The face of diabetes is young and old. It spans across the world and affects every race and gender. It has probably affected someone we know, even ourselves. To date, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are treatments that allow people to live normal, healthy lives.
When our pancreas is functioning normally, insulin is released when glucose levels increase in the blood stream. Insulin’s function is to trigger glucose to be taken into the body’s cells. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas ceases to make insulin or the body’s cells no longer respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas.
Diabetes is broken down into two types, type I and type II. It has a wide range of severity spanning from insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) to insulin dependence. There is no doubt we need a cure for diabetes and research is constantly being conducted. Stem cell and Islet cell transplantation show promise, but nothing is proven yet. In the meantime, there are treatments and medications that can help manage the disease.
Type I diabetes usually affects people in childhood or early adulthood. It can even be caused by a minor virus which causes the body’s immune system to overreact, attack the pancreas and destroy it. No pancreas, no insulin; which means insulin must be injected into the body to manage blood sugar levels. Symptoms of type I diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst and weight loss.
Insulin resistance means that a person’s cells do not respond to a normal level of insulin produced by the pancreas. With decreased response to insulin, less glucose is taken into cells leaving excess glucose in the bloodstream. There are oral medications that decrease insulin resistance, so talk to your doctor if you have concerns of insulin resistance.
Type II diabetes usually affects adults struggling with obesity and starts with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. The symptoms of insulin resistance are increased blood glucose, drowsiness after meals, bloating, weight gain and increased appetite. Many of us can say ‘yes’ to these symptoms…especially during the holidays!
How do you know if you are at risk? The high risks for diabetes sound like a broken record for multiple diseases. High blood pressure, excess weight, smoking, lack of exercise and poor eating habits all increase your risk for diabetes. By now we all know this, but sometimes life gets in the way, right?
There is no magic trick to diabetes prevention, it’s the same formula we hear all the time. Watch what you eat and exercise. A few suggestions are: plan meals ahead of time, pack a healthy lunch, keep healthy snacks handy, take the stairs, take a walk, you can even park your car on the far side of the parking lot to get in some extra steps. Studies show even a small amount of weight loss goes a long way toward prevention. Every little bit helps! If you are interested in losing weight to lower your risk for diabetes, the Healthy Me program at The Woman's Clinic may be just what you need. Contact us today!