What is diabetes?
If you have ever asked the question “What is diabetes, exactly?”, then you have come to the right place. Diabetes is an illness that relates to problems with the hormone insulin. When functioning correctly, the pancreas releases insulin which then lets the body retain or utilize sugars and fats taken in through the food we eat. Diabetes occurs when:
- No insulin is produced
- Insufficient amounts of insulin is produced
- The body does not react to insulin in the correct way, a disorder known as “insulin resistance”
Suitable management regarding the disease is needed after an individual has been diagnosed with diabetes. Generally, three types of diabetes are referred to, namely:
Type 1 Diabetes:
This is when the beta cells (Insulin-producing cells) are killed by the body’s immune system. As a result, the body does not produce any insulin. Subsequently insulin injections must be used to regulate the blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes may occur from as early as the age of 20 and makes up roughly 10% of all people suffering from diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes:
In this case the pancreas does produce insulin, but it is either an inadequate amount or the body is resistant to it. Both of these cases result in glucose not being able to enter the body’s cells. It is most commonly found in people who are overweight and usually older than 40 years of age. There are however instances of type 2 diabetes where this is not the case, and these instances are rising due to the increase in child obesity. Usually type 2 diabetes is controlled by making healthy lifestyle choices. Sometimes medication is used in addition to a healthy way of living. Pre-Diabetes is when a individual has higher blood sugar levels than normal, but not yet as high as type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes, but this can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes can even be completely reversed by means of: A strict eating plan, regular exercise, the correct health supplements, controlling stress, getting sufficient sleep and drinking a healthy amount of water. Type 2 diabetes adds up to about 90% of all diabetes patients.
Gestational diabetes is caused by pregnancy. During pregnancy the effectiveness of insulin is impaired due to hormone changes. This happens in about 4% of pregnancy cases. Factors that increase the chance of gestational diabetes are: being over 25 when pregnancy occurs, being over the recommended body weight before the pregnancy or when having a family history of diabetes During the pregnancy, a screening test can be done for gestational diabetes. If not treated, gestational diabetes leads to an increased risk of complications to the mother as well as her unborn child. Normally, blood sugar levels return to normal within 6 weeks of giving birth. Women who have suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in their lives. Medication cannot be used during pregnancy to manage gestational diabetes, but with the correct diet and a supplement like the Yoxa Glucose Support, women can ensure better blood sugar levels, thus controlling gestational diabetes more effectively.
Why Is It Called Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes originates from Ancient Greek, meaning a “siphon”. Aretus the Cappadocian – a Greek physician during the second century A.D. – named the ailment diabainein. This described sufferers, who were passing too much water – like a siphon. The word developed into “diabetes” from the English adoption of the Medieval Latin “diabete”. In 1675, Thomas Willis attached mellitus to the name, although it is usually only called diabetes. Mel in Latin means “honey”; the urine and blood diabetes sufferers contain an excessive amount of glucose, and glucose is sweet like honey. Diabetes mellitus could literally translate to: “siphoning off sweet water”. In ancient China people discovered that ants were drawn to some people’s urine, as it was sweet. The term “Sweet Urine Disease” was invented. Type-2 Diabetes can be reversed!
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
In most cases symptoms develop gradually over time or there are no clear symptoms. However, in some cases symptoms appear rapidly and are usually then quite severe. Symptoms and what causes diabetes include the following:
Diabetes causes excess glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. This results in the kidneys having to work harder to filter and absorb the excessive amount of glucose. If the kidneys cannot keep pace with processing the glucose being built up, the excess glucose as well as fluids drawn from your body tissue is excreted through urination. This causes more frequent urination than normal.
The above-mentioned process leads to the body being dehydrated, thus causing a constant thirst. When more fluid is taken in to satisfy the thirst, it adds to the frequent urination.
This is a symptom of the above-mentioned dehydration where there is a lack of moisture in the mouth.
Fatigue is when a person feels very tired and physically weak. This is due to more than one factor. Factors include the constant urination and subsequent dehydration as well as the body’s inability to operate as it should due to it not being to use sugar properly to produce energy.
