November 14, 2020 / educational / lifestyle / recommended
Are you or is someone you love affected by diabetes? Chances are you have at least one person that comes to mind. In 2019, 1 in 11 people – that’s 463 million individuals throughout the world – lived their day to day lives with diabetes. This number is only continuing to rise. Last year, diabetes was the cause of over 4 million deaths worldwide, and yet 1 in 2 adults with this chronic disease are still left undiagnosed. What is diabetes, and why is it so widespread?
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, this means that either their body is not using the insulin they produce correctly, or they cannot produce insulin at all. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the quantity of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream which is vital for our bodies to function properly by using this sugar for energy. As we all know, an excess of anything is never good for you, and having too much blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to damaged blood vessels, nerves, and organs. Other complications that arise due to high blood sugars include anxiety, foot and leg problems, eye disease which may lead to blindness, kidney disease, heart attack and stroke, amputation and erectile dysfunction. Needless to say, balance is key for a healthy life.
Diabetes has proven to be extremely prevalent worldwide, but it is not as simple as an overconsumption of sugar – a popular assumption that many deem as the overall “cause” of the diabetes epidemic. Factors such as family history, genetics, ethnic background, general health and environmental factors all play a part in its development. However, the most important factor is obesity. There are also different types of diabetes; Type 1, Type 2, gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
Individuals with Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, cannot regulate their blood sugar levels because their own body mistakenly attacks the pancreas which, in turn, can no longer produce insulin. For this reason, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by genetics or triggered by environmental factors. Around 10% of people living with diabetes are Type 1 and rely on insulin injections or use an insulin pump to regulate their blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes typically develops during childhood or adolescence, but can develop later in life as well.
Around 90% of people living with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Folks with this type cannot properly use or are unable to produce enough insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Type 2 usually appears in adulthood, but can also at times develop in children. Because it is largely caused by excess body weight and physical inactivity, some cases can be managed through regular exercise and healthy eating, but many individuals need the help of medications or insulin therapy as well.
Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy, is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs in around 3-20% of pregnant women depending on their risk. Gestational diabetes may increase the risk of developing diabetes in both the mother and child later on in life.
Prediabetes is when an individual shows signs of higher than average blood sugar levels which, although high, are not yet high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes does not guarantee that someone will develop diabetes later in life, but around 70% of individuals will. This condition can also lead to other health issues that are typically caused by diabetes such as heart disease.
What can I do to avoid developing diabetes?
Although certain risk factors for diabetes cannot be controlled such as your genetics or certain environmental factors, there are a number of lifestyle habits that you can adopt to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes such as;
1- Maintaining a healthy body weight
2- Reducing your intake of refined carbs and sugars
3- Keeping physically active with a regular workout routine
4- Hydrating your body with plenty of water
5- Quitting smoking
6- Being mindful of your portion sizes during mealtime
7- Avoiding sedentary behaviors
8- Incorporating lots of fiber into your diet
9- Optimizing your Vitamin D levels through supplements
11- Minimizing your stress
12- Sleeping 7 hours per night
There is no magic formula as everyone is unique, but at Cardiogenix, we believe that optimizing your lifestyle choices such as those listed above are key ingredients for healthy living!