What is diabetes?
When the blood sugar (glucose) level is above normal – above 126 mg/dL on an empty stomach – then we talk about diabetes. Sugar is “energy” for the body and insulin, a substance secreted by the pancreas, helps this energy reach the cells so that they can perform their functions. But sometimes the body doesn’t make enough insulin and glucose stays in the blood and doesn’t reach the cells.
What causes Diabetes?
In the case of type 1 diabetes, it is an autoimmune disease, that is, it is the body that acts against itself. In the case of the most common diabetes, type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus, it is the result of unhealthy habits, mainly due to unbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyles.
Is it dangerous to have diabetes?
If the disease is not controlled, it can trigger serious health problems, leading to kidney failure, heart problems, vision problems, memory disorders…. So, even if there is no cure, it is important to detect it early and treat it. Even so, it is estimated that 14% of people suffer from it without being aware of it.
TYPE 1 DIABETES: more common in children and young people
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin and must be given so that the body can get the energy it needs. Why don’t you produce it? Because the cells of the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed by autoantibodies. It is not as common as type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus and is more common in children and young people.
TYPE 2 DIABETES: the most common
Type II diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is the result of an unbalanced diet in which too many calories have been consumed over the years that has led the body to have “insulin resistance”, meaning that it is not that the body does not produce insulin, but that it is not used properly because it has lost its effectiveness. Therefore, it is more common in obese people of a certain age.
It occurs only during gestation, in the second or third trimester, rarely in the first, and disappears after delivery. The placenta produces a hormone, the placental fetus, that raises blood glucose levels above normal. It can be controlled by following an appropriate diet and, in some cases, by taking medication or insulin. It is important to treat it because it can make the baby larger than normal and make labor difficult. In addition, having had gestational diabetes predisposes you to developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
12 Symptoms to recognize diabetes
1- The smell of your Breath
One of the symptoms of diabetes is that bad-smelling, “fruity” breath can be a symptom of diabetes. It happens because if the body cannot use sugar as a “gasoline”, it turns to fat and because of this, substances from the fat metabolism – ketoses – accumulate in the body, which tries to release them through breathing, giving rise to this smell like fruit.
2- Being more tired than usual
If doing the same activity as always makes you feel more tired, suspect. By not being able to turn blood sugar into energy, the person with diabetes is often more tired and any extra effort can take his or her breath away. Anyway, don’t be afraid, it can also be spring asthenia and in this case you can recover your energy more easily.
3- Uncontrolled hunger feeling
Isn’t there anything to calm your hunger? Don’t you ever feel full? Since insulin does not play its role, the cells do not take advantage of glucose and the brain interprets that they need more energy and therefore sends out hunger signals to get this energy.
4- Peeing more often
It’s another warning that something is wrong and you may have diabetes. The urge to urinate is often due to the kidney working too hard to eliminate excess blood sugar through urination.
5- Stomach problems
When the blood sugar level is too high, it can eventually slow the nerve that controls the movement of food in the stomach. This can lead to digestive problems such as heartburn.
6- Losing weight without a reason
If you eat as usual and do the same exercise as always and lose weight it can also be due to undiagnosed diabetes. It can happen because the body, when trying to eliminate excess sugar, ends up getting rid of more than the necessary amount. Also, because the body cannot use this sugar as fuel, it “attacks the muscle” and uses it as energy, which also causes weight loss.
7- Feeling thirsty all the time
Because excess sugar in the blood makes the kidneys work harder to get glucose out of the urine, the body becomes dehydrated and needs frequent fluid replenishment.
8- Changes in your nails
Nails say a lot about our health. Another symptom of diabetes is that if they break along the edges or even break off, be alert. They are due to fungal infections, which are more likely to occur in people with diabetes.
9- Frequent infections
Repeated candidiasis can lead to suspicion of diabetes, since people with it often have more fungal infections, and candidiasis is caused by a fungus, Candida albicans.
10- Blurred vision
It’s another sign to watch out for because when blood sugar stays high for an extended period of time, it can cause vision problems. The crystalline lens, the elastic tissue whose function is to focus, is filled with water due to the effect of high glucose levels. In fact, uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes can lead to blindness.
11- Light headedness when getting up
Among the many reasons you may experience dizziness when you get up, one is diabetes. Diabetes is closely related to problems with blood pressure regulation, so when you get up, you may experience a drop in blood pressure and feel dizzy. Or on the contrary, at other times, it is the rise in pressure that causes dizziness. If you have pressure problems, there are natural ways to control it.
12- Dry skin
Because of diabetes, the body removes more fluid than usual, causing the skin to become dehydrated. In addition, it also causes the skin to lose its sensitivity, so that people who suffer from it can burn more easily when they do not perceive heat or cold well, for example. To take care of her, in addition to controlling the disease, don’t forget these tips.
How diabetes is diagnosed?
The blood test is the test that helps certify whether having any of the above symptoms is due to diabetes. If, after having a fasting blood test, the values are between 100 and 125 mg/dl, we are talking about pre-diabetes – that is, we must take care of ourselves because we are on the verge of suffering from diabetes – and more than 126 mg/dl is already diabetes.
Controlling diabetes with your diet
In type 2 diabetes, which can be controlled with diet and exercise, you need to control what you eat and how much you eat, because not only do you need to make sure that your food doesn’t raise your blood sugar level, but it can also help you get rid of extra pounds.
Carbohydrates, the sugar in food. In the diet we must prioritize the complex hydrates – bread, pasta, wholemeal rice… – that release their sugar in a sustained way in the blood without giving rise to glucose peaks; and avoid or moderate the consumption of simple hydrates -additional sugar, sweets, buns, sugary drinks, certain precooked food… – that do suddenly release their sugar into the blood, causing the glucose to rise sharply.
The best foods to control diabetes:
- Pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans, beans, soybeans and derivatives…)
- Whole grains (oats, barley, rye…)
- Nuts and seeds, fruit (especially citrus fruits and berries)
- Vegetables (especially cabbages, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes or peppers)
- Dairy products
When there is obesity, the first thing to do is to lose excess weight. The plate method designed by Harvard University (USA) can help. In addition, it is important to avoid simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, sweets, buns… that cause blood sugar to rise sharply. It is preferable to consume complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread, pasta or rice, which release your blood sugar slowly and steadily, without spikes.
Managing diabetes with exercise
Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. In addition to regular exercise, an active lifestyle is essential.
More than a specific sport, what is recommended is to exercise regularly, the one that the person likes the most, so that it is constant. And, in addition, to lead an active life in general, going up and down stairs, walking more than going by car or public transport, etc.
For example, there are programmes to implement the 10,000 steps per day initiative, i.e. to encourage people with diabetes or pre-diabetes to wear a pedometer and walk at least this number of steps. This is based on a study by Arizona State University (USA) that has shown that walking between 10,000 and 12,000 steps a day is effective in controlling blood glucose levels.
When diabetes needs medical treatment?
Type 1 diabetes must be controlled through the administration of insulin. Type 2 diabetes may also need to be treated with insulin or oral medications if diet and exercise fail to balance it. Drugs commonly used in type 2 diabetes include incretin, which stimulates insulin secretion and lowers the risk of hypoglycemia.
Consequences of diabetes can be dangerous
Diabetes affects essential organs such as the kidneys, heart, nervous system or eyesight, so if the disease is not diagnosed and treated properly, it can lead to kidney failure, cardiovascular problems, memory disorders….. and seriously affect the quality of life of those who suffer from it. To give just one example, diabetes accounts for more than 80% of retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness in the Western world.