Even though diabetes is a preventable and reversible metabolic disease, its prevalence is growing rapidly in the U.S. What is the cause for this continued rise of diabetes?
Comparing the rising prevalence and costs of diabetes nationally, you should know that U.S. expenditures exceeded $2.6 billion in 1969, $137 billion in 1995 and $218 billion in 2011.  Diabetes is one of the most preventable of all illnesses.  The International Diabetes Association reported:
- The demographic group that has the greatest number of people with diabetes is between 40 to 59 years of age.
- Some 183 million people worldwide (50 percent) with diabetes are undiagnosed and don’t know they have it.
- Diabetes caused 4.6 million deaths worldwide in 2011.
We know a lot about diabetes; we’ve been studying it for many decades. With so much educational information available to healthcare providers and patients today, why is diabetes still becoming so widespread?
A look at our medical industry and the authorities on health and disease shows that there is a huge lack of incentives for doctors to teach diabetes prevention. They also do not have incentives to assist you to reverse diabetes through natural and lifestyle means. It’s just too easy to quickly write out a prescription for a drug treatment and get on to their next patient.
The truth is that our current medical system makes money on treatments, but the system does little to cure disease and does not address the causes of illness. As a result, it does very little to reduce costs and suffering.
This very point is made in a September 2012 New England Journal of Medicine article  in which the authors state: “Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes now cause 70% of U.S. deaths and account for nearly 75% of health care expenditures. Unfortunately, many modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases are not being addressed adequately. A prevention model, focused on forestalling the development of disease before symptoms or life-threatening events occur, is the best solution to the current crisis.” The authors clearly document how lawmakers and the financial rulers of the medical system ignore the causes of illness and give rewards for quick and easy treatments.
The main barriers to effective disease prevention include:
- The use of piecemeal, task-based doctor care that pays doctors for “sick visits” that deal with acute conditions or recurring chronic conditions and emphasizes the exclusive use of prescription drugs.
- Big financial rewards in medicine for doing surgical and procedural interventions and ignoring prevention (i.e., behavior-change counseling).
- Ignoring subclinical disease before it can be called a true medical diagnosis, thus effectively worsening prognosis and also increasing the need for quick and powerful prescription drugs or surgery treatments.
I know we can do better as a system if we could restructure the entire concept of our current “sick care” system to one that focuses on “healthcare.” By advocating prevention, we would be able to reduce the sickness and suffering of current chronic illness, thus allowing individuals to live longer, disease-free lives.
A medical model that concentrates on prevention makes sense. Chronic conditions that make up the bulk of illness in the U.S. take decades to develop. By preventing these conditions, we would see a tremendous benefit in the health of the next generation and still could reverse much of chronic illness through the same methods we use to prevent chronic illness. We could drastically lower the rate of life-threatening conditions (heart attacks, strokes, cancers) and minimize the complications of long-standing diseases that are inadequately treated or ignored.
The good news is that you can look beyond policies and systems to what you already inherently know about disease prevention, especially with type 2 diabetes. You probably know that eating large amounts of refined and processed food can trigger the metabolic process that lead to diabetes. You also know that genetic expression of diabetes can be turned off if you eat a diet centering on raw whole food nutrition. This has been proven by Gabriel Cousens, M.D., at his Arizona-based Tree of Life Institute. I will be discussing this in more detail in a later report, but you can get a taste of this by watching a short movie trailer online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Le4VjQPlg.
In my next report I will discuss more in detail about diabetes: how it affects your body, the risk factors for diabetes, and the signs and symptoms of the disease. I’ll also go over complications of diabetes if left untreated.
To feeling good for life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
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