Prediabetes – The BIG Wake-up Call
Prediabetes—A BIG Wake Up Call
by Guan-Cheng Sun, PhD
It was a beautiful day in New Hampshire where I had just finished teaching a four-day Qigong seminar to doctors, health practitioners and the general public. The seminar had gone well. SB, a 38 years old woman and student of mine, approached me shyly, and asked me about a mysterious pain she had been feeling behind her eyes. When I was talking with her, I was feeling pain in my left big toe and a heaviness in my pancreas. These signals indicated that her pancreas energy pathways were overloaded with excess stress. I asked her to see her doctor to have her HbA1c levels checked, because my body’s information system told me that she may have diabetes. She seemed shocked as she was healthy, exercised regularly, and felt she ate well. After she has shaken off the initial surprise, she promised to get her blood test done, and asked me for specific Qigong exercises to practice to help balance her blood sugar levels. One week later, she called me to share that she had seen her doctor, done the blood tests, and the results were in: a diagnosis of prediabetes.
The Epidemic of Prediabetes
According to National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017, an estimated 33.9% of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (84.1 million people) had prediabetes in 2015, based on their fasting glucose or HbA1C level. Nearly half (48.3%) of adults aged 65 years or older had prediabetes. The average medical expenditures for people with diagnosed diabetes were about $13,700 per year. About $7,900 of this amount was attributed to diabetes. After adjusting for age group and sex, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were about 2.3 times higher than expenditures for people without diabetes.
With prediabetes at epidemic levels, millions of people are being told by their doctor to take immediate personal action for self-management on their prediabetic condition before it develops into diabetes. Prediabetes is The Big Wake-Up Call for making proactive and healthy changes that will lower the risk of prediabetes developing into full-blown diabetes. Looking for ways to address this, you may see there are different approaches and directions for your future treatment plans: 1) conventional medical approach; 2) lifestyle change approaches, such as modified diet and exercise; or 3) an integrative care approach such as Yi Ren Medical Qigong practice, positive psychology, allopathic and naturopathic medicine, and holistic and traditional Chinese medicine nutrition and herbs.
Conventional Medical Approach
In general, when an individual is diagnosed with prediabetes, over a period of years, she or he may proceed from pre-diabetes to diabetes, progressing from taking one medication such as metformin, to taking two medications such as metformin and glyburide, and then to three medications such as metformin and glyburide and pioglitazone, and then finally to insulin injections, and then perhaps even larger doses of injected insulin. Here is the problem: even though the type 2 diabetic patient is taking more and more medications for keeping the blood sugar at the same level, the diabetes is getting progressively worse! This is unfortunately what happens to so many people. People require ever-increasing doses of medications and yet may still suffer from heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, amputations, and blindness (Fung, 2017).
Lifestyle Change Approach
Diabetes is a problem with the body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common cause of hyperglycemia. If you know that you have prediabetes, you can simply reduce caloric and sugar intake and practice physical exercise regularly to lower the risk of prediabetes developing into diabetes.
New research finds that lifestyle change is superior to metformin for diabetes prevention. For example, type 2 diabetes can be reversed with a very a low-calorie diet (O’Brien et al, 2017, Steven, et al. 2016). Exercise can reduce the glucose in the blood. There is firm and consistent evidence that programs of increased physical activity and modest weight loss reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes (Sigal, et al. 2006).
Prediabetic patients have a good chance to prevent type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes; however, current studies also show that perhaps up to 70 percent of the people who have prediabetes will still develop type 2 diabetes, that she or he will live with type 2 diabetes for their whole life and their type 2 diabetes cannot be cured. (http://www.mendosa.com/blog/?p=3787Mendosa, 2016). The reasons are that changes in lifestyle have proven to be beneficial, but for many patients they are not able to keep it up over the long term (Marín-Peñalver, et al. 2016). Within lifestyle interventions, a typical pattern emerges: encouraging initial responses to treatment are frequently followed by diminished adherence to prescribed treatment over time, leading to disappointing long-term outcomes (Middleton, et al. 2013).
