Diabetes is becoming more common. I’m pleased to present to you today’s guest article by blogger, Eric Johnson, to help inform us of the dangers of diabetes and how to prevent developing it.
To some people, diabetes is a disease that affects blood sugar and requires one to alter their diet. However, there’s much more to it than that, and because it does affect the blood–which flows to all parts of the body–it can lead to damage in just about any organ or part, including the eyes, gums, heart, and kidneys.
Diabetes can be caused by a number of things; for people living with Type 1, it’s an issue with the immune system, which attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Without insulin, the body can’t break down the glucose in our blood. People with Type 1 diabetes require insulin medication daily in order to maintain their health.
Photo via Pixabay by RGerber
Type 2 diabetes affects many people–nearly 30 million have been diagnosed with it in the U.S.–and involves the body being unable to process insulin correctly. For some–particularly in the early stages of the disease–the symptoms can be controlled by diet and exercise. But for others, diabetes requires medication and, if left untreated, can negatively affect the blood vessels throughout the body.
Damage to these blood vessels can cause problems with various organs, (including the skin), feet and lower legs, and the eyes and mouth due to circulation issues. Some of the most serious problems can occur when the heart gets involved; individuals with diabetes are at much higher risk of strokes and heart attacks than the general population, as well as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Because diabetes affects even the tiniest of blood vessels in the eyes and mouth, it’s important to see a doctor and dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. Gum deterioration can lead to heart disease, as well, so fighting decay is imperative.
It can be difficult to change your diet radically, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. Cutting back on refined sugars — which are found in everything from white rice to soda, fruit-flavored juice, and carb-heavy breads and sweets–can help lower your blood sugar dramatically. Stick with water, fiber-rich foods, and whole wheat when it comes to bread and pasta. Even spaghetti sauce and condiments like ketchup contain high amounts of sugar, so choose these carefully.
Eggs, meat and poultry, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains are the best bet for a diabetes-friendly diet. Avoid too many processed foods; even pre-packaged oatmeal has added sugar. Instead, grab a box of plain oats and doctor them up with some honey, granola, and raisins.
Depending on how long you’ve had diabetes and what your blood sugar levels are, it may be acceptable to dampen your cravings for sweets with sugar-free candy or even fiber bars that have a bit of chocolate in them. Ask your doctor what his thoughts are first. It could be that easing away from chocolate and sweets will be less difficult than quitting cold-turkey, especially since sugar is addictive.
Diabetes is a disease that can be manageable for many, but the problems arise when people don’t take the initiative to eat better, get more exercise, or see the doctor regularly. When you take the necessary precautions, you greatly increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.
About the Author
Eric Johnson’s own struggles with arthritis are what inspired him to volunteer to write for USHealthCorps.org. He hopes his work on the site can help others live healthy, happy lives despite their chronic illnesses.
Did you learn anything new in this article?