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WHAT IS DIABETES ?

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WILL YOU BE ONE OF THOSE DESTROYED BY DIABETES ?

Diabetes is one of the biggest disease epidemics sweeping the world. By the year 2020, there will be over 480 million diabetics in the world with another 280 million pre-diabetics who do not know they will get the disease in the near future.  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 carbohydrates and sugar and a lazy or sedentary lifestyle (a lifestyle without much exercise).

The Indian community in South Africa has the highest incidence of Diabetes among all race groups. The genetic factor is massive and if you come from a family that has diabetes, you must get yourself screened to know well in advance whether you are prone to diabetes.

The dietary and lifestyle habits of Indians makes them more prone to expressing the diabetes gene and developing diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to successfully use the glucose that is obtained from your meal. 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 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.

DIABETES MANAGEMENT / TREATMENT

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 carbohydrate/ no sugar 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.

When these organs become damaged from the lack of oxygen due to blockage of the small blood vessels as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, serious complications arise. You want to avoid these serious and life threatening complications by learning how to easily control your blood glucose level.

Be aware that intense stress from whatever reason can cause your blood sugar level to go out of control. Infections anywhere in your body can cause your diabetes to rapidly spiral out of control. An often missed infection that may be causing your poor diabetes control could be a tooth or gum infection.

You must be aware that your blood sugar can go very low (hypoglycaemia) – this often happens in Type 1 diabetes, but can occasionally happen in Type 2 diabetes. An out of control diabetes most often means that your blood sugar level is very high (hyperglycaemia).

KNOWING THE FOODS THAT CAUSE YOUR DIABETES TO GO OUT OF CONTROL

Excessive intake of carbohydrates is the main cause of poor control of diabetes. Carbohydrates are starches such as bread, rice, potatoes, pastas, cereals, biscuits, pumpkin, squashes and butternut. Beer is very high in carbohydrates as is all alcohol.

Food high in glucose, such as drinks with high amounts of sugar (fizzy drinks), fruit juices, cooked carrots and beetroot can also cause the blood sugar to go up rapidly.

A low carbohydrate (avoiding refined carbohydrates) and medium fat ( olive oil, coconut oil, butter, butter ghee) is the starting point of your gaining control of your diabetes. Non-grain bread (cauliflower bread is now available to assist diabetics in their diet).

IGNORANCE AND DENIAL ARE THE BIGGEST REASONS WHY DIABETICS FAIL TO CONTROL THEIR BLOOD SUGAR

To gain easy control over your diabetes, you must invest some time in understanding the various aspects of what and why you must do certain things, in your lifestyle, diet and exercise routine. Just knowing what to do in managing your diabetes, with the assistance of your doctor, can easily bring your diabetes under control.

NUTRIENTS THAT CAN HELP REDUCE THE DAMAGE FROM DIABETES

Uncontrolled diabetes causes massive inflammation in the body – especially in the lining of your blood vessels. Cholesterol is deposited in these injured areas leading to eventual narrowing of the arteries. Target organs such as the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys and feet / nerves become damaged by narrowing and eventual occlusion of these small blood vessels.

There are nutrients available today that can stem the horrific destruction of diabetes whilst you are getting your blood sugar under control. Lipotropic nutrients such as Choline and Inositol regulate the cholesterol metabolism. These nutrients are available in a formula called Lipotropic Adjunct. Lipotropic nutrients prevent the narrowing of small blood vessels by cholesterol.

Carotenoid complexes (found in coloured fruit and vegetables – carrots, red, yellow and green bell peppers, peaches and apricots) prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the blood, preventing the damaged cholesterol from becoming plaque in the arteries.

Omega 3 Salmon oil (there are 8 types of molecules of omega 3) behaves as a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient in the body.

These nutrients can be safely added to your management routine and can vastly improve the quality of life of a diabetic.

It is absolutely important that diabetics (and pre-diabetics) invest time in gaining a clear understanding of what diabetes is about and how to manage it successfully.

 

 

 

 

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