Diabetes affects people in different ways, but it’s all related to how the body processes glucose. Glucose is the fuel that powers the brain and is produced when we eat carbohydrates. To help us absorb glucose, the pancreas makes insulin. Diabetes is caused by the body not being able to produce any insulin at all, or producing too little or the insulin may just not work properly - this results in blood glucose levels being too high which can cause serious health issues.
There are symptoms to look out for as the body reacts to the insulin failure and tries to get rid of the excess glucose:
• increased thirst
• passing urine more often
• extreme tiredness
• unexplained weight loss
• slow healing of cuts and wounds
• blurred vision
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 – the body produces no insulin and it is typically diagnosed in children or young adults. It is not caused by lifestyle patterns, it is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the cells that produce insulin and these cells can no longer make any insulin, hence the need for insulin injections to manage it. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 – the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it produces insulin that doesn’t work properly. This type accounts for about 90% of those with diabetes and is most common in adults. There are strong links between having a high sugar diet and an increased risk of obesity, and in turn being overweight or obese and having high blood pressure, as are age, family history and ethnicity strong risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact exercise and healthy eating can reduce the effects of diabetes by over 50%, and can help prevent or delay the onset too. This doesn’t mean the end of alcohol, chocolate or favourite meals, but it can encourage people to live healthier, more active lives and to monitor the intake of sugary or fatty foods.
Both types of diabetes are managed by healthy diets, regular exercise, and in some cases insulin injections, to help move the glucose around the body and allow the glucose to be absorbed into our cells and out of the blood. Diabetes UK have developed a tool that can help determine your approximate risk of developing type 2 diabetes by using information such as gender, height and weight and it offers a breakdown of your result too to understand the areas that are primarily affecting your risk.
If you are concerned about being at risk of diabetes speak to your healthcare professional.
Find out more at www.diabetes.org.uk