Avoiding Diabetes

Whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, sugared soft drinks should not be on your menu. If you are a type 1, you need to raise blood sugar and get your energy from fresh or dried fruits. If you are type 2, sugar should be off the table – for life. However; have you ever given much thought as to how to avoid diabetes altogether? 

If you have gestational diabetes, even more care is required, because you can pass the tendency to this disease on to all your offspring.

In fact, it’s now a distinct possibility that as few as two sugared drinks a day could double the risk of developing both type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disorder – and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study out of Sweden.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 92 percent of all diagnosed diabetes cases in the United States, is generally regarded as a disease of lifestyle related to obesity, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices. About 28.5 million Americans have diabetes.

Other Forms of Diabetes

Sugared drinks, also called soft drinks, also increase the risk of developing latent autoimmune diabetes, which shares characteristics with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes, or glucose intolerance, develops slowly, and victims may not need insulin for at least six months after diagnosis, but the process is inevitable nonetheless.

In short, notes the study, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, each soft drink you consume raises your risk for developing diabetes by 20 percent. And that’s a lot. Double that, to about 24 ounces (about 700 ml) and you have insulin waiting in the wings for you whether you want it or not.

In addition to the forms mentioned above, diabetes can also appear as:

  • MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (irreversible), develops later than Type 1 diabetes but usually before age 25. It is often genetic, and does not always require insulin treatment.
  • Double diabetes (irreversible) is an autoimmune disease like Type 1.
  • Type 3 diabetes is insulin resistance in the brain (reversibility unknown), and some researchers now associate it with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Steroid-induced diabetes (irreversible in context) can result from the use of steroids in treating asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RAs), and certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Brittle diabetes (irreversible), a hard-to-control form of Type 1 diabetes, which has elements of IBD, thyroid imbalance, and adrenal gland malfunction.
  • Secondary diabetes (irreversible), which results from certain health conditions like cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, to name a few.
  • Diabetes insipidus (unknown), a very rare form of diabetes that results from excessive urination.

The Role of Insulin in Diabetes

Insulin is made in the pancreas and helps the body convert sugar into energy as part of the metabolic process.

When the pancreas fails to work as well as it should, most patients are diagnosed with diabetes, usually type 2 diabetes. Doctors may also refer to something called “metabolic syndrome”, which is a whole complex of problems, type 2 diabetes being only one aspect of a general, body-wide failure.  

Diabetic researchers have begun to believe that one aspect of diabetes (at least, type 2 diabetes) may be as simple as energy storage. Until the problem is identified and fixed, however, insulin is the weapon of choice when diabetics are no longer able to control their blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and oral medications.

Insulin currently comes in liquid form, in vials or prefilled pens, and is injected by “units” into a fatty area on the body, typically belly, thigh, or forearm, in either slow-acting or fast-acting formulas. In the latter case, one unit typically represents about 10 degrees above normal blood sugar, which is considered to range from less than 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) before meals to up to 140 mg/dl up to two hours after meals.  

The Future of Insulin

Not too far in the future, expect to get insulin from a patch, an implanted pump, a skin port (like a permanent IV port), or even inhaled insulin. Some scientists are even looking at a bionic pancreas, surgically inserted to take over where the pancreas has failed.

Until we reach that wonderful future, the best thing diabetics can do – for themselves and their loved ones – is to eat right (no sweets, fewer carbohydrates, lots of veggies, focus on lean proteins), exercise, and getting restful sleep. Believe it or not, sleep apnea may be a leading trigger for diabetes and insulin resistance. So if you sleep badly, wake frequently, and never feel rested, see your doctor.

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.

Women With Type 1 Diabetes ‘Twice As Likely’ As Men To Die From Heart Disease

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce adequate levels of insulin to convert sugars, starches and other types of foods into energy. The disease is widespread in the USA, with about 15,000 children and 15,000 adults being diagnosed yearly. The biggest increase of cases of the disease is in children. A recent study conducted by researchers from the School of Public Health in Queensland, Australia, revealed that women with Type 1 diabetes had a 37% higher risk of death from any cause than men, and twice the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a 37% higher risk of stroke, and a 44% higher risk of dying from kidney disease than their male counterparts.

Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition, and is known to shorten the life expectancy of those who suffer from it. The reasons behind why women are far more likely to die of heart disease is not fully understood, and it may be years or decades before further research reveals the underlying reason for the greatly increased risk of death from heart disease and other conditions for women.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women who have diabetes, and they are twice as likely to suffer from a second heart attack as well as four times more likely to have heart failure than women without the disease. There are various risky behaviors that if avoided, can assist in reducing the risk, including the following:

  • No Smoking

  • Keep Blood Pressure in a Healthy Range

  • Stay at a Healthy Weight for Your Height

  • Exercise on a Regular Basis

  • Consume a Low-Fat Diet

  • Manage Diabetes Correctly

  • Know Your Family History

  • Stay Alert for Chest Pain or Other Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 24.6 million adults with diabetes in 2010, and 12.6 million of these adults were women. As heart disease is known to be the most common complication associated with diabetes, it is not the sole problem that women suffering from the disease face. They are also at far higher risk of blindness, and have a much shorter life expectancy, with death rates three times higher than women who do not have diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children or young adults, but can also be found in persons of any age. It is an autoimmune disease that is believed to be caused by various factors, including genetic propensity, environmental issues or other unidentified factors. There is currently no method by which the disease can be prevented, and treatment will require the use of insulin. The disease is rampant, and the CDC reports that there are 21.0 million people suffering from some form of diabetes, and it estimates that there are currently 8.1 million people who have the disease have not yet been diagnosed. See your doctor and focus on living a healthy lifestyle. As the cause of the disease is unknown, this may be beneficial in avoiding it. If you have been diagnosed, carefully follow the advice of your doctor to reduce your chances heart disease as a complication.

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