Diabetes is a mysterious disease. You usually don't feel the symptoms until the condition is beyond repair. This makes diabetes awareness a must in today's day and age.
It's a chronic disease where your blood glucose levels are too high, either because your pancreas cannot make enough insulin or doesn't make good use of the hormone. Scientifically speaking, you're diagnosed with diabetes when your fasting blood sugar levels are 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher.
As of now, roughly 537 million adults between 20 to 79 years old are living with diabetes. However, what makes diabetes a serious condition is its evident link to heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness, and stroke. So how do you know if you're at a risk of developing diabetes? By first understanding the types and causes of the disease. Let's explore!
Types of Diabetes
Did you know Type 2 diabetes affects almost 90% of people? Yes, while Type 1 affects nearly 8%. However, in either case, your body produces excessive blood sugar or glucose. The only difference is how and why.
Type 1 Diabetes
In Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes, the body cannot produce any insulin because the cells in the pancreas are constantly under attack. Why? We're yet to know. However, the condition usually appears during childhood or adolescence. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to control their glucose levels.
Type 2 Diabetes
In Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, either the body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't know how to use the insulin effectively. Either because the beta cells of the pancreas have stopped making insulin or the body's insulin receptors have become desensitised. People with Type 2 diabetes may or may not need to take insulin to control their glucose levels.
Causes of High or Low Blood Sugar
We don’t know what causes Type 1 diabetes. However, Type 2 diabetes usually stems from prolonged physical inactivity and excess body weight. It is even linked to ethnicity. Yes! People of Pacific, South Asian, and Māori are more at risk than Europeans or others. Some genetic factors can also contribute to the development of the disease. However, obesity takes the top spot.
According to a study, around 5% of the New Zealand's population has Type 2 diabetes. With New Zealand having one of the highest obesity rates, the problem is clear as day.
Other risk factors include:
- Your age group. People over 40 are more at risk.
- Your family history
- PCOS, if you're a biological female
- You're pregnant
So, prevention of Type 2 diabetes is possible. However, what about the cure?
Is There a Cure for Diabetes?
There's a reason why diabetes is called a lifelong disease. It doesn't have a cure, only a possible remission, a state where you don't experience the symptoms even though you still have the disease.
With proper medication and a controlled diet, you can stabilise the blood sugar levels over time. So if you have diabetes or know someone who does, here are a few natural ways to reverse the disease.
Incorporating plant foods like whole grains, legumes, buckwheat, leafy greens, seeds, and nuts in the diet can improve diabetes management. Since they are superfoods rich in vitamins, fibre, and minerals, they can lower the risk of complications and improve blood sugar balance. The claim is supported by research as well.
Sufficient magnesium intake can help with glucose control and lower the risk of diabetic complications. You can consume magnesium through seeds, nuts, bran cereals, and spinach. Or take magnesium supplements. However, adults are recommended to take only 300 to 400 mg a day.
Taking 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day can lower the glucose levels throughout the day. It can even reduce the spikes in blood sugar after your meals, making it a highly effective but affordable method of diabetes management. Blueberry, kiwis, broccoli, tomato, oranges are some good sources of vitamin C.
While the research on the efficacy of cinnamon in diabetes control is ongoing, the results so far have been positive. Taking 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon every day, or as prescribed by your physician, can boost the effectiveness of diabetes medication. Just sprinkle powdered cinnamon on oatmeal or smoothies for easy consumption.
Natural and herb supplements like Chromium, Gymnema, and Ginseng can also boost insulin sensitivity, provided they're consumed in safe amounts. Or a craving control supplement like Calocurb can be taken, which is 100% vegan and non-GMO, to help you curb untimely snacking.
Do remember, diet changes can affect your diabetes treatment. So consult your physician before going on a new diet or taking a supplement.