What is diabetes? It’s a fairly common disease, afflicting
over eighteen million people in the United States alone.
Almost a third of these people don’t even know that they
have the disease. diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin or the inability of the body to use insulin
properly. And what is insulin? It’s the substance we need
to convert food into energy. The consequences can be dire,
so if you suspect that you are at risk, consult your
doctor. Here are some key facts to know:
Diabetes is categorized in two ways, as Type 1 and
Type 2. The types have some similarities, but they
are different in terms of cause and treatment.
So how do we recognise Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is genetic in nature and results from a
failure of the pancreas to create insulin. It often affects
children or young adults. In these people, the immune
system actually works against the body, killing
off beta cells that produce insulin. This causes glucose
to stay in the blood rather than getting turned into the
essential fuel our body needs. Treatment is required in
order to prevent diabetic coma, which is when the levels
of glucose in the blood get dangerously high. Treatment
generally consists of regular insulin injections.
By contrast, Type 2 diabetes usually develops later in
life and is often related to lifestyle. This type is
the more common of the two. While doctors can’t say
exactly what causes it, some ethnicities seem to be at
a greater risk, as are people who are overweight or who
do not exercise regularly. Age is also a factor, with
this type of diabetes being more common in older folks.
In Type 2 diabetes, the body is failing to take up the
insulin generated by the pancreas. You can try to stave
off your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes by eating a
healthy diet high in fiber, fruits, veggies and whole
grains, and exercising on a regular basis.
Exercise is key because it lowers the level of glucose in
the blood and increases the body’s ability to take up
naturally produced glucose. Exercise is also good for
keeping stress levels low and helping with cholesterol and
circulation problems. It is such a good treatment, in
fact, that sometimes diet and exercise can negate the
necessity of medication in Type 2 diabetes patients.
Diets rich is complex carbohydrates such as fruits,
vegetables and whole grains are believed in help in the
prevention of diabetes. For people with diabetes however,
it is important to be aware of the effect of all foods on
the disease, as some carbohydrates are broken down
differently and effect glucose levels in different ways. If
in doubt diabetics can refer to the glycemic index (usually
called GI index) which provides information on all foods
and their likely effect.
Finally, consume fiber, which has been shown to keep down
glucose levels and is healthy for just about everyone.
Opt for healthy oils and fats like olive oil rather than
saturated fats, such as animal fat. Eating healthy will
help to prevent cardiovascular disease, for which
diabetes patients are at increased risk.