Imagine that you are at an annual doctor visit and your physician delivers the news: “You have diabetes”.
If your family has a history of diabetics, this information may not come as much of a surprise.
Whether you expected the news or not, I’m sure you’re wondering, “what now?”, and what kind of ramifications you are in for.
Will there be medication involved? Lifestyle changes? Insurance hikes?
All of these are highly possible, but can be managed or avoided altogether. Let's take a look at the causes of diabetes and some ways to prevent and/or get rid of the symptoms altogether.
CAUSES & SYMPTOMS
Diabetes is a condition based on the way your body produces insulin.
There are two different types of Diabetes you can be diagnosed with:
- Type 1
- Type 2
After testing positive, diabetics usually have hemoglobin A1c levels greater than 6.5. A normal level would be under 6.0.
The specific type of Diabetes you are diagnosed with determines your treatment options.
Type 1 Diabetes
A Type 1 diabetic is unable to produce insulin, the hormone that helps your body’s cells use a natural sugar called glucose for energy. Type 1 diabetics experience a range of symptoms such as:
- excessive thirst and hunger
- chronic fatigue
- oftentimes severe weight loss
Weight loss is an interesting symptom since most people associate diabetes with those who are overweight. Type 1 diabetics come in all shapes and sizes.
This particular type of diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease, as the body cannot produce its own insulin.
There is no cure, but there are plenty of ways for a Type 1 diabetic to successfully manage the condition. Aside from taking insulin to help the body regulate its lack-of this hormone, a well-balanced diet, and healthy exercise regime is on the agenda.
Type 1 diabetics are always monitored as diet plays a large part when it comes to blood sugar levels raging through the body. If it gets out of hand, this may lead to the following medical conditions:
- heart attack
- kidney damage
- high blood pressure
- possible loss of vision
Type 2 Diabetes
A Type 2 diabetic’s body produces enough insulin, but is resistant to it.
This means the blood sugars insulin helps to carry through the body, are not moving as efficiently. Because of this, the pancreas, which creates natural insulin, gets a signal to make more and works overtime, eventually causing pancreas cell damage.
Your pancreas then needs to produce even higher levels of insulin in order for sugar, fats and proteins to enter your cells. As long as your pancreas can do this, your blood sugar will be kept in the normal range. However, your cells may get even more resistant to insulin over time. Your poor pancreas has to keep on producing even higher amounts of insulin to keep your blood glucose regulated. In the end, your pancreas will just not be able to keep up anymore, and your blood glucose will rise. This is called pre-diabetes. Some ‘sweet’ facts about insulin and high blood glucose, Star2.com
Type 2 diabetics have to check their blood sugar levels regularly for this reason. Symptoms of potential Type 2 diabetes are strikingly similar to Type 1:
- lack of energy
- blurry vision
- extreme thirst and hunger
- weight loss
Someone who is overweight actually has a higher resistance to insulin, making the risks even greater. If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes there are a number of health issues that could crop up that may include:
- poor circulation
- nerve damage
- kidney failure
Depending on the specific diagnosis, diabetes is very manageable…
….and for Type 2 diabetics, some lifestyle changes can completely regulate the body!
For both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, medications are offered, but you can do much more to help yourself.
Finally, lean muscle mass can help reverse insulin resistance, the body’s ability to process excess glucose in the bloodstream. More insulin in the blood causes a rise in blood sugar, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Lean muscle mass counteracts this process so the body can efficiently rid the bloodstream of excess insulin. 5 reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss, Philly.com
In general, exercise is a huge factor. It's recommended that a diabetic take at least thirty minutes each day to exercise at a moderate intensity.
This is as easy as walking around on your lunch break, a viable option for virtually everyone.
Exercise & Eating Can't Be Underestimated
It is amazing what a little movement can do for your health! But that’s not all!
Since a Type 2 diabetics’ body is insulin resistant, it tries to create sugars when none can be found naturally. It does this by turning carbohydrates into sugar as they are consumed, causing blood sugar levels to spike.
Therefore, it is commonly suggested that diabetics cut back on carbohydrate consumption and focus instead on healthy fats, such as avocados, and omega-3 fatty acids from sources like tuna fish.
The body does need carbs, but instead of bread and pastas, diabetics should rely on beans and vegetables that provide higher levels of fiber.
In the end, diet and exercise continue to cure a multitude of ills.
You're More In Control Than You Know
There are many conditions that exist today that cannot be controlled or eliminated, no matter how many medications you take, miles you run, or healthy foods you eat.
Diabetes, however, does not have to be a lifelong battle or financial worry. That is, if you get it under control. Life insurance companies, for example, reward those with lower rates who have A1c levels under 7.0.
Managing diabetes by seriously complying with doctor’s orders for lifestyle changes and medication pays off. Diabetes is one of the most common diagnoses today, but it is one of the most treatable. If I said that you can vastly improve your quality of life, wouldn’t you?
About the Author: Alyson Monaco
Alyson Monaco is a professional dancer by trade, performing, teaching, and choreographing out of her home base of New Jersey.
A former dance major at the Boston Conservatory, her love of how the body moves lead her to become a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor through AFAA.
She is currently pursuing her teaching certification in dance. Alyson loves working one on one with people of all ages and ability, and truly enjoys helping people find a better quality of life.