Diabetes 101

Following on from our previous blog post about the health risks of Obesity, today I want to talk about one in particular that has been in the news a lot recently – Diabetes.

We keep hearing about Diabetes and the link with obesity but I think the word is thrown about that much these days that we are losing sight of what it actually is and just seeing it as a name and a link to being overweight rather than a harmful disease that has a big impact on our health.

According to diabetes.org.uk, It is estimated that the diabetes prevalence for adults between the ages of 20 and 79 worldwide for 2014 was 387 million and it is expected to affect 592 million people by 2035.

In the UK and Ireland alone, the prevalence of diabetes in the adult population in 2014 was estimated at over 3 million people, averaging a 6.2% prevalence in adults.

So what exactly is Diabetes?

Diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus) comes in three forms; Type 1, type 2 and Gestational. It is described as a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

In type 1 diabetes, the body (specifically the pancreas) does not produce insulin therefore it has a hard time regulating blood sugar and the patient will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. It usually occurs in people under the age of 20 but can occur at any age. Although doctors don’t know all the things that cause Type 1 diabetes, they do know that genes play a role and approximatley 5-10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance).  It has been shown that overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (80-85% of the overall risk). Overweight and obese peoples diets usually contain a high amount of sugar which forces the body to work harder to regulate the levels in the blood, than those of a healthy weight.

Other less potent risk factors include:

Genes - people with diabetes in the family are two to six times more likely to develop type two diabetes than people without type 2 diabetes in the family)

Ethnicity – Type two diabetes is more than six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common among people of African and African-Carribean origin.                                                                                         

One positive point about type 2 diabetes is that it is a progressive disease and if we are aware of the signs, we should be able to control it (to a point) by losing weight, adopting a healthy lifestyle and monitoring blood glucose levels

 

Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women as some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood during pregnancy and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.

 

What Are The Signs Of Diabetes?

 

  • Excessive thirst
  • Tingling Hands and Feet
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Swollen gums
  • Frequent infections
  • Fatigue

 

What Are The Affects Of Diabetes?

While some cases of Diabetes can be managed by adopting a healthy lifestlyle consisting of healthy eating and regular exercise, if we do not manage it well then it can lead to further health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, eye disease, depression, neuropathy and may even lead to amputation as it can damage your nerves, muscles, sweat glands and circulation in the feet and legs leading to amputation. I will talk more about these at a later date.

 

I know we all love naughty sugary foods, but is it really worth the risk? We can still enjoy treats in moderation but we need to start looking after ourselves properly by eating healthy, nutritious food. Believe me, our bodies will thank us and repay us by working properly for a lot longer!  

Statistics taken from www.diabetes.org.uk.