When I tell people that I have to miss spaghetti dinner or pass on the free bagels at the breakfast meeting because I’m managing my blood sugar, they look at me like I must be confused. Why? they wonder. Because I have a lot of the symptoms of pre-diabetes and my healthcare providers have encouraged me to avoid carbs and control the sugars in my diet. Diabetes? How could you have diabetes?!
Sounds crazy for an active, 29 year old, who is 5’6” and 125 lbs to be worried about diabetes. That’s what I always thought too—until my fit, active, 3-squares-a-day mother was tested and diagnosed with prediabetes. Her blood sugar was too high and she was given a few months to get it under control with diet before pharmaceutical options would be strongly recommended. We both knew that diabetes ran in the family, but we always considered it a disease of the overweight so it didn’t apply to us.
But according to the National Institutes of Health even though most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight, it can turn up in thin, otherwise healthy individuals—particularly if there’s a family history of the disease. NIH also reports that 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 20 years or older have prediabetes. And for adults ages 65 years or older that goes up to 50 percent. One out of every two older adults has prediabetes (read: increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and a litany of other complications).
Experts in the dietary supplements industry like Rhonda Witwer of National Starch Food Innovation have seen these kinds of disturbing health statistics and recognized a need in the market. She predicts that ingredients that help maintain healthy blood sugar and address the risk factors associated with conditions like metabolic syndrome are on a trajectory similar to what we’ve seen in omega-3s. In other words, they're going to take the market by storm. In fact, a new study just came out showing that resveratrol can significantly improve measures like blood pressure and cell metabolism associated with diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
There are a lot of bigger questions here. Clearly we have a diabesity epidemic in this country, but who or what is to blame? If it were as simple as staying active, eating right and maintaining a healthy weight people, my mother and I wouldn’t be counted among the millions of Americans—both diagnosed and undiagnosed—with prediabetes.
This is a critical conversation and it’s not just about weight or diet. Expect to see more from me and from the entire team at NewHope360 as we dig up answers to these questions about blood sugar, diabetes and how the industry can respond to consumer concerns.