Increasing Risk of Diabetes

A study published in the Lancet, a leading international medical journal, shows that the risk of developing diabetes is increasing rapidly among Americans and it also depends on your race and education.

Though the study only examined diabetes in the context of American people, it is likely that similar results would have been obtained had the study been conducted with Europeans or others where a Western-type diet and life-style is the norm.

Increasing Risk of Diabetes

The study revealed that there was a dramatic rise between 1985 and 2011 in the overall risk that an American will develop diabetes.

In 1985, American boys had a 21 percent chance of developing diabetes, and girls 27 percent. By 2011, however, that risk had jumped to 40 percent for both boys and girls. In other words, the risk for boys had almost doubled, while the risk for girls had gone up 50 percent. Part of the reason could be the fact that people are living longer so that they have more years during which they can develop diabetes.

Race and Gender

While Caucasians overall have a gloomy 40 percent chance of developing diabetes, the outlook for African-Americans and Hispanics is much grimmer.

Caucasian boys have a 37% and Caucasian girls a 34% risk of developing diabetes. By contrast, the chances for African-American men are 44.7%, while for their women, the risk is 55.3%. The chances of developing diabetes for Hispanic boys and girls are 51.8% and 51.5% respectively.

These figures reinforce the idea that diabetes has a genetic origin, at least to the extent that your genes can predispose you to diabetes. Most medical researchers agree that this is due to your lifestyle

According to the researchers, they analysed race because that was the data they had available; but they did state that socio-economic status is probably as important, if not more important than, as race.

Nevertheless, the risk of developing diabetes for Caucasians is much less than it is for African-Americans and Hispanics.

Education

The less educated you are, the greater your risk of developing diabetes.

In 2008, the number of new diagnoses among high-school drop-outs was 15.6 er thousand, while among high-school graduates it was 9.5 and for those who studied beyond high-school 6.5 thousand.

Since then the rate at which new diagnoses are being discovered has dropped off a bit. This may be due to improving lifestyles.

At the same time, according to the latest statistics, high school dropouts are likely, on average, to develop diabetes at about twice the rate of persons who continued their education after graduating from high school.

It seems likely that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to live a healthy lifestyle and to take the threat of diabetes seriously.

The take-away

These findings of the Lancet study mean that there will be a continued need for health services and extensive funding to manage the disease. They also emphasise the need for effective interventions to reduce the incidence of diabetes, such as education in healthy lifestyles and regular testing of the entire population to detect pre-diabetes.

 

Diet And Exercise To Control Diabetes

Every diabetic is tasked with having proper diet and exercise to control diabetes. Medications or insulin shots can only do so much. Diet and exercise allow you to lessen the effects of diabetes on your body and life and help you thrive even with this diagnosis. In the case of type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise may even allow you to reverse this type of diabetes.

Not controlling your diabetes will lead to kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, high blood pressure, stroke, infections and wounds that are slow to heal or never heal, limb amputation and even falling into a diabetic coma when severe. So suck it up and do the recommended diet and exercise.

Controlling Diabetes with Diet

People tend to recoil when they hear the word “diet” because of the negative connotations attached to it. Most people think it means that you won’t be able to eat anything you like, or anything delicious, or will be starving and so forth. But when a diet for diabetes is talked about, it simply means a well thought out plan for eating. In some cases, you may even be able to still eat some “bad” foods on occasion as long as you are aware of how they will impact your diabetic eating plan and what adjustments you may need to make when you eat these “bad” foods so that your blood sugar levels do not go crazy and cause you problems.

Creating a proper diabetes eating plan will help you get a better understanding of how various foods impact blood sugar levels which will help you make the decision on which foods to eliminate and which to include. For example, soft drinks, refined grains, etc, have been shown to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also increasing inflammation in the body. With this information, you can make the wise choice to eliminate soft drinks (regular and diet) and drink more water and to select complex carbs in placed of processed foods made from refined grains.

It is important to remember that a healing diabetes diet will vary from one diabetic to another. You have to find the diet that will work for you. Some diabetics may be able to eat certain foods whereas another many have to eliminate that food. There isn’t one diet that will work in all cases. One may need to follow a low fat, high carbohydrate diet while another may need to follow a low carbohydrate, high vegetable diet, etc. Find what works for you.

While you may be confused about what to eat and what to avoid, you should be prepared to experiment with various recommended foods to see which ones raise your blood sugar levels and which ones help to normalize it.

To find which foods are best for controlling blood sugar, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels for a period of time such as two to three weeks. Measure your blood glucose levels first thing in the morning, after breakfast, after meals as well as snacks and also before you go to bed. Also measure the sugar levels before and after physical activity.

Once you have an understanding of how your blood sugar levels are affected, you will then be in a better position to create a diet plan that works for you and helps heal your body naturally.

