We like all things sweet in life- sweet memories, sweet smile, sweet scents and not forgetting sugary foods! Kids gulp down their Coke as free as birds, adults being drowned in coffee filled with clumps of sugar while working, and bakeries race to serve sinful chocolate cakes with rich layers of icing and cream- all to feed the burgeoning population having sweet tooth. While indulging in these little luxuries, do you realize that this is insidiously leading you to the maw of diabetes? Latest figures reveal that currently, 8.3% of the American population have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by high glucose levels in the blood with three main symptoms- increased frequency of urination, hunger and thirst. At present, there are three types of classification of the disease- Type 1 diabetes, Type II Diabetes and gestational diabetes. All types of diabetes pose systemic effects which affect your heart, kidney, blood vessels, nerve and vision adversely if they are not brought under control.
Type I Diabetes
The type I diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes because the onset usually occurs during childhood although there is a small percentage of people getting the disease later in life. Autoimmune attack mediated by the T-cells destroys the beta cells in the pancreas which are responsible for producing insulin. Without the role of insulin in converting blood glucose to glycogen, there is a persistent elevation of sugar in the blood. Insulin injection remains the compulsory treatment to keep the glucose level within normal range as the autoimmune attack renders the body completely void of an insulin reservoir.
Type II Diabetes
While type I diabetes strikes acutely, the type II diabetes is a chronic illness which progresses slowly over the years. It is marked by reduced secretion of insulin and response of cells to insulin. Insulin resistance advances during the course of few years, where you will find it more and more difficult to normalize the sugar level. There are few types of oral anti-diabetic medications to control glucose level in type II diabetic patients by increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity and also to delay breakdown of complex carbohydrate to glucose. However, most diabetic sufferers will eventually have to convert from oral drugs to insulin injections as drug resistance overpowers the therapeutic effects.
Gestational diabetes is the elevation of glucose level experienced during pregnancy and usually resolves after delivery. During pregnancy, various hormones are secreted and this may block the action of insulin so that your baby can have enough sugar for development. If your body could not cope with the changes and insulin level remains inadequate, your glucose level will be very difficult to be controlled. This could pose risk and harm to you and your baby. Current oral anti-diabetics are not safe to be used during pregnancy, leaving mothers with insulin injection as sole treatment.
Drug treatment may be inevitable to achieve a strict blood glucose control. However, that does not mean you should give up lifestyle modification steps as every little effort can help to salvage whatever is left, and hopefully delay the deteriorating effects of diabetes.
You need to leave the couch, turn off the tv and head out for a workout. Exercise helps in the control of your glucose level by increasing uptake of glucose in the muscle cells. This helps your body to utilize glucose for energy rather than having excess glucose floating around your blood circulatory system. Aerobic exercises like walking and jogging are recommended to bring your sugar level under control. Take some time off, about 30-60 minutes for five days every week to give your body a good healthy sweat. Lose the fat and weight- this not only normalizes glucose metabolism but also strengthens your heart and reduces risk factors for hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.
Being diabetic does not mean that you have to sever your ties with ice-cream and chocolates. You can still enjoy your sweet food, but do it moderately and make sure you take your medications. Get healthier carbs and more fiber from wholemeal bread, cereal and nuts instead of white bread. Complex carbohydrates and fiber make you feel more filling so you won’t overindulge in your food. Ensure that your diet is balanced with nutrients from fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products for better health.
If you smoke like a walking chimney, it pays to attend a smoking cessation therapy. It has been reported that smoking can increase the risk of diabetes in non-diabetic smokers and worsen the disease in diabetic patients. Smokers were found to have increased insulin resistance and reduced insulin secretion, which can potentially lead to diabetes. Each time you light up, your glucose level in body elevates and the spike could get persistent and chronic if you do not revert to healthier lifestyles before it is too late.