Diabetes is a disease that causes a lot of confusion for people. There are many myths that should be dispelled regarding the disease and a number of risk factors that should be kept in mind. The more you know about diabetes and its many risk factors, the more you can protect yourself.
The Risk Factors for Diabetes
Like other diseases, diabetes has risk factors that include those that can be changed and those that cannot be changed. It doesn't always take a major change to lower your risk for diabetes; sometimes it is only the small changes that need to be done. The risk factors for diabetes include:
- Being above your ideal weight by 20% or more. The obvious suggestion is to lose weight, which can be a small step but give you major results.
- Having blood pressure that is at or above 140/90 (deemed as hypertension). Your blood pressure can also be impacted by your weight, but there are other factors that can cause higher blood pressure.
- HDL cholesterol (the good kind) that is 35 or less and or triglycerides of 250 or more. Again, cholesterol can be impacted by weight, but that is only one of the ways to change the cholesterol profile. To increase the good cholesterol, you need to increase the amount of exercise that you get each day, another of the reasons that doctors insist that diabetics get more exercise.
- Family history of diabetes, especially a parent or sibling.
- Own history of gestational diabetes or having had a baby that was more than nine pounds at birth regardless of gestational diabetes.
Certain ethnic groups such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans have a higher risk of diabetes.
Of these, only the last one is impossible to prevent. After all, you cannot change your genetic makeup. Gestational diabetes may not be so much of a condition caused by pregnancy but one that was already in place and simply unmasked by the pregnancy. Women who have had gestational diabetes, sometimes referred to as type III diabetes, may be at a much higher risk of developing diabetes even years after the pregnancy has ended. All women should be screened for the condition during their pregnancy- it occurs in some 1-3% of all women with certain groups having a higher risk than others. (Source: Ammer, 2005)
The Warning Signs of Diabetes
Diabetes may be present in the body for years without being noticed and many people are typically classified as "pre-diabetic" without even noticing anything out of the ordinary. Their blood sugar levels may be slightly elevated but not quite high enough to count as diabetes. The warning signs include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination, especially when it occurs at night (may be a warning sign of other conditions in addition or instead of diabetes)
- Blurred vision or vision changes
- Unusual fatigue
- Sores that do not heal. A small wound that involves some bleeding and minor discomfort should show signs of healing within seven to ten days and be completely healed shortly after that. With diabetics, the skin may not heal at all or may start to look like it is healing and then reopen.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Constant hunger
- Menstrual irregularity and/or chronic yeast infections
All of these warning signs are very relative- they could be evident or they may not be present at all. In addition, the warning signs can often be present in other conditions.
The Myths of Diabetes
In addition to the real risks and the warning signs, there are a number of myths that surround diabetes that help keep it so difficult to understand. For instance, some people think that they can never have any kind of sugar again or that they have to only eat certain foods. The problem is simple: these myths are not realistic at all. There are many forms of sugar and it isn't necessary to stop having all of them. You can eat fruits (fructose) or drink milk and have other forms of dairy (lactose). You can even have a small slice of cake; as long as you realize how food, all food, impacts your blood sugar and makes your body react.
In the world of carbohydrates, there are two types: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are the ones that can be a major problem, causing the sugar to spike and the body to be flooded with insulin. These are the sugars that are broken down very quickly and easily by the body- think of the white sugars that are found in candies, cookies, cakes and sodas.
Complex carbohydrates are harder to break down by the body and do not cause the sugar spikes that are common with the simple carbs. These are the whole grains and the natural starch foods. It is a myth that a potato is a bad thing- it is actually lower in calories than was previously thought. What ruins a good potato are the items that are added to it, the butter, the sour cream, the cheese and even the bacon.
It is all about learning how your body works and how it handles the foods that it is given.
Diabetes and Timing Your Meals
Going from completely starved to completely stuffed, fed is hard on the human body, especially for a diabetic. This continual feast or famine in the body can cause the insulin levels to fluctuate greatly. Eating a big meal may cause a huge sugar spike, especially after being empty for a long time. Eating smaller, more evenly spaced meals can allow the body to have the energy that it needs without having the sugar spikes that can make diabetes even worse.
Using a protein supplement such as Profect from Protica can be one of the best tools that you can use as a between meal snack to keep you feeling satisfied for longer and to keep you from the starvation mode that can leave you primed for sugar spikes. In addition, it is helpful for use as part of your weight loss efforts, which is also an important factor for the care of diabetes.
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