Changing eating habits and becomgin physcially active can drastically reduce the complications and severity of a person's diabetes. A person's health is in their own hands.
Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity is a serious risk factor for many diseases in modern society, specifically diabetes. Even a weight loss of 4 kilograms can make a difference - it will lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels, fat levels and risk of complications. A lack of physical activity is a main risk factor for complications. The amount of exercise needed is not a lot - 4 hours weekly can dramatically reduce a person's risk factors.
Diabetes and Insulin
Diabetes is a disease which is expressed by the blood sugar levels, but also involves carbohydrates, fats and proteins. A healthy person who's blood sugar levels rise wil release insulin from the pancreas. The insulin will clear the sugar from the blood and into the cells in order to maintain a normal blood sugar level. The sugar is the cells' main source of energy. When a person is diagnosed with type II diabetes, there is a problem with the insulin acitivty, known as insulin resistence. Insulin resistence can develop over years and go unnoticed, due to an increase in insulin release which helps keep aperson's blood sugar levels normal.
Diabetes develops if the insulin resistence worsens or there is a decrease in insulin release. This clinical condition of type II diabetes includes hypertension, obesity and abnormal levels of fat in the blood. This condition is also known as syndrome X. Treating type II diabetes includes balancing the blood sugar levels and improving a person's general health profile.
In the recent decades, there has been a increase in cases of morbid obesity. Medical literature refers to obesity as the epidemic of the millenium. This epidemic began among developed countries and is now all over the world. Obesity is the number one cause of insulin resistence and also worsens syndrome X and diabetes.
What is Abdominal Obesity?
Abdominal obesity is measured by a person's waistline. If a man's waistline is bigger than 102 centimeters, or a woman's waistline is bigger than 88 centimeters, than they suffer from abdominal obesity. The good news is that losing even 4 kilorams can help restore balance to a person's blood sugar levels and avoid the development of diabetes. This kind of weight loss requires a person to be conscious of what they eat.
A person's weight is measured by a Body Mass Index (BMI).
Normal weight: 18 < BMI < 25
Overweight: 25 < BMI < 30
Obese: BMI > 30
Drug treatment for type II diabetes is divided into 2 subcategories. It is important to know what type of drug you are taking in order to get the optimal blood sugar balance.
- Sulfonylureas - this group of medication encourages the pancreas to release more insulin to iovercome the high sugar levels
- Alpha-Glucose Inhibitors - these prevent the absorbtion of glucose into the intestines and lower the increase of blood sugar levels after eating.
Other medication groups inlcude: non-sulfonylureas secretagogues, glucagon-like peptide-1 analogs. Some patients are aso given insulin. The medications are prescribed by a doctor and any change must go through the doctor. These medications have side effects. Due to the different mechanisms in each of the drugs, the side effects are different. It's important to know what medication you are taking and the side effects they cause.
Diabetes and Physical Activity
Physical activty is one of the most important ways a person can balance his diabetes. Many studies show that a change in lifestyle which includes exercise can prevent diabetes or lower the complications. Physical activities can influence a person's bood sugar levels, help them lose weight, and improve a person's fat profile in the blood. We recommend exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes or more.
Hypoglycemia is a condition where a person's blood sugar levels drastically (60 mg. or less). Hypoglycemia can occur as a result of a high amount of insulin, not enough nutrients, extreme physical exertion. Hypoglycemia symptoms vary from person to person but usually include shakiness, sweating, tiredness, confusion, hunger, weakness, cold, dizziness, headaches, racing pulse and problems with sight. A person exhibiting signs of hypoglycemia should drink 1/2 cup of sweetened drink or suck on a sugar cube (simple carbohydrates), 10 minutes later, the person should then have a complex carbohydrate, such as bread.
Carbohydrates are a food group, which consist of 1% of a person's body, even though they make up 40%-50% of a person's daily calorie intake. This is because carbohydrates supply a person's energy. There are 3 types of carbohydrates: starch (complex carbohydrates), sugars and dietary fibers. Sugars are simple sugars that are quickly absorbed into the blood and raise a person's blood sugar level. When a person is suffering from diabetes, they are recommended to lower their intake of simple sugar-heavy foods, or even avoid them altogether. These include white and brown sugar, honey, jams, candy, chocolate, halva, cakes and cookies, jello, pudding, gum, wafers, sweet dairy products, soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweet wine, liquor and black beer. Simple sugars only provide empty calories. Fruit, on the other hand, contains simple sugars (in the form of fructose), but in addition, fruit also has dietary fibers, and vital vitamins. Dairy products also contain simple sugars (lactose). Consult with your dietician regarding your own sugar intake.
Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates found in legumes and whole grains. The rate of breaking down these carbohydrates is much slower and its absorption into the blood varies from food type. Studies have found that legumes and whole grains raise the blood sugar levels. Legumes include: beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils. Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, legumes, popcorn and oatmeal.
Not all fats are alike, some are helpful and necessary, and some are harmful.
There are two types of fat in the blood: cholesterol and trigylcerides. Cholesterol is a vital fatty substance which is used to create other substances such as hormones, bile salts and cell membranes. It is absorbed through the fooda and some is produced by the body itself. A normal level of cholesterol is 200 mg. Cholesterol can be divided into two types - good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). The higher the levels of bad cholesterol, the greater the risk for atherosclerosis. LDL is linked to saturated fatty foods.
Trigylcerides are a type of fat that is absorbed from food and produced by the liver. High levels of trigylcerides in the blood are a risk for heart diseases and are commonly found among obese, diabetics or people who drink alcohol.
Studies have shown that there are four types of fat:
- Saturated Fat - connected to the level of LDL in the blood and increase a person's risk of atherosclerosis. Found in most fast foods. Try to avoid solid fats, like margarine, which are unsaturated fats, and due to the chemical processes, produce another type of fat called 'trans fat'.
- Monounsaturated Fat - olive oil, olives, canola oil, avocado, tahini, almonds and peanuts. Helps keep HDL levels normal.
- Polyunsaturated Fat - these shold be limited because they have unwanted side effects: soy oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, nuts and seeds
- Fish Oil - Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Helps prevent heart disease. Should have 2-3 times a week.