Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Diabetes has become a very common heath problem. The main cause is lack of adequate insulin production to manage the level of glucose in your blood. While there is no cure for diabetes, with your blood sugar level under control you can live a totally normal life.

Diabetes is a type of lifestyle disease, affects millions of people worldwide. As per current statistics, 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.  An estimated 3.4 million people died due to high blood sugar in the year 2004.  More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, between 2008 and 2030 diabetes death is likely to increase two thirds.

Although there is no cure for diabetes, there are several ways to manage and cope with this condition. A few lifestyle changes like sticking on to a healthy diet plan, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight and abstaining from use of tobacco and alcohol can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.  Nonetheless, the success of living with diabetes depends largely on the patient.  

Know About Diabetes

A chronic lifelong disease, Diabetes often termed the “Silent Killer,” occurs due to inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas, or due to the body’s ineffective use of the insulin produced.

A hormone, which regulates the blood sugar, is known as insulin. This hormone has intense effects on metabolism playing a major role in the absorption of blood glucose by the body’s cells in the liver, muscle and fat tissues.  This glucose, however, stores up in the liver and muscle preventing the body from using up fat as a source of energy.

However, with inadequate amounts of insulin in the blood, the body cells do not take up Glucose.  Under these circumstances, the body utilizes fat as a source of energy.  Insulin is responsible for the control of other body systems, such as making use of amino acid by the body cells.

Different types of diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes
An autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes, mostly referred to as “insulin-dependent”, “immune-mediated” or “juvenile-onset diabetes”, is caused when the immune system destroys the cells in the insulin producing pancreas.  Although this type of Diabetes may affect people of any age, it usually develops in children or young adults.  People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin, therefore in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood, insulin injections are administered on a daily basis for survival.

Type 2 Diabetes 
The most common form of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes.  Referred to as “non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” or “adult-onset diabetes” this type is most often associated with certain ethnic origins such as people of Asian, Hispanic, African or Native American ancestry, advancing age, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity.  It is a condition known as insulin resistance, when the body fails to make effective use of the insulin produced by the pancreas.  Unlike type 1 diabetes, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually, remaining subtle, undetected for many years.

Gestational Diabetes (GD)
During pregnancy about 3 to 5 percent of women, suffer from Gestational Diabetes.  Normally, after the birth of the baby, these types of diabetes cease to exist.  Nevertheless, in 40 to 60 % cases, within a span of five to ten years time, women with gestational diabetes are most likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Therefore, retaining ideal body weight and being physically active is highly imperative to prevent the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.  A shortage of insulin or certain pregnancy hormones are some of the factors responsible for the development of Gestational Diabetes.  As in cases of Type 2 Diabetes, the risk of Gestational Diabetes occurs among women, with a family history of diabetes.

Prediabetes is a condition without symptoms.  Depending upon the tests, prediabetes is also termed impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).  Both these conditions indicate high blood glucose levels after overnight fast, with the blood sugar ranging to higher than normal levels yet not high enough to be called diabetes.  A precursor of Type 2 Diabetes, often referred to as “borderline Diabetes,” this condition, if left unchecked, may lead to Type 2 Diabetes with a risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.  However, the greatest advantage for people with this condition is that they may prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes with regular exercise and by maintaining ideal body weight.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes, most often arrives as an uninvited guest, without prior sign or symptom. However, there are a few common symptoms typical of the diseases as follows:

Frequent Urination
Elevated glucose levels in the blood result in frequent urination, especially at nights.  This is mainly because the body flushes out excess sugar through urine. However, due to the excretion of excess fluid and sugar there may be possibilities of dehydration.

Excessive Thirst
When the body tries to replenish the lost fluids excretes via urine, it results in excessive thirst.

Excessive Hunger
The insufficient insulin levels exhaust the muscles and the organs due to the body’s inability to move sugar into the cells and the tissues making a person ravenous.

Weight Loss
The excess glucose released through urine, resulting in a significant loss of calories.  Due to an inability to metabolize glucose levels, the body utilises alternative fuels stored in muscle and fat.  Therefore, despite an increased food intake there is tremendous weight loss.

Blurred Vision
Uncontrolled diabetes or unusual changes in blood sugar levels affect the lens inside the eye resulting in blurring of vision.

Skin Problems
Due to suppression of immune system, whenever there is fluctuation in blood sugar levels, the body gives few signals through symptoms of frequent skin infections like fungal, bacterial, or urinary tract infection.  Another sign may be itching of skin, caused, perhaps, due to poor circulation or dry skin.  Some of them with type 2 diabetes have a condition, called acanthosis nigricans, which is darkening of the skin around neck or armpit regions. This may be a sign of insulin resistance, despite the blood sugar levels remaining normal.

