Diabetes is a disease in which the body fails to properly use or make insulin. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin. The body uses insulin to convert the food eaten into fuel so that it has the energy to function well.
Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes are the four major different types of diabetes.
In Type 1 diabetes, the cells that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system. This is why it is also called insulin dependent diabetes. People with this type of diabetes need insulin regularly either through an insulin pump or injection. Without insulin, the body won’t be able to absorb the sugar it needs to function.
With Type 2 diabetes, the body cannot respond properly to insulin. The body’s resistance of insulin is the main characteristic. There are many factors to why this resistance develops. The most common are obesity, genetics, having blood sugar levels that are very high for a long period time and increasing age. This is the most common type of diabetes and can be managed by the patient with the help of a doctor and a little to work to understand the complications and different aspects of the disease.
The people most at risk for Type 2 diabetes are those that are advanced in age, overweight and have diabetes in their family. The onset of Type 2 diabetes can largely be prevented and, at the least, delayed with a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle and nutrition are the leading factors in developing Type 2 diabetes.
The earlier diabetes is diagnosed the easier it will be to keep the disease in control and continue to live a normal life. These are the most common symptoms that people who develop type 2 diabetes experience:
- Increased thirst and urination – This is because too much glucose has entered the blood and the kidney drains fluids from the tissues in order to flush it out. This will leave you thirsty.
- Intense hunger – This is because without enough insulin, the body is not able to process the sugar or carbohydrates it is getting into energy to fuel the body. This causes exhaustion and intense hunger to get more energy.
- Loss of weight – even though more food is consumed the body is not able to metabolize the sugar for energy. The body has no alternative than to find energy from fat and muscles. Calories are also lost through the urine as glucose.
- Fatigue and exhaustion – without the ability to absorb energy from the food, cells will be deprived of sugar: which means low energy.
- Patches of darkened skin – This can be a sign of insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled to enable a normal life. At first it might seem an impossible task, as it needs to be controlled in many different ways. Understanding the disease and the impact food and activity has on the body is the first step. Medication is needed in some cases to help stimulate production of insulin. Exercise, diet and weight control are the key and basis of treatment.
Exercise is essential and not only for losing weight:
- At least a half hour five days a week, the more the better
- Three ten minute sessions is fine as well
- Mix cardio with some weight training to be sure muscles are being strengthened
- Exercise improves the use insulin and helps stabilize blood sugar level
- Exercise improves blood circulation
To control diet learn how different foods react in the body:
Eating low glycemic foods provide a slow release of energy. This helps to keeps the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes away, and the blood sugar level within the optimum range.
It may be confusing to hear the word “sugar” all the time. This doesn’t always mean sweet food in a diet for diabetes. Carbohydrates such as white rice, breads and pasta are high glycemic foods, once eaten turn quickly into sugar.
Remember that eating the right food is not only about losing weight. Food directly affects the blood sugar level.
Being overweight is a major cause of Type 2 diabetes:
- Staying at a healthy weight is essential.
- Fat cells are more resistant to insulin.
It has been found that after losing weight, symptoms have greatly reduced and in some cases disappeared.
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure, leg and foot amputations, blindness and premature death. Although there are great benefits from proper diet (you can read more on “What Do I Eat Now?“) and exercise, it should be under the constant guidance of a doctor.