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What Is Diabetes?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Prashant K Vaidya 90% (17797 ratings)
Diploma In Gastroenterology, Diploma In Dermatology, BHMS
Homeopath, Hyderabad  •  11 years experience
What Is Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Human body requires glucose as a source of energy for all the cells in muscles, tissues and brain. At any given time, the levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called ‘insulin’, which is released by the pancreas. In people with diabetes, the insulin secreted by the pancreas is in inadequate quantity, or the body cells become resistant to insulin. This results in an increase in the blood glucose levels, commonly known as high blood sugar.

What are the types of diabetes?

    • Type 1 diabetes (total lack of insulin): Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

    • Type 2 diabetes (inadequate insulin and insulin resistance): In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly which is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it, but over time it is not able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose.

    • Gestational diabetes (diabetes acquired during pregnancy):  Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, and usually reversible after giving birth. It can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second half of the gestation period.

Causes of Diabetes :

To understand diabetes, first you must understand how glucose is normally processed in the body.

How insulin works:

insulin is a hormone that comes from a gland situated behind and below the stomach (pancreas).

  • The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream.

  • The insulin circulates, enabling sugar to enter your cells.

  • Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

  • As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.

The role of glucose:

Glucose — a sugar — is a source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.

  • Glucose comes from two major sources: food and your liver.

Type 1 diabetes causes :

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This causes diabetes by leaving the body without enough insulin to function normally.

This is called anSugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin.

Your liver stores and makes glucose.

When your glucose levels are low, such as when you haven't eaten in a while, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose level within a normal range. autoimmune reaction, or autoimmune cause, because the body is attacking itself.

  • Viral or bacterial infection

  • Chemical toxins within food

  • Unidentified component causing autoimmune reaction

  • Severe stress

  • Mental anxiety

Underlying genetic disposition may also be a type 1 diabetes cause

Type 2 diabetes causes :

This is the most likely type 2 diabetes cause.

There are a variety of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, any or all of which increase the chances of developing the condition.

These include:

  • Obesity

  • Living a sedentary lifestyle

  • Increasing age

  • Bad diet

  • Severe stress

  • Mental anxiety

signs and symptoms of diabetes are the same in men and women?

Best Foods to Control Diabetes :

Figuring out the best foods to eat when you have diabetes can be tough.

The main goal is to keep blood sugar levels well-controlled.

However, it's also important to eat foods that help prevent diabetes complications like heart disease.

Here are the 16 best foods for diabetics, both type 1 and type 2.

1. Fatty Fish :

Fatty fish is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have major benefits for heart health.

Getting enough of these fats on a regular basis is especially important for diabetics, who have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

2. Leafy Greens :

Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and low in calories.

They're also very low in digestible carbs, which raise your blood sugar levels.

Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C.

3. Cinnamon :

Cinnamon is a delicious spice with potent antioxidant activity.

Several controlled studies have shown that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Long-term diabetes control is typically determined by measuring hemoglobin A1c, which reflects your average blood sugar level over 2–3 months.

In one study, type 2 diabetes patients who took cinnamon for 90 days had more than a double reduction in hemoglobin A1c, compared those who only received standard care.

4. Eggs :

Eggs provide amazing health benefits.

In fact, they're one of the best foods for keeping you full for hours (28, 29, 30).

Regular egg consumption may also reduce your heart disease risk in several ways.

Eggs decrease inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, increase your "good" HDL cholesterol levels and modify the size and shape of your "bad" LDL cholesterol.In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 2 eggs daily as part of a high-protein diet had improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

In addition, eggs are one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that protect the eyes from disease.

Just be sure to eat whole eggs. The benefits of eggs are primarily due to nutrients found in the yolk rather than the white.

5. Chia Seeds :

Chia seeds are a wonderful food for people with diabetes.

They're extremely high in fiber, yet low in digestible carbs.

In fact, 11 of the 12 grams of carbs in a 28-gram (1-oz) serving of chia seeds are fiber, which doesn't raise blood sugar.

The viscous fiber in chia seeds can actually lower your blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate at which food moves through your gut and is absorbed.

6. Turmeric :

Turmeric is a spice with powerful health benefits.

Its active ingredient, curcumin, can lower inflammation and blood sugar levels, while reducing heart disease risk.

What's more, curcumin appears to benefit kidney health in diabetics. This is important, as diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.

7. Greek Yogurt :

Greek yogurt is a great dairy choice for diabetics.

It's been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce heart disease risk, perhaps partly due to the probiotics it contains

Studies have found that yogurt and other dairy foods may lead to weight loss and improved body composition in people with type 2 diabetes.

It's believed that dairy's high calcium and conjugated linolic acid (CLA) content may play a role.

What's more, Greek yogurt contains only 6–8 grams of carbs per serving, which is lower than conventional yogurt. It's also higher in protein, which promotes weight loss by reducing appetite and decreasing calorie intake.

8. Nuts :

Nuts are delicious and nutritious.

All types of nuts contain fiber and are low in digestible carbs, although some have more than others.

Here are the amounts of digestible carbs per 1-oz (28-gram) serving of nuts:

    Research on a variety of different nuts has shown that regular consumption may reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar, HbA1c and LDL levels.

9. Broccoli :

Studies in diabetics have found that broccoli may help lower insulin levels and protect cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolismBroccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables around.

A half cup of cooked broccoli contains only 27 calories and 3 grams of digestible carbs, along with important nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium.

10. Flaxseeds :

Flaxseeds are an incredibly healthy food.

A portion of their insoluble fiber is made up of lignans, which can decrease heart disease risk and improve blood sugar control .

type 2 diabetes who took flaxseed lignans for 12 weeks had a significant improvement in hemoglobin A1c.

Flaxseeds are very high in viscous fiber, which improves gut health, insulin sensitivity and feelings of fullness.

Your body can't absorb whole flaxseeds, so purchase ground seeds or grind them yourself. It's also important to keep flaxseeds tightly covered in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.

11. Strawberries :

Strawberries are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat.

They're high in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which give them their red color.

Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce cholesterol and insulin levels after a meal. They also improve blood sugar and heart disease risk factors in type 2 diabetes.

A one-cup serving of strawberries contains 49 calories and 11 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber.

12. Garlic :

Garlic is a delicious herb with impressive health benefits.

It may also be very effective at reducing blood pressure.

In one study, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure who took aged garlic for 12 weeks averaged a 10-point decrease in blood pressure.

One clove of raw garlic contains only 4 calories and 1 gram of carbs.

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