after surgery, while the rest are often better able to control their blood sugar through diet, exercise and medication. Other studies have shown that diabetics who have surgery outlive those who haven’t. Some longer-term research has suggested that one-third of these successes slide back into having active diabetes after five years, but to a lesser degree than they might have without surgery. By contrast, a 2014 study found that fewer than 2 percent of diabetes patients given standard care experienced any remission within a seven-year span.
While there is a strong genetic component to developing this form of diabetes, there are other risk factors - the most significant of which is obesity. There is a direct relationship between the degree of obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and this holds true in children as well as adults. It is estimated that the chance to develop diabetes doubles for every 20% increase over desirable body weight.
Rarely, people with diabetes erupt in blisters. Diabetic blisters can occur on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet and sometimes on legs or forearms. These sores look like burn blisters and often occur in people who have diabetic neuropathy. They are sometimes large, but they are painless and have no redness around them. They heal by themselves, usually without scars, in about three weeks. The only treatment is to bring blood sugar levels under control.
Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.