The facts about Diabetes
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where Insulin is either no longer produced by the pancreas or the cells sensitivity to insulin is decreased. Insulin is important for transporting and unlocking the cells for glucose to enter. Glucose is carbohydrate in its simplest form, which the body uses for its primary source of fuel.
Hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia:
Your glucose is transported to your muscles within the blood. As a diabetic, there are 2 major conditions you must be aware of:
- Hyperglycaemia is where the glucose is unable to enter the cells and the blood glucose level is elevated. Insulin injections are required to decrease the blood glucose levels.
- Hypoglycaemia is a condition where the blood glucose levels are too low. If there is not enough glucose available in the blood, then there is no fuel source available for the muscles.
Some common symptoms of people with diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Feeling thirsty
- Decreased energy
- Blurry vision
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the extremities of the body (feet or hands)
Complications of Diabetes:
Some complications of diabetes include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage
- Skin conditions
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This is a condition which the person is born with and cannot change. A person born with type 1 diabetes will have to inject Insulin for the rest of their life.
Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the Beta cells in the pancreas stop producing insulin as a result of being "overworked". Type 2 diabetes is developed by people eating too much sugar too often, therefore making the Pancreas Beta cells work overtime until they just cannot produce any more insulin, leading to diabetes.
Are there any warning signs for diabetes?
With regards to type 2 diabetes, there are many ways to tell if you are at risk. One way is to get your blood sugars tested. A normal fasting blood glucose level is 5.5mmol. Anything between 5.5mmol and 11.1mmol Is indicative of pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance). Impaired glucose tolerance is a warning sign, as it can be reversed through good nutrition and exercise.
The waist: hip ratio is also a potential warning sign for diabetes. If you are in the poor category for your age range, you are at risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and various heart problems.
Can you reverse diabetes?
Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse diabetes. Once you have diabetes, you will be required to take insulin for the rest of your life. However, for type 2 diabetics, there have been studies that have shown an increase in the bodies sensitivity to insulin in diabetics that exercise and eat well regularly compared to diabetics who do not exercise and eat well regularly. In fact, there have even been extreme cases where type 2 diabetics have no longer needed to inject insulin for short periods of time because their bodies have become so much more sensitive to insulin!
Exercising with diabetes:
Exercise has many benefits to people with diabetes:
- It improves Insulin sensitivity
- It lowers blood pressure and therefore lowers the risk of complications such as eye damage, heart disease and nerve damage
- It lowers blood sugar levels
- It reduces body fat
Diabetics should perform a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular training to experience the benefits of exercise on general health.
Diabetes is one of those nasty lifestyle diseases that you do not want to acquire. The best way to avoid a lifestyle of having to inject yourself twice a day is by doing those things we know we must do. Perform regular exercise and eat a healthy, well balanced diet. For anyone with diabetes currently, regular exercise with your personal trainer and a well-balanced food plan will allow you to manage your condition to the best of your ability.
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