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At first, diabetes may seem like a life-altering condition but research has proven that with the right kind of diabetes medication, healthy nutrition and regular physical activity, most people with diabetes can live a healthy life. You can start by introducing some kind of physical activity, if not every day, then at least a few times a week. Some experts say that even losing 5 to 10 percent of weight can reduce blood sugar levels drastically. It can also help with your energy levels, mood and general wellbeing.
So, What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus (DM) commonly referred to as Diabetes, is a long-term condition that occurs when the pancreas do not secrete enough insulin or when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. In either case, the blood sugar cannot get into the cells for storage, which then leads to serious complications. Diabetes, if left untreated, can be the cause of other threatening problems like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.
To determine whether you've got diabetes or not, it's best to get a glucose test. The test readings can be analysed for samples taken before meals and after meals (at least 90 minutes after). A non-diabetic's blood glucose should be around 4.0 to 5.9 mmol/L (fasting) and under 7.8 mmol/L (after a meal). The blood glucose levels of someone suffering from Type 2 diabetes would be 4 to 7 mmol/L before meal and under 8.5 mmol/L after meals. Someone with Type 1 diabetes will have the reading 4 to 7 mmol/L before meal and 5 to 9 mmol/L after meal.
Causes of Diabetes
Diabetes is much more common now than in the past and according to researchers, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are two of the biggest contributors to this condition. You may even have inherited a genetic disposition to diabetes which could have been aggravated by obesity or any other factors. Sometimes, it could also work in reverse: a serious medical condition like a heart attack could trigger diabetes. Research also indicates that sometimes the drugs you take as treatment for an existing medical condition could precipitate diabetes as an unwanted side effect or worsen your existing diabetic condition.
10 Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes are more dramatic in patients with Type 1 diabetes and often subtle in those with Type 2 diabetes. Even if the condition can be diagnosed through its symptoms, there's no way to establish how long you've had it. Its diagnosis can vary with age: in the case of middle age adults it might be diagnosed as part of a routine examination, whereas in children, it's far more prominent and easy to catch.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), some of the common signs and symptoms of diabetes are:
1. Frequent urination
3. Increased hunger
6. Inability to concentrate
7. Blurry vision
8. Frequent infections
9. Slow healing wounds
10. Vomiting, stomach pain
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common kinds of diabetes but there is also a third kind known as gestational diabetes which affects women during pregnancy.
1. Type 1 Diabetes
Also known as insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, basically those under the age of 40. Type 1 diabetes can be inherited or can be brought on by a virus or triggered by environmental changes. It can be managed with the help of a good diet and insulin injections.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Around 90% of all diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes, a condition where the body doesn't produce enough insulin or resists it. It's mostly found in people over the age of 40 and is really difficult to diagnose without a blood test. Experts say that in a patient with Type 2 diabetes, glucose levels have been usually elevated for 5 to 10 years before the diagnosis is first made. This could be because you ate too much sugar over time which sent your pancreas into overdrive, eventually taking a toll. Women who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are also very likely to develop Type 2 diabetes with age. Certain kinds of medication can also cause Type 2 diabetes by making the body more resistant to the effects of insulin. It is a progressive illness and while some of its symptoms can be controlled with a good diet and regular exercise, medical treatment should not be ruled out.
A diabetes diet depends on which type of diabetes you're suffering from, yes, but it also depends from person to person. However, here are a few tips and foods that apply to all.
1. Eat foods that are high in fiber and low in calories. Avoid sugar-laden foods, processed foods, desserts, packaged cereals and basically everything unhealthy.
2. According to researchers, it's important for diabetics to cut refined carbohydrates from their diet. So choose brown bread over white bread, whole wheat pasta over regular pasta, low-bran cereal instead of corn flakes, brown rice over white rice, etc.
3. It's important to add fruits to your diet since they are rich in fiber, minerals and many essential vitamins. Note: Do not eat too many fruits because some are rich in carbohydrates and sugar. Kiwi, banana, avocado, black jamun, papaya, guava, orange, watermelon and pomegranate are some of the best fruits recommended for diabetics.
4. Include adequate amounts of protein in your diet such as beans, chicken, fish, nuts, yogurt etc.
5. Eat dessert in-between meals instead of after them. If you eat your dessert right after your meal, you're adding to the carbohydrates you just ate which might send your system into overdrive. However, if you eat them in the evening or around noon you're spacing out the carbs you consume. Note: Don't use full-fat milk if you're preparing sweets at home. Also, replace sugar with natural sweeteners such as jaggery and dates.
6. Switch to healthier cooking oils like olive oil instead of vegetable oil or butter. Eat more nuts instead of chips or deep-fried snacks.
7. Portion control is key. Don't skip meals, especially not your breakfast because it will drop your blood sugar levels and make you feel weak. Eat smaller meals but increase the frequency, say 6 small meals a day.
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