Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 23.1 million people in the U.S., and as many as 1 in 4 people don’t know they have it. Numbers have steadily climbed over the past few decades with no signs of leveling off. Diabetes symptoms include things like increased hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, slow wound healing, and blurred vision, to name a few.
The essential feature of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes is that our bodies are completely filled with sugar. It’s not just too much sugar in the blood. That’s only part of the problem. There’s too much sugar in our entire body. Imagine our bodies to be a sugar bowl. A bowl of sugar. When we are young, our sugar bowl is empty. Over decades, we eat too much of the wrong things — sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The sugar bowl gradually fills up with sugar until completely full. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.
These dietary recommendations have made high carb, low-fat foods a staple of the American diet. “Healthy” foods like fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, sugary protein shakes and low-fat processed grains flooded the market. The standard American diet began to include more sugary drinks and sodas, as well as more processed grains. Since all carbohydrates (even complex carbs) are broken down into sugar in the body, these dietary recommendations meant that the average blood sugar of Americans began to rise – and the diabetes epidemic began to grow.
The new research ties in with recent thinking among experts about what happens when type 2 diabetes develops, says Domenico Accili, MD, chief of endocrinology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We have been talking for some time, that in diabetes, primarily type 2, the insulin-producing [beta] cell is not dead but simply inactive," he says. "If you put patients with diabetes on a diet, you can do marvels with their beta cells."
Among several home remedies for controlling diabetes, perhaps most vital is the bitter gourd. Bitter gourd contains a hypoglycemic or insulin-like principle, designated as 'plantinsulin', which is beneficial in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels. This property of bitter gourd it an excellent anti-diabetes agent. Consuming a glassful of bitter gourd juice first thing in the morning proves to be highly beneficial for diabetics. Also, it should be included generously in the diet of the diabetic. Remedy is also beneficial in long term and shows instant results. It is one of the best home remedies for diabetes.
As diabetes is a prime risk factor for cardiovascular disease, controlling other risk factors which may give rise to secondary conditions, as well as the diabetes itself, is one of the facets of diabetes management. Checking cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels may indicate hyperlipoproteinemia, which may warrant treatment with hypolipidemic drugs. Checking the blood pressure and keeping it within strict limits (using diet and antihypertensive treatment) protects against the retinal, renal and cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Regular follow-up by a podiatrist or other foot health specialists is encouraged to prevent the development of diabetic foot. Annual eye exams are suggested to monitor for progression of diabetic retinopathy.
A OGTT glucose of less than 140 ml/dl is considered normal, with 141-199 being pre-diabetic and levels above 200 mg/dL considered full-blown diabetes. From my research, I believe that OGTT blood sugar levels above 140 mg/dL , especially regularly, can increase risk of vision problems, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease, even without an official diabetes diagnosis.
When you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to be very aware of not only what you eat, but also when and how much you eat. A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at Joslin can work with you to develop a healthy meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Following a meal plan can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing complications.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.