Diabetes Risks & Symptoms

India is the ‘diabetes capital of the world’.

How many times have you heard this line? Although India is not the diabetes capital of the world – China is – we are getting there. As things stand today, India could dismantle China as the diabetes capital of the world over time. So it is important to understand diabetes and its harmful effects on your lifestyle and learn how you can prevent it from striking you and your loved ones.

What is Diabetes?

Put simply diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.

What are its most common symptoms?

Diabetics typically experience frequent urination and higher levels of thirst and hunger.

Relation between insulin and diabetes

Diabetes has a lot to do with the fact that the insulin in the body does not function like it should.

Insulin’s primary function is to keep sugar level in the bloodstream within a normal range. After you eat, carbohydrates from the food break down into sugar and enter the bloodstream in the form of glucose. Glucose as you know is a sugar that serves as a primary source of energy. Under normal circumstances the pancreas responds by producing insulin, which regulates the sugar level.

When body does not produce insulin in the required measure, diabetes sets in.

Types of diabetes

There are mainly two types of diabetes based on the levels of insulin in the body.

  • Type 1 Diabetes - the body does not produce insulin. Approximately 10% of all diabetics are type 1. This strikes early, often in early adulthood or teenage years.
  • Type 2 Diabetes - the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. Approximately 90% of diabetics worldwide are of type 2.

What diabetes means to your body?

Complications linked to badly controlled diabetes include:

  • Eye complications - glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy among others
  • Foot complications - neuropathy, ulcers, and even gangrene which could lead to foot amputation
  • Skin complications - skin infections and skin disorders
  • Heart problems - such as ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced
  • Hypertension - which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke
  • Mental health – higher risk of depression, anxiety and certain other mental disorders
  • Hearing loss
  • Gum disease
  • Stroke
  • Male impotence
  • Higher risk of infections
  • Wounds take longer to heal

How to control diabetes

While diabetes is bad news, the good news is diabetes – both types – can be controlled.

Here are simple steps to go one up on diabetes:

  1. Weight control – obesity or excess weight is the biggest cause of type 2 diabetes. It increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven fold. It makes you 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight. Losing 7-10% of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.

  2. Get moving – you don’t need long and intense bouts of exercise to rein in diabetes. Just brisk walking most days of the week can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes considerably. Greater cardiovascular and other advantages can be attained by more, and more intense, exercise.

  3. Diet – minor changes to the diet can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

    a. Go for whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed foods like wheat bread, white rice and bakery products

    b. Avoid the sugary, cola-based drinks, and instead choose tea, coffee or just water c. Choose good fats found in liquid, vegetable oils, seeds and nuts since they can control type 2 diabetes and avoid bad fats or trans fat found in bakery products, fried foods and fast food.

    d. Restrict red meat and avoid processed meat, instead go for poultry, or fish

  4. Quit smoking – smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes. There are other dangers of smoking – mainly risk of cancer among others. Ill effects of smoking are widely publicized and should be avoided to promote general well-being of self and family.

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