Diabetes: Are You On The Road To Getting It?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the blood sugar levels in the body. In Type 1 Diabetes, little or no insulin, the hormone which converts sugar and starches into energy, is produced. In Type 2 Diabetes, the body is resistant to insulin, and blood sugar (glucose) is inefficiently metabolized. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and stems from a number of factors including genetics, diet, and lifestyle.
What are the symptoms and complications of diabetes?
When glucose is not efficiently distributed to the cells, and instead is built up in the bloodstream, the body adversely reacts. The eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart can be affected. Symptoms and complications include:
- Severe hunger and thirst due to fluid and nutrient deletion in the body's tissues. Kidneys can become damaged or fail.
- Tiredness or irritability due to lack of sugars needed for energy. These factors can induce depression, a side effect which can make caring for diet and lifestyle difficult.
- Difficulty seeing due to the loss of fluid in eye tissues. Diabetes can lead to blindness if not monitored and regulated.
- Inability of the body to heal itself. Skin and bladder complications are some known side effects.
- Foot problems due to nerve damage and poor blood circulation.
What are the risk factors associated with diabetes?
Risk factors for diabetes continue to be examined, but currently, the medical community believes that race plays a major role in contracting the disease. Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, American Indians and Asian Americans seem to be more predisposed, although the reasoning is not quite clear. Secondly, those who have a family history of diabetes tend to inherit the disease. Poor diet, including the consumption of saturated fat and processed foods, aggravate diabetes. Finally, lack of exercise contributes to the risk of getting diabetes.
How can diabetes be prevented or controlled?
Although Type 2 diabetes has no known cure, it can be controlled, or even prevented. Recommendations include a healthy diet and regular exercise to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Sometimes additional measures are needed, including supplements or medication, to bring down glucose levels. Your health care provider can also inform you about complications such as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
A healthy diet as a preventive and regulatory measure
Follow these simple tips for a healthier diet:
- Eat plenty of greens and fresh vegetables. Spinach and broccoli are recommended, but starchy vegetables like potatoes should be avoided.
- Choose fresh fruit instead of desserts and snacks made with processed sugars. Fruit also has high water content and fiber content which can make you feel naturally full.
- Try different grains for nutrition and variety. Brown rice cooked with vegetable stock, or quinoa or couscous cooked with mushrooms and herbs are excellent choices.
- Keep dairy products to a minimum, or try low or non-fat options.
Exercise is the key
Exercise can help prevent diabetes or the complications associated once diagnosed. Take a walk after a meal, or to run an errand. Stay motivated with an activity partner or family member. Borrow a new workout DVD from your local library branch. Do what you need to do in order to keep the pounds off, improve cardiovascular health, and keep harmful blood sugar levels down.
Diabetes: Are you on the road to getting it?
If left untreated, diabetes and its complications can be deadly. But while certain risk factors and lifestyles can increase the chances of getting diabetes, prevention and control are possible through proper diet, exercise, and communication with a health care provider.