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COMPASS MAGAZINE > February 2008

Daniel C. Luthi, Nutrition Educator & Chinese Herbalist

Diabetes in Taiwan (Part 1)

By Daniel C. Luthi, Nutrition Educator & Chinese Herbalist
Translated by Ann Lee

Asians eat so much healthier than Westerners, right? Well, that previously correct statement surely has lost some of its validity here in Taiwan. With the increasing popularity of fast foods, fried foods, instant noodles and sweets, we are now facing an enormous threat: it is estimated that close to a million people in Taiwan (190 million worldwide) have Diabetes Mellitus Type II, also known as Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM), and around 350,000 people don't even know they have it. On average, diabetes kills around 30 people a day in Taiwan alone!

Causes of NIDDM
Even though genetic factors increase susceptibility to NIDDM, diet and lifestyle factors must be present to trigger it. The most important factor is what is known as SAD, or the Standard American Diet, which is rich in refined carbohydrates, fat and animal products, and very low in dietary fiber. Refined carbohydrates are the primary component of white rice, white bread, noodles, cakes, chips, cookies, crackers and sweets.

These refined carbohydrates and bad fats can cause inadequate insulin production by the pancreas, or resistance to insulin of the body's cells. This condition will lead to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream and not enough sugar entering the cells, which significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, loss of vision and decreased blood circulation, as well as impotence in men.

Obesity is another contributing factor to diabetes. Therefore, weight loss, in particular fat loss, in conjunction with a healthy diet improves all aspects of diabetes and may result in curing NIDDM.

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