Classified as a metabolic disorder, people with diabetes suffer from a disease in which their bodies do not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert foods into energy. While the causes of diabetes are somewhat mysterious, it is known that genetics, obesity, and lack of exercise do play a major role in whether or not a person develops diabetes.
It is believed that nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States suffer from diabetes, (though nearly 1/3 of them are unaware that they have it). Too often, diabetics are unaware of the symptoms of diabetes, resulting in this disease often going undiagnosed.
Common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased fatigue
- Blurry vision
Diabetes is a chronic disease, with no known cure, and left untreated can lead to serious consequences, even premature death. Diabetes is controllable with diet, exercise, and medications, and persons with diabetes should keep track of their sugar levels throughout the course of their treatment to prevent some of the serious sides effects that can accompany this disease.
Some of the serious complications that are associated with diabetes include:
- Heart Disease and Stroke
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Nervous System Damage
- Dental Disease
- Pregnancy Complications
- Sexual Dysfunction
Unfortunately, diabetes is the number one cause of preventable blindness in the United States. Proper eye care if you are diagnosed with diabetes is critical and any changes in your vision should be reported to your eye doctor immediately.
Many people have preconceived notions of what causes diabetes, and what they can and cannot do if they are diagnosed with diabetes. Too often, someone diagnosed with diabetes has misconceptions about diet, exercise, and other issues associated with this disease.
How You Should Eat With Diabetes
People with diabetes should maintain a diet that would be healthy for any of us, but there is no need to exclude sweets, a diet that is low in fat (especially saturated and Trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruit. Sweets (cake, ice cream, and candy) are ok in moderation, but you should evaluate them with your meal plan to ensure you do not cause an increase in your blood sugar levels especially if you have had a high carbohydrate meal. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods is about right and whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber which contributes to your overall health.
People with diabetes are no more susceptible to colds or flu than those without diabetes, however, most physicians do recommend flu shots to their patients who are diabetic to reduce the risk of infection which can affect blood glucose levels.
In the past, there have been concerns that insulin treatment for diabetics increased the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and arteriosclerosis. Various scientific studies have determined that the risk of these side effects is not significant enough to warrant discontinuing insulin treatments.
Long Terms Care Of Your Diabetes
Long term care of your diabetes may include not only your primary care physician, but may also include a nutritionist (to help manage your diet), a good eye doctor (to prevent complications), and any other specialists that your doctor determines may be beneficial to the care and management of your diabetes.
Be sure to educate yourself on all the risks associated with this disease and keep a close watch on your blood sugar levels. Contact your doctor should you have any questions or concerns or if your blood sugar levels become elevated above the levels defined by your physician.
Featured Image by Artem Podrez from Pexels