Diabetes Early Symptoms and Prevention
Diabetes -Early Symptoms and Prevention
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide and has been known not only to shorten the life expectancy if untreated but can cause a huge financial burden on the affected due to the complications that come with it. Hence it is very important to catch it early and treat it. It can be managed with a proper diet, simple lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring.
Diabetes is a type of disease that is caused due to too much sugar in the blood or in other words high blood glucose levels. Food is converted to glucose by our body. Glucose is used by the body as energy for its various functions. For converting glucose to energy a hormone called insulin plays a vital role. This hormone is produced by our pancreas.
When our body does not produce enough insulin or the body becomes resistant to insulin the glucose does not reach the cells to be used as energy but remains in the blood. This increase in sugar levels in our blood is termed diabetes. The high level of glucose in the blood can cause potentially dangerous complications if left untreated. So let us look into the types, causes, risks, symptoms, and methods of prevention and managing the disease so as to lead a normal, healthy, and productive life.
Types of Diabetes
The different types of diabetes are:
- Type 1 diabetes-It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It is most prevalent in adolescence and it is also called juvenile diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease.
- Type 2 diabetes-In this condition the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells becomes resistant to insulin.
- Prediabetes-It is a condition in which blood sugar is high but not high enough to be labeled as type 2 diabetes. There is the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes at a later stage.
- Gestational diabetes-It is a condition where high blood sugar is seen in pregnant women.
Long Term Complications of diabetes
Diabetes can be effectively managed if diagnosed early. But if left untreated it can lead to potentially dangerous complications. Normally our body breaks down the food that we have into glucose which is then converted to energy by the cells with the help of the hormone insulin. In diabetes since the production of insulin is impaired or cells do not utilize the insulin as they become resistant to it, the glucose does not get converted to energy in the cells resulting in a high quantity of glucose in the blood called blood sugar which can result in life-threatening disorders of heart, kidney, blood vessels, nerves, and eyes.
The long term health complications of diabetes are as follows
- Extreme fatigue
- Stress, Anxiety, Depression
- Skin diseases
- Yeast infections
- Neuropathy or Nerve damage
- Retinopathy or Eye damage
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
Though there is no cure for diabetes, it can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes. The diagnosis of diabetes is not a death sentence as some people believe it to be. Terrible outcomes like blindness, amputations, and kidney problems are largely avoidable. Thanks to modern medicine and newer technologies and methods to address the disease, people diagnosed with diabetes have an excellent chance of leading long healthy lives free from serious complications.
Risk Factors for Diabetes
Though type 1 diabetes and some of the type 2 caused by genes or age are not preventable, in the other types, the risk factors can be controlled.
Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal. If left untreated it can lead to type 2 diabetes and the risk of developing other health conditions like heart disease and stroke at a later stage.
Risk factors for Diabetes can be listed as follows:
- Family history
- Insulin resistance
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poly cystic Ovary syndrome
- Diseases of the pancreas
- Ethnic background
The prevention strategies involve some simple changes in the diet and fitness routine. Keeping in mind the uncontrollable risk factors like genes, age, ethnicity, proper care like regular monitoring and medication should be taken to mitigate the risk. Controllable risk factors like weight, diet, stress, smoking, blood pressure can be improved with simple lifestyle changes.
Early Signs and symptoms of diabetes
Many of the complications of diabetes do not show up until late. They usually develop silently and gradually over time. And people who do not seem to have any signs of complications can still develop them later. So it is better to be watchful and catch the early symptoms and take precautions to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Some of the Initial symptoms and early signs of diabetes are as follows:
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss or gain
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds
- Skin infections, cuts, bruises that are slow to heal
- Breath odor that is fruity, sweet or acetone odor
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Darkening of skin in areas of body creases.
With the onset of the initial symptoms itself, we can take proper precautions to stop the progression of the disease and prevent it from leading to complications. While making a strategic plan to prevent the disease, it is prudent to consider the risk factors involved. It is advisable to make lifestyle changes early, by eating right, being physically active, doing exercise daily and getting tested for blood sugar regularly to avoid complications later
Food and Diabetes
Food has a direct effect on blood glucose levels, hence a diabetic has to be very careful with his diet. An important part of managing diabetes is to know the quantity, quality, and nutrient value of the food that is best for him while regulating the blood sugar levels.
The three main essential nutrients found in food are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Carbohydrates, as we all know, raise blood glucose faster than the other nutrients. Hence choosing carbs from healthy sources like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should be preferred than carbs with added sugars, fats, and salts.
Proteins do not directly raise glucose levels at the same time keep you from feeling hungry. So more proteins should be included in the diet. But as there is the risk of weight gain with the increase, portion control should be maintained.
