We have all heard about diabetes, and some of our endeared ones may be already struggling with this disease. While we are always encouraged to do regular check-ups and value our health, we need to be extra careful about specific diseases. Diabetes is one of those, and that is why the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization have dedicated a special day to this common metabolic disorder.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is a world-wide campaign for increasing awareness about diabetes and keeping it “firmly in the public and political spotlight1”. The campaign was launched for the first time in 1991. The reason for choosing November 14 was the birthday of Canadian medical scientist Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered diabetes mellitus with Charles Best and John James Rickard Macleod. In 2006, World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day.
Sir Fredrick Banting. Source: https://imgur.com/user/MohammadShaban
According to WDD, this campaign reaches over one billion people in more than 160 countries and it is considered a “global driver to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue”. By choosing the “Family and Diabetes” theme for the 2019 campaign, IDF intended to emphasize the role of families in preventing, discovering and managing this particular health condition.
On the basis of info released by IDF, approximately 425 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes in 2017 and by 2045 this will rise to 629 million. The greatest number of people with diabetes was between 40 and 59 years of age, and 79% of adults with diabetes were living in low- and middle-income countries. IDF commends that education and ongoing support should be accessible to all individuals and families to help manage diabetes, and essential diabetes medicines and care must be accessible and affordable for every family.
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition. It can be controlled, but if it occurs, it would a lifetime. And according to IDF, one in every two people with diabetes is undiagnosed. Early diagnosis and treatment are keys to helping prevent or delay life-threatening complications.
Under normal conditions, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level by promoting the uptake of glucose into body cells. In patients with diabetes, the absence of insufficient production, or lack of response to insulin causes hyperglycemia2 (a defining characteristic of diabetes).
Diabetes causes vary depending on your genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, health, and environmental factors3. Without ongoing, careful management, diabetes can lead to a buildup of sugars in the blood, which can increase the risk of dangerous complications, including stroke and heart disease4.
There are two major types of diabetes and one of them is preventable. In diabetes type 1, also known as insulin-dependent type, the immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the cells that make insulin5. This type is not preventable, but controllable. It is typically diagnosed in children and teens6, and if it is not detected early, it can lead to serious disability or death7. Based on the IDF information, more than 1,106,500 children were living with type 1 diabetes in 2017.
In type 2, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, the pancreas can still make insulin, but the body doesn’t respond to it properly. In the past, this type usually happened only in adults. But nowadays, more kids and teens are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is said to be due to the rapidly increasing number of overweight kids. According to IDF, 352 million people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in 2017.
Increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, irritability, blurred visions, slow-healing sores, frequent infection, and presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin) are among the major symptoms of diabetes8. Such symptoms in type 1 may occur suddenly, but in type 2 they are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen9.
Obesity, bad diets, secondary lifestyles, and increasing age are the most common risk factors for type 2 diabetes and all of them also contribute to the chances of developing it10. Having a healthy diet, limiting sugary food and beverage, and doing enough physical exercise are the major steps recommended by medical scientists. IDF suggests that families need to live in an environment that supports healthy lifestyles and helps them to prevent diabetes type 2. When a family eats healthy meals and exercises together, all family members can benefit from it.
You are encouraged to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise on at least 5 days of the week. It can be walking, aerobics, riding a bike, or swimming or other types of activities or sports. You should understand the signs of low blood sugar when exercising, including dizziness, confusion, weakness, and profuse sweating.
Normal blood sugar levels sit between 70 and 99 mg/dL, but people with diabetes will have a fasting blood sugar higher than 126 mg/dL. Anyhow, when it comes to intake of sugar and sugary food, Joslin Diabetes Center, the world’s largest diabetes research center, believes that “diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar”. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the current diabetes epidemic lies in an overall dietary pattern emphasizing meat, dairy products, and fatty foods, aided and abetted by sugary foods and beverages, rather than simply in sugar alone.
For having a good diet, one of the important factors that we should consider is our blood type, according to naturopathic physician Peter J. D’Adamo. He suggests if you follow a diet based on your blood type, your body will digest food more efficiently. You’ll lose weight if you want, you will have more energy, and you can prevent diseases directly or indirectly. While being overweight is known to contribute to type 2 diabetes, his tips can help you manage your diet more effectively.
According to the studies by Dr. D’Adamo, protein components in food called lectins bind with antigens on blood cells and lead to blood cell clumping or agglutination. In his view, avoiding agglutination can improve health by helping people manage their weight. Certain foods have lectins which make digestion harder in some blood types and it varies according to blood types. It means, if you do not eat the right food on the basis of your blood type, you might gain weight, you might have less energy and you might even get sick. For further reading, refer to https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/eat-right-for-your-type-diet.aspx
1 & 7: www.idf.org
2 & 6: www.medicinenet.com
3 & 10 www.diabetes.co.uk
8: www. mayoclinic.org