How to Better Inform People about the Truths of Diabetes

Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of the fitness company CrossFit, evoked public outrage with a tweet displaying a Coca Cola bottle along with the caption, “Open Diabetes” and the comment, “Make sure you pour some out for your dead homies.” Glassman’s tweet prompted a number of angry responses, including those from singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Jonas, as reported by People Magazine.

Among those incensed by Greg Glassman’s tweet were parents of children with Type I Diabetes, as discussed in a Huffington Post article. Type I Diabetes is an auto immune condition that has nothing to do with body weight or an inactive lifestyle. With this condition, the body kills off the cells that produce insulin, and those who suffer from it must take insulin every day to survive.

Glassman make no distinction in his tweet between Type I and Type II Diabetes, but even if he had, it would still have been offensive. As stated in the Huffington Post article, although being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle are major contributing factors to Type II Diabetes, so is family history. Some Type II Diabetes sufferers exercise regularly and make the effort to maintain a normal weight, and yet still suffer from the disease.

Consuming Coca Cola and other products consisting of mainly refined sugar and empty calories can lead to weight gain, as stated in a Huff Post Healthy Living article and many other sources, and being overweight is a contributing factor to Type II Diabetes. Nevertheless, how productive can it be to shame and blame diabetes sufferers? The public should be made aware of diabetes, what causes it, and how to prevent it, but with a much more positive approach.

For example, WebMD informs those who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes that there are things they can do to prevent the disease from manifesting, and recommends that they focus on things they can change. Among other preventative measures, WebMD suggests losing extra pounds, exercising regularly, and eating a healthier diet. The U.S. Department of Health and Social Services National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) offers readers more than 50 tips to help prevent Type II Diabetes, such as:

  • Drinking a large glass of water 10 minutes before a meal to reduce hunger
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Eating a healthy snack before going shopping for groceries
  • Dancing, taking the stairs to the office, or catching up with friends during a walk instead of sitting down over coffee
  • Reading labels and choosing foods lower in trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars
  • Finding ways to relax, such as a taking a walk or a long bath, reading a book, or listening to music

It is important to promote public awareness of diabetes and its risk factors. However, there are more productive and certainly more sensitive ways to achieve this than offensive tweets.

Conditions Intensified by Diabetes

When carbohydrates are broken down during digestion, glucose (blood sugar) is produced. This increased level of glucose triggers the pancreas to produces insulin, which enables the glucose to enter the cells and provide energy for the body. Diabetics, however, don’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced doesn’t perform properly. The result is too much sugar in the blood, and that leads to a whole host of other problems. When a person has diabetes, any other ailment or non-optimum condition can be made worse. Here are some of the more common conditions so affected.

Flu and Related Complications

When your body becomes ill, or you contract an infection, glucose levels rise in response to counter the illness. A non-diabetic’s body produces more insulin in response to these raised glucose levels. A diabetic, on the other hand, is unable to produce insulin to counter the raised glucose levels. Blood sugar levels then rise. This impaired ability to fight illness can make having the flu much more serious and could require hospitalization or result in death.

Skin Conditions

Some skin infections are intensified by diabetes. Bacteria or fungus thrive in a sugary environment, so any infection will be harder to treat due to this factor.

Insulin shots can cause problems with the skin at injection sites. Hypertrophy occurs from using the same site for insulin injection repeatedly. Atrophy is a condition where an indention is created at the injection site due to fatty tissue loss, which can negatively affect how the body absorbs insulin.

Allergies to the adhesive that secures insulin pumps to the skin or reactions to specific types of insulin are another source of skin conditions made worse by diabetes. Itching, swelling or much more severe symptoms can occur.

Eye Complications with Diabetes

Individuals with diabetes are at a greater risk of eye and vision problems than people who do not have it. Glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy are the main areas of concern, and avoiding blindness is a primary focus for diabetics.

Kidneys

Your kidneys have the job of getting rid of waste produced in the body and maintaining a proper balance of fluids throughout the body. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys. The result is more damage and stress to the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste and regulate fluids. If kidney disease or damage is extreme, the result can be kidney failure.

Drinking Soda and Your Risk for Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 29.1 people in the USA with diabetes, or 9.3% of the population, and estimates that 8.1 million people have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed. A recent study of European adults revealed a significantly increased risk of diabetes for those who drink sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, the L.A. Times reports. The research study evaluated the habits of more than 25,000 people in England, and raised a red flag regarding preventing diabetes and the dangers of drinking sodas as well as other sugar-sweetened drinks.

Drinking soda is a habit many people develop in their younger years, which continues into adulthood. Others may switch to milk and coffee sugar-sweetened drinks, which the study showed had an even higher risk. The added calories and sugar to a daily diet, in the study results, showed an increase of new cases of type 2 diabetes by 18%.

For those who have concerns about developing diabetes or other dangerous health conditions, monitoring your sugar intake is an important point. Watching the amount of sugar consumed daily appears to be a factor in avoiding developing diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the level of sugar intake per day to 100 calories from sugar for women (6 teaspoons) and 150 calories from sugar (9 teaspoons) for men. One soda contains 132.5 sugar calories per serving – beyond the recommended limit for women and almost reaching it for men. When you add in any other sugar consumption, such as hidden sugars in many products such as cereal, bagels, yogurt and countless other foods, most Americans who are unaware of the risks are consuming far greater levels of sugar-based calories, and putting themselves at risk of developing diabetes, as well as other diseases.

