How to Derail Diabetes
Diabetes affects 23.6 million people in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 5.7 million Americans who currently have “pre-diabetes” yet are unaware of their condition.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, needed to convert sugars, starches and other food into an energy source for daily life.
In order to fully understand diabetes, you must understand the role insulin plays in energy production. After you eat, most of your food is broken down into glucose, a form of sugar in the bloodstream and the main source of fuel for the body. Cells use that glucose for growth and energy; however, insulin must be present for glucose to enter those cells. The pancreas produces the necessary amount of insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. For diabetics, the pancreas either
produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Therefore the body loses its glucose; it builds up in the blood and flows into the urine, causing it to leave the body.
Although the basic principle of diabetes remains the same for any case, there are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. Type1 diabetes is when the body produces little or no insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces insulin but cannot use it properly or doesn’t make enough to control blood sugar levels, also known as insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and can often signal a higher risk for the mother to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
What causes diabetes?
The cause of diabetes remains somewhat of a mystery, although genetics and environmental factors, such as obesity and lack of exercise, are known risk factors.
The onset of Type 1 diabetes most often occurs before the age of 20. Researchers believe that the catalyst is something in the environment, a toxin or virus, which triggers the immune system to attack the pancreas, enabling it so it cannot produce sufficient insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, comprising 90 to 95 percent of diabetes sufferers. For type 2 diabetes, risk factors include family history, age over 45, race or ethnicity, metabolic syndrome and obesity; over 80 percent of type 2 diabetics are overweight.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop more gradually than type 1 diabetes.
Keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible is the key to treating diabetes. High blood sugar levels (called hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar levels (called hypoglycemia) is dangerous and unhealthy.
Diet is the first step in controlling diabetes and blood sugar levels. This requires close self evaluation in regards to what kinds of food you are consuming. In some cases, the situation may require certain adjustments and weight loss to keep sugar levels as normal as possible. If levels are still outside of the normal range, your physician may decide medication is necessary.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will talk to you about the kinds of food you should eat and how much exercise you’ll need every week as well as medication and if it is necessary for you.
Prevention and Reducing Risks
Diabetes and its complications can be reduced and potentially avoided by taking certain preventative steps. Following these guidelines can lead to a healthier life.
• Eat a healthy diet
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Exercise daily
• Receive an annual eye exam
• Get routine medical exams
• Examine your feet on a regular basis
• Stop smoking
• Get your flu vaccinations
Taking this proactive approach can help maintain good health and prevent future pitfalls.
A board certified family physician, Dr. Kermanshahi’s practice is located on the SouthCrest Hospital campus at 9001 S. 101st East Ave., Suite 370, (392-5640). Dr. Kermanshahi is a board-certified family practice physician. He is in group practice with Signature Family Medicine, a practice affiliated with SouthCrest Medical Group.
For more information regarding SouthCrest Hospital and its full menu of services, please visit www.southcresthospital.com.