“If God hadn’t meant for us to eat sugar, he wouldn’t have invented dentists,” said Ralph Nader. Certainly, love of sweets seems to be embedded in the DNA of most humans, which is why bakeries in the US gross about $39 billion annually.1 Add to that the multi-billion dollar revenue from 80,000 ice-cream joints.2 Even dogs love ice cream. But sugar and delicious fried foods and carbohydrate meals all add up to health problems when consumed in excess, which is exactly what a good percentage of the US population has been doing—eating unhealthy foods in excess.
The result, of course, is the obesity crisis and the various diseases that result from obesity. In the US, 9.3 percent of the population has diabetes—29 million people. The vast majority of those 29 million, at least 90 percent, have type 2 diabetes (adult-onset), the form related to diet. Add to that figure 86 million who have prediabetes.3 While some diabetics with type 2 can control their condition via exercise and diet, as diabetes progresses, most end up taking medication. About 57 percent of diabetics in the US take oral medication, and 27 percent take insulin.4
What people don’t think about when they opt for the second donut is that if they end up diabetic, they’ll have more to worry about than their blood sugar numbers—like simply affording their medication. Insulin prices are through the roof, and a fair percentage of the 11 million in the US who depend on it are reeling as a result. Between the years 2002 and 2013, insulin prices tripled. Since then, they’ve continued to rise rapidly. Two of the leading brands saw a 300 percent price rise in the past decade, with another eight percent rise in prices just this year. As of now, these two leading brands charge about $275 per bottle for insulin, and the average diabetic needs up to three bottles a month.5 That comes to about $825. Add to that the cost of syringes and needles, another $44 or so a month if the needles are re-used multiple times, plus glucose test strips, which add another $144 or so a month for the cheapest brand.6 The total price comes to $1000 per month, well above the budget of many.
Many diabetics do have insurance that covers “some” costs, but the problem is that insurance companies keep raising their deductibles, so that many end up paying thousands upon thousands out of pocket in spite of their coverage. Medicare part D, for instance, requires a $4950 deductible that must be met before insurance payments kick in, and then there are copays for expenses after that.7
Because of the high costs, about 50 percent of diabetics skimp on medication–missing doses on a regular basis, using expired medications, starving themselves to regulate their blood sugar, or taking lower doses of medication than their prescription requires. The pharmaceutical companies say that the high prices can’t be helped, that research and development costs drive the escalating prices. (What R&D are they talking about for insulin?!!) And anyway, they point out, there are discount programs out there that consumers can use, like Inside Rx program and CVS Caremark. But earlier this year, Caremark dropped some key forms of insulin from their availability list, replacing them with other, lower-cost brands that consumers say aren’t as effective or safe.
No matter what drug manufacturers claim, it certainly appears that something is amiss. A study two years ago found that insulin prices in Great Britain were 5.7 to 7.4 times lower than in the US. In other words, a vial of insulin that costs $276 in the US might only cost $39 in Great Britain. (I guess they’re not doing any development on insulin.) And Great Britain isn’t exactly the bargain basement for drug prices. In India, for instance, drug prices are up to 17 times lower.8 These facts have led some to claim that the pharmaceutical companies are price gouging (who would have guessed?), and that belief has triggered law suits filed against three manufacturers, Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk, all filed earlier this year. Meanwhile, diabetics still need to pay the staggering bills.
The thing is that in many cases, adult-onset diabetes can be controlled via diet and exercise. In fact, research out of Newcastle University in Great Britain found that type II diabetes actually can be reversed, not simply controlled, for up to 10 years after the onset of the disease.9 The research group has conducted a series of studies over the years, and have found that restricting diabetics to 800 calories a day for a period of two months lowered their blood sugar to the point that they became diabetes free and remained so for at least six months, as long as they kept their weight down. The average participant lost 33 pounds in the two-month period.
The lead researcher, Dr. Roy Taylor, contends that a principal factor in the onset of diabetes is an excess of fat in the liver, so much so that it spills over to the pancreas and interferes with the body’s natural production of insulin. On a severely restricted diet, the pancreas uses up the excess fat and apparently resets itself, once again producing insulin. To achieve the caloric goal of only 800 calories, the participants consumed meal-replacement drinks (600 calories) and non-starchy vegetables like greens, broccoli, and salads (200 calories).10 According to Dr. Taylor, “It was observed that the diet devised as an experimental tool was actually liked by research participants. It was associated with no hunger and no tiredness in most people, but with rapidly increased wellbeing.”
Nevertheless, you don’t need to wait until you develop diabetes to reverse unhealthy habits and reset your body’s ability to metabolize glucose. Rather, avoid problems down the road by getting your diet under control, implementing an exercise regimen, using digestive enzymes with every meal to take stress off your pancreas, regularly flushing fat from your liver, and using a formula that helps your body to metabolize fat and glucose. Such a formula actually can mimic the effects of a calorie-restricted diet and can make a huge difference in restoring health to your liver and pancreas.
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