World Diabetes Day – Health Observations

Diabetes mellitus is a life-long physical condition in which there is too much sugar in your blood due to the lack of insulin. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces too little insulin, resulting in changes in the body which include high blood sugar levels. In order to understand diabetes, we need to know how the body uses food. Our body is made up of millions of cells all of which are required to function correctly. Food is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose, which is transported to the cells to supply energy. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, which enables the glucose to enter the cells. As the glucose enters the cells, the blood sugar level naturally drops. If there is a lack of insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or the insulin is ineffective (Type 2 diabetes), glucose is unable to enter the cells and therefore accumulates in the blood. Eventually the glucose enters the urine causing Polyuria (passing urine frequently), excessive thirst, hunger and tiredness. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition which may occur during pregnancy. The mother and child have an increased risk of contracting diabetes in the future.

Characteristics of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes
  • Glucose and ketones appear in urine.
  • Only glucose appears in the urine.
  • Significant weight-loss.
  • Weight-gain (obesity).
  • Dramatic symptoms: frequent urination, thirst, hunger, mood changes and mental confusion.
  • Vague symptoms: blurred vision, non – healing wounds, and recurring skin, mouth and bladder infections.
  • Usually diagnosed in people under the age of 35 but can also occur at any age.
  • Usually diagnosed in people over the age of 35, but can also occur at any age.
  • Self monitoring and insulin injections are essential requirements for everyday life.
  • Oral medication may be prescribed.
  • Diet and exercise is essential.
  • Diet and exercise is essential.

As there is no known cure, blood glucose levels should be monitored and controlled and kept as close to normal as possible. Diabetes can be controlled by:

  • Meal planning

Eating well-balanced meals can help maintain the blood glucose levels as close to normal (non-diabetes level) as possible. Eat plenty of: Breads and cereals (heavy seed-bread, breakfast cereals, rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize, rye and pasta.) Pulses (legumes) (dried beans, peas and lentils) Vegetables (non-starchy vegetables – which are low in carbohydrates, but high in fibre and are rich in minerals and vitamins, together with  starchy vegetables, in your daily diet.) Fruit (all varieties). These foods offer a number of benefits and should make up the bulk of the diet. If eaten regularly it can help control diabetes as they contain plenty of carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

  • Exercise

Regular exercise helps the body lower the blood glucose levels, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness. A comprehensive physical activity routine includes three kinds of activities: Aerobic exercise – increases the heart rate, works the muscles and raises the breathing rate. (Brisk walk, low-impact aerobic class, tennis) Strength training – helps build strong bones and muscles (lifting weights). Flexibility exercise, aids in keeping joints flexible and reduces chances of injury (gentle stretching).

  • Medication

Ensuring to take the diabetes prescribed medication by your health provider and regular contact with the doctor.

If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms please contact your medical practitioner.

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