Unexplained weight loss:
Diabetes sufferers might be losing weight despite the fact that they are constantly eating. This results in weight fluctuations where the person is gaining and losing weight the whole time. Weight loss occurs during diabetes as a result of frequent urination as glucose and therefore calories, are lost during urine excretion. Consistent hunger may also be experienced as diabetes keeps the glucose from reaching your cells. The combined effect is possible dramatic weight loss, which is especially the case during type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes sufferers do not tend to lose as much weight. A doctor should be consulted if you lose weight without altering previous eating habits.
Blurry vision is often a sign of diabetes. This is due to extended dehydration where high levels of blood sugar draw the fluid from the lenses of the eyes. This results in the eyes not being able to focus properly. If not treated, diabetes can damage the retina and lead to a loss of vision.
Diabetes affects different systems in the body which can cause conditions that result in headaches. Examples of such conditions are: problems relate to eyes, high blood pressure levels, high blood sugar levels, and neuropathy.
Cells normally use sugar to produce energy. Because sugar is not absorbed properly into the cells due to the ineffectiveness of insulin, the body uses fat to produce energy instead. A specific type ketone, acetone, causes to breath to have a fruity scent, almost like that of nail polish remover.
- Increased hunger: (especially after eating)
Insulin helps in the transportation of glucose to cells. When the cells become resistant to insulin, glucose cannot reach the cells and the cells become deprived of glucose. This causes constant hunger, even directly after a meal.
Long healing time for sores, bruises and cuts:
This is due to high blood sugar levels damaging nerves and retarding blood circulation, especially in the feet and legs.
Diabetes can cause many infections such as: yeast infections, skin infections, urinary infections, or gum and mouth infections. This is due to diabetes damaging the circulatory and nervous systems.
This itching is usually felt in the vaginal or groin area. Itching should be reported to your doctor. Causes of Itching can be: infection, dryness, or poor blood circulation. It is not uncommon to experience an itchy feeling in the genital area when high blood sugar levels are present. A tell-tale sign of early diabetes is itching in the lower part of the legs.
This is caused by fluctuation in the blood sugar levels as this can cause mood swings.
Numbness or tingling of limbs:
High blood sugar levels can cause a tingling sensation due to damage caused to the nervous system. This is known as neuropathy. This symptom often only appears after a few years.
Erectile dysfunction or impotence:
Type 2 diabetes can cause sexual related problems which affect the sex drive, cause erectile dysfunction in men, and cause difficulty, discomfort, or pain during sex for women. This is once again due to damaged nervous- or circulatory systems which are important during sexual intercourse.
Due to the dehydration skin irritation is very common. Bacterial and fungal infections are a problem among diabetes sufferers. A common one of these is an infection known as “acanthosis nigricans”. Symptoms of this is velvet dark skin in bodily creases such as the neck, genitals, and underarms. Notify your doctor if you notice other skin changes such as spots, scaly areas, blisters, bumps, breakouts, and thinning or thickening of the skin.
What Causes Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. It’s believed that a combination of genetic predisposition and additional (as yet unidentified) factors provoke the immune system into attacking and killing the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by insulin resistance. This means no matter how much or how little insulin is made, the body can’t use it as well as it should. As a result, glucose can’t be moved from the blood into cells. Over time, the excess sugar in the blood gradually poisons the pancreas causing it to make less insulin and making it even more difficult to keep blood glucose under control. Obesity is a leading cause of insulin resistance – at least 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Genetic factors are also likely to be involved in the cause of type 2 diabetes. A family history of the disease has been shown to increase the chances of getting it. Other risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes include:
- acanthosis nigricans
- being 40 years of age or older
- blood vessel disease (e.g., damage to blood vessels in the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, brain, or arms and legs)
- First Nation, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent
- giving birth to a large baby
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- a history of gestational diabetes
- HIV infection
- mental health disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia)
- obstructive sleep apnea
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- pre-diabetes or impaired fasting glucose
- use of certain medications (e.g., corticosteroids such as prednisone, certain antipsychotic medications, certain antiviral medications for HIV)
Ailments caused by Diabetes
Problems caused by poorly controlled diabetes:
- Eye problems: Cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, as well as others.
- Foot problems: Neuropathy, ulcers and diabetes can even cause gangrene which might lead to the feet being amputated.
- Skin problems: Diabetes sufferers are prone to skin infections and other skin conditions.
- Heart problems: A common example is ischemic heart disease, which means there is a decrease in the blood supply to the heart.
- High blood pressure (Hypertension): A person with diabetes will often suffer from high blood pressure which increases the chance of it leading to more ailments such as eye problems and kidney disease.
