Diabetes is a condition where the human body is unable to produce enough insulin or in some cases, no insulin at all. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps to convert glucose from the food into energy that is later used by the body. Without enough insulin, the blood glucose or blood sugar remains in the blood and does not reach the cells.
Diabetes is described as a lifestyle disease because it is prevalent in people who are not involved in any physical activity, who are obese or overweight. It is also associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and an apple shaped body, where all the weight lies around the waist and the lower part of the body. There are 72 million Indians who are affected by Diabetes today, which is more than 7.1% of the adult population. It is India’s fastest growing disease and the figures are likely to touch 134 million by the year 2025. India represents 49% of the world’s statistics currently. Over the last quarter of a century the prevalence of Diabetes has increased by 64% all across the country. The urban poor are equally prone to getting the disease as are wealthier communities.
There are 3 types of Diabetes –
Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.
In this case, the body does not make enough insulin and the immune system attacks the pancreas that produce insulin.It usually appears in children and young adults, although it can occur at any age. People with Type 1 Diabetes need to take insulin injections every day, without fail.
This is the most common type of Diabetes. It usually occurs in middle-aged or older people, although it can occur during any age, even during childhood. The body either does not make enough insulin or does not use the insulin produced by the body very well.
This type of Diabetes occurs in some women when they are pregnant and goes away after the baby is born. However, there are greater chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes later on in life, if you have had Gestational Diabetes.
Sometimes, there are borderline cases of Diabetes that might get serious at a later stage in the patient’s life.
Who is likely to suffer from Diabetes?
The people who are likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes are those who are 45 years and older, have a family history of this problem or those who are overweight. Leading a sedentary life or a lack of physical activity and health issues such as high blood pressure increase the chances of suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
Over a period of time, having high blood sugar or glucose can cause serious health problems, since this disease affects every part of the body. Heart attacks, stroke, kidney, eye, dental, nerve and foot problems are likely to occur.
The main goal of Diabetes Management is to restore the rate of metabolism of carbohydrates to a normal state. Another goal is to prevent or treat the many complications that arise out of this disease. It is immensely important to take steps to manage Diabetes and stay healthy. Here is a broad checklist of the list of things to be kept in mind while managing this health issue.
Understanding the numbers
It is imperative to know, understand and have targets in mind regarding the readings of Diabetes. They should be within the following. Practical numbers or guidelines followed by Diabetes agencies all around the world.
- Fasting or Preprandial Blood Sugar should fall under 70 – 130 mg
- Postprandial or 2 hours after a meal Blood Sugar should be less than 180 mg
- The 3 month average Blood Sugar or HDA1C reading should fall under the 6 – 7% mg category
Monitoring blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels should be monitored frequently, as per the doctor’s advice. The frequency varies from patient to patient and any inadequacies should be reported to the doctor immediately.
Medication and Injections
Medication and injections, as prescribed by the doctor should be taken every day without fail. Missing out on dosages will have an impact on the blood sugar count and reading. To boost the immune system, Vitamin, Mineral or Herbal supplements, upon advice from a doctor, should also be taken regularly.
Understanding the different types of food and the effect that it has on the body is crucial knowledge for a Diabetic patient. Blood glucose levels change with various dietary intake. It might be a good idea to meet a nutrition professional at the onset of this disease and find out what can be eaten, what is allowed in moderation and what is an absolute no-no. Nutritionists usually hand out a dietary chart or a ready reckoner that can be used daily.
Fruits have a high content of fructose in them and a lot of fruits are not allowed in the diet plan of a Diabetic patient. It is important to understand these factors from a knowledgeable person. If the sugar levels are consistently good over a period of time, a cheat day per week may be allowed. But it is best to consult the doctor on this aspect too.
During festivals and other celebrations, it is more important to stay healthy and say no, rather than being politically correct. It is also not necessary to share your health details with everyone. People who do not know might think that you are fussy or picky, in saying no to a lot of things. Be that as it may; it is far better to be healthy than having high blood sugar levels. Go for healthy choices or options during a party.
Also, it might be a good idea to eat a small meal at home, which is in your control, before you set out to a party or to a restaurant. The chances of binge eating become minimal.
The third aspect of the management of Diabetes is exercise. It is very important to exercise every day and to stay physically active. It is known that blood sugars peak with physical inactivity, even if your diet and medicine management are good. It is not necessary to hit the gym or undergo extreme exercises. Walking daily at a fairly fast pace is good enough.
Regular checkups with your doctor and tests at a certified laboratory are advised. It is also a good idea to have tests done for the kidneys, eyes and heart (cholesterol levels, LDL, HDL and Triglycerides) at intervals, as per the doctor’s advice. Having a Blood Sugar Monitor at home to give control to Diabetes Management is a sensible thing to do, so that any lifestyle changes that need to be made can be done with immediate effect and focus and direction in the management of the disease can occur. Surprises during lab tests can also be eliminated.
For women at a reproductive age with a family history of Diabetes, control of blood sugar levels from the beginning of conception would avoid complications at a later stage in the pregnancy.