Many people developed bad eating habits at an early age. Cravings for sugar can indicate that your body has a deficiency, according to The Daily Mail. For example, this source reports that craving chocolate could indicate that you have a magnesium deficiency, which could be solved by eating nuts, wholegrain breads and leafy greens. Craving sugar treats could mean you are deficient in chromium. Chromium is a mineral that works in conjunction with insulin in moving glucose from the blood into the cells. Eating or drinking sugar-laden foods make matters worse, as the body then produces even more insulin, with a “sugar-crash” occurring shortly thereafter. Chromium-rich foods include beef, chicken, carrots, broccoli, whole grains and eggs, among other healthy food choices. Train yourself to reach for something else if you find yourself craving soda or other sweet treat that could have a very negative impact on your health. Listen to your body – it is talking to you, and all you need to do is how to respond with the right foods so you don’t compromise your health.

How Your Past Can Affect Diabetes

Diabetes is a potentially life-threatening chronic medical condition that has received a lot of attention in recent years because it currently affects one out of every ten U.S. adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent research indicates that there may be risk factors previously unknown for Type 1 diabetes, which most commonly develops in children between the ages of 4 and 7 or 10 and 14, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as “adult onset diabetes,” is the form of the disease that has received the most attention. It has been linked to obesity and is considered preventable or manageable through life style changes — weight loss, exercise, diet, and medication. Researchers have recently determined that life events may affect the risk of Type 1 diabetes, as well.

Traumatic Life Events May Raise the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

As reported in a recent article in Time Magazine, a study published in the journal Diabetologia revealed that children who experienced traumatic events, such as divorce of the parents, death in the family, accidents, or a move to a new home in early years had triple the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. The study involved 10,495 families who had children born between 1997 and 1999. Researchers asked the families to participate in follow-up sessions when their children were between the ages of 2 and 14.

Previously known risk factors for Type 1 diabetes stated by the Mayo Clinic include genetics, family history, geography, and age. The clinic also names other possible risk factors that have not been proven, including exposure to certain viruses, low levels of vitamin D, exposure to cow’s milk early in life, cereal and gluten in a baby’s diet, drinking water containing nitrates, and preeclampsia during pregnancy. Scientists engaged in the study adjusted for known Type 1 risk factors in arriving at their conclusions.

The Time article speculates that certain children may be genetically predisposed to develop Type 1 diabetes but the genetic triggers are not activated until the children experience major stress or trauma, such as the loss of a loved one. According to the article, high stress levels may cause a boost in the hormone cortisol, which causes the beta cells to work harder and produce more insulin. The immune system may see the excess of insulin as harmful and proceed to attack and destroy the beta cells.

Family Support May Help Reduce the Risk of Disease

Stressful situations and difficulties are part of life. Accidents and deaths in the family are not always within our control. In some cases, divorce is the best solution, and a move to a new location may be in the best interests of the family. The Time article suggests that supporting families who help each other through life’s difficulties may make help young children stay healthier and give them a better chance of avoiding chronic diseases such as Type 1 diabetes.

The Correlation Between Diabetes And Exercise

Diabetes currently affects 29.1 million Americans. It is a disease which affects a person’s overall health and lifestyle. At the same time, a person suffering from diabetes can change their lifestyle, and take measures to improve their health and well-being. Exercise is one of those effective measures.

Diabetes: The Basics

When working properly, the human body derives its energy from food. In simple terms, this is done by converting glucose (blood sugar) into useable energy. The conversion is dependent upon insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas gland.

With diabetes, the body either no longer produces the needed insulin, or does not produce adequate amounts to properly maintain the blood glucose levels.

Type I Diabetes (Insulin Dependent Diabetes) requires daily insulin injections to maintain the blood sugar level.

The condition in which the body continues to produce insulin but cannot use it effectively is identified as insulin resistance. The body cells cannot properly absorb the glucose, and blood glucose level builds-up. This can lead to pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, or Non-Insulin Dependent diabetes, is the condition in which the body continues to produce some insulin, but not adequate to sustaining the optimum blood sugar level.

Obesity, overweight, poor diet, high blood pressure and insufficient exercise have been identified as risk factors in the development of Type2 diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exercise is an important part of managing diabetes.

Exercise and Diabetes

The first step in implementing an exercise program is to consult with your healthcare provider. You want to ensure the exercise program you have chosen is one that is safe for you. With that in place, the benefits derived from the correlation between exercise and diabetes can be experienced.

The NIH identifies the following ways in which exercise can help in managing diabetes:

  • Helps in managing weight
  • Can help lower blood sugar level without medication
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of stress

The NIH suggests that a person may not see improvement in their health until he or she has been exercising for several months.

It is recommended that a person begin their exercise program with walking, starting with 5 to 10 minutes daily. This is especially important with individuals who are out-of-shape.

Fast walking is recommended, working-up to 30 to 45 minutes daily, for a minimum of 5 days per week. For those needing to lose weight, more exercise may be needed. Some may prefer participating in exercise classes, swimming, water aerobics or cycling rather than fast walking.

The NIH suggests some taking some safety precautions when exercising:

  • Inform exercise coaches or and partners that you have diabetes.
  • Wear a necklace or bracelet identifying you as a diabetic.
  • Carry emergency contact information and phone numbers on your person.

The NIH further recommends maintaining an exercise schedule to include exercising the same time each day at a consistent level for the same length of time. This facilitates control of the blood sugar level. It is also important to maintain adequate water consumption before, during and after exercise.

The benefits of exercising are many. An overall healthier lifestyle, reduced stress, reduced risk of heart disease, a more optimum body weight, and lowered blood cholesterol level are benefits over and above helping maintain blood glucose levels in the management of diabetes.