Diabetes is a relatively common condition that affects the ability of the body to convert sugar in to energy. When the body functions normally a hormone called insulin controls this conversion process, however in the case of diabetes sugar is allowed to build up in the blood to dangerous levels. If left untreated this can ultimately result in a range of conditions, including blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure.
Credit: Public domainWhen a person cannot produce insulin to control their blood sugar levels they are said to have Type 1 diabetes. Although Type 1 diabetes is treatable, it is not preventable. It is often diagnosed in childhood, meaning that it must be managed throughout life. The more common form of the condition is Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin, or actively prevents its control of blood sugar levels. Neither form is curable, although Type 2 diabetes is often preventable with some lifestyle changes.
There are instances when a person will have high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In such a case they would be diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which is thought to affect seventy-nine million people in the US and seven million people in the UK. If left untreated pre-diabetes will usually develop into Type 2 diabetes. However, a recent study by the US Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group has shown that the effects can also be reversed by switching to a healthier lifestyle. In fact, it was discovered that people with pre-diabetes were 56% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they reduced their blood sugar levels to the normal range.
Diabetes is known to be linked to certain factors, for example being overweight and eating sweet and processed foods. If you have high blood sugar levels there are some very simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The first is to avoid foods that are high in fats, salt, and sugars, and replace them with fruits and vegetables. You should also limit your intake of alcohol, and it is advisable to drink plenty of water rather than sugary sodas.
Of equal importance to changing your diet is to become active, as exercise is an extremely effective way of reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that your metabolism increases when you exercise, and you burn energy faster. In addition, you will become generally more healthy, and will lower your blood pressure. It should be noted that high blood pressure is another factor associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes. In general, you should be looking to exercise for at least half an hour five days a week in order to experience the most benefit.
If you suspect that you might have diabetes or pre-diabetes then it is imperative to get yourself checked out as soon as possible. The first signs of diabetes include constant extreme thirst, an over-active bladder, and a continual lethargy or lack of energy. If caught early enough, you may be able to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes by lowering your blood sugar levels naturally with exercise and healthy eating. Even if diabetes is diagnosed, a healthy lifestyle will help you to manage your condition more effectively.