The real pandemic: Diabetes

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We were told that Covid was a pandemic: and yet less than 1,000 died of Covid prior to the introduction of the Covid vaccinations.

In comparison, the ‘Diabetes Disaster’ featured in the Weekend Australian recently, revealed some 10 per cent of all deaths are attributed to diabetes. Diabetes is also well recognised as one of the major risk factors for severe Covid and Covid deaths but we heard nothing about this during the ’pandemic’. Instead, we were told to mask up, lock ourselves away, and take the only solution provided: the Covid vaccination.

Type 2 diabetes, as distinct from the less common immune-related Type 1 diabetes, is a predominantly lifestyle disease. Our modern ‘SAD’ – Standard Australian Diet – is heavily loaded with carbohydrates and the less healthy versions even more so, with high consumption of refined carbohydrate foods, added sugars and sugar-loaded soft drinks. Glucose from these carbohydrates requires insulin to cross the cell membrane to be converted into energy, as insulin is the necessary key to turn the lock of the receptor and to function. More glucose means more strain on the insulin cell membrane receptor. A healthy cell membrane requires omega-3 essential fatty acids, and good supplies of the mineral chromium and vanadium in particular, nutrients not found in our SAD diet.

Insulin resistance occurs when the cell membrane receptors become progressively more unresponsive to the hormone insulin. As high blood glucose is highly toxic to the body, the glucose is instead diverted to fat stores in the abdomen, liver, and around the heart. Obesity, which itself is inflammatory, is then added to the picture and Australia has the dubious honour of being second in the world only after the USA in this regard.

The picture progresses with increasing abdominal weight gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Insulin levels become progressively higher as the pancreas attempts to maintain a normal blood sugar until the pancreas tires and can no longer produce the high levels of insulin necessary. Blood sugars then start to come out of control, and glucose begins to stick to proteins in the body (measured as the HbA1c). This causes damage to small nerves and blood vessels, resulting in symptoms such as tingling and pain in the feet, shortness of breath, and frequent urination. These glucose products are called AGES (advanced glycation end-products) which then stimulate RAGES (reactive glycation end-products) and the production of free radicals which cause further damage in the body. The diseases that present include diabetic neuropathy, frequent infections and gangrene in the feet, kidney failure, retinal disease, cardiovascular disease, brain dysfunction, and a variant of dementia to name a few. There is a very real shortening of lifespan. Unfortunately, the early stages of insulin resistance are typically missed and it is not until a blood test shows high blood glucose, or diabetic symptoms have started, that diabetes is diagnosed. In some cases, the pancreas has already totally failed and there is no turning back. However if detected before that stage, there is hope of recovery.

Diabetes has been increasing in incidence for the past 3 decades, as the availability of highly refined ‘fast foods’ has increased, the consumption of fruit and vegetables has decreased and lifestyles become more sedentary. According to Our World in Data, Australia had a diabetes incidence of 6.4 per cent in 2021, similar to the UK, NZ, and Canada, as compared to Pakistan with 30.9 per cent and Egypt with 20.9 per cent, the two highest in the world. Deaths due to diabetes have increased globally by nearly three-fold from 1990 to 2019.

In Australia, 2,098 deaths attributed to diabetes in 1990 have increased to 4,123 deaths in 2019, more than four-fold the number of deaths from Covid in the first wave. I did not hear any call of ‘pandemic’ or urgency to treat them. According to the current Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, the incidence of deaths from diabetes has increased 24 per cent from 4,356 in 2013 to 5,402 in 2021. Then, in 2022, there was a significant increase to 6,050. We can only conjecture why the sudden increase in 2022 but could it perhaps be related to lockdowns and social isolation, with more sedentary behaviour, more alcohol and comfort eating and perhaps also, to the documented inflammatory effects of the Covid injections? Just a thought.

This increase in diabetes is not limited to adults. Type 2 diabetes has seen increasing incidence in children also, and creeping into younger and younger ages. Children as young as 2 years old are now being diagnosed with the disease and face a dramatically shortened health and life span. Modern diet and lifestyles featuring hours of recreational screen time have contributed largely to this phenomenon: ABS statistics show that most children are drinking sweetened drinks on a regular basis, few eat the recommended 5 to 9 serves of fruit and vegetables a day, and even fewer do the WHO recommended 1 ½ hours of exercise a day.

So what do we do? What’s proposed is more hospital beds, more dialysis, more surgeries, more high-powered drugs. Or are we prepared to look deeper and actually promote societal change? How about government-funded programs to encourage people to be outside, exercising, connecting with others, and courses in how to eat and cook using real, whole food, lower carbohydrate foods rather than the processed ‘supermarket diet’? Or even (heaven forbid) the controversial sugar tax some of us were hoping for a number of years ago that was defeated by the food lobby. There is much-published evidence now for the effectiveness of reducing carbohydrate intake, either as ‘low carb diets’ or also with various types of ‘intermittent fasting’ in reducing weight and improving insulin and glucose levels, essentially to give the cell receptors and insulin a break to reset, and exercise itself provides another route for glucose to enter the cells to turn into energy.

The bottom line is that many more are dying from this lifestyle-induced disease and its complications than from any pandemic Covid and the old saying that if something isn’t working, doing more of the same also will not work, applies here. There needs to be radical change in government, hospitals, and dietician-promoted life and eating styles before we eat ourselves to death.

How do we do that? If we wait for the government to champion this issue we will be waiting many more years. Government should invoke a sugar tax at least, but the lobby groups are powerful. How about the medical profession? Aside from a few, most are still happy to support the expensive ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than stop people falling off the top.

It is going to be up to us, the people. Up to us to learn how to eat real food again rather than processed, quick deceptive ‘food’, how to make things from scratch, and how to grow our own. Or if we can’t, learn where we can source these foods. We need to learn how to move again, how to live more outside, how to do family and community. Part of why the Mediterranean and similar diets are so successful is the community and extended family lifestyle that goes with them.

We need to do this now.

This article is a republication of an article originally published here by the Spectator Australia.

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  • Prof Robyn Cosford

    Dr Robyn Cosford (retired) Professor of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, Chair, Director Childrens Health Defense Australia Chapter.

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