Save Lives, Reduce Medical Costs In Your Groups
By Kelly Springer, MS, RD, CDN
Let me apologize for the blunt truth contained in this blog. It is not meant to be alarming, but rather informative and to help bring awareness to Type II diabetes.
Move over high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and excess body fat – there’s another risk factor for heart disease that’s just as devastating: Diabetes.
Approximately 30 million Americans are plagued by type-2 diabetes[i] and they face some daunting data:
- At least 68 percent of people age 65 or older with diabetes die from some form of heart disease; and 16% die of stroke.
- Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes.
This dire forecast is apart from anything having to do with COVID-19, which only compounds the peril.
The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) estimates that one in 11 adults worldwide have diabetes, and approximately half of them are undiagnosed.[ii]
Perhaps you’ve previously considered diabetes merely a run-of-the-mill health management issue that exacerbates other conditions? But now you know that its connection to heart disease makes diabetes a killer.
Expensive for Everyone
The financial toll on healthcare is enormous, meaning everyone pays for it in higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Based upon a 2017 study, the American Diabetes Association reports:[iii]
“People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year, of which about $9,601 is attributed to diabetes. On average, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.”
The report went on to state that increased absenteeism amounted to $3.3 billion and reduced productivity drained another $26.9 billion. Billions more flow down the drain in disability and early mortality.
So when I talk about preventing type-2 diabetes, keep in mind that this is also helping protect individuals from heart disease and employers and employees alike from outrageous medical expense.
WorkPlace Wellness Helps
If you have groups not yet involved in WorkPlace Wellness, one of the value-added benefits included with OptiMed Health Plans, you are missing one good strategy to curb our nation’s diabetes crisis, and save your clients money. That’s because the biggest risk factor for developing type-2 diabetes is excess body weight.
Where you’re fat also matters – the risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs.
Besides recipes and inspiring and informative videos, those enrolled in WorkPlace Wellness also have free access to an app for logging and tracking both their nutrition and exercise. Consider this app the OptiRater (learn more about OptiRater) of your health – automating the drudgery out of an important process which, in this case, involves eating for good health.
So the suggestions that follow are more easily executed within the app provided to those enrolled in OptiMed’s WorkPlace Wellness. These nutrition tips will help individuals lose belly fat, particularly, and excess weight overall.
Choose high-fiber, slow-release carbs
Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels, but you don’t have to avoid them. You just need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat. It is best to limit highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals and snacks. And you will want to choose carbs high in fiber like beans, legumes, and whole grains.
Pay attention to foods’ Glycemic index
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load offers information about how different foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels. High GI foods spike your blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have the least effect on blood sugar. Focus on low GI foods because they keep you feeling fuller longer. Some examples of high glycemic index foods include soda, crackers, potatoes, watermelon, fruit juices. If something is high in sugar, it’s a high glycemic index and you want to avoid those foods.
Plan your meals
The American Diabetes Association suggests meal planning ahead of time in order to make smarter choices. This includes planning to eat diabetes superfoods that are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber such as:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Whole grains
- Milk and yogurt
The American Diabetes Association also highly suggests starting a regular exercise routine if you don’t have one already in place. This is because when you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it works more effectively. Light walking is a great place to start if you’ve never set foot inside a gym. Every little change you make, such as taking a 20-30 minute walk in the evening around the neighborhood, makes a difference in managing your type-2 diabetes. So get moving, and you’ll thank yourself later! Aerobic exercise is key!
Overall, you can reverse your type-2 diabetes with a simple routine of healthy eating and incorporating exercise into your daily life! You will lose weight and also protect yourself against heart disease.
I’ve had the privilege of working directly with numerous clients to help lower A1C levels and reverse diabetes. Several of them are included in the success stories on my website, but I’ll share the comments from just one, a 51-year-old woman whom I engaged when she weighed 250 pounds with a blood glucose (BG) level of 210 and A1C around 10.3.[iv]
"Kelly educated me on how diabetes works in our bodies; she drew me pictures of what glucose, insulin and fiber do in our blood streams. She taught me how our glucose levels react to carbs and she educated me on the different types of sugars.
"I’ve learned more from Kelly Springer than I EVER could from my doctor. I have lost 50 pounds and my BG levels are consistently under 120 and even under 100 at times!
"I give Kelly accolades for supporting me, guiding me and being my biggest cheerleader. She is a positive influence and she truly cares for her clients. I would have never gotten as far as I have with my progress if not for Kelly."
So, you see, it can be done: you can defeat diabetes.