Insulin is a hormone that moves the glucose – coming from our food - out of the blood and into cells, where it's broken down to produce energy. Without enough insulin, the body is unable to break down glucose into energy and glucose stays in the blood.
Diabetes is a disease in which the blood glucose (blood sugar) is high, either because :
- the body does not make insulin (type 1 diabetes)
- the body does not make or use insulin well (type 2 diabetes)
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of Diabetes. You can also have prediabetes, in which blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.
What causes Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
This type of Diabetes is often known as insulin-dependent diabetes.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it could be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance diabetes. While not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes of this form of diabetes.
Symptoms & Health complications
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how high is your blood sugar. Some people may not experience symptoms initially, especially in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, because the early symptoms tend to be general. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to develop quickly and be more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- Presence of ketones in the urine
- feeling very tired
- Blurred vision
- Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
- Family history : your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes
- Environmental factors : for example, exposure to a viral illness
- The presence of damaging immune system cells (autoantibodies)
- Dietary factors : early exposure to cow's milk and exposure to cereals before 4 months of age
Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes include:
- Weight : the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin
- Inactivity : physical activity uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin
- Family history : your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes
- Race : people of certain races — including blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are at higher risk
- Age : your risk increases as you get older, but type 2 diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults
- Polycystic ovary syndrome : this common condition increases the risk of diabetes among women
- High blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels : low levels of HDL cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides increase your risk of type 2 diabetes
Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems.The longer you have diabetes — and the less controlled your blood sugar — the higher the risk of complications. Possible complications include:
- Cardiovascular disease : diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems
- Nerve damage (neuropathy): Excess sugar can injure the walls of the capillaries that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy) : Diabetes can damage the filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage (retinopathy): Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
- Foot damage: Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications, which may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
When the body processes sugar, glucose in the bloodstream naturally attaches to haemoglobin. The amount of glucose that combines with this protein is directly proportional to the total amount of sugar that is in your system at that time.
Diabetes can be diagnosed by Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Below 5.7 is considered normal.
Treatment & Prevention
Treating type 1 diabetes
If you're diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you'll need insulin injections for the rest of your life as your body can't produce insulin. You will also need to pay close attention to certain aspects of your lifestyle and health to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.
Treating type 2 diabetes
If you're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and monitoring your blood glucose levels. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need to take medication to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. You may need to take tablets initially, but move on to injected therapies, such as insulin, at a later stage.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, an important part of managing diabetes is maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan:
• Healthy eating
Losing just 7 percent of your body weight if you're overweight can make a significant difference in your blood sugar control. You'll need to center your diet on more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and cut down on animal products, refined carbohydrates and sweets.
• Physical activity.
Exercise lowers your blood sugar level by moving sugar into your cells, where it's used for energy. Exercise also increases your sensitivity to insulin, which means your body needs less insulin to transport sugar to your cells. Regular exercise can help prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and it can help those who already have diabetes to maintain better blood sugar control. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise, most days of the week is recommended.
Diabetis with herbs
Jiaogulan is a powerful adaptogen, that aids your body to regulate itself effectively and increases its ability to normalize blood sugar levels. Jiaogulan possesses antidiabetic agents, which helps block the absorption of dietary sugars. By blocking the absorption of these sugars before they enter your blood stream you can lessen the work your body needs to do to process the sugars in your system and help reduce the resulting insulin demand.
Several studies show that jiaogulan may help control diabetes. Diabetes patients given a jiaogulan tea experienced a greater improvement in blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity than the ones who were given a placebo tea. A study on mice determined that jiaogulan may help regulate blood sugar by altering activity in certain liver enzyme. Previous research on jiaogulan and diabetes includes an animal-based study which tested the herb's effects on diabetic rats and found that it helped reduce blood sugar levels and lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
White mulberry leaves contain a compound (called 1-Deoxynojirimycin (DNJ)) that inhibits intestinal enzymes. In experiments with normal rats, certain nitrogen-containing sugars in mulberry-leaf extract were found to strongly inhibited the intestinal metabolism of disaccharides (especially sucrose), thereby restricting the amounts of monosaccharides that entered the circulation. It was also found that pretreating the rats with mulberry extract before feeding them carbohydrates significantly suppressed the normal postprandial rise in blood glucose levels.
Because it blocks unwanted excessive sugars before they even enter the bloodstream, Mulberry can also help with weight problems, thus being beneficial in preventing diabetes.
Moreover, by enhancing insulin sensitivity, mulberry helps move sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells where it can be utilized more readily. It accomplishes this improvement by stimulating a cellular transporter called GLUT4. Mulberry increases not only the number of GLUT4 transporters but also facilitates their movement to the surface of the cell membrane, thus insulin sensitivity improves.