What is diabetes?

Do you understand "what is diabetes?"Do you understand "what is diabetes?"

            In our modern life, diabetes is getting more and more popular. It is becoming one of the diseases having the highest increase speed in the world.  In the last decade, the rate of people living with diabetes jumped almost 50 percent – to more than 29 million Americans. Coping with this urgent situation, “what is diabetes?” is a question that needs answering clearly for all of us. Let’s looking for this disease in order to prevent and detect it timely.

What is Diabetes?

According to the United State expert committee on the diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus: “Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders when pancreatic hormone insulin is missing or reduce the impact of body, with one common manifestation of hyperglycemia”

We can explain it more easily as following. Diabetes is caused due to an increased level of blood sugar or glucose in the blood stream, which in turn can be caused by a number of different factors. In which, the role of the hormone insulin in the body is the primary one.

Diabetes is caused due to an increased level of blood sugar or glucose in the blood stream

Diabetes is caused due to an increased level of blood sugar or glucose in the blood stream

If diabetes is not treated carefully, it can lead to some many serious complications. They directly affect patients’ health and leave some unfortunate consequences, as well.

Now, you can see this video for more more information about this disease. Then, you can know diabetes prevention


The status of diabetes

In this second part, we will look for the status of diabetes. Through this part, we can understand the severe level of this disease in our modern life.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), diabetes status is recorded as following:
• Every 6 seconds, there is 1 diabetes deaths (equivalent to 5 million deaths)

• One in 11 adults  has diabetes (equivalent to 415 million people)

• Every 7 births, there is one case affected by gestational diabetes

In addition, as forecasts for 2040, there will be approximately 642 million people having diabetes.

Here, we can list 3 countries with the high rate of diabetes. The first country is the USA. In the America, it is estimated that about 26 million people have diabetes, approximately 7 million people is under the situation of too much sugar in the blood. Another country with high rate of diabetes is Britain. This country also has about 3 million people with diabetes. More severely, this number  is constantly increasing. The third country we want to mention is Germany.  According to the latest data on the World Diabetes Day (14th, November 2015), more than 6 million people in Germany are now affected this disease. What is a bad rate of diabetes!

Causes of diabetes

In this part, we will look for main causes of diabetes for detail.

As the classification of the United State expert committee on the diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus,  diabetes has 3 main types are: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Each different form of the disease has different causes. As in type 1 diabetes, the genetic factor is important. Besides, another factor is the decline of  immune system that makes white blood cells attack pancreatic beta ones. Consequently, pancreas is weakened. Moreover, environmental factor is also another cause of this disease.However, because the most popular diabetes is in type 2 diabetes (over 90%). In addition, it is closely related to lifestyle – what each person can attempt to adjust, so we will focus on causes of type 2 diabetes.

According to the analysis, there are 6 main causes of diabetes type 2 as following:

Six main causes of diabetes type 2

Six main causes of diabetes type 2

  1. Genetic factor. Genes play an important part in susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. In general, genes or their combinations can increase or decrease the risk of development of a human disease
  2. Obesity and sedentary. Physical activities and  obesity are closely  related to the development of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Insulin resistance. When muscle, fat and liver cells reduce or stop responding properly to insulin, it forces the pancreas to compensate by producing more insulin. As long as the beta cells can produce enough insulin, your blood sugar is at normal levels. But when insulin production stops due to dysfunction of beta cells, glucose levels rise and lead to diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  4. Abnormal production of hepatic glucose. In some people with diabetes, abnormal increase in the production of glucose in the liver also contributes to high blood glucose levels
  5. Metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  6. The risk factors of diabetes type 2. People with type 2 diabetes often have some or many of the following characteristics. They are also risk factors of diabetes.
  • 45 years or older
  • Parents or siblings with diabetes
  • History of a child born weighing 9 pounds (4,5kg)
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure at 140/90 or above, or being treated for high blood pressure
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or cholesterol below 35 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL), or a triglyceride level higher than 250 mg / dL
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
  • Pre-diabetes – A1C of 5.7 to 6.4 percent; a fasting blood glucose test result in 100-125 mg / dL; or glucose tolerance test results of 140-199, known as glucose tolerance.
  • History of cardiovascular disease.

American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people who are overweight, obese and  over 45 should be tested to detect diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It is good for us to detect diabetes early.

Now, we move to the next part of this article for diabetes. Let’s study the symptoms of diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Do you know symptoms of diabetes?

Do you know symptoms of diabetes?

In general, diabetes is indicated through a number of signs such as frequent thirst, urination, always feeling tired, weight loss patients with no apparent reason. According to different level of these indications, it will belong to type 1 or type 2. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms usually appear suddenly and can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is necessary to diagnose quickly.

Some typical symptoms of diabetes are followings:

  • Constant tiredness
  • Excessive thirst than normal
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Feeling hungry writhing
  • Sudden weight loss for no apparent reason

With type 2 diabetes, symptoms are rarely realized. Actually, when patients detect the disease, its complications occurred before. Therefore, it is said to be more dangerous than type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes also see the appearance of symptoms similar to type 1 diabetes, such as tiredness, weight loss with no apparent reason.

