The essential guide to understanding Diabetes

Sweets are a weakness for so many of us. For a refreshing morning, the first thing that most of us do is to grab a piping hot cup of coffee or tea. Imagine having that cup without the heap of white powder that powers you through your day. Though many of us dread that very thought, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can make you sick, especially if that one good thing is sugar.  Life needs be balanced, and this also includes the diet that you follow.

One of the most serious and chronic diseases that anyone can be affected is Diabetes. It is one of the leading chronic causes of debility, especially among the middle aged, who are the breadwinners in most families and the reason for economic growth of a country. Thus if diabetes isn’t detected and managed in time, the chances of fatality and disability can only prove to increase.

Type 2 diabetes typically affects adults over age 40. It’s sudden detection can completely change your habits and priorities. It’s just isn’t a health condition, it’s entirely a lifestyle change. Right from learning how to monitor blood sugar (glucose) levels to counting carb intake, you’ll need to be extra careful to manage diabetes the right way. Here’s your go-to guide on diabetes that helps you understand diabetes on a deeper level and manage it better

Types of Diabetes

Type 1: It is also known as Juvenile diabetes since it typically affects children and young individuals. These individuals cannot produce insulin in sufficient quantities and hence are insulin –dependent over time. To balance the levels, they must take artificial insulin daily.

Type 2: This normally occurs in middle or older age group individuals and is known as insulin resistant Diabetes. In this scenario though the body produces enough insulin, the muscles and liver that normally take the blood sugar and use it for energy. The muscles and liver begin to lose their sensitivity to the hormone insulin inside the body and becomes dependent on external insulin.

Gestational diabetes: This type of Diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes generally does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Frequent urination

Excess glucose in the blood causes the kidneys to flush it out, thus increasing the frequency of urination or the urge to urinate.

Increased thirst/ dry mouth

Frequent urination leads to fluid loss that results in the feeling of increased thirst and dry mouth.

Increased intake of food

This tends to be more common with type 2 diabetes, in which the glucose is not utilized by the tissues since they are resistant to the action of insulin causing the pancreas to produce more insulin. The increase in sugar levels are signaled to the brain and the hunger pangs are activated.

Extreme fatigue

Despite taking more food and having more glucose there is extreme fatigability since the excess glucose is not being utilized by the body.

Blurry Vision

Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar — from low to high or high to low — to which the eye muscles have not yet adapted to.

Numbness/tingling/pain of hands and feet

Over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body — a condition called diabetic neuropathy

Weight loss

Since the cells are not getting their required amount of energy, alternate sources of energy are looked for which burns the storage of fat and results in weight loss.

Slower healing of wounds

High levels of blood glucose affect the nerves, leading to poor blood circulation, making it hard for blood – vital for skin repair – to reach areas of the body affected by sores or wounds.

How much is too much: The optimum ranges

According to the American Diabetic association, the following criteria is used to diagnose diabetes.

symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Prediabetes

Doctors refer to some people as being prediabetic or having borderline diabetes when their blood sugar is usually in the range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). When the blood sugar levels that are between 70 and 99 mg/dL, it is said to be normal. The prediabetes level means that blood glucose is higher than usual but not so high as to constitute diabetes.Although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes, people with prediabetes are, still at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The risk factors for prediabetics and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include

  • being overweight
  • a family history of diabetes
  • a history of high blood pressure
  • being older than 45 years of age
  • maintaining a sedentary lifestyle
  • having history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a child with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
  • a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Prediabetic individual could escape the wrath of diabetes by making healthy life style changes that can ideally stop the progression to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and having a more healthy diet can often help prevent the disease.

Type 2 Diabetes prevention tips

The good news about managing diabetes is that you are sure to keep your sugars in check when you make appropriate modifications in your lifestyle. However, you literally need to sweat it out to achieve lower sugar targets.Below listed are a few actionable tips that can effectively control diabetes from progressing further.

  • Eating healthier carbohydrates and more fiber will help drop blood sugars levels.
  • Exercise can increase the insulin sensitivity of muscles, which will then absorb more blood sugar.
  • Include foods rich in fiber and healthy carbohydrates in your diet. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep your blood glucose levels steady.
  • Eat at regular intervals
  • Only eat until you’re full.
  • Control your weight and keep your heart healthy. That means keeping refined carbohydrates, sweets, and animal fats to a minimum.
  • Get about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to help keep your heart healthy.
  • Foods to consume

    Food and Nutrition plays an important role in controlling Diabetes. It’s important to keep a check on what you are eating during and post your diabetes phase.

    Healthy carbohydrates can provide you with fiber. The options include vegetables, fruits, legumes (such as beans), whole grains. You can get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, almonds, pecans etc.

    Although these options for fat are good for you, they’re high in calories. Moderation is key. When choosing dairy products, choose low-fat options. There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include foods heavy in saturated fats/trans fats, processed meats, red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, baked goods, processed snacks, sugary drinks etc.

    Here’s an infographic that talks about Diabetes and the foods you need to.

    type 2 diabetes

    Takeaway

    Diabetes is a life-changing condition that requires careful blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle for managing it right. Although controlling diabetes entirely depends on the patient’s will and determination, it isn’t really a cakewalk.You may need to battle psychological demons to remain motivated over the long haul and learn how to live a semi-normal lifestyle. But it’s always worth it because diabetes is 90% dependent on management and only 10% on other unforeseen circumstances.

    Watch out this space for more insights on managing diabetes.

    For any queries or consultation with a doctor, Click here.

    2 thoughts on “The essential guide to understanding Diabetes”

    1. I am 65yrs so for I am free from diabetes.i am fond of sweet & used to take sweets often . please advise me in this regard.

    2. Dear Mr.Sivaramakrishnan,

      Your fortunate that you do not suffer from diabetes given your age and despite having sweets often. As the popular saying goes prevention is better than cure. Hence my advise would be if you have any of the risk factors for diabetes type 2 as mentioned in the blog, you need to watch your sugar intake. Also exercise regularly to keep both your mind and body fit. Regularly (once in 6 months at least) check your sugar levels, to ensure they are under control. At any point in time if you seem to suffer from any of the symptoms as mentioned, kindly consult a doctor at the earliest. Stay fit!stay healthy and have a sugar free life!

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