- Mental health: When diabetes is not properly managed, it raises the risk of becoming depressed, anxious and developing mental disorders.
- Loss of hearing: Diabetes often leads to hearing problems.
- Gum disease: Diabetes leads to an increased chance of developing a gum disease.
- Gastroparesis: This is when the muscles in the stomach do not function properly.
- Ketoacidosis: When a combination of ketosis and acidosis takes place. This means there is a build-up of ketone bodies and acidity in the blood.
- Diabetic Neuropathy: Damage to the nerves caused by the effects of diabetes. This can lead to numerous other problems.
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic Non-ketotic Syndrome (
- HHNS): Blood sugar levels spike dramatically high, and there are no ketone bodies present in the blood or urine. This is an emergency condition.
- Nephropathy: Kidney disease due to the effects of diabetes on the body.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: (PAD): Narrow blood vessels restrict the blood supply to the limbs. Symptoms include discomfort in the limbs, tingling and sometimes it causes difficulty in walking.
- Stroke: If diabetes is not correctly managed, there is a high increase in the risk level of suffering from a stroke.
- Erectile dysfunction: Male sexual impotence.
- Infections: Diabetes can lead to various infections if not controlled properly.
- Healing of wounds: The healing time of wounds is much longer than it should be.
Fasting Blood Glucose Levels
From 70 tot 99 mg/dL
Normal fasting glucose levels
(3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L)
From 100 tot 125 mg/dL
Weakened fasting glucose levels (pre-diabetes)
(5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L)
126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) and higher with more than one fasting glucose test.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
(2 hours after a 75-gram glucose drink)
Lower than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L)
Normal glucose tolerance
From 140 to 200 mg/dL (7.8 to 11.1 mmol/L)
Weakened glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes)
More than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) with more than one test
The main objective in the treatment of diabetes is to reduce any increase of blood sugar levels, while not letting the levels become too low either.
- Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, a special diabetic diet and the right exercise.
- Type 2 diabetes is treated with exercise and a diabetic diet which often includes a weight loss plan. This increases the body’s responsiveness to insulin, which then helps control blood sugar levels. If this fails, oral medication is also available to help manage diabetes.
What causes fluctuating blood sugar levels?
Food: Healthy eating is always the first step to controlling diabetes. It’s not only what you eat, but also how much and when you eat that plays a role in the blood sugar levels. What to do: Make use of an eating program. Your blood sugar levels are at a peak an hour or two after you have eaten, where after they begin to fall. You can use this pattern to your advantage. You can control the fluctuations in blood sugar levels by:
- Eating at the same time every day.
- Eating several small meals a day or eating healthy snacks regularly between meals.
- Eating meals that follow a well-balanced diet.
Try to plan for each meal to have the right combination of starches, fruits and vegetables, fats and proteins. It is very important to ensure that the amount of carbohydrates are similar in your meals as it is a big factor in the rise and fall of blood sugar levels. Portion size must also be controlled well. Use measuring cups or a scale to determine consistent portion sizes. It is easy to simplify your eating plan by writing down the portion sizes of type of food you often eat. Synchronize your meals with your medication.
- Too little food relative to diabetes medication can cause hypoglycaemia – when blood sugar levels drop too low. The opposite counts for too much food, where hyperglycaemia is the outcome, which means the blood sugar levels rise too high.
