1. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES?
Common symptoms of diabetes:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
2. WHAT CAUSES DIABETES?
About 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Only about 5% of people with diabetes get type 1 diabetes, which usually appears in childhood or early adulthood. Often type 1 diabetes has a genetic component, although a virus may trigger the disease.
People with type 2 disease often develop the disease as they reach middle age (over the age of 45), although with increasing obesity rates, even younger people are being diagnosed with the disease. While there may be a family history with type 2 diabetes as well, many people become diabetic as a result of overweight or obesity, lack of exercise, and health problems like high blood pressure.
In both types of diabetes, your blood sugar or blood glucose is too high. Blood sugar comes from the food you eat. In order for this energy to fuel your cells, you need a hormone made in the pancreas, called insulin, while a second hormone, glucagon, works with insulin to control the level of blood glucose.
Type 1 diabetes: immune system attacks
If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system which normally fights infection, instead attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. As a result, the pancreas stops making insulin.
Without the necessary insulin for glucose to fuel the cell, the blood glucose rises to deadly levels very quickly, within a few days or weeks. To survive, you must replace this insulin with daily injections of insulin. It is also important to exercise and follow a careful diet to avoid hypoglycemia—when glucose levels drop below normal.
Type 2 diabetes: not enough insulin and insulin resistance
In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well (called insulin resistance). This type of diabetes can take a long time, even years, to develop. The symptoms may be mild and may even be ignored until a person develops diabetes-related health problems like blurry vision or heart disease.
Common treatments are medications and lifestyle changes that include healthier diets, weight loss, and exercise. Some individuals with type 2 diabetes also require insulin injections.
3. WHO IS AT RISK FOR DIABETES?
If you are obese or overweight and you do not exercise regularly, you are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Simply carrying fat stores on the body causes a low-grade inflammation. The more fat a person stores on the body, the greater the degree of chronic inflammation. This inflammation takes a toll on the body, resulting in various metabolic diseases like diabetes.
Extra fat around the belly is especially significant since it is linked to insulin resistance, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Check out this Prebiotin blog about obesity-induced inflammation.
To see if your weight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, check out these Body Mass Index (BMI) charts from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
4.WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT DIABETES?
Diabetes is closely related to obesity. Fat stores and inflammation go hand-in-hand. Simply carrying fat stores on the body causes a low-grade inflammation. The more fat a person stores on the body, the greater the degree of chronic inflammation. This inflammation takes a toll on the body, resulting in various metabolic diseases like diabetes and inflammatory diseases. Of course, fat loss can reduce obesity-induced inflammation, but weight loss is difficult for many people.
About 90% of individuals with diabetes are also obese. The best approach to weight loss is to make small lifestyle changes that can have an amazing impact on reducing calories that lead to obesity, from drinking less soda, to reducing portion size and integrating more servings of vegetables and fruits into the diet. Exercise is of course a necessary component to maintain a healthy weight.
5.WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF DIABETES IN CHILDREN?
The frequency of diabetes is rising around the world, and studies are showing children are at increasing risk of developing the disease. Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves – causing chronic problems and early death.