Many people would be surprised to learn that about one third of people with diabetes do not even know they have the disease because they are not experiencing diabetes symptoms. This fact highlights the need for greater public awareness about the disease and how it is caused, diagnosed, and treated.
Fortunately, since diabetes is one of the most common diseases worldwide, much is known about how it can be prevented and treated. The challenge is to make sure the general public gets the message on the dangers and warning signs of this often preventable disease.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease characterized by the body’s inability to properly store and use glucose (a type of sugar). Because of this inability, glucose builds up in the diabetic’s blood, causing their blood sugar levels to rise to sometimes dangerous levels.
Diabetes has two main types. Type 1 occurs when the body completely lacks the ability to produce insulin — a hormone that helps the body regulate and utilize glucose in the diet for energy. Type 1 diabetics are required to take insulin injections daily in order to live. This type of diabetes can occur in people of any age, but typically develops in children.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make adequate insulin or properly use the insulin it does have. It normally happens in those over 40 who are overweight and have a family history of the disease. However, it is becoming increasingly common in younger people.
Diabetics often have certain symptoms, including the following:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Wounds that do not heal
- Frequent skin, bladder, or gum infections
- Extreme fatigue that is unexplained
- What Are the Causes of Diabetes?
Anyone can develop diabetes, although those with a family history of the disease are more likely to get it. Some other risk factors are high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. As people grow older, their chances of developing diabetes become higher. Certain ethnic groups are also more likely to develop the disease. It is more common among African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
Whether a person has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, they must follow certain guidelines to manage their disease. They must adhere to a proper diet for diabetes. Diabetics must carefully monitor their physical activity, since it can help their bodies more effectively utilize insulin.
All Type 1 diabetics, and many Type 2 diabetics, must take regular insulin injections. Some Type 2 diabetics are able to avoid medication by following a specific diet for diabetes and exercising.
All diabetics should also see a diabetes specialist regularly. They should also regularly confer with their medical team, including a dietician who can help them develop a good meal plan that is individualized for their special needs.
Since diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, diabetics should also have regular eye exams. This is to ensure that any vision problems are spotted early before they can become more serious.
Best Foods for Diabetics
Lifestyle changes are essential for managing diabetes. Avocados are one of the foods that you should consider adding to your diet.
An avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fats. Studies have shown that diets are rich in monounsaturated fats can improve insulin sensitivity.
You may have been told that you have to avoid fruits if you are a diabetic. However, it is important to remember that some fruits are better for you than others.
You should feel free to eat a pineapple every day. While pineapples do not prevent blood sugar spikes, they do not have a high glycemic index. This means that you it will not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.
An apple a day may not necessarily keep the doctor away, but it can help you keep your blood sugar under control. One medium-sized apple has about three grams of fiber. You need fiber in order to keep your blood sugar under control.
Apples can also lower your cholesterol level, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Keep in mind that you have a higher risk of developing heart disease if you have diabetes.
Asparagus is one of the most popular vegetables because of its taste. It is also a non-starchy vegetable, which makes it a great choice for people who have diabetes. Asparagus has 20 calories and five carbohydrates. It also has two grams of fiber.
Furthermore, asparagus has glutathione, which is an antioxidant. This antioxidant can help improve glucose control. Glutathione can also lower the risk of heart disease.
Broccoli is another non-starchy vegetable. It has over 100 grams of vitamin C per serving. It also has beta-carotene, which is used to make vitamin A.
Additionally, broccoli is low in carbohydrates and calories, but it is high in fiber.
The American Dietary Association recommends that people consume at least two servings of fish per week. It has omega 3 fatty acids, which helps protect the heart. Omega 3 fatty acids can also improve insulin sensitivity.
Worst Foods for Diabetics
Not only is candy high in sugar, but it lacks essential nutrients. Candy can cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar level. This will give you a temporary energy boost, but it will wear off quickly. The excess sugar and calories can also contribute to weight gain.
Pretzels may look healthy, but they are something you want to avoid if you suffer from diabetes. Most pretzels are made out of white flour, salt and corn syrup. Pretzels can also be high in refined carbohydrates.
Bacon is high in saturated fat, which can trigger chronic inflammation in your body. Inflammation can make it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar. This saturated fat can also increase your risk of heart disease. If you love bacon, then turkey bacon is a much healthier option.
Greasy foods, such as French Fries, can contribute to weight gain. They may also have trans fat, which is the most unhealthy fat that you can consume. Furthermore, fries are high in calories and sodium.