Diabetes: Understanding this Debilitating Disease

Diabetes is a debilitating condition that threatens the quality of life that people can enjoy. Through the years there has been an alarming increase in type-2 diabetes in young children. Present-day conveniences that cater to every whim and fancy have contributed to this trend. Now more than ever, companies have commercialized the food industry to prey on the innate weakness for food. We are bombarded through advertisements on a myriad of temptations that are hard to resist. The body is regularly subjected to these delicious, fast and convenient choices that offer very little nutritional value. Sadly many are unaware of its affects on the body.

Ironically, the urban lifestyle that makes our lives comfortable encourages us to be sedentary. There is easy access to everything requiring very little effort and sweat. Technology has created much more entertaining and easier diversions. Physical playtime activities are substituted with television, movies, computer games and the Internet. Fewer children are into sports and many do not exercise.

The fast pace of our daily lives is a significant factor. In trying to keep up with the ever-growing complications of our modern world we are subjected to unnecessary stress that takes its’ toll on the body.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder that interferes with the ability of the pancreas in the production of insulin or the body’s’ ability to use it. Insulin is a hormone produced by the islet cells of the pancreas that is used to regulate glucose in the blood for use by the body. High glucose in the blood is known as Hyperglycemia and too low as Hypoglycemia.

Type 1 referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile onset diabetes is associated with the destruction of the islet cells. The pancreas does not produce insulin. It is common in children and young adults and it is usually associated as a result of viral infection cases.

Type 2 non-insulin dependent or maturity onset diabetes is common to people ages 40 and up. As the body ages there is a natural decline in the efficient function of the pancreas. Normally, the body metabolizes an increase of glucose in the blood by producing enough insulin to absorb it for use by the cells as energy. In Type-2 the pancreas, although working, does not produce enough insulin or the insulin receptors may partially or no longer respond (insulin resistance) resulting to elevated blood sugar levels. Usually it affects women and the obese with a family history of the condition.


Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)

Excessive thirst
Frequent urination
Extreme hunger
Unusual weight loss/gain
Skin infections
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Slow healing wounds
Increased fatigue and drowsiness
Leg cramps
Tingling and burning of sensation in the hands and feet
Blurry vision

Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)

Fast Heartbeat
Blurry Vision

In Hyperglycemia the body cannot use the sugar as energy and it leads to the feeling of nausea, weakness, drowsiness, fatigue and irritability. The bodys’ natural response is to feel hungry that can lead to weight gain. Weight loss occurs when the body starts to use its’ stored fat as energy. Elevated glucose in the blood draws water from the tissues leading to dehydration and excessive thirst. Drinking lots of water leads to frequent urination. Because the sugar is not metabolized it finds its way in the urine. Dehydration can also affect the fluid in the eye causing the shape of the lens to change. It loses its ability to focus properly resulting in blurry vision. The excess sugar “thickens” the blood resulting in the constriction of smaller blood vessels of the nerves. Poor blood circulation, usually in the lower extremities, is manifested by leg cramps and the tingling, burning sensation generally with the soles of the feet. Poor blood flow restricts the tissue-repair cells from getting to wounds resulting to retarded healing. The skin becomes dry and itchy and is susceptible to boils and frequent fungal infections.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, if not treated promptly may lead to fainting, coma or even death. First aid is administered by raising blood sugar with the use of juices, sweets, hard candy or glucose tablets.

Effect of Stress

Although stress does not directly cause diabetes, it may cause it to develop earlier. Adrenaline, which is normally released in physical activities, can also be triggered by stress. Psychological stress induces adrenaline secretion causing an increase in glucose levels that the body does not use. Constant stress in time may cause a strain on the system that may lead to diabetes. In diabetics, stress may keep the body from producing insulin.


Ketoacidosis– the body loses the ability to use glucose and it uses up the stored fat in the tissues for energy releasing a chemical substance known as ketones that poisons the blood. In extreme cases it can lead to death.
Neuropathy– damage to the blood vessels and nerves that causes numbness and lost of sensation especially of the legs and foot
Retinopathy– the arteries of the retina are weakened and damaged which causes them to leak and swell. Abnormal blood vessel growth may cause bleeding causing vision problems.
Nephropathy-damage to the kidney due to changes in the small blood vessels. Decline in kidney function is also associated with high blood pressure.
Liver problems– storage of glucose resulting in the abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver that can lead to Cirrhosis
Heart disease– damage to coronary arteries caused by high blood pressure and poor kidney function
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) -the presence of glucose in the urine causes the growth of bacteria leading to bladder problems and urinary tract infections
Impotence-damage to the nerves and blood vessels that control erection.
Skin ulcers-are caused by the restriction of blood flow to the skin because of damage to small nerves and blood vessels.
Gangrene– progressive loss of blood supply to a part of the body or tissue causing it to necrose or die necessitating amputation


The aim for any diabetic treatment is the proper control of blood glucose to bring it to stable levels while eliminating symptoms, preventing complications and halting further damage.

Type 1 is treated with insulin injections underneath the skin. There are different insulin preparations depending on the rate and duration of their effects. Only medical and health-care professionals can determine the kind of insulin preparation, dosage and time of use for administration. In this regard, it is crucial to find the right balance of insulin to carbohydrate ratio in daily meals. Carbohydrate intake in the form of bread, rice, starches, cereals and fruit that are broken down into sugar is taken into account. Clinical studies are underway to find a “cure” that offers promising possibilities.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

– Pancreas and islet cell transplant
– Development of artificial pancreas
– “Pseudo” islet cell transplant through genetic manipulation

Control of elevated sugar levels in Type 2 is first attempted with a change in the diet, regular exercise and weight reduction. When this is not enough a variety of oral medications are used that induce the production of insulin, improve insulin response to glucose, decrease production of glucose, inhibit carbohydrate absorption and increase cell receptivity to insulin. They may be used in combination to achieve the best control of sugar levels. Insulin injections may also be considered if these medicines are insufficient.

Currently, there is no known cure for diabetes. A healthy lifestyle through proper diet, exercise and its early detection is the best way to avoid its complications.

Diabetic Lifestyle Guide

Proper blood glucose monitoring
Know the effects of what you eat
Eat on time
Have a healthy diet
Control your weight
Exercise regularly
Follow your prescription
Learn to distinguish/treat low and high blood sugar
Blood pressure monitoring
Learn proper foot and skin care/protection
Regular eye checkup
Neurological examination
Regular dental checkup
Educate yourself on new trends and treatments

Dietary Supplements

Chromium Picolinate – composed of two substances chromium and picolinate. Chromium controls the effectiveness of the insulin hormone, lowering cholesterol levels and controls appetite. Picolinate is an amino acid derivative that aids chromium reception.
Magnesium– helps in the secretion/production of insulin and contributes in diabetic complications.
Vitamin C– a popular vitamin used in the production of collagen, a primary protein, used in tissues, cartilage and tendons. It is an antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals that may cause nerve damage and thereby reduces neuropathy.
Vitamin B12– reduces the tingling, numbness and lost of feeling caused by neuropathy.
Vitamin E– helps in normal blood clot function and improve glucose tolerance
Manganese – also helps in improving glucose tolerance
Potassium – improves electrical impulses in the nerves and the excretion of water and sodium from the body aiding blood pressure
Zinc – helps in insulin production and its use by the body
Aloe Vera juice – helps in lowering blood sugar
Ginseng – aids in the secretion of insulin, increase of insulin receptors, lower blood sugar and increase energy levels
Flavonoids – helps the heart and good blood circulation

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