Consult your diabetes health care team to find out exactly how to coordinate your diet and medication effectively. Exercise: Getting proper exercise is equally important as following the correct diet. During exercise, the muscles use sugar for energy. Regular exercise allows the body to respond better to insulin and use it more effectively. The more intense the training session, the more you benefit from it. Everyday activities such as household chores, gardening or doing things that require some sort of physical effort can also lower a person’s blood sugar level. What to do: Select any kind of exercise that you really enjoy and do this for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. If you have not been doing exercise for a while, consult your doctor and let them check the condition of your heart and feet to determine for which level of exercise your body is fit. Your doctor can advise the appropriate balance of cardio and muscle-strengthening exercise. Exercise according to a schedule. Ask your doctor to help you work out an exercise schedule that is coordinated with your meals and medication times that will maximize the benefit you gain. Also ask your doctor which blood sugar levels are appropriate for you before you start to exercise. Check your blood sugar levels prior to, during and immediately after exercise. This is especially important if you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar levels. Be aware of the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, namely: feeling shaky, weak, confused, lightheaded, moody, anxious, fatigued or hungry. It is important to stay hydrated while exercising since dehydration can have an effect on blood sugar levels. Drink water and not energy drinks as the high sugar contents in sports energy drinks contribute to blood sugar level spikes. Always have a small snack or glucose pill with you during exercise. This is in case the blood sugar levels drop too low. Always wear a medical identification bracelet when doing exercise. Adjust your diabetes treatment plan as necessary. In the case of taking insulin, you may need to change your insulin dosage before exercising or wait a couple of hours to exercise after injecting insulin. It is advised to consult a doctor before making changes to the insulin dosage. Medication: When exercising and eating correctly are not completely effective at managing the diabetes, medication such as insulin is used to help regulate the blood sugar levels. The effectiveness of these medication types relies on the timing and size of the dosage. Medications that are taken for reasons other than diabetes can also have an effect on the blood sugar levels. What to do: Ensure that insulin is stored properly. If this is not done or the insulin has expired, it will not be as effective as it should be. If your diabetes medications cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low, the dosage or timing may need to be changed. Consult your doctor if there are such problems. If you are given a new type of medication, as for cholesterol or blood pressure, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it might have an effect on your blood sugar levels. If so, using an alternative medication is advisable. Illness: When you are ill, your body generates hormones which help your body fight the illness, however this can also increase the blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar levels are also affected due to the irregularity of your exercise and eating patterns due to the illness. What to do: Work with your health care team to create a sick-day plan. Include:
- instructions on what medicines to take
- how often to determine your blood sugar and urine ketone levels
- how to alter your medicine dosages
- when to contact your doctor
Keep on taking your diabetes medication. In case you are not able to eat due to nausea or vomiting, contact your doctor. You may need to temporarily stop taking your medication due to the danger of hypoglycaemia. Follow your diabetes diet routine. If possible, eating normally will help control your blood sugar levels. Try and eat food that is easy on your stomach, such as: gelatine, crackers or soup. Drink lots of water or a warm alternative is tea, to make sure you stay hydrated. Alcohol: The liver usually secretes stored sugars to balance out dropping blood sugar levels. However, if the liver has to process alcohol, the blood sugar levels may not improve as needed. Alcohol can cause low blood sugar immediately after you drink and for as long as 8 to 12 hours more. What to do: If your doctor confirms that your diabetes is under control, an occasional alcoholic beverage with a meal is fine. Too much alcohol can aggravate issues such as eye problems and nerve damage. Light beer and dry wines have less calories and carbs than other alcoholic beverages. If you favour mixed drinks, go with sugar-free mixers such as: diet soda, diet tonic, club soda or seltzer. Include the calories from any alcohol you consume in your daily calorie count. Menstruation and menopause: Changes in hormone levels the week before and during menstruation can cause considerable fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Also, in the few years leading up to and during menopause, hormone changes may cause unpredictable changes in blood sugar levels that complicate diabetes management. What to do: Keep a close record of your blood sugar levels month-to-month. You might be able to anticipate changes related to your menstrual cycle. Adjust your diabetes treatment plan accordingly. Your doctor may suggest changes in your diet plan, level of activity or diabetes medications to compensate for blood sugar variation. Check blood sugar more often. Stress: If you are stressed, it’s easy not to stick to your usual diabetes management program. Furthermore, the hormones a person’s body secretes in reaction to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from functioning properly. What to do: Rate your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10 every time you record your blood sugar level. A pattern may soon appear. Once you know the effect stress has on your blood sugar level, react to the problem. Learn relaxation methods, prioritize your responsibilities and set boundaries. Whenever possible, avoid common causes of stress. Learn new ways to deal with stress. Working with a psychologist or clinical social worker may assist you in identifying stressors, solve stressful challenges or learn new coping techniques. Ask your health care team for assistance and advice. Diabetes Diet: Correct nutrition is critical for anyone suffering from diabetes. Apart from controlling blood sugar levels, a diabetes diet should also help reach and maintain a healthy body weight. It will also help prevent heart and vascular disease, which are common problems of diabetes. There is no prescribed diet plan for diabetes sufferers. Eating plans are adapted to suit a person’s needs, schedules, and eating patterns. A diabetes diet plan must also be coordinated with the intake of insulin and oral diabetes medication. The general principles of a good diabetes diet are the same for all people. Intake of a range of foodstuff including: whole grains, fruits and veggies, non-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats (or vegetarian substitutes), poultry and fish is advised to attain a healthy diet. Supplement Use an all-natural and organic food supplement, like the Yoxa Glucose Support tablets with each and every meal to control blood sugar levels. When using this supplement in conjunction with your diabetic medication, you might need to reduce your medication so that your blood sugar levels don’t drop too low. Yoxa Glucose Support is a Nutritional Food Supplement that is Low in GI, High in fibre, Low in fat and is 100% organically grown. Scientific research has shown that Yoxa Glucose Support retards the uptake of glucose by up to 43%, thereby reducing the Glycaemic Index (GI) of the food you eat (i.e. it has a GI lowering effect on food).
