Diabetes: What Everyone Should Know
Known as the 7th leading cause of death in the United states, with more than 100 million people presently living with it or having a form called pre-diabetes, it is very important that we learn as much as we can about this condition.
It is even more necessary to demistify this condition since there are so many misconceptions and fears surrounding living with diabetes. But diabetes shouldn?t stop people from doing all the things they like to do.
For Chandler, who was diagnosed with a type of diabetes at the age of 4, besides checking his blood sugar level and getting his insulin shots, a regular day for him is a lot like every other kid's.
Chandler is 11 years old now and he still gets to ride his bike, fish, swim, play video games, and collect baseball cards.
Sadly, unlike Chandler, many people have lived with diabetes without knowing. The burden of the disease is worse than we think but it is easy to treat and manage much more than we can imagine.
So, what is diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases which is responsible for excess sugar in the blood stream.
The presence of this sugar (glucose) often results in different body symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent weeing, fainting spells, weight loss, nausea, fatigue and bleeding.
Diabetes is often incurable and scientist believe it is transferable from parents to children and triggered by environmental factors which kill the insulin producing cells in the body.
It is extremely rare in babies and children below the age of 13 but very prevalent in adults from the age of 41- 60 and also common in seniors who are 60 years and above.
Two important forms of Diabetes
There are different types of diabetes with the two most common ones being called type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the malfunction of the body?s immune system or when the body?s immune system begins to destroy the beta cells of the pancreas which produces insulin.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, it is caused by several factors many of which include genetics and other self-destructive habits like feeding on junks and lack of physical activity.
Type 1 diabetes
As earlier stated, most type 1 diabetes is triggered by the immune system - the immune system is the part of the body system that fights off infections.
It attacks and destroys the cells producing the insulin which the body needs so much to convert the excess sugar consumed by the body.
Symptoms of this type of diabetes includes fatigue, blurry vison and cases of injuries that do not heal readily.
Type 2 diabetes
Type two diabetes is quite different because its symptoms develop slower than type one diabetes and these symptoms are mostly difficult to notice.
Individuals that are most likely to develop a type 2 diabetes are those who are not physically active, very overweight or obese.
These extra weight always causes insulin resistance; a condition where body parts like liver, muscle and fat cells do not use insulin well.
Early warning signs of diabetes
As with all diseases, diabetes also has its early warning signs that you should look out for and physicians are always on the high alert not to miss them.
These early signs include but are not limited to the following:
Wounds that don't heal quickly
Blurry vison and
Recurrent skin infections
They may also include severe signs like weight loss that isn?t prompted by any form of obvious cause like sickness or infection and reduced feeling in the limbs especially hands and feet.
There is however a caveat to early signs of diabetes. A times, in people with type 2 diabetes there are usually no form of observable signs, until complications set in.
It must be noted that there are often no notable features or symptoms that can be associated with pre-diabetes in individuals.
Borderline diabetes as pre diabetes is sometimes called may sometimes show symptoms such as weight gain, and excessive hunger.
These symptoms are however tricky as they are also symptoms for other diseases and infections.
What food causes diabetes?
Food doesn?t cause diabetes. However, certain meals can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
A regular high calorie diet consisting of high sugar meals like white bread, pasta, rice and other refined flour foods is a typical example.
These classes of carbohydrate based food lead to increase in blood sugar levels which can trigger this condition.
Foods like wheat, non- starchy vegetables, egg-white and different forms of edible nuts and seeds are generally healthier.
What food to avoid with diabetes?
Diabetes does not stop you from eating the foods that you enjoy. People living with diabetes can eat almost all foods, but some of these have to be eaten in smaller portions.
Foods that consist of highly processed carbs including baked goods made white flour, sweets, sugary beverages, candies, white breads and cereals should be avoided.
Sugar and diabetes: Two sides of a coin
There has always been a lot of misconception about the role of sugar in causing diabetes. Many people assume that people with diabetes should eat sugar-free meals.
Well eating sugar doesn?t cause diabetes but it plays an indirect role in its evolution. The presence of too much sugar in the blood will lead to weight gain or obesity, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Can diabetics eat ice cream/pizza/bacon/cake/Chocolate/bread?
A large percentage of individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes are those who have unhealthy eating habits.
The ubiquity of junks like pizza, cakes, chocolate bread and other forms of flour based meals are high in sugar and these makes them terrible for consumption, especially for a diabetic.
However, if these pastries are made with sweeteners like dates, honey and wheat instead of flour then they are suitable to be consumed by diabetics.
Is milk/Banana good for diabetes?
The truth is, fruits contain sugar, although the sugar found in fruits are natural sugar. Bananas, like every other fruit, can be eaten in moderation.
Lactose is found in milk and it can also raise your blood sugar level especially when consumed in large portion. But it?s an important nutrient which can benefit the body when not taken excessively.
Milk and bananas are therefore good for diabetics.
Diagnosing and monitoring Diabetes
There are several tests used to diagnose the different types of diabetes from pre-diabetes to type 1 and 2.
Doctors mostly recommend the Fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the random plasma glucose test (RPG) test for diagnosis.
A special test referred to has ?HbA1c? can also be used to check how well your sugar has been controlled in the last 3 months.
These tests help to diagnose and also monitor the condition.
Can diabetes be cured completely?
Sadly, the most important thing to know about diabetes is that diabetes can be managed until it goes into remission but it cannot be cured.
With medication and lifestyle changes diabetes can be effectively managed.
Can diabetes be treated from home?
Diabetes test can be carried out from the house and contrary to the claims that herbs and supplements can cure diabetes, they cannot.
To treat diabetes, the combination of herbs, supplements and diabetic medications from your physician is often the tested and trusted means of treatment, which can be taken at home.
Diabetes and pregnancy: Not as bad as you think
It is only human to be worried about the risk to unborn your child if you?re living with diabetes.
Diabetes can affect pregnancy, especially the advanced state of pregnancy causing miscarriage and preterm births.
But plenty of people will become pregnant and have normal pregnancies with proper monitoring. So, there is little to worry about.
Can diabetes kill?
Sadly, If not treated properly and attended to as at when due, diabetes can kill, especially when the blood sugar is poorly controlled.
It isn?t the disease itself that kills its victims, but instead the deadly complications that arise if it isn?t handled carefully.
Now the good news. Acknowledging that one is diabetic and doing your best to get your blood glucose levels under control leads to a long and happy life.