WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is one of the biggest disease epidemics sweeping the world. By the year 2020, there will be over 280 million diabetics in the world. China,India and the US are the countries with the highest number of diabetics. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that is brought on by the excessive intake of calories and a lazy or sedentary lifestyle (a lifestyle without much exercise).
Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to use the glucose that is obtained from your meal, successfully. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in your pancreas (an organ that is located behind your stomach). There are cells in the pancreas called beta cells which produce the insulin. Insulin enables your cells to transport glucose from your blood into your cells. Every cell in your body needs glucose to make energy which is used by the cell to carry out its function.
When your pancreas fails to make enough insulin, or the cells cannot use the insulin effectively (a condition called INSULIN RESISTANCE), glucose cannot be effectively transported into the cells. This sustained high level of blood glucose over weeks and months is what gives the symptoms of diabetes.
Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle play a very important role in managing diabetes.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are 2 major types of diabetes – each caused by a different mechanism. Type 1 diabetes occurs in childhood or teenage years and is due to failure of the beta cells in the pancreas to make insulin. This type of diabetes requires insulin replacement a few times daily – this is life saving. The person Glucofort with Type 1 Diabetes must be on insulin for life.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when there is an overload of glucose coming into the body. This is usually from overeating foods that release glucose into the blood stream rapidly (high glycemic index foods). The type of foods that cause and aggravate diabetes are mainly carbohydrates or starches. Being overweight, not exercising and eating large amounts of starchy or carbohydrate rich foods can cause and aggravate diabetes.
There is a genetic pattern that runs in certain families that predisposes you to developing diabetes. However, it is your life style and selection of foods that brings on the diabetes earlier.
There is a 3rd type of diabetes that is due to the immune system destroying the beta cells of the pancreas. This is an autoimmune type of diabetes and has to be managed with insulin.
The 1st step in managing your diabetes easily is to know which type of diabetes you have. Type 1 diabetes will need insulin if you are to survive. Your doctor will guide you as to how many units of insulin you need to take and how often. Insulin is given as an injection, usually in the abdominal wall or thigh. Diet and exercise are crucial in Type 1 diabetes.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, a low GI (glycaemic index) diet is essential. Two types of medication are available that can be taken orally, if your doctor recommends them. The first class of drug (Metformin) improves the insulin resistance in your cells. Excessive fat accumulated around the organs in your abdomen is one of the biggest causes of insulin resistance and your diabetes not improving.
The second class of drug (Sulphonylureas) helps increase the secretion of insulin from your pancreas. Sometimes both drugs are needed in some diabetics. Your doctor will know when to add this second class of drug.
As you get older, you lose more beta cells in the pancreas (apoptosis or natural cell death with aging). The oral drug treatment may now not be enough and insulin may have to be started. You should not be afraid of starting insulin treatment as it can improve your control of the diabetes.
THE NEED FOR GAINING BETTER CONTROL OVER YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
When blood sugar levels are persistently high in diabetes, the excessive blood glucose behaves like a toxin and begins to damage the inner lining (endothelium) of the arterial blood vessels causing plaque formation and a blockage to the oxygen bearing circulation. The tissue in the end organs that these blood vessels supply become deprived of oxygen and degenerate and malfunction. The end organs that are most affected by diabetes through this process are the kidneys, the heart, the eyes, the brain, the nerves of the body and the feet.