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What Is Diabetes?


Your doctor may have recently advised you have diabetes. Or you are overweight and you have discovered you may be at risk of diabetes. Others may have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with the disease. Just what does diabetes mean and how does it affect your lifestyle?

Diabetes means that your blood glucose (often called blood sugar) is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy to keep you going. But too much glucose in the blood isn't good for your health.

How do you get high blood glucose?

Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also made in your liver and muscles. Your blood carries the glucose to all the cells in your body. Insulin is a chemical (a hormone) made by the pancreas. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin helps the glucose from food get into your cells. If your body doesn't make enough insulin or if the insulin doesn't work the way it should, glucose can't get into your cells. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood glucose level then gets too high, causing pre-diabetes or diabetes.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke. The good news is if you have pre-diabetes, you can reduce your risk of getting diabetes. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes and even return to normal glucose levels.

What are the signs of diabetes?

The signs of diabetes are:

being very thirsty
urinating often
feeling very hungry or tired
losing weight without trying
having sores that heal slowly
having dry, itchy skin
losing the feeling in your feet or having tingling in your feet
having blurry eyesight

You may have had one or more of these signs before you found out you had diabetes. Or you may have had no signs at all. A blood test to check your glucose levels will show if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

What kind of diabetes do you have?

People can get diabetes at any age. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making wise food choices, being physically active, taking aspirin daily (for some), and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age-even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which fat, muscle, and liver cells do not use insulin properly.

At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. In time, however, it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals. Being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Treatment includes using diabetes medicines, making wise food choices, being physically active, taking aspirin daily, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Why do you need to take care of your diabetes? After many years, diabetes can lead to serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. But the most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease. When you have diabetes, you are more than twice as likely as people without diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke.

If you have diabetes, your risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who has already had a heart attack. Both women and men with diabetes are at risk. You may not even have the typical signs of a heart attack.

You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by controlling your blood pressure and blood fat levels. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about quitting. Remember that every step toward your goals helps!

Later in this article, we'll tell you how you can try to prevent or delay long-term problems. The best way to take care of your health is to work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol in your target range.

How is weight loss important?

If you have diabetes and are overweight, even a moderate reduction in weight can have a positive benefit to your health and possibly blood pressure and cholesterol. If you are overweight or obese and don't have diabetes, you have added risk of developing the disease.

How can I tell if I am overweight?

There are several methods to determine a healthy body weight. The simplest is to measure around your waist. Men who are greater than 94 cm (37 inches) and women who are greater than 80cm (32 inches) are overweight. Another method is the Body Mass Index which takes into account your height, weight and gender. If your BMI is greater than 25 you are considered overweight. If it is greater than 30, you are considered obese.

Kim Beardsmore is a weight loss consultant whose business operates across 60 countries. This world renowned, medically approved program will give you results you'll love and all the support you need! Estimate your healthy body weight, tons of recipes, articles, free newsletter and more at http://weight-loss-health.com.au


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