Integrative Care: A More Effective Approach
Again, prediabetes can be viewed as a big wake-up call for making proactive healthy changes that will lower the risk of prediabetes developing into diabetes. The integrative care approach of the Be Well – Be Healthy – Be Free program is designed to quiet the mind and awaken the body’s internal organs through Yi Ren Medical Qigong practice.
Yi Ren Medical Qigong is the practice of authentic Qi (vital energy or life force) production, management, and regulation. The Yi Ren system of Qigong is designed to support an individual in the exploration and expression of the intelligence and wisdom already within the body. The awakening of the internal intelligence and wisdom of the body may lead Yi Ren Qigong practitioners to have healthy behavior and lifestyle changes from the inside out. Yi Ren Qigong exercise has shown promising results in randomized, controlled pilot studies and in clinical experience for affecting aspects of type 2 diabetes, including positive associations between participation in Yi Ren Qigong and blood glucose decrease (Sun, et al, 2010), stress reduction (Putiri, et al, 2012, 2017), weight loss, and a trend of increasing insulin sensitivity (Sun, et al, 2014, 2017, Putiri, et al, 2017). Regular Yi Re Qigong practice as part of one’s exercise routine can have a positive influence on one’s awareness of behaviors that either aggravate or improve one’s condition and so can lead to healthy lifestyle changes, as well as an overall sense of well-being, and better health and freedom from type 2 diabetes.
A Prediabetes Healing Story (SB, age 38):
“My name is SB. Here I share my story of disease and recovery with a humility that comes from seeing my humanity, my fragility, the consequences of my actions, and with awe at the power of Qigong to heal. My bubble of untouchability, of ‘that could never happen to me because I’m different’, and the lack of understanding of the power of family genetics, burst one afternoon sitting in front of Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun. At the end of a 4-day seminar, I had approached the topic of a strange pain I was experiencing behind my eyes. Knowing that Dr. Sun could evaluate health conditions that were strange or unrecognizable to conventional Western medicine doctors, I asked innocently what it could be.
I want to preface the next part of my story with the information that I had spent my entire life learning natural medicine and spirituality, and I prided myself on my health. I ate well, I was at a healthy weight, I exercised regularly, and I had never had a diagnosis for anything but low blood sugar or a slow thyroid. I had made a point of being different from my family who enjoyed unhealthy foods, and had addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and anti-anxiety medications, as well as sugar.
That difference came crashing down around me when Dr. Sun said calmly, ‘You may have diabetes. You blood sugar is high. That can cause pain behind the eyes and harm your eyesight. You may want to check your HbA1c levels with your doctor.’ ‘Diabetes!’ I blurted out, ‘I’ve never had anything more than low blood sugar, and it doesn’t even run in my family!’ He waited calmly and patiently as it sunk in. ‘Okay, I’ll check it with my doctor when I go in for my physical’, I felt embarrassed. ‘What Qigong exercises can I do to work with this in the meantime?’ He gave me several exercises I would do daily.
Diabetes was serious. I came down off my high horse and considered what had happened lately, re-examining my family medical history. I saw my family’s tendency towards depression and other mental health challenges. I saw how the use of food, sugar, and other addictions were used as self-medication. Recently, I had a few challenging events in my life, that had led to stress and depression. Even though I was at a healthy weight, I was a little heavier than was ideal. I saw that even though I was exercising and eating well, I had taking up a habit of cooking sweet things such as fudge and caramels and eating them. To make things worse, a stressful situation at home led to me not getting the sleep I needed.
Suddenly, I remembered that my grandfather had died of complications of type 2 diabetes. I had the genes in me for depression, as well as diabetes, and the circumstances in my life had turned these genes on, giving me a stronger chance of getting diabetes myself. I knew this because in Qigong class, Dr. Sun had spoken about epi-genetics, showing us that we had the power to turn the genes in our body on and off with the food we eat, things we do in our life, exercises we do and so forth. I had been right, feeling I was different, as I had turned the family genes for depression, addiction, and diabetes off, but what I hadn’t understood was that if those conditions I had worked so hard to create changed, those unhealthy potentials could be turned back on.