Complications of Diabetes

Blindness, heart attack are two of some dangerous complications of diabetes

Blindness, heart attack are two of some dangerous complications of diabetes

According to the American Heart Association and the UK Center for the National Health Service, high blood sugar level can damage blood vessels, increase the ability of atherosclerosis. It also leads to the risk of reduced or even obstructive blood supply to the nerves. General speaking, diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes) can cause micro-vascular complications, macro-vascular complications, or both of them.

Micro-vascular complications are the most common complications of diabetes, including:

  • Eye diseases
  • Kidney problems
  • The diseases related to the nervous system

About macro-vascular complications, high sugar levels in the long run can cause a process, called “atherosclerosis”, or artery blockage. The narrowing of the arteries can lead to decreased blood flow to the heart muscle (causing a heart attack) or brain (leading to stroke) or legs (leading to pain and decreased ability to heal infected wounds).

After knowing general information about diabetes, it is also necessary to know diabetes detection tests. Looking into it in the next part.

Diabetes Detection Test

For preliminary examination, doctors can use fingertips or urine tests. These are called the initial tests.

Fingertips test is one of the initial test for diabetes

Fingertips test is one of the initial test for diabetes

  • Urine: First, the strips are dipped into a urine sample. Its color will change if there is the impact of glucose presence in urine. Then, comparing the test strip with the available color scale makes us to know glucose levels. If the glucose level shown in test strips is higher than usual, or it is normal but still has symptoms associated with diabetes, the doctor will give you a blood test to know exactly.
  • Fingertips test: Pick up a drop of blood on the fingertip for test strips, then put the strip into the meter to read the results. Normal blood glucose level is in the range of 4-6 mmol /L. If test results are higher than 6 mmol / L or still within the normal range (4-6 mmol / L), but still have symptoms, the doctor will give you a blood test.

Thus, two above tests don’t help determine exactly whether you have  diabetes or not, especially in cases of having one or more symptoms. They can not give specific results of blood glucose.

According to the American Diabetes Association about Standards of medical care in diabetes, if diabetics want to have an exact diabetes diagnosis, it is necessary to undergo blood tests. Any one of the following tests may be used to diagnose:

  • Random Plasma Glucose Test: Blood taken from the arm will be sent for analysis. Before taking blood, you are not required to be hungry. The results will be available after 1 week.If your glucose is 11,1mmol / L and having symptoms of diabetes, you have diabetes. If you do not have symptoms and glucose lower 11,1mmol / L, you need to take more 1 or 2 tests: a fasting plasma glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test.
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Before test, you must not eat anything from the night until the next morning. This test is usually done first thing in the morning, before breakfast. The results will be available after 1 week.If you have symptoms and test result is above 7 mmol /L, you are diagnosed diabetes. If you have no symptoms or have symptoms together with test result below 7 mmol /L, you need to take it again or to take the oral glucose tolerance test more.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: It is also known as blood sugar tolerance test, a measure of the body reacts to sugar (glucose). The oral glucose tolerance test can be used to confirm the type 2 diabetes. More commonly, a modified version of the glucose tolerance test is used to diagnose gestational diabetes. You are asked not to eat or drink all night, the next morning you will be check your blood glucose levels before and 2 hours after you drink a special sweet drink. It tells the doctor how your body processes glucose. If a fasting glucose level is 7 mmol /L and glucose level  after 2 hours drinking sweet drink is above 11.1 mmol /L, doctor concludes that you have diabetes, whether you have symptoms or not. This test is only used when all the above tests are not sufficient grounds to conclude.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is effectively used to confirm the type 2 diabetes

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is effectively used to confirm the type 2 diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association about Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes (2012), in the process of diabetes prevention, we mainly focus on controlling the amount of insulin in the body. Therefore, besides medication, strict follow-up regime, patients must have a reasonable, scientific lifestyle and diet.

Let’s study this important factors in the next part.

 Lifestyle and Diet for Diabetics

American Diabetes Association recommend that patients need to adjust lifestyles and his eating attitude to control the disease and limit the complications may be encountered

 1. About Diet

There are some types of food specialized for diabetic. They are good for their treatment process. As analysis, patients should use foods with high level of fiber. They will release sugar slowly, then help to keep blood glucose levels slowly increased. Thus, we can prevent the situation of too much insulin production. Foods with high level of fiber also provide lasting energy and help you full longer.

Vegetables are the first choice for diabetes prevention

Vegetables are the first choice for diabetes prevention

In addition, diabetics should restrict some types of unhealthy foods, beverages follows:

  • Foods that are processed at high temperatures such as fried, especially deeply fried.
  • The processed foods, canned foods.
  • Sweets: Sugar, cane and all kinds of processed milk. You only limit kinds of processed milk. In contrast, unsweetened fresh milk is very good. In addition, coffee, candy, lime stone, canned fruits, juice, candy, jam, tea and fat are also restricted.
  • Fried rice, fried noodles, bread, potatoes (yams, cassava …), biscuits, fresh fruit, eggs are limited to your body’s intake.
  • Do not eat salty
  • Limit alcohol, smoking, because it may promote hypoglycemia in patients being treated with oral hypoglycemic agents.

