What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by a high level of glucose resulting from defects in the body’s ability to produce or use insulin.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels.
The glucose that circulates in the blood is called glycemia.
The increase in blood glucose is the result of defects in insulin secretion, in its action or both. Insulin is a hormone that makes the pancreas and allows cells to use blood glucose as a source of energy.
Insulin production, insulin action, or both cause an increase in blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia).
If not adequately controlled, in the long term, the continuous presence of high glucose in the blood can cause alterations in the function of various organs, especially the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst and the urge to urinate
- Appetite increase
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Ulcers that do not heal
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can appear quickly, in a matter of weeks. In contrast, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually progress very slowly, over several years, and can be so mild that sometimes they are not even noticed.
Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some only know they have the disease when health problems related to diabetes arise, such as blurred vision or heart problems.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system, which fights infections, attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Scientists think that type 1 diabetes is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that can trigger the disease. Some studies such as TrialNet are focused on identifying the causes of type 1 diabetes and the possible ways to prevent or delay the progress or onset of the disease.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease is caused by several factors, including lifestyle and genes.
When to consult the doctor
If you suspect that you or your child have diabetes. Contact your doctor if you notice any possible symptoms of diabetes. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the faster the treatment can begin.
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes. After receiving the diagnosis, you will need a rigorous medical follow-up until your blood sugar level stabilizes.
It occurs during pregnancy, between the 24-28 week of gestation, in a woman who did not have diabetes before.
During pregnancy different hormones are produced to carry out a successful and healthy pregnancy.
The effect of these hormones is contrary to the action of insulin, this means that they generate a resistance to the action of insulin and do not allow it to function properly.
In a woman WITHOUT gestational diabetes, an overproduction of insulin is initiated, in this way resistance is overcome and healthy glucose levels are maintained.
However, when the body does not have enough capacity to produce extra insulin, it is not possible to overcome the resistance and the blood glucose starts to rise, this is known as gestational diabetes
Genes and family history
Women with a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, which suggests that genes play a role.
Genes may also explain why the disorder occurs most often in African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics or Latinas.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. What is known is that the immune system, which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses, attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
This leaves you with little or no insulin. Instead of being transported to the cells, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream.
It is believed that the cause of type 1 diabetes is a combination of genetic propensity and environmental factors, although it is not yet clear exactly what these factors are.
Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
In prediabetes (which can lead to type 2 diabetes) and type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to the action of insulin and the pancreas can not generate enough insulin to counteract this resistance.
Instead of reaching the cells where it is needed to provide energy, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream.
The exact reason why it happens is not known, although it is believed that genetic and environmental factors influence the onset of type 2 diabetes. Overweight is strongly linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes but not all type 2 diabetics have overweight.
Can diabetes be serious?
If left unchecked, injuries to the eyes, kidneys and nerves, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions may develop over time.
What is the normal glucose level?
There is the talk of prediabetes when there is a rise in blood glucose levels, but this does not reach the minimum to be considered diabetes. It occurs in two situations that are risk factors for the onset of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases:
- When the fasting glucose levels are between 100 and 125 mg/dl.
- When two hours after the oral glucose overload test, blood glucose levels are between 140 and 199 mg / dL.
- Hb1c levels are between 5.5 and 6.4%.
Below these levels, there is no diabetes.
Exercise for diabetics
Practicing moderate exercise, and adapted to the possibilities of each individual, is an excellent way to improve the control of diabetes.
If you do not have a very good diabetes education and a broad knowledge of the disease, and especially in patients who use insulin, it is advisable not to do a strenuous exercise, as it could cause hypoglycemia.
An exercise is considered effective when it is performed all or almost every day of the week, at least for 30 minutes, with moderate intensity. The most recommended exercises for diabetic patients are walking, soft jogging, dancing, swimming, cycling …
Food for diabetes
Avoid foods with a high content of carbohydrates, especially if they are fast-absorbing sugars (sugar, cakes and pastries, pastry creams, jams, cakes, ice cream …).
We recommend the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by the abundance of fresh products of vegetable origin (fruits, vegetables, cereals, potatoes, nuts, etc.).
The shortage of products rich in refined sugars and red meats, the presence of oil olive as the main source of fat, and the intake of cheese, yogurt, chicken and fish in moderate amounts, which is considered an ideal diet for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
The caloric intake should be adequate to maintain the ideal weight and those foods rich in sugars (sweets, cakes, pies, custards, jams, ice cream …) should be avoided. Likewise, one should limit a lot or avoid alcohol consumption, since it favors hypoglycemia.