There are two major forms of diabetes. They are type-1 diabetes also known as “juvenile onset” diabetes and type-2 also known as “adult onset” diabetes. Type-1 diabetes is so called because the symptoms develop mostly in childhood or infancy whereas for type-2 diabetes they surface mostly around middle age.
Both are related to the body’s inability to properly make use of the sugar in the blood resulting in high blood sugar levels. However the causes are different and symptoms can be quite different too.
In type-1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are damaged or destroyed resulting in a lack of or no insulin production. The glucose in the blood cannot get into the cells without insulin and blood sugar level rises. It is also called insulin dependent diabetes as the individual requires daily doses of insulin delivered by injections to stay alive. In type-2 diabetes most of the time the problem is not due to a lack of insulin but rather our body’s cells becoming resistant to insulin. The insulin is there but the body’s cells do not allow glucose in to blood to get in. This is why it is also called non-insulin dependent diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its only function is to get glucose in the blood into our cells for energy production.
After we eat a meal, blood sugar rises. The pancreas is signaled to release insulin. Insulin helps to get glucose into the cells. When blood sugar drops, insulin production is shut off.
Our modern day diet is laden with simple processed carbohydrates, sugar and fats. And physical exertion is mostly optional. Our body cannot cope with all these carbohydrates, sugar and fats and our sugar control system goes out of whack. The lack of exercise makes thing worst. Our cells become insulin resistant and blood sugar goes up.
In type-2 diabetes there is generally no problem with insulin production. Rather most of the time it is the cells not interacting with insulin. This lack of insulin sensitivity is further demonstrated by the fact that type-2 diabetes when given insulin injections do not respond to it.
Note that our forefather’s diet consisted mainly of unprocessed grains and cereals, unrefined floor and molasses. They were also more physically active. Diabetes and pre-diabetes were hardly prevalent then.
There is a solid genetic connection with type-2 diabetes. In about 85 percent of the cases, there is a family history of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Most people who have type-2 diabetes develop pre-diabetes first.
Very often, type-2 diabetes has none of the classic symptoms of type-1 diabetes like frequent urination, extreme thirst or weight loss (without trying). Most of the time, it is discovered during a routine laboratory blood or urine test.
Type-2 diabetes patient is typically overweight, middle aged and lead an inactive lifestyle. If the profile fits you and you have a family history of diabetes, you should get tested.
If you are pre-diabetic, meaning that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be termed diabetic, there is a good chance of reversal if you can lose some weight, change your diet and get adequate exercise.
Even if you are a diabetic, there is much you can do to control blood sugar level with some weight loss, proper diet and exercise.
It is important to treat or control diabetes as elevated blood sugar can lead to long term complications involving the heart, eye, kidneys, blood pressure, neurology and infections.
Here is what you should do to treat type-2 diabetes.
Plan your diet. Consume food with low glycemic index. This will help to even out sugar levels in your blood. Get adequate exercise. Exercise not only increases your cells insulin sensitivity but it can also directly lower your glucose blood level. Lose some weight if you are overweight. Try to achieve a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 20 and 25. Check your waist line. It should not excess 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 25 inches (88 cm) for women. Do not smoke. Take special care of your feet and get an eye text every year. Manage your stress and drink plenty of water.
Check with your doctor. If necessary ask him to prescribe some diabetes medication.
Follow these guidelines and it can go a long way in managing your diabetes and limiting the complications associated with this disease.