Healthy Living

Tom Hanks Declares "I Brought Diabetes on Myself"

Tom Hanks Declares "I Brought Diabetes on Myself"

Photo: Actor Tom Hanks. Source: Global News.

In 2013, Tom Hanks revealed to America that he was diagnosed with type II diabetes in his interview with David Letterman. He confessed back then that, more or less, he saw it coming since he knew that he had prediabetes. Like other actors and actresses devoted to their art, he admitted to deliberately losing and gaining weight for his roles, just like Christian Bale. However, unlike Bale’s weight fluctuations that was under the watchful eye of health professionals, who also had him on a strict but healthy diet, Hanks admitted that he lost and gained weight through unhealthy ways.

Hanks takes full responsibility of the blame for letting his prediabetes progress into a type II diabetes. He is currently committing himself to a healthier lifestyle with the help and support of his wife, Rita Wilson. Hanks and Wilson are changing their diet by cutting down sugar; they also make time for doing daily exercises together. Wilson was quoted to have said that the movie Fed Up would do a great deal of good by creating awareness. She further stressed the necessity of being aware of what one eats as it goes inside the person’s body.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 1.5 million Americans who get diagnosed with diabetes each year. The number of Americans from ages 18 and older who have prediabetes is 84.1 million. In the US, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death. However, people with type II diabetes may not need insulin injections if they adhere to a strict diet and exercise. This type of diabetes is predominantly linked to being caused by being obese and living a sedentary lifestyle. However, it can happen to anyone who has a family history of diabetes.

What is the best diet and exercise plan for people with Type II Diabetes?

The following diet and exercise plan is the best fit for people suffering from type II diabetes. This is also what Tom Hanks reportedly follows:

  • Low-Glycemic Diet: Hanks is said to be on a low-glycemic diet. Following a low-glycemic diet is the best way to manage blood sugar levels, control complications, and insulin resistance. It will also help aid patients in losing weight and improving cholesterol levels. People with diabetes should have 3 balanced meals scheduled every day, and snacks should always be light and healthy. Finally, a person with diabetes should never skip breakfast to minimize the risk of blood sugar fluctuations in the morning.
  • Work-out Plan: He reportedly does a two-hour daily cardio workout for six days a week. People with diabetes are advised to at least have a 30-minute physical activity each day. For those who struggle to move, walking after each meal can do the trick.

How did he and other celebrities raise awareness?

According to Dr. Peters, when Tom Hanks revealed that he had diabetes, a lot of her patients who felt alone and depressed shared that they felt better after hearing the news. A celebrity’s voice is like a huge rock, whereas if it were thrown into a lake, it would create ripples that reach out to the farthest corners of the lake. Similarly, when a celebrity shares that they are battling with a disease, it gets delivered to almost everyone. This allows a platform for discussion wherein public awareness of the disease, like diabetes, becomes possible.

According to the study published in the British Medical Journal[1], there is a significant increase of the rating for BRCA testing after Angelina Jolie endorsed the test. People generally have positive views about celebrities, especially when they are huge fans. They tend to be easily influenced by them. When celebrities promote a product or give out advice on how to deal with their disease, the product or advice given will be positively received. This is compared to hearing this information from doctors and other specialists, who are more knowledgeable about their disease, but they know nothing about.

How to minimize the risk of type II diabetes

Here are some tips for people who have a family history of suffering from diabetes:

  • Weight Management: People whose weight falls inside the normal BMI bracket have lower risks of encountering prediabetes and developing diabetes as compared to people who are overweight.
  • Exercise and Eat Healthy: It is important to know that muscles are the main organs that are involved in the absorption of glucose in response to insulin. Hence, exercise is very important; plus, it also regulates blood pressure. Eating a meal that has a balanced portion of the three food group is very much beneficial for a person’s body. Never abuse the body; eat with the thought of nourishment. A healthy lifestyle is a key to weight management.
  • Go for Regular Check-up: People should not only go to their doctors when they are already experiencing alarming symptoms in their body. It is advised, especially for people with family history of suffering from diabetes, to regularly check their cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
  • Drink Moderately: Drinking in moderate amounts may help insulin to become more efficient in getting the glucose into cells. However, too much alcohol consumption is not advised.
  • Quit Smoking: Cigarettes are dangerous to a person’s health. It is composed of poisonous substances that might increase a person’s risk of getting Type II Diabetes.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep can do wonders for a person’s overall health. Sleep can relieve stress, for having chronic stress that may suppress your immune system and its functioning, making your risk higher in developing Type II diabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is the condition when the blood sugar level of a person is higher than normal, but it is not enough to be called diabetes. Prediabetes puts a person at a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future. This condition is sometimes referred to as borderline diabetes. People with family history of diabetes should get tested by a healthcare professional to check their blood sugar level as much as possible.

Here are the tests that a specialist may ask a patient to take:

  • A1C Test- It measures the average blood sugar of a person for the past 2-3 months.
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)- This test requires the patient to go into fasting before taking their samples.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)- This test takes four hours to finish. A patient is tested two hours before he/ she is asked to drink something sweet. Then he/she is tested again after 2 hours.
  • Random Plasma Glucose Test- This tests if a person has any severe symptoms of diabetes.

Conclusion

People with a family history of diabetes should take Tom Hanks' experience as a lesson. Even with an existing risk of genetic inclination towards developing diabetes, if a person lives a healthy life, they minimize their risk. People should be mindful of how their body reacts to their actions. They should never abuse their body and they should eat with the thought of nourishment. Those that are suffering from the disease, should also take heart. Because even though type II diabetes is still not completely curable, it can be reversed with medication and by changing your lifestyle.

Citations:

[1] http://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i6357