Ok all kidding aside the article below is one that I wrote for one of my classes earlier this year. Please enjoy and let me know what you think. I will Apologize in advance for the length of todays post.
Healthy Eating and Diabetes
Did you know that Diabetes was the Seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2006? (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, June) This is a startling statistic when you consider for those patients diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes it is possible to avoid complications if not “cure” themselves of the disease. Through healthy eating and weight loss it is possible to lower blood sugar, lower the amount of insulin being taken, and reduce the effects of type 2 Diabetes on the human body.
The first area to look at for a diabetic is how healthy eating can lower blood sugar; this is done by reducing the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amounts of protein an individual can eat. When reducing carbohydrates it is important to understand how they affect a Diabetic. Carbohydrates are digested by the human body and converted into glucose a form of sugar the body needs for energy. “Glucose is largely responsible for the food-induced increase in blood glucose concentration”(Gannon & Nuttall, 2006). Since carbohydrates are so directly involved in the glucose level of human blood then a reduction in the amount taken will also help
reduce the glucose levels in the body. Through the study done by Nuttall & Gannon they found “substitution of sugars for starches considerably reduced the meal-related increase in plasma glucose over a 24-hour period“(Gannon & Nuttall, 2006). By reducing one item of the diet, carbohydrates, it is a must to increase another area of the diet.
Increasing Protein intake helps to lower the overall effect of the blood sugar on the human body. First it is important to understand how the Protein affects the body. “Protein acts synergistically with ingested glucose to increase insulin secretion and reduce the blood glucose response to the ingested glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.” (Gannon & Nuttall, 2006) The power that protein has is the ability to increase the secretion of the insulin, this is important because insulin is what the body requires to turn glucose into useable energy. Proteins ability to increase the amount of insulin secreted in people with type 2 diabetes helps to lower the blood sugar as the insulin is able to help the cells process the glucose. Healthy eating is an important and vital area in Diabetes management; another area that effects type 2 diabetics is weight loss.
Weight loss has been proven to benefit type 2 diabetics by reducing the amount of medications they have to take. “We know it's true -- that if someone with diabetes loses 5% to 10% of their weight, they will significantly reduce their blood sugar." (Davis, 2007) Each type of exercise used to help in weight loss affects the body’s blood glucose level differently; with this being said it is important to monitor blood glucose levels at all times. “When doing aerobic exercise can lower glucose levels almost immediately.” (Davis, 2007) "With physical activity, you burn blood sugar as well as sugar stored in muscle and in the liver," explains Meneghini. "People using insulin or medications to simulate release of insulin should closely monitor blood sugar levels when they begin exercising more. Over time, as you exercise regularly, you can reduce doses of medications and insulin." (Davis, 2007)
Insulin is made in the pancreas of the human body. In a type 2 Diabetic their body still produces insulin however the receptor cells in the body have what is called insulin resistance. Meaning for some reason they are unable to accept the insulin which is what allows the sugar in the blood stream to be absorbed and used by the cells for energy. Through a healthy diet and exercise a Type 2 Diabetic can reduce weight which has been shown to aid in the reception of insulin at the receptor cells. The importance of healthy eating and weight loss for a Diabetic can also be seen in the complications that can occur.
Uncontrolled diabetes has many major complications, for the purpose of this paper Retinopathy and Neuropathy shall be focused on. “Diabetic Neuropathy is damage to the individual’s nerves that may lead to pain, numbness, tingling, and burning sensations.” (MedicineNet.com, 11/4) Blood glucose levels that are higher than normal for too long will cause this type of nerve damage. Through healthy eating and weight loss a type 2 diabetic will be able to get their blood glucose levels under control. “Diabetic peripheral neuropathy will become less when blood sugar is under control. Medications can be taken to help control the discomfort if needed“ (MedicineNet.com, 11/4).
Neuropathy is a serious condition in a diabetic as the pain related to this disease can be extreme. There are four versions of Diabetic Neuropathy, each effects different areas of the human body. These include Peripheral Neuropathy, Autonomic Neuropathy, Proximal Neuropathy, and Focal Neuropathy. Peripheral Neuropathy most commonly involves the feet and legs of a diabetic; symptoms of this range from tingling to burning, and from extreme pain to complete numbness. Peripheral Neuropathy can, if not treated properly, lead to amputation of the
extremities. With Autonomic Neuropathy the nerve damage can affect several major organ systems in the body. These systems range from the digestive to the cardiac, and the urinary system. These can all be life threatening as these systems are some of the core functions in the human body. In Proximal Neuropathy the Diabetic can feel pain or weakness in the thighs, hips or buttocks. Focal Neuropathy involves muscle weakness or pain in the head,
torso, or leg. These are all serious issues but one area that is yet to be discussed is Diabetic Retinopathy.
“Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.” (National Eye Institute, 2010) All diabetics are at risk for Retinopathy and need to take control of diabetes in order to help avoid this complication. “To prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes should control their levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol.” (National Eye Institute, 2010) There are many case studies into retinopathy and the connection with neuropathy going on at this time.
The retina in the human eye is neural tissue, making it part of the nervous system also. As has already been stated Neuropathy is nerve damage and Retinopathy is damage to blood vessels of the retina. They are currently pursuing research into if existing nerve damage is helping to lead to the changes in the blood vessels causing the legions in the eyes that ultimately cause blindness due to Retinopathy. A diabetic who does all they can do to control their blood sugar through the use of healthy eating and weight loss can help prevent these very dangerous diseases.
It is disturbing that a disease that can be reversed such as type 2 Diabetes has to be among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. I personally am a Type 1 Diabetic and therefore I am not reversible. I also suffer from Diabetic Neuropathy in my arms and my legs; this is why I feel it is important to educate those who can take control of their disease. Through healthy eating and weight loss it is possible to lower blood sugar, lower the amount of insulin being taken, and reduce the effects of type 2 Diabetes on the human body.
Davis, J. L. (2007). Diabetes and Weight Loss: Finding the Right Path. Retrieved from http://diabetes.webmd.com/features/diabetes-weight-loss-finding-the-right-path
Gannon, M. C., & Nuttall, F. Q. (2006). Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/3/1/16
MedicineNet.com. (11/4/2009). Diabetic Neuropathy: Symptoms, Treatment & More. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetic_neuropathy/article.htm
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. (June 2008). National Diabetes Statistics, 2007. Retrieved from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/#deaths
National Eye Institute. (2010). Facts About Diabetic Retinopathy. Retrieved from http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp