Diabetes is a serious condition that occurs when the body becomes unable to use glucose (sugar), which builds up to dangerous levels in the blood. High blood sugar levels damage the body in a number of ways. Life expectance is shortened by 5 to 10 years of more. The risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, foot and leg amputations, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, and breast and uterine cancer is increased. It is estimated that sixteen million Americans are diabetic, and one third are unaware of it.
There are two types of diabetes, Juvenile onset diabetes – called Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes – is the more severe form. Adult onset diabetes – called Type 2 or no insulin dependent diabetes – is more common. Both have problems with insulin the substance which acts as the “key” to open the “door” of each body cell to let glucose enter and fuel the cell.
Type 1 diabetics do not produce enough insulin and must have regular shots, or they will die. Type 2 diabetics have a less severe underproduction of insulin, and/or an insulin resistant condition, in which the cells do not respond to it. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood while the cells starve. Type 2 diabetes is usually the result of a genetic predisposition couple with obesity, a diet high in fat, and too little exercise.
The good news is that diabetes can often be controlled by lifestyle modifications. If a person is receiving medication, these changes must be made in consultation with a doctor, since medications will need to be lowered quickly – sometimes within a matter of hours.
1. Avoid dietary fats. They are the main factor responsible for making cells unresponsive to insulin. Studies show that a 65 percent fat diet will induce diabetes in less than two weeks.
2. Lose weight. Obesity is one of the primary reasons cells become insulin resistant. Losing weight makes the cells more responsive, and this alone will cure many Type 2 diabetics.
3. Exercise regularly. Physical inactivity contributes to the development of insulin resistance. Regular exercise enhances the cell’s ability to use insulin. Regular exercise is critical for the diabetic and for those at high risk of developing the disease because of excess weight of genetic predisposition.
4. Avoid things that aggravate the problem. Refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol unbalance insulin production and blood sugar levels. High blood pressure, and excess protein facilitate kidney deterioration.
5. Eat a proper diet. The American Diabetic Association now recommends a diet low in fat, moderate in protein, and containing complex carbohydrates such as beans, vegetables, and grains. The fiber found in such foods is a critical ingredient in the control of blood sugar. Even fruit can be handled in this kind of diet if eaten unrefined and in moderation.
6. Space meals appropriately. Five to seven meals have often been prescribed for diabetics, but eating frequent meals raises absolute blood sugar levels 10 to 15 percent. On a low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrate most people can easily maintain adequate blood glucose levels with three or even two meals a day. Mealtimes should be regular, with at least five hours between meals, and no snacks. The evening meal can be omitted or kept very light. This will also help with weight loss. Ask your doctor to adjust your insulin injections as needed.
7. Harness the benefits of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight lowers blood sugar by stimulating its storage in the muscles and liver. Diabetic are benefited by getting moderate amounts of sunshine, but lengthy sunbathing is not recommended.
Thousands of people have been successful in bring this disease under control. Begin today to follow these simple suggestions, and you too will lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and achieve the mastery over diabetes.