Insurance Update
July 2014
Issue No. 48       
In this issue
What is diabetes?
Too much sugar in your diet.
Some facts about diabetes.
Good habits to reduce diabetes risk.
Long-Term Care Insurance

What is diabetes? 

Learn what it is, how it is diagnosed, treated, and controlled. 



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 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides ancillary coverage for ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps.
Medical and ancillary plans are available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.  
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Greetings from the Brethren Insurance Services staff,


Have you looked around yourself recently and noticed how many of us are overweight? We hear about this all the time on the news, but we only have to look at the people in the supermarket or at the office or in church to see the truth. Or maybe we only have to look at ourselves.


Parts of this newsletter were written while the Brethren Benefit Trust staff was in Columbus, Ohio, at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. It is surprising how many Brethren are overweight. Of course, not all of you who are clients of Brethren Insurance Services are members of the Church of the Brethren. But we all know that everyone in an insurance plan benefits from the good health of everyone else.


So this issue of Insurance Update focuses on a particular cause of being overweight, too much sugar in our diet, and one of the increasingly pervasive results, diabetes.


We hope this serious topic will give you cause for thought and be useful in your search for healthy, energetic, and joyful living.

SignaturesScott, Tammy, and Connie 
sugarToo much sugar in your diet 
Sugar provides an average of 16 percent of the calories in the standard American diet, coming mainly from soft drinks, fast food, and desserts. Based on a diet of 1,800 to 2,600 calories per day, this corresponds to a whopping 18 to 26 teaspoons of extra sugar each day. Such excessive sugar in your diet can negatively affect your overall health.


Being overweight. It is no surprise that consuming too much sugar can make you gain weight. Extra sugar your body does not immediately require for energy can easily be converted to triglycerides, a type of fat that can then be stored around your waist as well as in your hips and thighs. Sugary beverages are the worst offenders because their liquid calories can make you crave even more.  


Diabetes.The sugar you eat eventually makes its way into your bloodstream, where it can elevate your blood sugar levels and lead to diabetes.  


Impaired immune system. Your immune system is one of the most important defense mechanisms your body has against infections. Eating too much sugar can compromise the ability of your immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites.  


Chronic diseases. In addition to elevating your blood sugar levels, too much sugar can also result in elevated insulin levels. High insulin levels are associated with an increased risk of some cancers, heart diseases, polycystic ovarian syndrome, acne, and even myopia.(1)


(1) Aglaee Jacobs, "Damaging Effects of Too Much Sugar in the Diet,"
FactsSome facts about diabetes
High blood sugar levels. So suppose consumption of sugar leads to diabetes for yourself or a friend or family member. What do you need to know about the disease? Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that result from defects in the secretion of insulin or in the action of insulin or both. Diabetes was first identified as a disease in the ancient world.


Insulin. Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the levels. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level. In patients with diabetes, if there is insufficient insulin or the insulin fails to act, hyperglycemia occurs. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, meaning that although it can be controlled, it lasts a lifetime.


Effects. In extreme forms and over time, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. These are the result of damage to small blood vessels. Diabetes is also an important factor in accelerating the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, leading to strokes, coronary heart disease, and other large blood vessel diseases. Diabetes affects approximately 26 million people in the United States, while another 79 million have pre-diabetes. An estimated 7 million people in the United States have diabetes and don't even know it.


Costly disease. From an economic perspective, the total annual cost of diabetes in 2012 was estimated to be $245 billion in the United States. This included $116 billion in direct medical costs for people with diabetes and another $69 billion in other costs due to disability, premature death, or work loss. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are over two times higher than those for people who do not have diabetes. Remember, these numbers reflect only the population in the United States. Globally, the statistics are staggering.(2) 

(2) Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD,

habitsGood habits to reduce diabetes risk  

So what can you do to avoid developing diabetes? Here are some good habits that will help.

  • Avoid sugary drinks. The reason is obvious -- they are loaded with sugar. Even drinking natural fruit juices will provide more concentrated sugar than eating the whole fruit    
  • Always eat breakfast. Not eating until lunch can set off a chain reaction that disrupts insulin levels and blood sugar control, and you will likely eat more later.    
  • Eat non-starchy veggies like spinach or broccoli
    They help with blood sugar control, and you won't gain weight.   
  • Avoid starchy carbs. Eat less pasta, potatoes, and white bread because these carbs cause blood sugar to spike    
  • Don't eat late-night snacks. They cause blood sugar spikes and disrupt insulin secretion    
  • Cut down on butter. Butter and other saturated fats have been linked to insulin resistance.   
  • Don't wing it at the supermarket. Impulse buys are usually for junk food. Plan menus, buy thoughtfully.    
  • Keep your weight down. Being overweight increases the chances of developing the common type 2 diabetes. The body makes enough insulin but the cells in the body become resistant to the action of insulin.    
  • Get enough sleep. When you get fewer than six hours sleep, you disrupt hormones that control blood glucose and hunger.*

*Jeanie L. Davis, "10 Bad habits that raise your diabetes risk,"  


Editor's note: This list adapts Ms. Davis' ideas, but does not include all of her items and adds some that are not on her list. For instance, eating fish was on Ms. Davis's list, but at least one study suggests there is no clear correlation between eating fish and the reduction of diabetes risk.

 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance

You never know what's around the corner


Be sure you buy long-term care insurance when you're healthy. That's what Jim and Alice Graybill did. They live in Sarasota, Fla., and are members of the Venice Church of the Brethren.


"We got the plan two and a half years ago," said Jim. "Our health was acceptable. We passed everything and we got on the plan, not knowing that this year I would have a heart attack and have a triple bypass. At this point I probably would not qualify for the insurance. I guess you never know what's around the corner. So when you're healthy and when you're well is the time to look into getting the insurance."


Let Randy Yoder help you consider long-term care insurance. Brethren Insurance Services offers LTCI for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.


Contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information.