What is diabetes?
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease whose effects are: the increase of blood sugar and the appearance of sugars in the urine. From where comes the need to consume a lot of liquids and excessive appetite. According to statistics, approximately 2 million Romanians suffer from diabetes (11.6% of the country’s population), this being the most common endocrine disease.
Diabetes is the most common endocrine disease that develops over time and gradually affects all internal organs such as: kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. Diabetes can start suddenly in patients younger than 40 years old, and who are usually not obese. In overweight people, the symptoms appear gradually at an older age.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. This symptom occurs because the body is no longer able to efficiently transform glucose into energy.
There are 3 types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, i.e. the hormone produced by the pancreas that transforms carbohydrates into glucose. In the case of type 2 diabetes, insulin is not recognized by the body and cannot be used properly.
Causes of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system, responsible for fighting bacteria and viruses, destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin production. Other possible causes for type 1 diabetes are: genetic inheritance, exposure to viruses and certain environmental factors.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, the main causes of its occurrence can be: weight, age, family history, fat stored on the abdomen, sedentary lifestyle, stress, polycystic ovary syndrome or prediabetes. It is good to know that if you have a 1st degree relative who suffers from type 2 diabetes, there are higher chances of developing this condition as well. Also, when we don’t exercise enough, we are more prone to diabetes. It is important not to neglect the mental state as well, because stress raises the blood sugar level and influences the body’s immunological response, and in the long term it can favor the occurrence of diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus can be diagnosed in the early stages, during a routine medical check-up. The basic test for detecting it is to measure blood sugar (the amount of glucose in the blood) in the morning on an empty stomach. Glycemic values considered normal are between 70-110 mg/dl.
The main symptoms of diabetes
If you suffer from type 1 diabetes, you will most likely experience symptoms such as: polyuria (frequent urination), hunger, fatigue, drowsiness, thirst, vision problems, weight loss.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes appear and evolve gradually. The main symptoms are: thirst and frequent urination, increased hunger, fatigue, spots and pigmented portions on the skin, difficult healing and scarring of wounds and cuts, blurred vision.
How can we prevent diabetes?
It is recommended to do as much movement and physical exercises as possible. Physical movement is an important part of the treatment for type 1 diabetes. Also, the consumption of fiber helps to keep the blood sugar level under control, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and contributes to maintaining the weight within the allowed limits. Foods rich in fiber are: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. If you lead a sedentary life, it is recommended to do your analyzes annually.
Moderate alcohol consumption is recommended. Alcohol consumption changes the level of sugar in the blood, therefore it is good for people with diabetes to consume alcohol only occasionally, preferably only wine diluted with water. Women with diabetes are not allowed more than one glass of alcohol per day, while men with diabetes are not allowed more than two glasses per day.
Complications of diabetes
Diabetes left untreated can lead to severe complications such as: cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis, arterial hypertension, ischemic heart disease, arteriopathy), poor circulation and nerve damage, kidney damage, retinopathy and other eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. It also increases the risk of bacterial infections (inflammation of the glands at the level of the eyelids, irritation, abscesses, folliculitis, toenail infections). Other complications that can occur are: fungal infections, itching, diabetic dermopathy, allergic reactions, Acanthosis Nigricans – a condition that occurs especially in people with insulin resistance, as a result of which brown or blackish spots form on the skin, eruptive xanthomatosis – another condition caused by diabetes out of control, characterized by the dissemination of xanthomas: small yellow tumors the size of a pea, in the skin, digital sclerosis – materialized by a thickening of the skin, with a waxy appearance, on the back of the hands.
Urinary infections are also a frequent problem that diabetics can face. The high level of glucose in the blood and the damage to the functions of the urinary bladder caused by neuropathy favor the development of urinary infections.
Hyperosmolar coma is a complication of non-insulin-dependent diabetes and occurs especially in the elderly, while ketoacidosis is the most severe complication of diabetes and is associated with insulin deficiency, coupled with an increase in the concentration of ketones.
Antidiabetic diet: essential foods
1. Broccoli. Due to its high sulforaphane content, it is recommended to be included in your diet. Its role is to trigger the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms and anti-inflammatory processes that improve blood sugar and protect blood vessels from the consequences of cardiovascular problems, which are often a complication of diabetes.
2. Oat flakes. Oatmeal is a rich source of magnesium, which balances insulin production in the body. A study carried out over a period of eight years revealed that a diet rich in magnesium and fiber reduced the risk of diabetes in women by up to 19%, and in the case of women who consumed oatmeal daily, a risk reduction by up to 31%.
3. Blueberries. Blueberries contain a lot of insoluble fiber, which helps eliminate fat from the body, but also soluble fiber, which slows down the process of emptying the stomach, thus improving blood sugar control. Studies have concluded that people who consumed 120ml of cranberry juice per day for 12 weeks ended up with much better blood sugar levels as well as better memory. Researchers believe these effects are due to anthocyanins in blueberries, chemicals that reduce fat and stimulate the release of hormones that regulate blood sugar.
4. Olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the healthiest in the world, so by consuming olive oil we can prevent long-term diabetes complications. Olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which give elasticity to blood vessels and protect the heart. In addition, this oil is rich in antioxidants that protect all cells in the body.
5. Fish. Fish is one of the healthiest and most beneficial foods for diabetics. Numerous studies show that people who have high levels of Omega 3 fats in their blood also have much less inflammation in their bodies. In addition, regular consumption of fish protects the heart, especially preventing heart attack.
6. Spinach. Spinach is an ideal food for preventing diabetes. It can reduce the risk by up to 20% if consumed regularly. And for those who already suffer from diabetes, spinach is a food that should not be missing from the diet, because it is rich in vitamin K, magnesium, folates, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, essential nutrients in balancing body processes and blood sugar.