Here is what you need to know about diabetes and how it affects your body
Diabetes is a complex condition with various causes and effects on the body, but small changes in your lifestyle and diet can make a big difference in managing it
Diabetes is a term you’ve probably heard before, but do you really understand what it means and how it affects your body? At its core, diabetes is a condition that affects how your body handles glucose, which is a form of sugar that fuels your cells. When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then transported into your cells for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas, acts as the key that unlocks the doors to your cells, allowing glucose to enter. But when the sugar uptake is affected in the body, a person may face diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes as everyone knows is called juvenile diabetes because it’s usually diagnosed at a very young age. In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system starts attacking and destroying body’s own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This can be due to genetics and even a leaky gut may play a role. But Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and it often develops in adults. Type 2 diabetes is primarily associated with lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough physical activity. Genetics can predispose you to diabetes, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll develop the condition. Think of genetics as loading the gun, while lifestyle choices pull the trigger. Epigenetics, on the other hand, refers to changes in gene expression that can occur due to environmental factors. These changes can affect how your body handles glucose and insulin. So, while your genes may play a part, your lifestyle can influence whether or not diabetes manifests.
Now let’s imagine insulin as a key that opens the door to your cells, allowing glucose to enter. When you eat, your blood sugar levels rise. In response to the meal you have provided, the pancreas releases insulin in the body to help your cells absorb glucose. Once inside the cells, glucose is either used for
immediate energy or stored for later use. Insulin ensures that your blood sugar levels stay within a healthy range. But in Type 2 diabetes, something goes wrong with this process. Your cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, meaning they don’t respond well to insulin’s “key”. This forces your pancreas to produce more insulin to compensate. As a result, you have excess insulin in your bloodstream, but your cells can’t use glucose properly. This leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage various organs and tissues over time and that’s why diabetes isn’t just about high blood sugar; it can have serious consequences for your health. Some common complications include:
Neuropathy: High blood sugar can damage your nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain, usually in your extremities like hands and feet.
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Nephropathy: Diabetes can harm your kidneys, impairing their ability to filter waste from your blood. This can lead to various kidney diseases or even failure.
Retinopathy: The blood vessels in your eyes can be affected, leading to vision problems and even blindness.
Cardiovascular issues: Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Having said that, one needs to look at fixing their lifestyle to reverse Type 2 diabetes and there are various natural foods or functional foods or minerals that also have benefits on the body to manage sugar levels. Let’s take a look at the role of chromium and vanadium in sugar management.
Chromium and vanadium are two trace minerals that have gained attention for their potential to help manage blood sugar levels. Chromium plays a role in insulin function. It helps insulin work more efficiently, allowing cells to take in glucose more effectively. Excellent food sources of chromium include whole grains like oats and barley, broccoli, green beans, and nuts like almonds and hazelnuts. Try to incorporate these foods into your meals to help keep blood sugar under control. On the other hand,vanadium may mimic insulin’s action in the body, making it easier for cells to taking glucose. Mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, and parsley are some dietary sources of vanadium. These flavourful additions to your dishes not only tantalise your taste buds but also support glucose regulation.
Diabetes is a complex condition with various causes and effects on the body, but always remember, small changes in your lifestyle and diet can make a big difference in managing diabetes and living a healthier life.
Also read: What are the five nutritious foods that we must include in our diet?