Tag Archives: Diabetes

Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Diabetes Testing
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You haven’t been feeling very well the last couple of days, and have had trouble concentrating.

You’re always thirsty and constantly running to the restroom.

And . . . the headaches are driving you crazy.

What’s Going On? 

The quick answer is that it may be high blood sugar. But before you panic, ask yourself some questions about the last few days. 

  • Are you under an excessive amount of stress?
  • Have you been eating a lot of unhealthy foods?
  • Did you stop exercising?
  • Have you eaten an excessively carb-heavy meal?

Any of these can lead to a blood sugar spike.

An occasional spike doesn’t mean that you are immediately at risk for poor health, but consistently high blood sugar is serious.

It is often related to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Two Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, known as juvenile or childhood diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin – and requires insulin injections.

Scientists think it is either genetic or caused by environmental factors like a virus that can trigger the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is more common and typically develops in older children and adults, but can occur at any age.

With this type, the individual’s body does not  respond to insulin as well as it should and in advanced stages, the body doesn’t make enough insulin.

Type 2 can often be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes.

Primary Risk Factor

The primary risk factor is obesity – which afflicts more than 1 in 3 people in the U.S.

 If you are extremely overweight and have been for a while, you should have your blood sugar levels checked regularly. Once diabetes develops, other health issues with the heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels can appear.

In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes,

Medical News Today recently reported that 9% of the U.S. population have diabetes and it is the 7th leading cause of death.

Even if you are not diagnosed with diabetes, having higher-than-recommended blood sugar levels can be dangerous and indicate a condition known as “pre-diabetes.” An additional 38% of the population has been diagnosed with this condition.

What Is Blood Sugar?

The terms “sugar” and “glucose” are used interchangeably, but they are slightly different. When sugar is consumed it is converted to glucose (blood sugar) as a fuel source for the body. 

The brain prefers to burn glucose for energy, which means it is reliant on carbohydrates. But, the rest of the body can also burn fat for fuel in between carb-rich meals. Glucose storage is low in comparison to fat storage in the body.

If you do not eat enough carbs, small amounts of glucose can also be made through non-carbohydrate food sources. The body can also slowly learn to make ketones from fat, which can be supplementary brain food, if necessary.

Glucose Levels Must Be Controlled

Glucose powers the body, but uncontrolled levels can be dangerous.

Diabetes is uncontrolled high blood sugar (glucose) levels.

When you are healthy, blood glucose levels are controlled by the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is a regulator that lowers blood glucose levels, as needed.

When certain foods cause blood sugar levels to rise, insulin is secreted from the pancreas to normalize the levels and all is well.

With Type 2 diabetes, the cells don’t respond correctly to insulin and high levels of blood sugar occur which is called hyperglycemia.

Impact of Weight Gain and Weight Loss

A definite link has not been established between weight gain and increased blood glucose. However, one study showed weight gain increased the risk of diabetes.

Studies have also shown that weight loss can have major beneficial effects over time. Every kg of body weight lost annually was associated with a 33% lower risk of diabetes.

Even modest weight gain can have a substantial impact on the risk of diabetes.

Careful monitoring and maintenance of weight are important for overall health. This is particularly important if diabetes runs in your family or if you have been diagnosed with “pre-diabetes.”

Are You at Risk?

It is important to listen your body – to pay attention to how you feel. Headaches, feeling thirsty frequently and have to pee a lot are indicators of potential problems and should be discussed with your doctor.

American Diabetes Association offers a quick Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. The link will take you to the site.

Your health is your most important asset. Take good care of it! A few simple steps to keep you are track and ensure a long, healthy life.

  • Eat a healthy diet, be sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
  • Avoid junk food/fast foods – the additives and sugar content are harmful to your mind and body. 
  • Exercise regularly – to keep everything working as it should.
  • Have a complete physical checkup every year.
Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

Eat Well – Stay Well – Live Well.

I know you can do it.  

Adapted with permission from an article originally published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal

Related Articles: 5 Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

The Dangers of High Blood Sugar

Uncontrolled high blood sugar causes many problems – nerve, blood vessel and organ damage, heart disease, and stroke, to name a few. It can also affect your brain by causing problems with processing information, your ability to think clearly, a lack of focus, and your memory.

Chronic high blood sugar (diabetes) is caused by your body not producing enough insulin to absorb the glucose in the blood. Once you develop diabetes, you have lost some of the control and managing the condition is more complicated.

There are two types of Diabetes: Type I and Type II. Both are serious conditions and a far-too-common health issue throughout the U.S.

Diabetes in US

Type I is called “juvenile diabetes” because it is generally diagnosed in children or teens, but can also develop later. It is insulin-dependent. It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Type II is known as “adult onset” because it typically hits people when they are older and is far more common. This type occurs when the body becomes insulin-resistant or does not make enough insulin.

Some causes of high blood sugar (that may develop into diabetes) are poor diet, lack of exercise and being overweight – all of which you can control. Yes, it takes effort and self-discipline, but changes can be made.

Let’s take a look at these together.

Diet

Eating highly processed foods and lots of sugary snacks can throw your blood sugar out of whack. Those foods may taste wonderful and you may enjoy every bite. Unfortunately, they are addictive – the more you eat of these types of food the more you want. You may already be caught in the vicious cycle and endangering your health.

Once you are caught, it can be difficult change. If you choose to change, you have two choices:  (1) Go cold turkey and cut them from your diet or (2) slowly incorporate fresh whole foods into your diet (eliminating the bad stuff as you go).  I recommend the latter.

Cold turkey works for some people – it worked for me and may also work for you, but it isn’t generally recommended. People tend to fall off the wagon and it can be challenging to climb back on. As a result, they end up yo-yo dieting (losing weight and gaining it back – over and over).

As a rule, the most successful way to change poor eating habits is by adding in a healthy snack or meal daily. After a week or two you can replace another meal with a healthy choice and so on.

If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle and stay with it, eventually your bad eating habits will be a thing of the past.

For more information on learning to eat healthy, check out my new book: The Secret to Successful Dieting (Lose Weight and Live Well).

Exercise/Weight

A sedentary lifestyle makes it difficult to lose weight even if you change your eating habits to a healthier diet. When you eliminate all processed foods and sugary/fatty snacks, the weight will come off, but slowly. If you want it to come off faster and be more fit, you must MOVE YOUR BODY

Exercise is critical. It does not have to be regimented. If going to the gym or regular, intense exercise is not your thing – that is OK.  The most important thing is to get your heart rate up by doing things you enjoy. That is the only way you will stick with it. Most people can do this with a few tweaks to their daily habits.

Grey-haired businessman climbing steps
Take the Stairs

When you go shopping (or when you arrive at work), park at the far end of the lot so you can get some exercise in by walking a distance to reach your destination. If you normally ride the elevator to your office, take the stairs, even if it is just a flight or two. Walk around the building (inside or outside) during lunch time or on your break. All exercise is good, so, get creative and move your body!

Protect Your Health

Changing your eating habits to a diet of healthier foods, and incorporating exercise into your daily schedule may not be easy. Old habits can be difficult to overcome, especially if they are lifelong habits or if your health makes it hard to face the challenge; but, it can be done if you are committed to living a healthier lifestyle.

Give yourself permission to take it slow and be deliberate in your efforts. It may take a while but once the changes in your body and mind start to take place, it will be worth every ounce of energy you put into it.

Photo Credit: Diabetes in the US via photopin (license)