The 7th leading cause of death in the United States in not contagious.
And it's not cancer.
And it's not genetic.
And it's not the result of accident or injury.
And the cure doesn't require drugs, surgery, or the advice of any highly specialized medical professional. Your general practitioner, nurse practitioner, or family doctor can provide more than enough support to help you do it.
So why does Type 2 diabetes cost Americans over a quarter of a trillion dollars a year?
Nearly 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes or a reduced insulin sensitivity called "prediabetes" (CDC 2015), making diabetes-related maladies the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
It's important to know that there are two kinds of diabetes.
The most serious is an auto-immune disorder resulting in destruction of the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This is called Type 1 diabetes, or T1D, and it is irreversible. When destruction of the islet cells is complete (about a year or two from onset), these patients will no longer produce any insulin. For the rest their lives management of their blood glucose will require several injections of insulin a day.
The causes and mechanisms of T1D are complex. Onset is related to both genetic risk factors and a lack of sun exposure and vitamin D in the first year of life. And T1D represents fewer than 10% of all diabetes diagnoses.
The other 90 million Americans suffer from what is called Type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic dysfunction (Aguilar et al. 2015) that results in poor uptake of blood glucose into muscle cells that burn it, or fat cells that store it. As a consequence, Type 2 patients suffer a myriad of health-related ill effects of increased blood glucose that could result in blindness, amputation of extremities, in addition to the cluster of cardio-vascular disorders eventually resulting in premature death (Cornier et al. 2008).
Current medical practices for preventing the ill-effects and health risks of diabetes include admonitions to lose weight and increase exercise --although these rarely work, and thin people can get T2D, too.
The next line of treatment is typically prescription drugs, such as metformin, to interfere with blood glucose production, or insulin injection to reduce blood glucose levels.
Yet, there is another way to reverse T2D, improve insulin sensitivity, and encourage weight loss.
It is deliberate cold exposure.
A 2015 study reported in the journal Nature investigated the hypothesis that cold-induced thermogenesis for activation of brown fat could:
- increase energy expenditure,
- lower blood glucose levels,
- consume triglycerides,
- result in weight loss,
- stimulate the thyroid,
- treat T2D.
They found that among a cohort of eight overweight, male T2D patients averaging almost 60 years old, just 10 days of mild cold exposure (60F) resulted in a 43% improvement in glucose sensitivity.
Subjects ate a standardized diet and were asked to refrain from heavy exercise, to ensure that the measured effects were attributable only to the mild cold exposure.
And what sort of cold exposure torture were they expected to endure?
"During cold acclimation, subjects were dressed in shorts and T-shirts and remained sedentary while staying in the cold room. Food intake in the cold room was kept constant and subjects were instructed not to change their normal dietary regime outside the cold room." - Hanssen et al. (2015)
Shorts. T-shirt. Snacks. Sitting around with your buddies at 60F.
That's practically a tailgate party.
Since Type 2 diabetes might be reversed after only 10 days of mild cold exposure, with zero side-effects, no drugs, and nothing less pleasant that hanging around outside with your pals on a beautiful Fall day, then why are we wasting over $250 billion dollars a year on pharmaceuticals and other programs that don't work?
That's enough money to buy every household in America their own Forge.
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