Healthy fats from fish, nuts, and seeds are advisable for the diabetic. They do not raise blood glucose levels but are high in calories
These three nutrients are very essential for a balanced diet for a diabetic. An eating plan can be developed with the help of your doctor or Dietician, which is most suitable for your lifestyle and family as healthy eating for a diabetic is healthy eating for the whole family.
Best Diet for Diabetes
- High fiber diet: Including more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting down on Trans fats and saturated and refined carbohydrates can help prevent this disease. Fruits like Avocado are known to help delay diabetes. Berries have antioxidants, vitamins, plus they are low GI and are known to have a beneficial effect on health and should be included in the diet.
- Alternatives to meat such as lentils, beans, and tofu are beneficial as eating meat especially red meat is directly linked to diabetes. Fish, Shellfish, Chicken, turkey can be the meat choices for the diabetics.
- Follow a keto diet- A low carb keto diet can help avoid diabetes. Studies have shown a reduction in blood sugar levels in prediabetic individuals who followed a keto diet.
- Control Portion sizes: Eating too much at one time has shown considerable spikes in blood sugar levels. So controlling portion sizes is very important for a diabetic and prediabetic. Having small amounts of food at lesser intervals will not only boost energy but will not raise the sugar levels.
- Drink more water: Avoiding beverages, especially sugary ones like soda and punch, and sticking to water as the primary beverage can help a lot.
- Beverages like Tea and Coffee help as they have anti-inflammatory antioxidants called polyphenols that help protect against diabetes. Green tea, in particular, is known to have a very beneficial antioxidant.
- Minimize processed food: They are linked to all kinds of health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Including nutritious and whole foods help reduce the risk.
- Natural herbs like curcumin, berberine are known to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels and help prevent diabetes.
Hence a good diet plan is essential to manage diabetes. Simple changes in food habits make a big difference and the dependence on medicines is greatly reduced. Diabetes can be managed in a natural way.
Other Important Lifestyle changes for diabetes
There is no cure for diabetes. But with simple lifestyle changes, the risk of long term complications can be avoided. One can live longer and better in spite of diabetes with these changes. Patients can maintain normal or near-normal blood glucose levels taking little or no insulin with these dietary and lifestyle changes. Along with dietary changes, the following lifestyle changes are very important in diabetes.
- Managing weight is an important goal because most of the diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disorders are seen in overweight people. Research has proved that exercise and losing weight has helped prevent the progression of the disease in people with prediabetes.
- Regular Exercise is a sure way to prevent this disease. At least one and a half hours a day for five days in a week, of aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, is recommended.
- Quit smoking: Several studies have linked smoking to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Reduce alcohol intake as it is not good for your diabetes
- Avoid sedentary habits: Studies have shown a strong link between sedentary behavior and the risk of diabetes. Simple changes like standing up from your desk or walking around for a few minutes every hour help a lot.
- Importance of Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for blood sugar control. Studies have shown that people who do not get enough vitamin D have a greater risk of developing diabetes. Good food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, cod liver oil. It has been shown that exposure to the sun can increase vitamin D levels in the blood.
- Avoid Stress as stress and anxiety are the main cause of developing this disease. Practice yoga, breathing exercises, meditation for stress relief.
- Adopting a Pet is known to reduce stress to a great extent as is developing hobbies like gardening, music, and reading books.
- Take a vacation regularly from work. Open green spaces are known to have a healing effect on a person. So try to go to parks and admire natural surroundings.
- To learn more on tips to reduce stress, please read my hub: https://hubpages.com/health/PROFESSIONALS-AND-STRESS
Diabetes is no doubt dangerous but can be avoided by a few simple lifestyle changes. Today the number of people affected by diabetes is increasing alarmingly due to wrong food and lifestyle habits. So it is absolutely necessary to control the disease at the initial stage itself.
In a fast-developing and highly competitive world, as more younger people succumb to this disease due to stressful living and polluted environments added to bad lifestyle and food habits, it has become imperative to address the problem on a war footing. Simple changes like eating the right food, regular exercise, minimizing the use of alcohol and cigarettes, keeping weight in check along with regular health monitoring help in preventing this dreaded disease. An individual has to be fit and healthy in order to lead a productive and meaningful life.
Nowadays the incidence of diabetes in children has also increased due to obesity and sedentary habits and screen culture. Hence it is very important for parents to imbibe good dietary habits and an active lifestyle from childhood itself so that they may not face the risk of contracting this disease at such a young age. Children should be encouraged to play outdoors more rather than watch TV, Video and Mobile. Screen addiction is the main cause of health problems in children these days.
We were worried when my mother was diagnosed with diabetes, but after due care from our side and absolute discipline from her side with regard to diet and lifestyle changes, she has been able to manage the disease well and in a natural way without much dependence on insulin substitutes. This has been a very good example for us and we have also realised the value of having good dietary habits and being physically active to stay healthy and maintain a good quality of life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 VIDYA D SAGAR