 2. About Lifestyle

Diabetics need to follow a healthy lifestyle, regular physical exercises and to monitor and control their health situation, such as:

  • To control weight: Weight loss is an important goal for people with diabetes (particularly type 2 diabetes). Obesity raises blood sugar and insulin resistance. A proper weight loss program also helps to prevent the growth of obesity complications like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease.
  •  Have a relaxing therapy: Stress increases the release of pituitary hormone ACTH, thereby it stimulates hormone cortisol liberated from the adrenal glands, also known as the stress hormone. Thus, it indirect affects blood sugar levels of the body.
  • Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase blood glucose levels and increase the stress hormone cortisol production. To avoid this, please maintain regular sleep for 7-8 hours continuously.
  •  Stop smoking: Tobacco products can affect blood circulation in the body. Affected blood circulation can affect diabetes and cause serious consequences.
  •  Regular physical activities: Diabetics should take exercises regularly. According to the study, diabetic patients taking regular exercises are less likely to suffer from complications such as stroke and heart attack.
A healthy lifestyle plays an imprtant role for diabetes treatment

A healthy lifestyle plays an imprtant role for diabetes treatment

 3. Physical activity regimen for diabetics

Physical activities play an important part of the diabetes treatment. They make body consume sugar easily, thus lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, it can lead to insulin dose reduction or some other blood sugar lowering medications. Physical activity also improves the operational status of a number of agencies, improves health status. In addition, regular exercise helps increase energy consumption and reduces the risk of obesity.

Training principles:

  • Exercise slowly and appropriately.
  • Physical activities should be considered as a method of treatment.
  • Before exercising, diabetics should have a snack
  • Do not participate in practice while suffering from acute diseases, high blood sugar.

Some activity models (from low to high)

  • Reduce time for watching TV, playing on the computer and lunch break
  • Every day, patients should walk, walk more, the gap is increasing. Going up and down the stairs several times a day
  • From 3-5 times a week, diabetics should carry out physical activities, as follows: Exercise for 20 minutes; Walking fast ; Run fast; Cycling; Playing the exercise games (30 minutes per time) as table tennis, badminton, tennis.
  • The other exercises must be approved by your doctor
It is necessary to limit watching TV

It is necessary to limit watching TV

How to Avoid Diabetes?

At present, type 1 diabetes can not be prevented. However, the researchers are looking into the autoimmune process of the body and the impact of environmental factors leading to the development of type 1 diabetes. Therefore, we can prevent diabetes type 1 in the future. Meanwhile, many cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by positive lifestyle changes. It is estimated that the risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced up to 58% if we maintain a stable body weight, take regular physical activity and have a sensible eating plan. In addition, such a lifestyle is not only to manage and prevent diabetes but also good for cardiovascular health.

Here are some advice from the American Diabetes Association for diabetes prevention:

  • Eat regular, proper meals. It is necessary to avoid activities that make glucose levels changed, such as skipping meals or meals aborted because of work or other reasons.
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits. If you usually eat breakfast with oily foods such as bread, butter cheese, fries … please change your breakfast with a salad. Adding much vegetables to your meals is often the simplest way to prevent diabetes. It is also an effective way to reduce your weight and keep your blood sugar stable. However, you need to study what types of fruits are good for diabetics.
  • Whole grains are rich in fiber is recommended as a healthy source of carbohydrates: Eating some types of whole grains can help stabilize and control the amount of sugar in our blood. According to research results of scientists,  supplement of regular whole grains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure.
  • Try to drink water or coffee and tea instead of sugary drinks and avoid adding sugar when drinking.
  • Eat beans. This vegetable is a low-fat source of starch, protein and fiber, such as lentils, chick peas and garden peas.
  • Reduce the amount of fat in process of making foods, such as we can bake instead of fry foods.
  • Eat fish twice a week or more
  • Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil. As we know, hydrogenation technology is applied to extend the use duration of foods. Beside, patietns need to limit saturated fats and trans fats. We should replace them with unsaturated fats single and polyunsaturated (butter, almonds, olive oil, ..)
  • Cut back on sugars in drinks and food. Diabetics should use tea and coffee without sugar, avoid fruit syrup and pay attention to the label of food and its expiry.
Sugar needs to be restricted on diabetics meals

Sugar needs to be restricted on diabetics meals

  • Reduce salt. It is good for our health to prepare, process foods with little or no salt.Cut back on the eating diet consumption
  • Be wary of functional foods “diabetes” – They do not bring specific benefits and can be costly
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation. No more than one drink per day for women and two glasses for men is allowed.
  • Reducing body weight is the simplest way to put you out of danger of diabetes.
  • Increase physical activity: Playing sports for more than 30 minutes, taking exercise approximately 1 hour per day for most of the day. Patients should be active in all activities and take steps between 5,000-10,000 feet per day
  • Moreover, we should avoid sitting for too long at work. In addition, we should rest for 5 minutes after working 1 hour. For women, it is good to avoid work at night.

In short, diabetes becomes one of the most popular diseases for all of us. Let’s increase the knowledge about this dangerous disease and ways of prevention.

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