Controlling Diabetes with Exercise

It is amazing how effective exercise can be, especially against type 2 diabetes. The best thing you can do against diabetes is exercise. It is also the least expensive when you consider how much you have to spend on the medications alone. Effective exercise can be as simple as a walk or run, swimming, dancing, cycling, etc.

Regular moderate exercise that leads to modest weight loss has been shown to prevent insulin resistance that can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Diabetics also benefit from this as exercise can not only help control blood glucose levels but can also help prevent serious complications from diabetes.

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is one of the main issues with the development of type 2 diabetes and results from the body not recognizing the insulin that is produced by the body which keeps glucose in the blood and not removed from the blood and transferred to the cells where it is needed for energy which ends up starving the cells in the body. By improving insulin sensitivity, glucose will be removed from the blood by insulin and transferred to the cells and used more efficiently by the cells which will help to manage blood glucose levels.

Exercise (and diet) is also the best way to control weight. Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels and the main culprit is obesity as it has been found that at least 80 percent of type 2 diabetes patients and those with pre-diabetes have been found to be obese. It is believed that obesity can lead to insulin resistance which increases the risk of developing pre-diabetes and type II diabetes.

It is very important to monitor blood sugar levels before and after exercise. If you have type I diabetes, you will need to make sure that you do not overly exert yourself to the point of becoming hypoglycaemic, which is a state of low blood sugar. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include fatigue, dizziness, sweating, headaches, trembling and if severe, consciousness can be lost as well as falling into a coma.

If you are on medication, you need to work with your doctor to make the necessary adjustments to your exercise regimen. In addition, diabetics who deal with neuropathy need to ensure that the nerve endings in the feet are protected. High impact running or jogging may not be advised in cases of neuropathy.

Diabetics should watch out for dehydration when exercising since frequent urination is one of the symptoms of diabetes. High impact exercise can also affect the capillaries in the eyes that have been weakened by diabetes. If you have eye problems due to diabetes, make sure that the exercise selected will not make vision problems worse or cause rupture which can occur especially if you use weights.

Discuss with your doctor your exercise program and set realistic goals in order to avoid too high or too low blood sugar levels as well as the other issues that exercise may cause in people with diabetes. Start small and gradually build up.

Exercise is an important component of diabetes management and many of its other benefits include helping to lower blood pressure, raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels, strengthening bones, toning the heart and other muscles, eliminating stress, weight loss, strengthening the respiratory system, etc.

So discipline yourself and you can conquer diabetes.

 

Type of Diabetes

Diabetes, aka Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease where a person’s blood glucose level is above normal. This could either be because insulin production in one’s body is not sufficient, or the body fails to respond to the insulin in the required way. Some of the symptoms that are very commonly associated with diabetes are frequent thirst, hunger and urination.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, the body ceases to produce insulin. This type of diabetes is relatively rarer, and only 10% of people suffering from the ailment are ailing from Type 1 diabetes. This is also sometimes referred to as insulin dependent diabetes or early onset diabetes.

If one is ailing with type 1 diabetes, he has to take insulin injections for the rest of his life, follow a specific diet and also monitor his blood glucose levels by carrying out blood tests at regular intervals.

However, type 2 diabetes is a lot more prevalent type of diabetes, and nearly 90% of people who suffer this disorder are ailing with type 2 diabetes. When one suffers from type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin in adequate quantities, or the body cells do not react to insulin, in a condition known as insulin resistance.

For many people, type 2 diabetes is a condition relatively easier to control, and one can keep a check on symptoms of type 2 diabetes by maintaining one’s weight in recommendable limits, making sure that one consumes a healthy diet, getting some regular exercise, and monitoring one’s blood glucose levels at regular intervals.

Gestational Diabetes

An important classification of diabetes is gestational diabetes which affects women during pregnancy. During pregnancy, women sometimes have blood glucose levels which are more towards the higher side, and their body does not produce adequate insulin to transport this glucose into their cells.

Diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be made only during pregnancy, and a vast majority of patients can control their condition by means of diet and exercise. However, 10-20% of patients need to take specific medications to keep a check on their blood glucose levels.

An important way that can enable one to prevent the condition is by making sure that one consumes a low cholesterol diet during pregnancy.

Risk Factors

  • Overweight/obesity. When one is obese, the body releases chemicals which can work towards destabilizing body’s metabolic and cardiovascular systems.
  • Ageing
  • Genetics,
  • Family history
  • Diet

Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid skipping meals. This could hike the blood sugar levels, and could even lead to weight gain.
  • Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of fibers. This helps us keep full, and the high vitamin and mineral content in fruits and vegetables helps ensure that the body receives nutrition. This keeps one energetic, and one is not tempted to go for sugary foods.
  • Avoid all foods which have a higher glycemic index, like chips and salty snacks, and one must keep a check on consumption of fatty foods as well. Similarly, starches from white rice, potatoes and whole grains could also influence diabetes.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day.
  • Slight weight loss of up to 5-10%
  • Exercise.Walking reduces risk of many ailments like diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis; this keeps the heart stronger and also helps you lose weight.

