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Saturday, April 23, 2011

BM#4 ~ Diabetes Basics

The first time I came to know about the implications of Diabetes was probably when I was 9 or 10. An acquaintance in the neighborhood had passed away leaving behind his wife and young kids. He had diabetes, but still would sneak away in the evenings to relish on junk food and badly managed his health. As a consequence, he lost the battle to a silent killer. Later I wondered many times that why he chose food over his family. Was he oblivious to the diabetes complications or did he take them lightly or did not his doctor guide him properly? I didn't know the answers for those questions and I never would know but the incident remained etched in my memory since I learnt that day that diabetes can kill if not controlled.
That was more than two decades ago. Then, people had little knowledge about the chronic diseases like diabetes, blood pressure and heart related problems. People thought that those diseases struck only old people or the ones with a family history.
Fast forward, we now live in a stressful and obese world that the chronic diseases have become a 'norm' of the period. Millions are living, diagnosed with chronic diseases worldwide and many more with illness doesn't even know that they have the disease. It is hard to find a person who is not affected by these diseases at some level. They have become so common that we have been seeing that either a loved one in the family or friend circle is coping with a chronic disease. That should compel us to learn more about the diseases to take better care of our healths and ourselves. However unfortunately, many still remain ignorant about these life threatening illnesses.

Srivalli chose one of the themes during this BM#4 as Diabetic management / diet and I chose that one for this week's marathon.
The other bloggers participating are
Diabetes Diet/Management: Kamalika, Smitha
Kid Friendly Recipes: Anusha, Cool Lassi(e)
Seven Days of Soup: Priya Suresh
Seven Days of Indian Bread: Jayasree, Pavani
Seven Days of Cakes:  Priya Vasu
Seven Days of Preserves: Gayathri Kumar, Vaishali
30 Minutes Meals: Priya Mahadevan, Srivalli

I am covering some of the basics of diabetes today.

1. What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes (or 'sugar' disease in layman's term, particularly in India) is actually a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels. This results due to the body's inability to produce and / or use insulin.

2. What is insulin?
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pancreas. It is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for everyday activities. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose. Glucose happens to be the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. (That means, body cells need sugar for energy and insulin delivers that glucose to the cells.) When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it causes two problems. Cells start starving for energy and overtime damage occurs to other vital organs.

3. What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
1. Obesity
2. Sedentary lifestyle
3. Unhealthy eating habits
4. Family history and Genetics
5. Increased age
6. High blood pressure and high cholesterol
7. History of gestational diabetes
8. Ethnicity (particularly African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Americans)

4. What are the symptoms?
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because either many of its symptoms seem so harmless or there are often no symptoms at all. The early detection of the symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:
Frequent urination
Unusual thirst
Extreme hunger
Unusual weight
Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes:
Any of the type 1 symptoms
Frequent infections
Blurred vision
Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

5.  There are two forms of diabetes.
1. Type 1 diabetes:
It was previously known as juvenile diabetes since it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes is present from birth and the body does not produce insulin. 5% of diabetics are type 1. Daily injections of insulin are needed.
2. Type 2 diabetes:
It is the most common form of diabetes and is usually developed in adulthood. In these cases, either the body does not produce enough insulin to metabolize the blood glucose or the cells ignore the insulin.
And the other one developed during pregnancy is gestational diabetes:
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women. Women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.

6. Insulin in case of diabetics:
Inside the pancreas, beta cells make the hormone insulin. With each meal, beta cells release insulin to help the body use or store the blood glucose it gets from food. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. The beta cells have been destroyed and they need insulin shots to use glucose from meals. People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don't respond well to it. Some people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes pills or insulin shots to help their bodies use glucose for energy. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill because it would be broken down during digestion just like the protein in food. It must be injected into the fat under your skin for it to get into your blood.

7.  Blood sugar levels:
Normal blood sugar level - 70 - 110 mg /dL 
The range between 110 - 126 is prediabetic.
And over 126 mg/dL is diabetic.

8. What happens when diabetes is out of control?
Complications from diabetes occur over time and may include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease and amputation.

9. Prediabetes:
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "prediabetes" condition. It is during which their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.  Research has shown that some long-term damage to the body occurs during prediabetes. 

10. Prevention:
The onset of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy life style, healthy diet (comprising of low fat, healthy carbs and fibre rich food), increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.
Staying healthier longer can reduce the risk of diabetes.

This is the information gathered from web sources and personal experiences. I am not related to medical field and hence this info should not be considered as an alternative to professional help.
Info source: http://www.diabetes.org/



Gayathri Kumar said...

Great info, Suma!

vaishali sabnani said...

this is a very informative post.thnx for sharing :)

harini-jaya said...

Some incidents sure leave everlasting impressions..Well presented intro to diabetes.

Srivalli said...

Very good intro Suma..I really think we should do a week on this for more people to read on this..

Sobha Shyam said...

Good info dear...great you did an awareness..!!

Priya said...

Wat a informative post, well presented and loved reading..

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