Delayed Wound Healing
Another characteristic symptom of diabetes is that there is a delay in the healing of infections, cuts and bruises.  This happens due to the thickening of blood vessels, affecting blood circulation in different body parts.

Diabetics experience irritability and mood swings on numerous occasions, which depends on blood glucose levels in the body.  These fluctuations arising in the blood sugar levels, lead to inept glucose supply to the brain which is responsible for irritability and grumpiness.

Numbness or Tingling
Prolonged diabetes causes nerve damageknown as diabetic neuropathy.  This often results in numbness or tingling sensation, especially in the hands and legs, combined with swelling or burning pain.

Shortage of sugar in the cells is the cause for unexplained fatigue or tiredness.

Diabetes Complications

Untreated or uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes may lead to serious life threatening complications.  Few of them are:

One of the major complications is diabetic retinopathy with symptoms of pain in the eye gradually resulting in loss of vision.  Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious conditions pertaining to vision such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is one of the foremost factors for mortality in about 50% of the population. Prolonged, uncontrolled diabetes may affect the heart and blood vessels leading to coronary heart disease, resulting in heart attacks and stroke.

Diabetic renal disease, also known as diabetic nephropathy, is one of the most common and devastating complications of diabetes. The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessels filtering waste from blood.  However, prolonged Diabetes may damage the delicate filtering system causing organ deterioration and function, which, ultimately results in kidney failure, termed end-stage renal disease, (ESRD).

Neuropathy/ Autonomic Neuropathy
Elevated blood sugar levels may damage the walls of the tiny blood vessels, supporting the nerves, especially on the legs known as diabetic neuropathy.  This often demonstrates as tingling, burning, numbness, tightness, shooting or stabbing pain in the hands or feet, especially at nights, with a loss of feeling ultimately leading to ulceration and amputation of the affected limbs.

Another type is the autonomic neuropathy, a condition damaging the nerves controlling internal organs because of high blood sugar levels.  This results in digestive problems, diarrhoea, erectile dysfunction, rapid heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing risk of osteoporosis.

Diabetics are prone to depression, which in turn, may increase blood sugar levels and allied complications.

Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, may be due to problems related to blood vessels in the brain. Excessive or insufficient insulin may lead to either brain damaging inflammation or deprivation of glucose in the brain cells.

Hearing Loss 
Diabetes leads to hearing impairment.

Gum infections
Gum infections may also be a concern, especially with a history of poor dental hygiene.

High blood glucose levels in the blood slow down the action of white blood cells causing inability to fight infection.

Tests and Diagnosis
Measuring the fasting blood glucose levels after an 8-hour fast.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) conducted by measuring blood glucose levels, after 2 hours of drinking 75 grams of glucose, dissolved in water.

HbA1c, a blood test measuring the percentage of blood sugar attached to haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells signifying the average blood sugar level for the past two to three months.

Effective Management of Diabetes

Although there is no cure for Diabetes, it is imperative to tackle this condition prudently yet patiently.

Monitoring levels
The A1C test with frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels, depending upon the severity of the condition, is a way to make sure that blood sugar level remains within target range.

Regular Exercise
Half an hour Regular exercise a day,activate insulin thereby controlling blood sugar levels. However, to avoid exercises known to cause further complications like cardiovascular diseases, hypoglycaemia etc.,it will be wise to consult a physician.

Low calorie nutritious food sans fat, taken in small portions, with high fiber content,  fresh leafy green vegetables, fruits and cutting down on salt are the prerequisites of a healthy diabetic meal plan.

Developing healthy eating habits help control body weight, preventing risk of High blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.

Undue stress raise blood sugar levels, as stress hormones interfere with effective functioning of insulin.

Quit smoking
Smoking increases risk of various diabetes complications.  Therefore seeking professional help will be a good option to quit smoking. (Read harmful effects of smoking)

Limit Alcohol
Alcohol consumption cause either high or low blood glucose levels. Therefore, drinking in moderation is recommended.

Feet care
Checking the feet each day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling, and seeking professional help in case of soreness may help prevent complications.

Sparkling Teeth
Brushing teeth twice a day combined with gentle flossing prevent infection and bleeding of the gums.

Any changes in vision ought to be discussed with a doctor.

There are various natural remedies for diabetes that will help you control your blood sugar level

Natural & Home Remedies For Diabetes

Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon, can be helpful for controlling diabetes due to its blood glucose lowering effects. It tends to influence the glucose metabolism all over your body rather than a particular organ or tissue. It helps increase pancreatic insulin secretion and prevents insulin resistance. Thus, bitter gourd is beneficial for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, it cannot be used to entirely replace insulin treatment.

Drink some bitter gourd juice on an empty stomach each morning. First remove the seeds of two to three bitter gourds and use a juicer to extract the juice. Add some water and then drink it. Follow this treatment daily in the morning for at least two months. Also you can include one dish made of bitter gourd daily in your diet.

