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The Lowdown on Diabetes

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 by Sergio Ulloa ()  | Tags: amputation, blood sugar levels, circulation problems, Diabetes, insulin, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes

The incidence and spread of diabetes has been described as a worldwide epidemic. Nearly 350 million people have the disease, and deaths as a result of diabetes are projected to rise by up to half in the next 10 years. By 2030, diabetes may be the seventh leading cause of global death, according to disease experts.

Problems arising from diabetes can lead to both heart attacks and stroke, and the circulatory problems of diabetes may cause disability (due to medically necessary amputations) and blindness. These dramatic outcomes are particularly striking when considering that controlling the onset and management of diabetes  can be very straightforward.

The disease actually exists in two forms - type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the process that controls glucose in the bloodstream - through the operation on a hormone called insulin -  does not properly function. The body doesn't produce insulin, and the amount of glucose in the body fluctuates above and below normal levels. The cause type 1 diabetes is unknown, but oftentimes runs in families, and the disease can be managed via daily injections of insulin to regulate glucose.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is associated with lifestyle rather than genetics. This type of diabetes is sometimes known as late onset diabetes, because it tends to occur in people aged over 40. However, onset of type 2 diabetes in other ethnic groups often occurs at a younger age, and is now increasingly detected in children.

With type 2 diabetes, either the body creates insufficient insulin for a normal blood glucose level, or it can't make effective use of the insulin it does produce .Type 2 diabetes is by far the more common form of the disease, accounting for around 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide. It is particularly prevalent in poorer and middle income countries, and over three quarters of diabetes related deaths occur in these parts of the world.

In more affluent countries, the incidence of diabetes in much higher in people with a family background from places such as south Asia and the Caribbean.

However, regardless of a nation's socioeconomic status or an individual's heritage, type 2 diabetes is most strongly associated with sedentary lifestyle, a lack of exercise, and obesity.

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are not particularly dramatic or disturbing, so it is easy for the disease to develop unnoticed. Symptoms may include feeling particularly thirsty or tired, passing water often - especially at night - and also loss of weight or muscle tone. Because these bodily changes are also associated with the general effects of aging, a diabetic may be slow to recognize his illness.

The good news about type 2 diabetes is that effective treatment can be obtained through simple and sensible lifestyle modifications. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed.

Firstly, any person concerned about diabetes should exercise more and pay closer attention to eating and drinking habits. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise every day, along with less alcohol and more fresh fruit and vegetables, can lead to weight loss and stop the disease from getting worse. Lifestyle changes can also prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring in the first place; studies show that losing just 5 percent of one's body weight through a sensible exercise regime can reduce the probability of developing diabetes by as much as 50 percent.

Managing type 2 diabetes also means avoiding circulatory problems, which can lead to grave problems - loss of sight and the need for amputation of lower limbs. Again, exercise and a healthy diet can reduce body fat and improve circulation. Quitting smoking is another important step for diabetes patients concerned about overcoming circulation issues and avoiding amputation in the future.

Recent studies in the United States have highlighted the importance of exercise for preventing diabetes in an aging population. Blood sugar levels are naturally higher immediately after a meal and this is one way in which type 2 diabetes may arise - as a consequence of a condition known as impaired glucose tolerance developing into to full diabetes. These American researchers found that taking three short walks (of about 15 minutes each) was as effective over a 24 hour period in managing down blood sugar levels as was one 45 minute walk of the same physical intensity. More specifically, it was found that taking these short walks after mealtimes was particularly effective in reducing high blood sugar levels - a walk after a typically larger evening meal seemed to be particularly valuable in this regard.
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