Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. In the United States alone, over 30 million Americans have diabetes. And over 7 million have it but are unaware of it.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a medical condition that occurs when blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is too high.
Blood glucose is the body’s main source of energy. We get this from the food that we eat.
Diabetes happens when blood glucose remains in the blood. Normally, the hormone insulin takes blood glucose into the cells. However, there are people who don’t produce enough insulin or whose insulin doesn’t work well.
Who are at risk?
Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease that can develop in people who are:
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Had a history of gestational diabetes
- Over the age of 45
Type 1 diabetes, which is thought to be a result of the body’s immune response, is more likely to develop in people who have:
- A family history of type 1 diabetes
Although this condition can happen to anyone at any age, it is commonly seen in the younger population – children, teens, young adults.
How can diabetes lead to vascular problems?
Vascular problems are some of the complications of unmanaged diabetes. These include retinopathy (abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina), nephropathy (damage on the tiny filterings in the kidneys), neuropathy (a vascular condition causing loss of sensation on the legs and feet), atherosclerosis, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
While these and other complications can be managed if detected early, it’s important to know that preventing the development of diabetes is way better than preventing its complications.
Type 2 diabetes is closely tied to your lifestyle. By making the necessary changes in your habits, specifically in your diet and physical activity, you can prevent or even revert your existing diabetes. Here are some ways on how you can do it:
- Eat a well-balanced meal
Your diet is a very important factor. You can get your blood sugar level to a normal range or as close as possible by having well-balanced meals.
Your diet should include a variety of vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, healthy sources of fat, and fruit (in moderation). Aside from watching what you eat, it’s also important to watch how much you’re eating.
- Stay active
Regular physical activity can help lower your blood sugar and cholesterol level. On top of that, it helps you relieve stress and strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones.
If you’re completely new to working out, it’s important to start slow. If you have the resources, you can consult with a qualified fitness specialist to guide you through.
- Quit smoking
If you’re diabetic and a smoker, you are doubling your chance of developing vascular diseases.
If you’re a diabetic struggling with vascular issues that are affecting your quality of life, Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville has a team of vascular surgeons who can help you manage your vascular disease long term. To request an appointment with one of our experienced vascular physicians, call (865) 588-8229.