For newcomers and beginner lifestyle enthusiasts, Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Whereas Blood Glucose is your primary energy source and comes from the food, you eat. Additionally, Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.
Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough — or any — insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems and other related physical fitness and wellness issues. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage it and stay healthy.
Sometimes people call diabetes “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes.” These terms suggest that someone doesn’t have diabetes or has a less severe case, but every case of diabetes is serious. Usually, with diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, that’s so risky.
This is because too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney failure. With that in mind, let’s try to understand what diabetes means.
What Is Diabetes? Why Is It A Threat To Health (Different Types)
To enumerate, Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Your body breaks down most of the food into sugar (glucose) and releases it into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin is vital in letting blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
As mentioned, with diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause severe health and wellness problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for diabetes.
But losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help. Slow, steady weight loss goals are more likely to help a person retain long-term benefits.
Other things you can do to help:
- Take medicine as prescribed.
- Get diabetes self-management education and support.
- Make and keep health care appointments.
It’s important to realize that this condition impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar. In the United States, the estimated number of people over 18 years of age diagnosed and undiagnosed is 30.2 million. The figure represents between 27.9 and 32.7 percent of the population.
Without ongoing, careful management, it can lead to a buildup of sugars in the blood, increasing the risk of dangerous complications, including stroke and heart disease. Different kinds of diabetes can occur, and managing the condition depends on the type. Not all forms stem from a person being overweight or leading an inactive lifestyle. Some are present from childhood.
The most common types of diabetes are type 1, 2, and gestational diabetes.
» Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to stay alive.
» Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
» Gestational Diabetes
Gestational develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is type 2.
Doctors refer to some people as having prediabetes or borderline diabetes when blood sugar is usually 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Normal blood sugar levels sit between 70 and 99 mg/dL, whereas a person with diabetes will have a fasting blood sugar higher than 126 mg/dL. The prediabetes level means blood glucose is higher than usual but not as high as diabetes.
People with prediabetes are, however, at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes. If a doctor identifies that a person has prediabetes, they will recommend that the individual makes healthful changes that can ideally stop the progression to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and having a healthier diet can often help.
How Insulin Problems Develop
You are more likely to develop type 2 if you are 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race, and health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or gestational diabetes when pregnant.
The other less common types include monogenic, an inherited form, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes. Doctors do not know the exact causes of type I diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin resistance, has more apparent reasons. Insulin allows the glucose from a person’s food to access the cells in their body to supply energy.
Insulin resistance is usually a result of the following cycle:
- A person has genes or an environment that make it more likely that they cannot make enough insulin to cover how much glucose they eat.
- The body tries to make extra insulin to process excess blood glucose.
- The pancreas cannot keep up with the increased demands, and the excess blood sugar starts circulating in the blood, causing damage.
- Over time, insulin becomes less effective at introducing glucose to cells, and blood sugar levels continue to rise.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance takes place gradually. Doctors often recommend lifestyle changes to slow or reverse this cycle. You can learn more about the functions of insulin in detail.
Diabetic Exercise and Dietary Tips
If a doctor diagnoses a person with type 2 diabetes, they will often recommend making lifestyle changes to support weight loss and overall health.
A doctor may refer a person with diabetes or prediabetes to a nutritionist. A specialist can help a person with diabetes lead an active, balanced lifestyle and manage the condition.
Steps a person can take to embrace a lifestyle with diabetes include:
- Eating a diet high in fresh, nutritious foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fat sources, such as nuts.
- Avoiding high-sugar foods that provide empty calories, or calories that do not have other nutritional benefits, such as sweetened sodas, fried foods, and high-sugar desserts.
- Refraining from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or keeping intake to less than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Engaging in at least 30 minutes exercise a day on at least 5 days of the week, such as of walking, aerobics, riding a bike, or swimming.
- Recognizing signs of low blood sugar when exercising, including dizziness, confusion, weakness, and profuse sweating.
People can also take steps to reduce their body mass index (BMI), which can help some people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition without medication.
Using Insulin on Diabetes
People with type I diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes may need to inject or inhale insulin to keep their blood sugar levels from becoming too high.
