Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention of Diabetes
Do you suddenly feel listless, forever tired, and are losing weight without reason? When minor cuts become wounds, and simple injuries refuse to heal, you could have become diabetic. Stop making excuses, and act responsibly. See your doctor, and get your blood sugar level tested. It could be diabetes — a metabolic disorder — which is known to be a silent killer. Moreover, it could damage your eyesight, your kidneys, and your heart irreparably.
What Is Diabetes?
Most of the food you eat converts into blood sugar to provide your body its natural fuel. When this blood sugar level in your blood rises above a fasting blood sugar of greater than 126 mg/dl, or when post prandial (PP) sugar level, i.e., the sugar level in your blood two hours after having a meal runs beyond 140 mg/dl; your doctor will diagnose it as clinical diabetes. While most people will terrorize you about all the damage that high blood sugar will do to your body, it is vital to keep in mind that your brain needs blood sugar to function properly.
Hypoglycemia and pre-diabetes:
Any blood sugar level below 70 mg/dl is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which presents its own set of problems. A fasting blood sugar value of between 110-125mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes (someone who might easily get diabetes 2), or someone with impaired fasting sugar. These people stay as much at risk for cardiac diseases and stroke as diabetic people.
Types of diabetes:
There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body does not produce any insulin. It is an autoimmune disease. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, occurs when your body produces insufficient insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs only in some pregnant women. If managed carefully, and proper attention is paid to diet, this goes away after delivery. Both pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes are reversible.
Watch Out for These Symptoms
You need to worry if you suddenly find creases of the skin darkening without reason; begin to suffer insatiable thirst, or dry mouth; dry eyes caused by the neuropathy; extreme, unexplained hunger; have to make frequent trips to the washroom without having increased your fluid intake, being pregnant, or taking diuretics; unexplained loss of weight; irregular menses, or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) going haywire; frequent infections of the mouth, skin, or vagina; blurred vision; exhaustion or simply lethargy; mood swings, including irritability; numbness or tingling in the feet; nausea; and peculiar breath odor.
You Might Be a Prime Candidate for Diabetes If …
When you pause to analyze the causes of diabetes; you will find that a host of factors are at play. From a family history of diabetes to a sedentary lifestyle or simply being over the age of 45 could cause diabetes. You don’t get diabetes simply because you indulged in one too many sweetmeats during the festive season, or at a family wedding. It is persistent overeating, or having a diet in which processed foods, refined flours, and sugar, with low quantum of fruits, greens, and fibers predominate which could put you at risk for diabetes as your pancreas struggles to produce sufficient insulin to process the glucose. When your pancreas cannot keep up with the increased demands making the excess blood sugar circulate in the blood, it causes damage, especially if you don’t exercise vigorously, or have to stay desk bound for most of your waking hours. Stress can also elevate blood sugar levels, especially if you have high blood pressure; or are a nervous eater, and reach for harmful snacks to calm your nerves. The likelihood of getting diabetes increases manifold when you are obese. Pregnancy, and/or a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often cause type 2 diabetes. Substance abuse like smoking, and imbibing too much alcohol can make you gain too much weight too fast, and thereby put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. The least expected cause is the adverse effect of certain kinds of medication like steroids given to speed up recovery after a major surgery.
Prevention Is Not As Challenging As It Seems
If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have unhealthy eating habits; you need to be twice as wary as the next person. Enhance your activity levels by creating a regular schedule of exercise. Run, jog, skip, play team field games like football, cricket, baseball, or court games like basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, or squash. Walk or cycle instead of using public transport or other vehicle.
Watch What You Drink
Stop downing those carbonated cold beverages, which are nothing by empty calories, to slake your thirst. You want to avoid like poison those much touted energy drinks, bottled fruit juices, and the various fancy drinks which are all sugar laden. Limit your alcohol intake to a glass of wine daily, but must avoid rum and whiskey. Ideally, become a teetotaler. Coffee and green tea are fine; just don’t drown the coffee in cream and sugar. Drink plenty of plain water to keep your system flushed. You can also drink fresh fruit, or vegetable juice. If you need to sweeten your glass of lime juice, use honey rather than sugar or aspartame.
Modify Your Diet, and Practice Portion Control
While it isn’t necessary to go vegan, it would be better to go off red meats. Opt for lean meats, eggs, fish rich in Omega 3 oils, yogurt, skimmed milk, tofu, and diverse lentils for protein sources. Go easy on carbohydrates, especially sugar rich desserts. Whole grains, plenty of green and non-starchy vegetables, fresh fruits (avoid canned fruits as they are usually preserved in a sugar syrup), and legumes should be part of your daily diet. Eat several (not more than five) meals a day, but in very small quantities. Portion control is vital. When you want to snack, reach for nuts, and fresh fruit slices rather than fries, confectionary, or biscuits.
Pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, and the early stages of diabetes 2 are reversible with appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors