Diabetes (high blood sugar) is fast becoming an epidemic in India and in other developing countries. The reason being, lack of education on food and health issues and the fast pace of urban life.
What is diabetes? It is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin to convert accumulated sugar and carbohydrates from the food eaten into energy. Energy is required by the body to keep functioning all the time.
In a normal body all systems work like clockwork to maintain a working balance.Malfunction of any one organ leads to ailments, diseases or disorders. In case of Diabetes ,the pancreas is affected and does not produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone which processes the sugars and converts them into energy to keep the body functional normally.
Diabetes is classified into three groups
Diabetes Mellitus Type I– This usually occurs at a very young age and heredity is the main cause. The insulin producing cells are destroyed by the body’s immune system. This type can be treated effectively over a long period of time.
Diabetes Mellitus type II- This type of diabetes can occur at any age. Lifestyle is the biggest cause. Excessive consumption of certain medicines can also cause diabetes. This condition can be treated and also reversed.
Gestational Diabetes- This type of diabetes affects pregnant women. If not controlled, this could have long term effects on the mother and the foetus.
Uncontrolled Diabetes can cause serious complications. It affects the eyes causing loss of vision which if not treated in time can be irreversible.
Functioning of the kidneys gets impaired leading to nephrological complications.
Blood vessels can get clogged with plaque formed by accumulated sugar. This impairs blood circulation and can cause a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Symptoms of Diabetes:
- Excessive thirst: Despite normal intake of liquids one feels very thirsty
- Frequent urination: Going to the bathroom more times than normal
- Fatigue: Being tired or lethargic without any activity or reason
- Hunger: The urge for food despite having regular and normal meals
If you experience any of the above symptoms it is time to take diabetes control and get diagnostic checks for glucose and high blood sugar levels
Diabetes risk factors are:
Obesity: Being over the limit of BMI (body mass index) is a sure sign of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Bad food habits, sedentary lifestyle and obesity in the family are sure signals for diabetes control
Lifestyle: Sedentary lifestyle where body movement is nil or very restricted, no exercise and an unhealthy diet are warning signals of possible diabetes
Heredity: This is one factor a person has no control over. If diabetes is inherited then the best option is to have regular check-ups and monitor glucose levels especially if warning signals are absent or undetected.
Anyone with atleast one of the above should, without delay, contact a healthcare specialist or diabetologist or a reputed sugar clinic for assessment and medication if required.
How to control diabetes: If you have not yet visited a healthcare professional as yet, the first thing to do would be—
- Change the lifestyle: If you are modern day professional who is always on the go-change the lifestyle. Find time for exercise and change eating habits towards a balanced and healthy diet
- More physical exercise: Even if you have a hectic work schedule take atleast 3-5 breaks of 10 minutes in intervals to exercise the body
- Balanced and controlled diet- Avoid “added sugar” foods and drinks like Tetra packs which say sugar added, tea, coffee, packaged food
- Control stress: A little bit of breathing exercises and a good night’s sleep is the best way to avoid stress. Stress is also a cause of high sugar levels
- Regular health checks: This is very important especially if you have even one diabetic family member
- Quit smoking and alcohol: Alcohol has a lot of sugar. So beware. Smoking can cause blockage of arteries leading to stroke and other cardiovascular problems
- Monitored fasting: It is good to fast intermittently to detox but it should be
monitored by an expert
- Surgery: It is the last and least used option for diabetes and obesity
Never ever give up Diabetes control. It can be treated and in a lot of cases can be reversed. With a little shift towards a healthy lifestyle, about half an hour of exercise, healthy food as against junk or packaged foods, you can live a happy and healthy life. Of course high medical costs are also reduced significantly