Diabetes mellitus, popularly known as diabetes is simply a disorder of high blood sugar. Control of blood sugar is done by the secretion of the hormone insulin by the pancreas. The number of diabetic patients increases every year with an estimate of 422 million worldwide by 2016.
There are four classes of diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes is when the immune system attacks and destroys cells of the pancreas. This is also known as an autoimmune disease.
- Type 2 diabetes is when there is insulin resistance, so the body becomes insensitive to the hormone which causes increased blood sugar.
- Prediabetes is a condition when there’s high blood sugar but not enough to cause type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes is when pregnant women suffering from diabetes have high blood sugar. This is due to production of insulin-blocking hormones by the placenta.
The different types of diabetes produce similar symptoms such as
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Sores that don’t heal
Although in men also diabetes can affect the reproductive system such as erectile dysfunction.
The cause of diabetes can be genetic, environmental or a combination of both. Although we can’t change our genetic condition, we can change our environmental condition as early as possible. Neglect of this results in complications such as damage to blood vessels, diabetic retinopathy which affects the retina and diabetic nephropathy which affects the kidneys.
Some of the ways of controlling diabetes are
- Reduction of sugary foods in the diet. Intake of too much sugar results the production of increased levels of insulin as the pancreas tries making a balance in the blood sugar level. However, too much of sugar and insulin levels can result to type 2 diabetes.
- Regular exercise. Many types of physical activities have been found to reduce in obese and diabetic patients. This is due to increased sensitivity to insulin resulting in lower levels of the hormone to keep blood sugar under control. Exercise needs more energy which comes from breakdown of carbohydrates. Therefore, cells will be more sensitive to insulin for faster release of energy.
- Drinking more water and reduction of sugary drinks. As with sugary foods, many drinks like soda increase blood sugar levels. However, avoidance of such beverages and more consumption of water can help in maintaining blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Losing excess weight. Many overweight and obese people have health complications including diabetes. Choosing a suitable diet plan such as low-carb and vegetarian diets is the key to maintaining weight loss.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has been linked to many health conditions including cancer and heart disease. However, people who stopped smoking have been found to be healthier than those who continued to smoke.
- Adding herbs to your diet. Natural herbs have been found to aid in increasing insulin sensitivity and thereby controlling blood sugar. An example is of curcumin which is a component of turmeric powder that is used in food. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties prescribed by Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine. Another example is the dried sap of the aloe vera plant which has been used in Arabia to treat diabetes.
In summary, the changing of our diet and lifestyle is the key for reducing the incidence of diabetes. This should be done as soon as one is diagnosed with the condition. Otherwise in the long run, you will need to be taking medicines or injections which no one likes.
Garima Nabh is the founder of New Age Magazine.