Various types of insulin are available, and most are grouped by how long their effect lasts. There are rapid, regular, intermediate, and long-acting insulins.
Some people will use a long-acting insulin injection to maintain consistently low blood sugar levels. Some people may use short-acting insulin or a combination of insulin types. Whatever the type, a person will usually check their blood glucose levels using a fingerstick.
This method of checking blood sugar levels involves using a special, portable machine called a glucometer. A person with type I diabetes will then use the reading of their blood sugar level to determine how much insulin they need.
In summary, Insulin helps people with diabetes live an active lifestyle. However, it can lead to serious side effects, especially if a person administers too much.
Excessive insulin can cause hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar, and lead to nausea, sweating, and shaking.
It is essential that people measure insulin carefully and eat a consistent diet that balances blood sugar levels as much as possible.
The discovery of insulin was fascinating and controversial. Click here to learn more.
Additional Medicational Plans
In addition to insulin, other types of medication are available that can help a person to manage their condition.
For type 2 diabetes, a doctor may prescribe metformin in pill or liquid form.
It contributes to:
- lowering blood sugar
- making insulin more effective
It can also help in weight loss. Having a healthy weight can reduce the impact of diabetes.
As well as diabetes, a person may also have other health risks, and they may need medication to control these. A doctor will advise the individual about their needs.
» SGLT2 Inhibitors and GLP-1 Receptor Agonists
In 2018, new guidelines also recommended prescribing additional drugs for people with:
- atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
- chronic kidney disease
These are sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor, agonists.
For those with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a high risk of heart failure, the guidelines advise doctors to prescribe an SGLT2 inhibitor.
» GLP-1 Receptor Agonists
In the first place, the GLP-1 receptor agonists work by increasing the amount of insulin the body produces and decreasing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream.
It is an injectable drug. People may use it with metformin or alone. Side effects include gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and a loss of appetite.
» SLGT2 Inhibitors
In the second place, the SLGT2 Inhibitors are a new type of drug for lowering blood glucose levels. They work separately from insulin, and they may be useful for people who are not ready to start using insulin.
People can take it by mouth. Side effects include a higher risk of urinary and genital infections and ketoacidosis.
Learn more about other medications and treatments for managing diabetes by clicking here.
Self-monitoring blood sugar levels are vital for effective diabetes management, helping to regulate meal scheduling, physical activity, and when to take medication, including insulin.
While self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) machines vary, they will generally include a meter and test strip for generating readings and a lancing device to prick the skin for obtaining a small quantity of blood.
Refer to the specific instructions of a meter in every case, as machines will differ. However, the following precautions and steps will apply to many of the machines on the market:
- Make sure both hands are clean and dry before touching the test strips or meter
- Do not use a test strip more than once and keep them in their original canister to avoid any external moisture changing the result.
- Keep canisters closed after testing.
- Always check the expiration date.
- Older meters might require coding prior to use. Check to see if the machine currently in use needs this.
- Store the meter and strips in a dry, cool area.
- Take the meter and strips into consultations, so that a primary care physician or specialist can check their effectiveness.
A person who is self-monitoring diabetes uses a device called a lancet to prick the skin. While the idea of drawing blood might cause distress for some people, the lancing of the finger to obtain a blood sample should be a gentle, simple procedure.
For Your Takeaway,
While itself is manageable, its complications can severely impact on daily living, and some can be fatal if not treated immediately.
It’s a life-changing condition that requires careful blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle for a person to be able to manage it correctly. There are several different types of disease.
Type I occurs when the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 happens when excess consumption of high-sugar foods flood the blood supply with glucose and reduce the production and effectiveness of insulin.
People can take supplementary insulin to manage the condition and improve glucose absorption. If a person has prediabetes, they can reduce the risk of full diabetes through regular exercise and a balanced, low-sugar diet.
Be that as it may, the complications of being diabetic can be severe, including kidney failure and stroke, so managing the condition is vital.
Having said that, anyone who suspects they may have the condition should visit their doctor. Below are more useful and related topic links.
- jmexclusives: Medical Health & Physical Fitness Research Guides
- Obesity & Overweight — You Are What You Eat!