Diabetes is a very dangerous condition. It accounts for 12% of all deaths in the United States. Overall, it is the third most common cause of death in America. 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, with 8.1 million of these people unaware that they have the disease. Millions of people’s quality of life is severely degraded by diabetes and it often necessitates the use of a handicap parking permit.
Diabetes means that a person’s blood sugar level is too high. This is due to problems with the body’s production of, or responsiveness to, insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and its main job is to move sugar from the bloodstream into the cells to be converted into energy.
When we eat food, it gets digested and converted to glucose. This glucose enters the blood to be taken around the body. Insulin breaks down blood glucose and moves it into cells where it is broken down to produce energy. When a person has diabetes, their body is not able to break glucose down into energy. This is because they are not producing enough insulin, or because their body is not responding properly to insulin. The result is that their blood sugar levels are very high and their energy levels are very low. For this reason, many diabetics require the use of a handicap parking permit.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes involves the body’s immune system attacking the cells that create insulin. Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 5–10% of cases, and it is not caused by lifestyle factors. However, Type 2 diabetes is much more common (accounting for 90–95% of cases) and is hugely affected by lifestyle factors. Type 2 diabetes is where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is usually due to fat accumulation in the stomach preventing the pancreas from working properly. The number of Type 2 diabetics is soaring due to the obesity epidemic that is currently raging in America.
Pre-diabetes is also a very common and dangerous condition. When somebody is pre-diabetic their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It is estimated that a staggering 1 in 3 American adults is pre-diabetic, with 9 out of 10 people unaware that they are. Having pre-diabetic levels of blood sugar puts a person at a much increased risk of developing full diabetes.
The main symptoms of diabetes are; feeling chronically tired (thus the need for a a disabled parking permit), urinating more often than is normal, feeling chronically thirsty, a loss of body weight or muscle mass, genital itching or frequent thrush, blurred vision, and cuts or wounds that are healing very slowly. If you experience any of these main symptoms of diabetes, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Type 1 diabetes can develop rapidly, over only a few days or weeks. But Type 2 diabetes tends to come on gradually. Many people have Type 2 diabetes for a long time before they are finally diagnosed. This is because the symptoms are quite general at first and can be hard to detect.
Type 1 diabetes is an unpleasant condition, but it is not brought on by lifestyle factors and so is impossible to prevent. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is very dangerous but also preventable and curable.
The side effects of Type 2 diabetes are severe. Having Type 2 diabetes doubles a person’s risk of all cause mortality. The condition contributes towards cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension; it can lead to blindness, and can cause kidney failure, birth defects in babies, loss of sensation in extremities, and even amputation of lower extremities for diabetic patients who develop blood vessel disease. Type 2 diabetics are also two times more likely to suffer with depression.
Type 2 diabetes is avoidable. The disease is strongly linked to being overweight and so lifestyle choices are a big factor in deciding whether or not a person gets the condition. If you are keen to avoid diabetes (and who wouldn’t be?!), and even if you are already pre-diabetic, changing your lifestyle can massively reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Increasing exercise, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight will go a long way towards staving off Type 2 diabetes.
But even if you already have Type 2 diabetes, reversing and curing the disease seems to be very possible. A study done by Newcastle and Glasgow Universities in the U.K. has shown that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed to the point where patients no longer need to take medication and are fully free of symptoms, simply by losing extensive weight. In the study, 9 out of 10 people who lost 15kg or more reversed their Type 2 diabetes. Lead researcher in the study, Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, said: “Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function. What we’re seeing is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of Type 2 diabetes; significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission.”
These results are incredibly exciting. Not only is Type 2 diabetes eminently avoidable, but it is actually curable. Healthy eating, copious exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight will help you avoid and even cure diabetes.