 

The Basics of Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where your blood sugar levels are above normal because your cells are unable to absorb glucose, hence the sugar stays in your blood. Most people do not even know they have diabetes. This disease causes serious complications in your health including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower extremity amputations. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the US and majority of the patients developed heart disease.

There is always an underlying cause why your body is not able to utilize glucose for energy making the glucose levels in your blood to increase above normal. You have to remember that the cells in your body that use glucose must be able to absorb glucose from your blood effectively and use it to give them energy. Another thing is that the insulin made by your pancreas are very important as they are used as a vessel to let the sugar enter the cell. Last thing is that glucose is broken down by food or from muscle and liver from a storage called glycogen.

In one form of diabetes, the body stops making insulin so your cells won’t be able to get glucose from your blood. Sometimes, your body does not make enough insulin as much as your body needs. Other times, the cells won’t open up. So even if you have enough insulin, you can’t get the cells to open, so the cells won’t be able to receive glucose for energy. This is called insulin resistance.

Type of Diabetes

Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin at all.

Type II diabetes is the most common form of the disease. It accounts for 90-95% of all the cases of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin or the cells in your body ignore the insulin so they can’t utilize glucose like they are supposed to. When your cells ignore the insulin, it is often referred to as insulin resistance.

Other types of diabetes which only account for a small number of the cases of diabetes include gestational diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies and usually disappears when the pregnancy is over. Other types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses may account for 1% to 2% of all cases of diabetes.

How do you get diabetes?

Risk factors for Diabetes II:

  • older age
  • obesity
  • family history
  • prior history of gestational diabetes
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • physical inactivity
  • race/ethnicity

Risk factors for Diabetes I:

  • autoimmune
  • genetic
  • environmental factors

Symptoms

People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for a diagnosis.

Symptoms include:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme hunger
  • sudden vision changes
  • tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • feeling very tired much of the time
  • very dry skin
  • sores that are slow to heal
  • more infections than usual

Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt onset of type 1 diabetes.

Glucose is sugar, so do all I just have to avoid sweets?

Most food, and all of the carbohydrates, are broken down into its simplest structure, which is glucose. The acid in your stomach breaks down the food as soon as it enters the stomach. Proteins are broken down into their amino acids and carbohydrates are broken down to glucose. The blood then picks it up and carries it to your cells for energy. In healthy people, the blood picks up the glucose absorbed from the GI tract, and sends a signal to your pancreas to make and release insulin. Remember, in Type 2 diabetes your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or some of your cells ignoring the insulin that is there. In both situations, your cells don’t get the glucose they need for energy and they are starving while all the extra glucose is just floating around in your blood and can’t be used. The worst part is, when all that extra glucose is floating around in your blood, it is causing damage to your blood vessels and organs and that damage increase your risk of heart disease. That is why it is very important to keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. When the glucose levels get really high, the glucose starts to leak out into your urine.

Treatment

Diabetes I: Healthy eating, physical activity, and insulin injections are the basic therapies. The amount of insulin taken must be balanced with food intake and daily activities. Blood glucose levels must be closely monitored through frequent blood glucose testing.

Diabetes II: Healthy eating, physical activity, and blood glucose testing are the basic therapies. Many people with type 2 diabetes require oral medication, insulin, or both to control their blood glucose levels. Some of the oral medications work by stimulating your pancreas to make more insulin. Other oral medicines work to make your cells open up again.

How to keep blood sugar level under control?

Frequent blood tests are used to monitor your blood sugar. Most patients with diabetes should have a home blood monitoring kit. Some doctors ask their patients to check their blood sugar as frequently at 6 times a day, though this is an extreme. The more information you have about your blood sugar levels, the easier it will be for you to control it. People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day care, and keep blood glucose levels from going too low or too high.

When your blood sugar is too high, your doctor refers to it as hyperglycemia. You may not experience any symptoms, but the high levels of glucose in your blood is causing damage to your blood vessels and organs. That is why it is important to have your body utilize the sugar properly and get it out of your bloodstream.

When your blood sugar is too low, your doctor refers to it as hypoglycemia. Having low blood sugar can be very dangerous and patients taking medication for diabetes should watch for symptoms of low blood sugar.

It is important that you monitor your blood sugar regularly to avoid both low as well as high blood sugar.

