like other health issues refers to a “group of diseases” that affect how your body uses blood glucose, or “blood sugar.”
Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s your brain’s source of fuel.
When a person is said to have
no matter what type, it means they have too much glucose in their blood. Too much glucose can mean serious health problems.
Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 and type 2
Diabetes symptoms are always different depending on how high a persons blood sugar is elevated. Some people, (those with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes,) may not experience symptoms initially. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe. The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
Moderate high blood pressure
Thirsty more often
Unexplained weight loss
Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough insulin)
Frequent infections, such as gum or skin infections and vaginal or bladder infections
Type 1 diabetes can begin at any age, but it typically appears during childhood. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age and is the most common type. Type 2 diabetes is preventable.
Glucose is a main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. It comes from two major sources: the food you eat and your liver.
During the digestion process, sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Then, sugar then enters cells, with the help of insulin.
The hormone insulin comes from the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach. When you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream. As insulin circulates, it acts like a key, unlocking doors that allow sugar to enter your cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.
Your liver acts as a glucose storage and manufacturing center. When you haven’t eaten in a while your liver releases stored glucose to keep your glucose level at a normal range.
The cause of type 1 diabetes, like so many diseases, is when your immune system that normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses, attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. With limited insulin, instead of being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, but scientists still don’t have any idea what those factors are.
In pre-diabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, a persons cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and their pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance.
Without enough insulin moving into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Some believe being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but then again, not everyone with type 2 is overweight.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain a pregnancy. These hormones make a persons cells more resistant to insulin. As a woman’s placenta grows larger in the second and third trimesters, it secretes more of these hormones, making it even more difficult for insulin to do its job.
Normally, a persons pancreas responds by producing enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance. But sometimes the pancreas can’t keep up.
When this occurs, too little glucose gets into your cells, and too much stays in your blood. This is called gestational diabetes.
Studies have shown that North American ginseng may improve blood sugar control and glycated hemoglobin levels.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and helps body cells properly respond to insulin. Studies have found low levels of chromium in people with diabetes.
Magnesium is a mineral found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in nutritional supplements. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and bone health.
Studies suggest that low magnesium levels may worsen blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes. There’s also some evidence that magnesium supplementation may help with insulin resistance. One study examined the effect of magnesium or placebo in 63 people with type 2 diabetes and low magnesium levels who were taking the medication glibenclamide. After 16 weeks, people who took magnesium had improved insulin sensitivity and lower fasting glucose levels.
High doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and confusion. It can interact with certain medications, like those for osteoporosis, high blood pressure (calcium channel blockers), as well as some antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and diuretics.
A couple of studies have found that cinnamon improves blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon significantly reduces fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
The mineral zinc plays an important role in the production and storage of insulin also. Some research showed that people with type 2 diabetes have suboptimal zinc status, due to decreased absorption, and increased excretion of zinc.
Good sources of zinc include egg yolk, rye, beef liver, lima beans, fresh oysters, ginger root, lamb, pecans, split peas, almonds, walnuts, sardines, chicken, and buckwheat.
Although aloe vera gel is well known as a good treatment for minor burns and other skin conditions, recent animal studies suggest that aloe vera gel may help people with diabetes.
A Japanese study evaluated the effect of aloe vera gel on blood sugar and isolated a number of active phytosterol compounds from the gel, that were found to reduce blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels.
Author: Steve Berchtold