Concerned, I went to the doctor and had the HbA1c test done, on August 28, 2017, showing that I was just into the pre-diabetic range of 5.7 and 6.4, at 5.9. Dr. Sun was right. Immediately, I changed my diet to remove sugars in the form of candy, maple syrup and honey and completely removed grains from my diet. I moved out of the home I was living in, and did my Qigong exercises regularly. Taking the power of fasting to reprogram old unhealthy programs seriously, I practiced 3 weeks of bigu Qigong fasting. Together with Dr. Sun and my doctor, we made a goal of checking my HbA1c in 2 months. I was going to bring it back to normal!
My weight dropped, and the pain behind my eyes quickly went away. On October 22, 2017, I did another HbA1c test, to see if I had met my goal. I was confident I had, I just knew I was balanced again. My doctor called the next day and share the good news, my HbA1c was at 5.4, well within the normal range. I was no longer pre-diabetic!
I called Dr. Sun with the good news. He congratulated me for the good hard work I had done, but remained humble in his role of identifying the problem and giving the understanding and tools needed to bring myself back into balance. I credit him for the cure, and the incredible enlightenment that came from that experience. I felt empowered. Diabetes free, thanks to the wisdom and compassion of a great man.”
Understanding the Causes and Solutions for Diabetes
The development of type 2 diabetes is the result of interaction between environmental factors and a strong hereditary component. Environmental risks factors known to impact the development of type 2 diabetes include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, nutritional factors and toxins (Omar Ali. 2013, Tashi Dendup. et al. 2018). In the view of Qigong practice, a very important risk factor affecting the development of type 2 diabetes is the state of mind, because every health condition is associated with a very specific leading consciousness regarding its outcome in either a positive or negative direction. As Albert Einstein stated: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” In this integrative care approach, an important practice that will be offered to the program participants is to set up a new mind set for reversing prediabetes, such as how to break the vicious circle of the type 2 diabetes, and positive psychology practice. The unique aspect of this integrative care program is the expertise and wisdom about the interactions between environmental factors and genetic information as well as epigenetic information.
Yi Ren Medical Qigong practice can play an important role in integrative care with biomedical approaches and with psychology, naturopathic and allopathic medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine for reversing prediabetes. The synergy of these practices has the power to restore the functions of the internal organs and improve the well-being of the body and the mind. All program providers in this integrative care system have experienced internal body awakening and realization. Thus, the practices of psychology, naturopathic medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine in this integrative care system not only provide academic and professional assistance to the program participants, but also help participants to develop their personalized healthy diet, physical exercise, and Yi Ren Medical Qigong specific exercises for their daily routine. The successful development of the personalized healthy daily routine will lead to an overall sense of well-being, and better health and freedom from type 2 diabetes, not just for short-term effect, but for a lifetime.
- O’Brien MJO’Brien MJ1, Perez A2, Scanlan AB3, Alos VA2, Whitaker RC4, Foster GD5, Ackermann RT6, Ciolino JD7, Homko C8. PREVENT-DM Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Lifestyle Intervention and Metformin. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jun;52(6):788-797.
- Sarah Steven1, Kieren G. Hollingsworth,,Ahmad Al-Mrabeh1, Leah Avery2, Benjamin Aribisala3, Muriel Caslake4 and Roy Taylor. Very Low-Calorie Diet and 6 Months of Weight Stability in Type 2 Diabetes: Pathophysiological Changes in Responders and Nonresponders. Diabetes Care 2016 May; 39(5): 808-815.
- Ronald J. Sigal, MD, MPH, Glen P. Kenny, PHD, David H. Wasserman, PHD, Carmen Castaneda-Sceppa, MD, PHDand Russell D. White, MD, Physical Activity/Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006 Jun; 29(6): 1433-1438.
- Mendosa, 2016. http://www.mendosa.com/blog/?p=3787