- Yoxa Glucose Support provides a slow release of energy into the blood stream whilst not over-stimulating insulin production.
- Yoxa Glucose Support improves blood glucose control.
Yoxa Glucose Support also contains 17 Amino Acids of which 4 are very effective in helping to support and maintain blood sugar levels. The product is effective in helping to control blood sugar levels for diabetics. The slow release of glucose into the blood stream helps to level out the blood sugar curve. Foot care & Diabetes: The main reason for diabetic foot complications is poor blood circulation. The right foot care is particularly important for diabetes sufferers as they are inclined to develop foot problems such as:
- Numbness in their feet
- Irregularities in the shape of their feet
- Ulcers or sores on the feet that take very long to heal
Daily foot care can prevent major problems. The 10 easy steps to follow for daily foot care are as follows:
Manage Your Diabetes Properly:
Make healthy lifestyle decisions to regulate your blood sugar levels. Consult your health care team to develop a diabetes plan that meets your lifestyle characteristics.
Examine Your Feet Each Day:
You can develop foot problems that you are not aware of. Check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, inflammation, or infected toenails. Checking your feet should be included in your daily routine. If you find it difficult to bend over to examine your feet, use a small mirror, or ask somebody to help you. Contact your doctor right away if a cut, sore, blister, or bruise on your foot does not start healing after one day.
Wash Your Feet Daily:
Wash your feet in warm water. Do not soak your feet as it will cause your skin to dry out. Use a thermometer or your elbow to test the temperature of the water, as it should not be too hot. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes. Use talcum powder to keep the skin dry among your toes.
Keep the Skin Soft and Smooth:
Rub a small amount of skin cream on the entire foot. Do not rub lotion between your toes, because this may well cause infection.
Wear Shoes and Socks At All Times:
Do not walk barefoot, not even in the house. It is very easy to step on something and damage your feet. Always wear seamless socks, stockings or nylons with your shoes to help avoid getting blisters and sores. Make sure that the material helps absorb moisture from the feet so that the feet remain dry. Always make sure there is nothing inside the shoe such as pebbles. Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
Protect Your Feet from Hot and Cold:
Wear shoes when walking on a hot surface such as a sidewalk or the beach. If the tops of your feet will be exposed to the sun for some time, rub a little bit of sunscreen on them. Keep your feet away from heaters or open fires. Do not use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet. If your feet get cold, wear seamless socks when you sleep. Lined boots help keep your feet warm during winter. Ensure that you always keep your feet warm during cold weather. Do not wear socks with seams or uneven areas. Go for padded socks which protect your feet and make walking more comfortable.
Keep the Blood Flowing to Your Feet:
Put your feet on a foot rest when sitting down. Wiggle your toes for about 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times daily. Move your ankles in all directions to improve blood flow in your feet and legs.
- DO NOT cross your legs for lengthy durations of time.
- DO NOT wear tight fitting socks, elastic or garters around your legs.
- DO NOT wear restrictive shoes or foot products. Products such as those with elastic, should not be worn by diabetics as it reduces the blood circulation to the feet.
- DO NOT smoke. Smoking decreases blood circulation to the feet. If you suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, work with your health care team to get it under control.
Be More Active:
Ask your doctor to develop an exercise schedule that is suited for you. Walking, dancing, swimming, and cycling are good forms of exercise that are not strenuous on the feet. Avoid all exercises that are strenuous on the feet, such as running and jumping. Always include a short warm-up or cool-down time. Wear protective walking or sports footwear that fit properly and provide good support.
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