Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body’s sugar metabolism is disrupted. With a good metabolic control from the beginning of the disease, however, those affected can lead an almost normal life, comparable to that of people with a healthy metabolism. The prerequisite for this is competent medical care and a high degree of personal responsibility on the part of the patient. Because even in everyday life you can do a lot to keep your own state of health stable or to improve it. Structured measurements of plasma glucose (popularly known as blood sugar) and, if necessary, blood pressure, as well as a healthy lifestyle can therefore not be seen as a burden but as a personal opportunity for people with diabetes.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: What’s the Difference?
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases. Unlike type 1, it is not caused by a congenital defect in the pancreas, which produces too little insulin or no insulin at all. It occurs because we consume too much sugar over a long period of time – and at some point the body cells become so deadened that they can use the sugar just as badly as if the necessary insulin is missing or lacking for organic reasons (technical term: “insulin resistance”). Because this second form of diabetes is acquired over the years through an unhealthy lifestyle, it is also popularly known as “senile diabetes” – even though middle-aged or even young people can now be affected.
Common Consequences Of Diabetes
Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
- Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. 50% of diabetic patients die of cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke).
- Neuropathy of the feet combined with reduced blood flow increases the risk of foot ulcers and ultimately amputation.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of blindness, and is the consequence of damage to the small blood vessels of the retina that accumulates over time. After 15 years with diabetes, approximately 2% of patients become blind, and 10% have severe vision impairment.
- Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure. 10 to 20% of patients with diabetes die from this cause.
- Diabetic neuropathy is due to nerve damage as a result of diabetes, and can affect up to 50% of patients. Although it can cause a wide variety of problems, common symptoms include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet and hands.
- In patients with diabetes the risk of death is at least twice as high as in people without diabetes.
By 2040: 50 Percent More Diabetics Expected
At least 8 million people live with diabetes. Experts predict that by 2040 there will be at least 12 million – 50 percent more. Worldwide, the number of people affected by diabetes is expected to increase by the same amount – to 750 million. Even before the start of the corona pandemic, which is currently more preoccupying us than many other diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared diabetes a “pandemic” due to its dimensions, i.e. a mass disease raging worldwide – even if it is not an infectious disease, but one of those “non-communicable diseases” that you think should be easier to control.
Today, in the second part of the interview with the “Pharma Facts” specialist platform, the diabetologist explains what individuals can (and should) do on their own initiative and responsibly so that they do not develop diabetes in the first place. The very personal measures begin with early detection. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected, the more likely it is that consequential damage to the body will be avoided.
Type 2 Diabetes: Why Choose A Healthy Lifestyle?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. With an alarming growth in recent years – both in adults and children, its development can be prevented with healthy eating patterns and moderate physical activity. We explain what type 2 diabetes is and why health is the reason to choose a healthy lifestyle.
Currently in the world there are more than 350 million people with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a pathology characterized by high blood glucose levels resulting from defects in the body’s ability to use insulin. Insulin helps cells convert glucose from food into energy. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of entering the cells, it can cause complications.
More than 90% of cases of diabetes in society are type 2 diabetes, one of the three main types of diabetes :
- Type 1 diabetes: Usually diagnosed in children and young adults, in this type of diabetes the body does not produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes CANNOT BE PREVENTED.
- Type 2 diabetes: The body produces insulin but does not use it efficiently. The development of this type of diabetes CAN BE PREVENTED or delayed with healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes is the type of diabetes that begins in pregnancy.
Type 2 Diabetes: A Silent Pathology
In type 2 diabetes, a person’s body does not produce enough insulin or insulin is not assimilated efficiently , for this reason glucose accumulates in the blood and hyperglycemia occurs, which diagnoses type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is said to be a silent pathology because the early stages are generally silent and many of its symptoms seem harmless :
- Frequent urination
- Increased tiredness or weakness
- Unusual hunger
- Unjustified weight loss
- Blurry vision
Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with a period of prediabetes in which blood sugar levels are elevated, but not high enough for a firm diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a warning sign of diabetes. Hence the importance of measuring your sugar levels.
Diagnosis And Treatment
The diagnosis can be made early with relatively inexpensive blood tests.
Treatment of diabetes consists of lowering blood glucose and other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. To avoid complications it is also important to stop smoking.
Interventions that are feasible and affordable in developing countries include:
- Moderate glycemic control. Patients with type 1 diabetes require insulin, and patients with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medications, although they may also require insulin.
- Control of blood pressure.
- Podiatric care.
- Screening for retinopathy (a cause of blindness).
- Control of blood lipids (regulation of cholesterol concentration).
- Detection of early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease.
Healthy Habits To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is one of the few pathologies in which the patient himself has the keys to its prevention.
In recent days, the American Diabetes Association has re-emphasized that lifestyle management is the key to treating diabetes patients, according to a review article published in Osteopathic Family Physician. The cornerstone of treatment for patients with diabetes is lifestyle management.
“In addition to dozens of tips on diet and exercise, it’s important to provide evidence-based recommendations on lifestyle management for our patients with diabetes,” says Kim Pfotenhauer, DO, assistant professor of medicine in the department of primary care at Touro University College.
In their article, Pfotenhauer and colleagues reviewed the most important lifestyle recommendations by the ADA to help family physicians provide better diabetes care for their patients. Some recommendations that go beyond nutrition and sports and that could be roughly summarized in five.
Lifestyle management focuses on:
1. Physical Activity
The ADA recommends that patients with diabetes perform aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises. Aerobic exercises can improve cardiorespiratory function and insulin sensitivity; resistance training can increase muscle mass and strength; flexibility exercises will help increase the range of motion around the joints; and balance exercises can lower the risk of falls in older adults with diabetes.
Patients with type 2 diabetes should reduce their sedentary behavior as it increases the risk of mortality and morbidity. Younger patients with type 1 diabetes may also see benefits from physical activity, including reduced mortality and possible blood glucose stability.
For youth with type 2 diabetes, the ADA recommends a minimum of 1 hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity 3 days per week.
2. Nutrition Therapy
The researchers wrote that people with diabetes should receive individualized medical nutrition therapy, preferably from a professional dietitian. Diets should feature healthy eating patterns that contain nutritious foods, such as the Mediterranean diet and plant-based diets. Carbohydrates higher in fiber and lower in glycemic load should be controlled and sugary drinks should be avoided to control weight and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatty liver.
3. Quit Smoking
Previous research has shown that smoking cessation is associated with a substantial benefit in the impact of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. The number of cases is greatly reduced.
4. Psychological Support
In its updated recommendations, the ADA advises that physicians should assess the patient from a psychological point of view, taking into account aspects such as anxiety and other psychosocial problems caused by diabetes. This condition has a direct impact on the control of diabetes.
5. Education And Help In Diabetes Self-Management
Once again, the importance of the person with diabetes knowing and perfectly handling all the parameters of their diabetes is highlighted. This is achieved with constant and permanent education, in such a way that the person with diabetes can make decisions based on information.