Diabetes mellitus is a hormonal or metabolic disease. In Diabetes, our body cannot effectively utilize glucose (a type of sugar) which has been taken from the food we eat. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the various cells and tissues (Including our Brain) in our body.
The Insulin is the hormone produced and secreted by the Pancreas (An organ). It is necessary for the effective metabolism and utilization of glucose in our body. It maintains our blood glucose levels within normal.
When we eat food, the glucose (sugar) from the food gets absorbed into the blood from the digestive tract. To metabolize it, Insulin is secreted from the Pancreas (where it is produced, i.e. by Beta cells of Pancreas). It helps in the metabolization & utilization of the sugar from the blood into the different cells and tissues of the body, such as Muscles, Brain, etc. It reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. When the Insulin becomes functionally ineffective (Insulin Resistance) or there is not enough production of it, the body fails to effectively metabolize and utilize the sugar from the blood. It remains high, and when this condition persists, it results in the development of Diabetes mellitus.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DIABETES?
There are two main types of Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2:
In this condition, the Beta cells (Insulin-producing cells) in our Pancreas are damaged; thus, Pancreas make very little or no Insulin. Due to lack of Insulin, the body fails to metabolize and utilize the sugar from the blood as a source of energy. Blood sugar levels remain elevated, causing the development of Diabetes. It is called as Type-1 Diabetes. It usually occurs during the early age of life.
Also known as Adult Onset Diabetes. In this condition, either the hormone Insulin is not produced by the Pancreas in sufficient quantity, or the Insulin which is produced fails to work correctly (Insulin resistance). It leads to the failure in effective metabolism and utilization of the blood sugar. The Blood sugar levels remain high, causing the development of Diabetes mellitus.
WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING TYPE-2 (Most Common) DIABETES?
Anyone having some of the following Risk factors can be at a higher risk of suffering from Type 2 diabetes:
- Family History (Having Parents or Grand-Parents, brother or sister suffering from Diabetes)
- Being Overweight or Obese.
- Apple-shaped Obesity (Visceral fat accumulation/ Excess fat around Waist region).
- Higher age (>45 years) with positive family history.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Lack of sufficient exercise
- Excess alcohol consumption.
- High blood pressure
- Low levels of Good (HDL) Cholesterol
- Higher Triglyceride (Bad cholesterol) levels.
- Chronic stress
- Incorrect food habits e.g.
- Excess intake of food made from Maida (All-purpose flour)
- Excess Intake of Junk food (High amount of Refined Sugar, trans fats and Salt)
- Too much consumption of processed food (High amount of preservatives)
WHY IS DIABETES CONSIDERED TO BE DANGEROUS IF NOT MANAGED PROPERLY? (UNCONTROLLED/POORLY CONTROLLED DIABETES)
When not effectively managed or poorly controlled, diabetes can affect many major organ systems in our body. Which may develop into complications, affecting various organs like, heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.
Although long-term complications associated with diabetes develop gradually, they can eventually be disabling or even life-threatening. Some of the potential complications of diabetes include:
- HEART AND BLOOD VESSEL DISEASE: Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Narrowing of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
- DAMAGE TO THE NERVES (NEUROPATHY), WHICH CAN PRESENT AS:
- Tingling, numbness, burning sensations in the affected limbs.
- Loss of or significantly reduced sensations in the affected limbs.
- Nausea, vomiting and Diarrhoea or Constipation (Damage to the nerves controlling digestion)
- Erectile dysfunction in Men.
Diabetes can sometimes lead to Kidney failure or irreversible damage to the kidneys, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- DAMAGE TO THE EYES: Diabetes increases the risk of severe eye problems or diseases, such as:
- Damage to the blood vessels of the retina
All these problems can potentially lead to blindness.
- SLOW OR DELAYED WOUND HEALING:
Cuts and blisters, Ulcers may heal poorly and can become seriously infected. It can cause severe damage as some times it may lead to the requirement of toe, foot or leg amputation.
Hearing problems are more common in people with Diabetes.
Diabetes increases one’s susceptibility to skin problems, such as bacterial and fungal infections, skin inflammation, irritation, excess pigmentation (Darkening) etc.
- SLEEP APNEA (DIFFICULTY IN BREATHING DURING SLEEP):
Obstructive sleep apnoea is common in people with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Obesity may be the main contributing factor to both conditions. It can cause difficulty in breathing while sleeping, it may affect the quality of sleep as well.
Type-2 Diabetes seems to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, though the exact mechanism is not clear. Through certain studies, it has been found that the poorer the blood sugar control, the greater is the risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- REDUCED IMMUNITY WITH INCREASED RISK OF INFECTIONS, SUCH AS:
- Respiratory tract infections( Frequent cold, cough, chest infections)
- Urinary tract infections
- PAIN AND STIFFNESS IN THE JOINTS.
- SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION & RISK OF INFERTILITY. (BOTH MEN AND WOMEN).
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RELATED TIPS TO CONTROL OR PREVENT TYPE-2 DIABETES MELLITUS
- MONITOR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS CLOSELY:
Monitoring blood sugar levels at regular interval helps in keeping track of the Disease status, i.e. whether it is under control or going out of control. It is essential to keep the blood sugar levels under control to prevent the complications and damage to the vital organs (Heart, Kidneys, Eyes, Nerves).