Some patients are may not follow the proper diet and exercise except for the days leading up to a blood test in the doctor’s office. They want to look like they are doing a good job controlling their blood sugar. This way their fasting blood glucose test results will be good for the doctor. But, there is a test that will show your doctor the real picture over the past 3 months or so. It is called the hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test. Hemoglobin is the part of your blood, or red cells, that carries oxygen to your cells. Glucose sticks to the hemoglobin in your red cells of the blood as they emerge from the bone marrow where they are made.

The amount of sugar on the red cell is proportionate to the blood sugar level at the moment the red cell goes into circulation, and remains at that level for the life of the red cell. So if there has been a lot of extra glucose in your blood, there will be a lot of glucose stuck all over your hemoglobin. Since the average lifespan of the hemoglobin in your blood is 90-100 days, a HbA1C test shows a doctor how well you have been controlling your blood sugar over the last 3 months. This test is a check on the overall sugar control, not just the fasting blood sugar. So it is important to control your blood sugar at all times, and not just before visiting the doctor. The most important reason to control your blood sugar is so that you can live a longer, healthier life without complications that can be caused by not controlling your diabetes.

Complications

The complications of diabetes can be devastating. Both forms of diabetes ultimately lead to high blood sugar levels, a condition called hyperglycemia. The damage that hyperglycemia causes to your body is extensive and includes:

  • Damage to the retina from diabetes (diabetic retinopathy) is a leading cause of blindness.
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These independently and together with hyperglycemia increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other blood vessel complications.
  • Damage to the nerves in the autonomic nervous system can lead to paralysis of the stomach (gastroparesis), chronic diarrhea, and an inability to control heart rate and blood pressure with posture changes.
  • Damage to the kidneys from diabetes (diabetic nephropathy) is a leading cause of kidney failure.
  • Damage to the nerves from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) is a leading cause of lack of normal sensation in the foot, which can lead to wounds and ulcers, and all too frequently to foot and leg amputations.
  • Diabetes accelerates atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”, and the formation of fatty plaques inside the arteries, which can lead to blockages or a clot (thrombus), which can then lead to heart attack, stroke, and decreased circulation in the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease).

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs from time to time in most people with diabetes. It results from taking too much diabetes medication or insulin, missing a meal, doing more exercise than usual, drinking too much alcohol, or taking certain medications for other conditions. It is very important to recognize hypoglycemia and be prepared to treat it at all times.

Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • dizziness
  • poor concentration
  • tremors of hands
  • sweating
  • faint
  • seizure

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition in which uncontrolled hyperglycemia (usually due to complete lack of insulin or a relative deficiency of insulin) over time creates a buildup in the blood of acidic waste products called ketones. High levels of ketones can be very harmful. This typically happens to people with type 1 diabetes who do not have good blood glucose control. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be precipitated by infection, stress, trauma, missing medications like insulin, or medical emergencies like stroke and heart attack.

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome is a serious condition in which the blood sugar level gets very high. The body tries to get rid of the excess blood sugar by eliminating it in the urine. This increases the amount of urine significantly and often leads to dehydration so severe that it can cause seizures, coma, even death. This syndrome typically occurs in people with type 2 diabetes who are not controlling their blood sugar levels or have become dehydrated or have stress, injury, stroke, or medications like steroids.

Pre-Diabetes

Pre-diabetes is a common condition related to diabetes. In people with pre-diabetes, the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Pre-diabetes increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes and of having heart disease or a stroke. Pre-diabetes can be reversed without insulin or medication by losing a modest amount of weight and increasing your physical activity. This can prevent, or at least delay, onset of type 2 diabetes. When associated with certain other abnormalities, it is also called the metabolic syndrome.

Diagnosis

  • Fasting blood glucose test. This test is performed after you have fasted (no food or liquids other than water) for eight hours. A normal fasting blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dl. A diagnosis of diabetes is made if your blood glucose reading is 126 mg/dl or higher. (In 1997, the American Diabetes Association lowered the level at which diabetes is diagnosed to 126 mg/dl from 140 mg/dl.)
  • “Random” blood glucose test. A normal blood glucose range is in the low to mid 100s. A diagnosis of diabetes is made if your blood glucose reading is 200 mg/dl or higher and you have symptoms of disease such as fatigue, excessive urination, excessive thirst or unplanned weight loss.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test. For this test, you will be asked, after fasting overnight, to drink a sugar-water solution. Your blood glucose levels will then be tested over several hours. In a person without diabetes, glucose levels rise and then fall quickly after drinking the solution. In a person with diabetes, blood glucose levels rise higher than normal and do not fall as quickly.

A normal blood glucose reading two hours after drinking the solution is less than 140 mg/dl, and all readings between the start of the test until two hours after the start are less than 200 mg/dl. Diabetes is diagnosed if your blood glucose levels are 200 mg/dl or higher.