Diabetes is a polygenic disease that affects millions of people every year in the whole world. There is no cure for diabetes patients, but with proper management and a healthy lifestyle, they can lead normal lives. Improper management has made diabetes the seventh leading disease that causes death globally (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Diabetes is the abnormal condition in which the body is incapable to handle the amount of sugar produced. There are three main types of diabetes. They include Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the organism produces little amounts of the hormone insulin; it is also referred to as the early-onset diabetes, insulin dependent, or juvenile diabetes. Juvenile diabetes is caused when there is damage of the pancreas and affects beta cells responsible for insulin production. Beta cells are also attacked by provocative cells that are mistakenly produced by the immune system. Type 1 diabetes usually affects people in their early adulthood. People with this type of diabetes must rely on insulin medication for survival.
Pregnancy hormones may block the action of insulin making it less responsive and consequently rising glucose in the woman’s blood. Gestational diabetes starts halfway during the pregnancy. One of the symptoms of gestational diabetes is the existence of sugar in one’s urine, blurred vision and excessive thirst. Glucose tolerance test (GTT) is performed to pregnant women during the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy to monitor for the presence of gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes can be treated with exercising and eating a well-balanced diet, especially during pregnancy. Failure to control gestational diabetes can lead to complications during childbirth, low blood glucose of the baby and cause breathing problems.
Type 2 diabetes is the one that is well known in many countries. It is caused when the pancreas does not generate enough insulin or when the body cells are insulin resistant, that is they do not use the insulin effectively. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reiterates that almost 21 million people in the United States are infected by type 2 diabetes (2011). High levels of glucose affect the eyes, heart, gums, teeth, kidneys and nerves. Type 2 diabetes is also known as Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM), or Adult Diabetes Mellitus (AODM). The common symptoms of adult diabetes mellitus are frequent urination, increased thirst, erectile dysfunction, skin infection, weight loss, faint vision, itchiness fatigue, and vaginal infections.
Risk factors are the predisposing factors that lead to the contraction of the disease.
Genetics play a significant role in the development of diabetes. If a parent or a sibling in one’s family has diabetes, the chances of getting diabetes mellitus are very high.
Obesity can be another risk factor that causes this disease. As it can be seen from the research conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, 30 percent of the adults are obese while the number of obese children has doubled since 1980 (Manzella, 2010). Obesity causes the body to have elevated levels of sugar. The body has a hard task of breaking down the excess sugar to manageable levels. Research suggests that obese people have fat cells that release a protein called Pigment Epithelium-Derived Factor (PEDF) that leads to the growth of type 2 diabetes (Burns, 2011). According to Burns (2011), when one is overweight, there is a high risk of insulin resistance leading to the increase in the amount of sugar in the body. A pre-diabetes’ person’s blood sugar is abnormal and if untreated for a long period, there is progression and development of diabetes mellitus.
According to American Diabetes Association, pregnant women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. If the woman is above 25 years when pregnant and has high blood pressure, there are chances of diabetes development. Among the other factors that increase the chances of occurrence of diabetes is excessive fluid, prior miscarriage or obesity. Giving birth to a baby that weighs more than 9 pounds increases the risk of contaminating this type of diabetes.
As individuals age, they tend to become dormant. Diseases and lifestyles limit the number of times a person exercises. Lack of physical exercises raises the amount of fat and blood sugar, and increases the chances of developing diabetes mellitus. Persons who are older than 45 years have high chances of developing the disease. This is because at this age people gain weight as they age and exercise less.
Ethnic background can be another risk factor whereby people like blacks, Hispanics, Indians, and Native Americans are more likely to develop diabetes than the whites (Manzella, 2010). Hypertension or high blood pressure, having HDL cholesterol that is less 35mg/dl increases the chance of having diabetes.
Poor diet due to the intake of many fats, small amount of fiber and excess carbohydrates contribute to diabetes. Many people today accentuate on fast foods, ice creams, potato chips, pasta, and simple sugars (Burns, 2011). When human blood has a fat concentration of more than 250mg/dl, there is a possibility of developing diabetes. Gestational diabetes in pregnant women can lead to type 2diabetes if ignored after child birth.
Type 2 diabetes treatments include natural remedies, alternative medicine and traditional medication. Examples of natural remedies involve the usage of North America’s Ginseng that helps the body to improve blood sugar control. The use of chromium mineral in the body helps the cells to respond to insulin. Eating of greens, nuts, seeds and grains that produce magnesium helps to regulate insulin. Some herbs like garlic, gymnema and juniper berry contain blood sugar- lowering properties. Gymnema helps to restore pancreatic function in the body. Sugar substitute herbs are also used for patients with type 2 diabetes. Some of the herbs used as sugar substitutes are stevia and locorice. Gymnema improves the blood sugar regulation of the human body. Although stevia is sweeter than sucrose, it does not increase the rate of glucose levels in the body. One should control the blood sugar and carry out home blood sugar testing.
Most researchers agree that oxidative stress is the main cause of type 2 diabetes. This theory explains the danger of the presence of free radicals in the human body. The free radicals are always unstable until they bond with another molecule. These result in a circle called “chain of radical” whereby at least one radical will remain free without any other radical to be connected to. Free radicals damage important components of the body such as DNA, or cell membrane resulting in cell death. This can be controlled by antioxidants that safely interact with the free radical cells and avoid the chain of reaction before the body cells are damaged (Morhan, Chong & Maiese, n.d).
It is recommended that lowering of the oxidative stress with a healthier diet, more exercises and improved lifestyle, taking antioxidant supplements to defuse excess radicals can reduce the rate of diabetes. People should be aware that their bodies commence to malfunction five to seven years before diagnosed with diabetes. This is why many people have diabetes and are not even aware of it. The overuse of alcohol and nicotine that leads to increase in oxidative stress should be limited.
Untreated Type 2 diabetes causes many complications to the heart and blood vessels, nerves, kidneys, eyes, gums and teeth. The disease causes eye disorders that include glaucoma, and sometimes it may lead to blindness. Over 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and six million of them are not aware if they are affected (Center Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Health organizations should create diabetes awareness.
The recommendations among patients with Type 2 diabetes emphasize that they should drop 7 percent of the body weight and involve exercise (150 min/week). American patients should attain the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendation for dietary fiber (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). According to the observational study, the amount of alcohol consumption should be moderate to reduce Type 2 diabetes, but data does not support this recommendation.
Type 2 diabetes patients should receive Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) that is provided by a registered dietitian. Nutrition counseling should be made to the diabetic patients who are willing to change their lifestyle that lead to Type 2 diabetes. The major intervention on patients with diabetes is that they should always emphasize on energy balance, overweight and balanced diet (Johnson, 2012). To manage diabetes, patients should monitor carbohydrates to achieve glucose control, dietary pattern that involves low-fat milk.
In conclusion, diabetes is a lifestyle disease that affects a large percentage of people in today’s world. Consuming food that is rich in fiber helps to balance the blood sugar. People should avoid fast foods, fats and dairy products that contain sugar. Patients with diabetes should engage themselves in doing exercises daily to reduce their weight and improve insulin sensitivity. Diabetes can be controlled in early stages with many herbal remedies if one encounters the symptoms of diabetes.