Studies of spending by United Health, the very large health insurance company indicate that, by 2020 10% of the health care dollars spent in the U.S. will be for diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. Put another way, just these two conditions alone will cost us, the U.S. taxpayers, about $500,000,000,000 (five hundred billion) each and every year.
If you are not sure what diabetes is, diabetes is really a group of diseases in individuals with abnormally high amounts of sugars in their blood. This condition is caused either because the body itself does not produce enough natural insulin, or because the cells of the body do not respond correctly to the insulin that is produced.
Going further, medicine recognizes three main classifications of diabetes:
- Type 1: in which the body fails to produce insulin
- Type 2: in which the body is resistant to the insulin produced
- Gestational diabetes: which is when pregnant women without a history of diabetes, develop high blood sugar during pregnancy.
While there are other classifications of diabetes, the three above are, by far, the most common.
Returning to the United Health report, it estimates that, in total, some 26 million Americans have one form or another of the disease. The report further estimates that another 67 million American have diabetes without obvious symptoms and more than million more are not aware they have the disease!
This report should be a wake-up call for us all. $500 billion a year is quite a bit of money, even for a country as wealthy as ours and I’m sure each of us can think of something else to spend it on (I know I can).
So what to do?
First, get tested by your doctor or health clinic and find out if you have, or are at risk for, diabetes. If you are overweight, obese, have high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, you might be at risk.
If it turns out that you do have diabetes it is critical that you work closely with your health care provider to make the necessary lifestyle changes necessary to effectively manage the disease. Among the changes your doctor will recommend are changing your diet to one that concentrates on monitoring the amount of carbohydrates consumed daily.
Adopting a healthy eating plan that is focused on alleviating diabetes symptoms is one of the most important tools you have to combat the disease. While you will have to make your food choices more carefully and pay close attention to your intake a good diet will, as the old saying goes, “add years to your life and life to your years”.
Your doctor will probably also recommend an exercise program as well. Diabetes, especially Type 2, responds well to exercise which improves the body’s use of insulin, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, helps with anxiety and reduces stress.
The numbers in the United Health report are not carved in stone. If all of us take responsibility for our own health and diet, together we can save our country a whole lot of money and live happier, healthier lives as well.
The smoothie recipes offered here are a tasty and easy way to add needed nutritious fruit and vegetables to your diet on a daily basis. And adding both fruits and veggies is a really good first step to creating a healthy and balanced diet.