Figures from the American Diabetic Association show that diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S, killing approximately 210000 persons every year. Medical and other related costs can soar over $100 billion a year!!
The good news is there is a great deal that you can do to help manage the condition at an early stage. Being informed truly is the best medicine. Learning as much as you can about your diabetes, how to control your blood sugar, complications and how to prevent them, can help you stay healthy. As always, be sure to consult your physician first before implementing or changing diet or exercise routines or taking any over the counter medications or nutritional supplements.
Diabetes is a serious condition. It is a chronic disorder of carbohydrates, fat and protein metabolism, characterized by fasting elevation of blood sugar level and a greatly increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and loss of nerve functions.
There are two major types of diabetes. Type I and Type II.
Type I is also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) and often occurs in children and adolescents. Individuals with Type I diabetes need to inject insulin everyday. It occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin (a hormone which helps deliver sugar from the blood to the body’s cells).
Type II is also known as Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) and is usually an adult disease. In type II diabetes, insulin is present but not appropriately available due to insulin-resistance. For a variety of physiological reasons, the hormone (insulin) is unable to do its job. The pancreas produces insulin but the body’s cells do not respond to its action and can’t absorb the glucose from the blood so glucose levels rise in the blood.
There are a number of causes which give rise to diabetes. Some of the causes are listed below; however, they should not be considered a complete list.
Heredity plays a major role. Some individuals or ethnic groups may be genetically susceptible than others.
Experts are convinced that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle also play a major role in the development of diabetes.
Impaired digestion and an overworked pancreas.
Syndrome-X (results from a combination of disorders such as hypertension, high cholesterol, blood clotting abnormalities and insulin resistance)
Prenatal factors. Recent evidence supports the concept that the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy plays a role in determining whether the child will develop diabetes later in life.
Food with refined sugars and high glycemic index.
Imbalance between two critical hormones- insulin and glucagon.
Misplaced T7 (thoracic 7) vertebra.
Complications resulting from diabetes can be grave if not controlled.
Some complications include but are not limited to:
Hypoglycemia and diabetic coma.
Cataracts, diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy, skin ulcers, gangrene leading to amputation, stubborn skin infections and heart disease.
There are some early warning signs you should be aware of if you suspect development of diabetes such as 1) Frequent urination 2) Constant thirst or hunger 3) Blurred vision 4) Numb or tingling hands or feet 5) Slow healing of cuts and bruises 6) Frequent skin infections.
Proper treatment is often delayed because diabetes is not diagnosed until a patient is already experiencing complications.
Diet is an extremely important part of diabetic therapy. Nutrition is the cornerstone for good health. A couple of diet considerations after consultation with your physician could include complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, fresh vegetables and fruits of low glycemic index, rather than simple carbohydrates such as breads and pastries.
Complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down and absorb and therefore provide a slower or more gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Your physician may even advise you to eat smaller frequent meals throughout the day. Along with diet, exercise is also of equal importance. Exercise will increase tissue levels of chromium and also increases the number of insulin receptors. In many instances, changes in diet and exercise may push borderline blood sugar down to a normal range.
The best prevention is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Because obesity is so strongly associated with TypeII diabetes, weight control is an important element of diabetic management. If you want to lose weight to control diabetes, high blood pressure and reduce the risk for developing heart disease then walk, walk and walk some more.
Insulin injections don’t cure diabetes. They enable you to live with it…..that is if you call injecting yourself multiple times a day, “living”. The key word is HEALTHY LIFESTYLE through diet, exercise and certain herbs and supplements.