Fenugreek is an herb that can also be used to control diabetes, improve glucose tolerance and lower blood sugar levels due to its hypoglycaemic activity. It also stimulates the secretion of glucose-dependent insulin. Being high in fiber, it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars.

Soak two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Drink the water along with the seeds in the morning on an empty stomach. Follow this remedy without fail for a few months to bring down your glucose level.

Eat two tablespoons of powdered fenugreek seeds daily with milk.

Powdered cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin activity. It contains bio-active ingredients that can help prevent and fight diabetes. Certain trials have shown that it can work as an effective option to lower blood sugar levels in cases of uncontrolled type-2 diabetes. Cinnamon, however, should not be taken in excess because we commonly use Cassia cinnamon (found in most grocery stores) which contains a compound called coumarin. It is a toxic compound that increases the risk of liver damage. There is another variety of this herb known as Ceylon cinnamon or “true cinnamon.” It is considered safer for health but its effects on blood glucose levels have not been studied adequately.

Mix one teaspoon cinnamon in a cup of warm water. Drink it daily. You can also swallow a pinch of cinnamon with warm water every day.

Indian gooseberry, also known as Amla, is rich in vitamin C and Indian gooseberry juice promotes proper functioning of your pancreas.

Take two to three Indian gooseberries, remove the seeds and grind it into a fine paste. Put the paste in a cloth and squeeze out the juice. Mix two tablespoon of the juice in one cup of water and drink it daily on an empty stomach.

Alternatively, mix one tablespoonful of Indian gooseberry juice with a cup of bitter gourd juice and drink it daily for a few months.

Black Plum or Indian Black Berry (Jamun)

Black plum can help a lot in controlling blood sugar level because it contains anthocyanins, ellagic acid, hydrolysable tannins etc. Each part of the Black Plum plant such as the leaves, berry and seeds can be used by those suffering from diabetes. In fact, research has shown that the fruits and seeds of this plant have hypoglycemic effects as they help reduce blood and urine sugar levels rapidly. The seeds, in particular, contain glycoside jamboline and alkaloid jambosine that regulate control blood sugar levels.

Whenever this seasonal fruit is available in the market, try to include it in your diet as it can be very effective for the pancreas. Else you can make a powder of dried seeds of Black Plum fruit and eat this powder with water twice a day. This fruit is native to India and its neighboring countries but you can find it at Asian markets and herbal shops.

The combination of aloe vera gel, bay leaves and turmeric is helpful for controlling blood sugar. To make this herbal medicine, mix one to two teaspoons of ground bay leaves, one teaspoon of turmeric and one teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Drink this solution daily, before lunch and dinner. Aloe vera gel helps lower fasting blood glucose levels. It contains phytosterols that have possible anti-hyperglycemic effects for type 2 diabetes.

Due to its vitamin C and high fiber content, eating guava can be really helpful in maintaining the blood sugar level. It is best for diabetics not to eat the skin of the fruit so peel it first. However, too much consumption of guava in a day is not recommended.

Mango Leaves
The delicate and tender mango leaves can be used to treat diabetes by regulating insulin levels in the blood. They can also help improve blood lipid profiles.

Soak 10 to 15 tender mango leaves in a glass of water overnight. In the morning, filter the water and drink it on an empty stomach.

You can also dry the leaves in the shade and grind them. Eat one-half teaspoon of powdered mango leaves two times daily.

Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are useful in preventing and controlling diabetes as they have anti-diabetic properties. It is believed that curry leaves contain an ingredient that reduces the rate at which starch is broken down to glucose in diabetics. So, you can simply chew about 10 fresh curry leaves daily in the morning. For best results, continue this treatment for three to four months. It also helps reduce bad cholesterol levels and obesity.

Drink Water
The amount of water you drink on daily basis is important in controlling high blood sugar. Water mobilizes the high sugar content in your blood. Drink at least 2.5 liters of water daily. Drinking enough water will also lower the risk of other ailments associated with diabetes. Moderate exposure to sunlight too, is essential for leading a healthy life, and a very simple yet effective way to help control high blood sugar. Sunlight improves the functionality of vitamin D, which is essential for insulin production. Take a few minutes every day and let your body soak in the sun light.

If you can't do without sugar in your coffee or tea, try and substitute honey. 

Studies have shown that black coffee without sugar cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes 

Among other benefits, green tea is also helpful in reducing the blood sugar and insulin levels in the body 

These natural remedies can aid in controlling blood sugar levels, but you must also eat healthy foods in small amounts and make regular exercise part of your daily routine. It is important also to consult your nutritionist or doctor on regular basis if you have diabetes.

Living with diabetes is not as difficult as it sounds, provided the person adopts a positive outlook of life with a cheery attitude!

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