- REDUCE THE QUANTITY OF REFINED CARBOHYDRATES:
Reduce the quantity of refined carbohydrates such as Table sugar (Sucrose), Sugar-sweetened beverages, Chocolates, Ice creams, White Bread, Maida (Bleached flour) and its products, Mithai, etc. It is essential to prevent frequent spikes in blood sugar levels, especially when one is suffering from Diabetes. It also increases the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is itself a risk factor for developing insulin resistance and suffering from type-2 Diabetes.
- EAT THE RIGHT TYPE OF CARBOHYDRATES:
Carbohydrates are one of the essential dietary components, we cannot avoid them entirely. It necessary to eat more of complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables (Provide a sufficient amount of dietary fibres), whole grains, etc. than eating the refined ones (Maida, Sugar, etc.)
- CHOOSE FOODS HAVING LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX:
The Glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly a food which we have eaten, increases our blood sugar levels. Foods having a low glycaemic index undergoes slow digestion and absorption. It does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial in keeping Diabetes under control. Also, it decreases the chances of developing insulin resistance and that of suffering from Type-2 Diabetes mellitus in those who are at risk. The foods having low glycaemic index are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains, non-polished rice, etc.
- High protein food (meat, egg, fish, pulses, etc.)
- Food containing healthy oil (Olive oil, nuts, Omega-3 rich food)
- INCREASE DIETARY FIBER INTAKE
All types of dietary fibres can slow down the absorption of sugar and fats from food, therefore help in preventing spikes in blood sugar levels (low glycaemic index). It reduces the risk of developing insulin resistance and the chances of suffering from diabetes mellitus.
It also helps in keeping blood glucose levels under control in those who are suffering from Diabetes. It slows down the digestion and provides bulk, which reduces the food intake and prevents weight gain, obesity. Which, otherwise can be an additional risk factor.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Being overweight or obese is associated with excess deposition of fats in our body. Excess body fat creates inflammation which, increases the risk of developing insulin resistance and subsequent chances of suffering from Diabetes mellitus.
In a person suffering from diabetes, obesity can further weaken the action of the hormone insulin and worsen the blood sugar control. It is thus, essential to lose excess fat and maintain healthy body weight.
- LIMIT THE QUANTITY OF FOOD:
Persistent Ooereating is associated with excess caloric consumption, along with an excess of fats and carbohydrates (Mostly refined sugar). It increases the risk of obesity, insulin resistance and subsequent chances of developing Diabetes mellitus.
Excess consumption of refined carbohydrates during frequent overeating increases the chances of Spikes in blood sugar levels and impaired blood sugar control in a Diabetic person.
- DO REGULAR EXERCISE AND AVOID SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
Being active, doing regular exercise (As per one’s capacity and the instruction from a physician if one is diabetic) rather than sitting at one position for far too long can be beneficial in many ways. It helps in losing extra weight and preventing obesity. It also reduces the chances of developing insulin resistance. Sugar from the blood gets effectively utilized by the exercising muscles and tissues as a source of energy, which helps in keeping levels of sugar in the blood within control. Thus, it helps in preventing Diabetes Mellitus.
Not drinking enough water for a long time can lead to chronic dehydration. During chronic dehydration, the body releases certain hormones/chemicals (Vasopressin), which prompts our kidney to retain water by decreasing the volume of urine. Thus it reduces the amount of excess of blood sugar that is removed through the urine.
It also stimulates the liver to produce more Sugar (Glucose) in the body. Both these mechanisms can contribute to a sustained rise in blood sugar levels. It can lead to the risk of developing insulin resistance and further that of suffering from Diabetes Mellitus. Thus, it is vital that we drink sufficient water and keep ourselves hydrated.
Chronic stress induces the secretion of certain chemicals/hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, etc.) in the body, which decreases the secretion of Insulin and raises the levels of blood sugar in the body. There also happens the increased deposition of fatty tissues within the body.
Excess fatty tissues create inflammation and reduce the function of the hormone insulin (Insulin resistance). Thus it either increases the chances of developing Diabetes mellitus in those who are at risk or worsens the blood sugar control in those are already suffering from Diabetes mellitus.
Getting less than a sufficient amount of sleep during the night can make us feel tired. It makes our body to try and get energy by eating the food rich in sugar. It can be responsible for increasing the levels of blood sugar, and risk of weight gain, obesity (excess caloric consumption). It also worsens glucose tolerance due to the development of insulin resistance, which together contributes to the increased risk of Diabetes Mellitus.
- OPTIMIZE VITAMIN-D LEVELS
Optimum vitamin D levels improve the insulin sensitivity in the body, thus, reduce the risk of insulin resistance. The body can optimally metabolize and utilize the sugar, thus keeping the blood sugar levels within control, which reduces the risk of developing Diabetes mellitus
- AVOID EATING JUNK FOOD OR PROCESSED FOOD.
When we overeat junk food or processed food, we are consuming an excess amount of refined carbohydrates, fats and salt. All these ingredients can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity, insulin resistance and subsequent development of Diabetes mellitus or worsen the blood glucose levels in a Diabetic person. It t is thus, advisable to avoid these kinds of foods or at least reduce their quantity and frequency in the regular diet.
- QUIT SMOKING
- AVOID OR AT LEAST REDUCE THE ALCOHOL INTAKE