According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 37.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, and one in four are unaware they have the illness. National Diabetes Month is an annual event held in November to increase awareness of diabetes risk factors, symptoms, and kinds.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease that impairs your body’s ability to convert food into energy. Most of the food you eat is converted into glucose by your body and then released into your bloodstream. Insulin acts as a key, allowing glucose to enter cells and be used as energy. The pancreas is signaled to release insulin when blood sugar levels rise.
Diabetes causes the body to be unable to produce or use insulin as efficiently as it should. Excess blood sugar remains in the bloodstream when insufficient insulin or cells stop responding to insulin. Over time, this can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and renal disease.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is classified into type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).
Diabetes Type 1
Type 1 diabetes results from an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). This reaction inhibits the body’s ability to produce insulin. Approximately 5 to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes symptoms frequently manifest quickly. It is most commonly found in children, adolescents, and young adults. You must take insulin daily if you have type 1 diabetes. At the moment, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes Type 2
Type 2 diabetes affects 90-95 percent of people with diabetes. It appears gradually and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults). Insulin resistance and an inability to maintain normal blood sugar levels characterize type 2 diabetes. If you are at risk, you should check your blood sugar because you may not have any symptoms.
In previously diabetic pregnant women, gestational diabetes develops. If you have gestational diabetes, your child may be predisposed to health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born. However, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. If you are obese, your infant is more likely to be obese as a child or adolescent and to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. (Healthline)
DKA, or diabetic ketoacidosis, is a life-threatening emergency caused by a lack of insulin and the liver breaking down fat into ketones for energy too quickly for the body to handle. An accumulation of ketones can alter your blood chemistry and poison you. You could go into a coma. (WebMD)
What Causes Diabetes?
The exact cause of this biological malfunction is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are involved. Obesity and high cholesterol levels are risk factors for diabetes. Several specific reasons are discussed further below.
Insufficient Insulin Production
Insufficient insulin production is the most common cause of type 1 diabetes. Insulin is required to transport sugar from the bloodstream into cells throughout the body. When insulin-producing cells are damaged or destroyed, insulin production ceases. An excess of sugar in the blood and a lack of energy in the cells due to insulin deficiency.
Family History and Genealogy
Researchers are still learning about the role of genetics in diabetes development. Genetics influences the likelihood that an individual will develop diabetes. Diabetes is more likely if you have a parent or sibling who has the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Excess body fat may cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance may result from adipose tissue inflammation. However, many obese people do not develop diabetes, and more research is needed to determine the link between obesity and diabetes. (Healthline)
Importance of Diet
A nutritious diet is the most effective way to control blood glucose levels and prevent diabetic complications. You can tailor the program to your needs if you need to lose weight.
A diabetes diet provides additional benefits in addition to diabetes management. A diabetes diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and fiber may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. In addition, eating low-fat dairy products can reduce your chances of developing low bone mass. (Mayo Clinic)
Certain types of diabetes, such as type 1, are caused by factors beyond your control. Others, such as type 2, can be prevented through improved dietary choices, increased physical activity, and weight loss. It is best to discuss diabetes risks with your physician.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What Is Diabetes?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 July 2022, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html.
Team, The Healthline Editorial. “Diabetes Causes: How Do You Get Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 Oct. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/diabetes-causes#:~:text=Diabetes%20is%20a%20chronic%20disease,and%20high%20levels%20of%20cholesterol.
“Diabetes Diet: Create Your Healthy-Eating Plan.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Mar. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-diet/art-20044295.
Fick, Loraine. “Diabetic Emergencies: What to Do When Someone Is in a Diabetes Crisis.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-emergencies-what-to-do#:~:text=Diabetic%20ketoacidosis%2C%20or%20DKA%2C%20is,could%20fall%20into%20a%20coma.