Alliance Against Diabetes
History and current activities
Medical Director: Carmen Jones, MD
President and Educator: Olga Martin, PhD
Alliance Against Diabetes (AAD) was born when the current president, nutritionist Olga Martin, organized a Spanish language diabetes support group at the Rafael Rivera Community Center in November 2004. The group, under the direction of Olga Martin, met once a month at the Community Center for two years, until the group was too large for the Community Center and had to move to a private event hall. The financial support for the above endeavor came from a clinical research group and Dr. Martin’s private funds.
In 2006, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) had a small grant designated to help Hispanics with diabetes, to control their condition through physical activity. Consequently, SNHD joined Dr. Martin’s diabetes support group and created the monthly event called Muevete Bailando, (move while you dance). SNHD used the grant money to hire a dance instructor who encouraged the support group participants to dance to the rhythm of fast Latin music. So, after the customary nutrition class, everyone would dance joyously. Muevete Bailando met monthly until the funding dried out by the end of 2014.
However, SNHD never stopped supporting Alliance Against Diabetes and AAD never stopped in providing
"free-of- charge" Spanish language diabetes education. Currently, large and free nutrition, and diabetes education classes are held monthly at the premises owned by the Martins, Ezekiel and Olga. Every summer, AAD has been supporting the Southern Nevada Health District in their educational campaign called "Verano Sin Sodas" (Summer Without Sodas). Thus, the dangers of sugary drinks and their effects on diabetes are explained at every group meeting.
Every November, SNHD joins AAD in a large health fair called Celebrando tu Salud (Celebrating Your Health). At this fair, the community becomes aware of some of the health complications related to diabetes, and the children are entertained with games and toys provided by SNHD.
From November 2004 through the year 2014, the growth Alliance Against Diabetes was primarily supported through clinical research in diabetes, which was sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. In 2015 AAD received its 501 (c) 3 status from the Internal Revenue Service and divorced itself from clinical trials and the pharmaceutical industry.
AAD concentrates on nutrition, since people develop diabetes because of bad nutritional habits and/or overeating. as well as sedentary lifestyles. Therefore, conventional methods of treatments do not work because they cannot work, since they do not remove the cause of the condition. Our main focus is to eliminate the factors that promote diabetes by returning to natural foods and an active life style.
Furthermore, some conventional medications may, over the long run, aggravate the condition instead of helping it. For example, most type 2 diabetics produce too much insulin in response to foods high in carbohydrates. Thus, they gain weight, because insulin promotes cell division and fat deposition. Therefore, the body develops insulin resistance to counteract further fat accumulation. Consequently, insulin use, or the use of drugs that promote insulin secretion will only increase the patient’s weight and exacerbate insulin resistance. The goal of AAD is to teach the patients how to adjust their food intake to the insulin that their body produces, but not to adjust insulin intake to the food that they would like to consume. The latter is also called “carb counting”, which in our view is a very dangerous practice for diabetics.
AAD teaches patients how and why they should eliminate foods that cause hyperglycemia and how to reduce portion sizes and why. This is an integral part of the treatment as well as prevention of diabetes.
Modern Western diets, especially the diets of low income people, causes deficiencies in essential micronutrients, such as magnesium, chromium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamins E, etc. including occasional protein deficiencies, more often among the elderly. Consequently, supplementation with specific micro and macro nutrients is a vital part of an effective treatment and prevention program unless we are able to make dramatic and fast lifestyle changes.
Electrolyte imbalances, such as high sodium. low potassium, and low magnesium have been found to play an important role in the complications of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases associated with diabetes. These imbalances increase the mortality and morbidity of diabetes and thus need to be corrected.
Several factors affect the body’s ability to control glucose, absorb essential micronutrients and electrolytes: carbohydrates and micro nutrient content of meals, health of the digestive tract, pH imbalances, such as high pH in the stomach and low pH in the intestines, certain medications, and kidney function. This explains why diabetic patients are low in several important nutrients.
For instance, hypomagnesaemia, (low magnesium) and hypokalemia (low potassium) is commonly identified in diabetic patients. Magnesium and potassium are involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions that are vital to glucose metabolism. Hypomagnesaemia and hypokalemia are associated with alterations in nerve conduction and the proper function of muscles and heart. Hypomagnesaemia and hypokalemia contribute to cardiomyopathy, nephropathy and end stage renal disease, all conditions associated with diabetes.
Besides group education, the AAD clinic offers one on one diabetes counseling and treatments, not only to control blood sugar but also to prevent and reverse diabetic complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, dyslipidemia, homocystinuria, hypertension, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver, myelopathy, hormonal imbalances, and macro and micro cardiovascular diseases. These conditions usually co-exist. Unfortunately, when somebody is diagnosed with diabetes, the conventional treatment is usually limited to lowering blood glucose, which is not very effective in preventing and controlling the complications of diabetes.
Moreover, most diabetics, and particularly diabetic women, develop hypothyroidism as a consequence of diabetes or perhaps they develop diabetes as a consequence of hypothyroidism. Regardless of which condition develops first, people with diabetes lack or do not produce enough of the enzymes called deiodinases that are needed to convert thyroxine (T4) “the storage hormone” to triiodothyronine (T3) “the energy hormone” or the active hormone. Conventional medical wisdom tells us that if the individual has sufficient amounts of the inactive T4, or is supplemented with T4, such as levothyroxine, the body will convert the inactive form of the hormone to the active form, T3. Nevertheless, diabetics or even people with mild glucose impairment, may not produce sufficient amounts of the enzymes to turn T4 into T3. Therefore, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are not alleviated even if they are treated for hypothyroidism through conventional methods.
Still, the persistence of hypothyroid symptoms is not the worst consequence of low T3. The lack of T3 in the heart muscle will start a process of cardiovascular dysfunction characterized by impaired contractibility of the heart, severe left ventricular dysfunction, microvascular impairment, and a maladaptive chamber remodeling. In conclusion, cardiac T3 deficiency is part of the heart diseases associated with diabetes.
We would like to conclude this overview of Alliance Against Diabetes by pointing out that all our treatments and patient education are based on the most current scientific data which drives American Functional Medicine.
Even though AAD started as a Spanish language Diabetes support group, and the activities that we conduct jointly with SNHD are geared towards the Spanish Speaking Community, the AAD clinic is completely bi-lingual and everyone is welcome.
Alliance Against Diabetes