The human body turns much of the food you eat into glucose, or sugar, which the body uses for energy. The pancreas produces the insulin hormone, which helps you get glucose to your cells. When you have diabetes, your body is unable to process food properly for use as energy because you’re not producing enough insulin, or your body isn’t able to use its insulin as well as it should to break down sugar. This causes elevated levels of sugar in the blood.
Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and failure, nerve damage, blindness, and amputations of the lower legs and feet.
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017, about 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, had diabetes. Another 84.1 million, more than one-third of the U.S. population, had prediabetes, which typically leads to type 2 diabetes within five years if left untreated. Nearly one in four adults living with diabetes don’t know they have it. People with diabetes are more likely to be men and minorities and have less than a high school education.
Diabetes is also the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC, and in the world, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.
There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the body can’t produce insulin because cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. Type 1 diabetes was once thought to be a childhood disease, but people of any age can have type 1 diabetes. In fact, more adults have type 1 diabetes than children. Researchers estimate that about 5-10 percent of diabetes cases are type 1 diabetes. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, although blood sugar levels can be managed with insulin, proper nutrition, and smart lifestyle choices to prevent complications.
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your body produces insulin, but the insulin isn’t being used properly or the body isn’t producing enough to keep your glucose at the proper level. This causes blood glucose levels to rise, resulting in hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is highly preventable and very often reversible if you make smart lifestyle decisions involving your physical, nutritional and psychological well-being.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Many scientists believe it is an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune system attacks cells in the pancreas, but the reason for this is still a mystery. Genetics and exposure to environmental elements and viruses could also play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes.
Although some people have a family history of type 2 diabetes and have a genetic predisposition, poor lifestyle choices are the more likely cause. Obesity, belly fat, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical activity increase the risk of type 2 diabetes because they make it more difficult for your body to use up glucose as energy.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
Both types of diabetes are diagnosed through blood testing. Treatment for type 1 diabetes typically includes taking insulin and frequent monitoring of blood sugar. What you eat and when you eat are both important. Meals should be coordinated with insulin doses and include whole foods with a low glycemic load to allow blood sugar to rise steadily instead of spiking and crashing. A personalized exercise plan will also help you maintain a healthy weight so the body can process food properly.
If you have type 2 diabetes, changing your diet and losing weight can help you restore and maintain normal sugar levels without medication. However, “eat right and exercise” isn’t specific enough and doesn’t go far enough. We recommend specific nutritional protocols and exercise programs based on the goals and physical condition of the individual. Blood sugar should be checked periodically when you have type 2 diabetes. If you’re on insulin, you’ll probably need to check blood sugar more than once per day.
We can help. At Natural Healthcare Center, we don’t wait until you have diabetes to take action. From the time we see warning signs of prediabetes, we make recommendations to restore normal blood sugar levels and prevent the onset of diabetes. If you’d like to be evaluated for diabetes, schedule an appointment at Natural Healthcare Center.