The two types of diabetes are medically divided into insulin dependant (auto-immune condition) and non-insulin dependant diabetes. Insulin dependant diabetics accounts for 5-10% of all diabetics who have to inject themselves as the pancreas cannot produce insulin. Most diabetics are non-insulin dependant and have to manage their diabetes through proper nutrition and exercise habits.
Type 2 diabetes affects 1.5 million SA citizens and occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to remove the excess sugar and carbohydrates from blood. Many more people are affected by insulin resistance which will become diabetes unless managed properly with a healthy diet and regular exercise. People over forty who are overweight, inactive and stressed are at risk. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed and sometimes prevented.
Obesity affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men and excess weight puts strain on the organs of the body to maintain proper functioning (homeostasis). The vicious circle continues when increased body fat accumulates and secretes free fatty acids into the bloodstream and promotes insulin resistance. The body tries to compensate by pumping out higher amounts of insulin as insulin resisitance increases and glucose tolerance worsens. Excess glucose leads to hyperglycemia which damages blood vessels and leads to worse side effects once diabetes is diagnosed.
Strangely, it is not only overweight people who develop diabetes. This disease affects people with poor eating and exercise habits or it could just be hereditary. Halle Berry, petite Hollywood star, tries to control her diabetes problem by eating five small meals and exercising daily. Eating regular low calorie nutrtitional meals ensures the stabilisation of blood sugar, allowing one to lead a normal life whether it be surviving a day at the office or being a Bond Girl.
There are various medical and dietary studies undertaken to help to manage the increasing number of people who develop diabetes. Rimonabant is a trial drug that has been developed to target diabetes and obesity. One in every seven US dollars is used to fight diabetes.
Diabetes has terrible side effects such as retinopathy (eye problems), angiopathy (cardiovasuclar system problems such as ineffective circultation) and nephropathy (kidney problems).
There has been much research into insulin markers, diets, glucose monitoring systems and exercise. Each patient may have a different reaction to exercise, but activity has been shown to lower blood glucose levels, reduce risk factors and stabilise HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin which refers to long term blood glucose. An exercisors ability to participate in physical activy is directly related to the levels of blood sugar.
Since 2006 the term pre-diabetes has become a medical diagnosis when a person is at risk of developing diabetes. Using a blood glucose meter to measure the effects of food, stress and activity on blood glucose levels and carb counting involves matching carbohydrate intake to insulin.
Diabetes is one the of the lifestyle diseases that affects most families.