Winning the war against diabetes

BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ERIC ADAMS | 10/20/2016, 12:04 p.m.
I thought of that important lesson when I learned I had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My A1C level, ...
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Eric Adams

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Eric Adams

Now I know I am one of them.

As an 18-year-old, I learned a valuable lesson when I attempted to cut costs and pumped leaded gas into my first car—a car that required unleaded gas only. It did not take long before I realized the gravity of my error. The car sputtered and stalled repeatedly until I finally pulled into my family’s driveway. Mr. Jones, our family neighbor for more than 35 years, watched as I came to a stall and said, “Eric, you put bad gas in your car.” He went on to tell me that the fuel I give my vehicle will determine how well it would run and how long it will last.

I thought of that important lesson when I learned I had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My A1C level, measuring my blood sugar, was an unbelievable 17; this dangerous number is three times the normal level of what is considered healthy. Let me put this into perspective: Not only was I placing the wrong fuel in my body, I was pouring sugar into the gas tank. A visit to my eye doctor revealed that the sugar had reached my eyes and the pressure had caused my vision to blur. Left unchecked, diabetes can have a devastating impact on your body and can lead to blindness, heart disorder, kidney failure, limb amputation, as well as the possibility of lifelong dialysis. My internist immediately placed me on two medications, and one doctor who I visited informed me that I need to go on insulin injection right away.

You may be asking yourself: What does diabetes have to do with fuel? My answer is everything. Just as gas is to a car, the food we eat is our fuel. The quality and type of that food will determine how well our bodies run. As Hippocrates, the father of medicine, stated, “Let food be thy medicine.”

Although the diabetic trait can be handed down from your parents (my mother is diabetic), the reality is that diabetes is a dietary disease. We cannot simply take a pill and think that our diabetes will disappear. Far too often, the treatments start out with pills, but before you know it, pills give way to insulin injections, and insulin injections are the gateway to amputations, dialysis and eventually death. If we want to get diabetes under control, we have to get our diets under control.

At that moment, I decided to take control of what fuel I allowed inside of my body. By doing so, I learned that one of the most important roles in overcoming our diabetes is the one we, the patients, play ourselves. It was clear to me that I had to make up my mind. Did I love that large piece of chocolate cake washed down with coffee and cream more than I loved my life? The answer was no.

Immediately, I began reading everything I could get my hands on that examined treatments and even cases of reversing the disease. The amount of information out there can be daunting, but I started to see some common denominators that everyone agreed on. One was that the overconsumption of processed foods and sugar was an egregious, aggravating factor to the disease.