World Diabetes Day falls in November each year. This is one day dedicated to raising awareness of the disease considered to be a global epidemic. Diabetes affects more than 250 million people world wide. If this disease is mismanaged or left untreated it will eventually cause complications in all areas of the body. Blindness, heart and kidney disease and amputations due to circulation problems are all complications of diabetes. It is now also thought of as a contributor to Alzheimer’s disease. Not good.
While type I or juvenile diabetes is non-preventable, type II (non-insulin dependent) which makes up 90% of all diabetes cases, is very preventable and even reversible through maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise schedule. If your physician has ever told you that your blood sugar levels are elevated or that you are a “borderline diabetic” there is much you can do to lower those levels and therefore lessen the associated health risks. Simply by keeping meal portion sizes small to moderate, consuming healthy, quality calorie foods and participating in moderate level activity on a regular basis you can control type II diabetes.
All foods we consume, not just those containing sugar, are digested by the body and turned to glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Also, any excess glucose in the blood will also be stored as fat, to be used for fuel later or just stored if not used. When blood sugar levels increase, the body releases the hormone insulin which regulates the sugar levels. If overeating occurs, more insulin is released but the body eventually, just can’t keep up with regulating the amount of sugar present and excess glucose remains. Type II diabetes arises, over time, when the blood contains excess sugar on a regular basis and the body simply can’t maintain regulation of it. As time goes on, the body’s cells also become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. The result? High blood sugar. Diabetes precursor.
Glucose is used as energy by the body for basal metabolic functions such as breathing as well as for all activities we might do in a day. Everything from clerical duties or household jobs to running a marathon requires glucose. A sedentary lifestyle will contribute to chronically elevated levels of blood glucose simply because it isn’t being used as fuel. Overeating combined with inactivity is a quick way to develop type II diabetes. Overeating creates excess glucose. The body can’t release enough insulin to regulate it and an inactive body won’t be using it for fuel either. Blood glucose levels rise. Consistently high blood sugar levels indicate diabetes. Fortunately, simply contracting our muscles during exercise results in a similar effect on blood glucose as insulin. This is why regular exercise is crucial for anyone with developing or established type II diabetes. If the body can’t release enough insulin, exercise will use the excess blood sugar. Developing muscle through regular exercise will also give the body a greater storage capacity for glucose therefore decreasing the levels in the blood.
If you are inactive, used to overeating and have been told your blood sugar levels are elevated you need to change that or risk developing diabetes which can do serious damage to your body. Start with a daily “diabetes walk” of 30 to 45 minutes combined with consuming moderate portions of healthy foods and watch the positive results!