Almost all of us like to indulge in sweets and sweet food items every now and then. In fact, there can be multiple reasons for these sugar cravings. It can be just to celebrate a memorable moment or maybe because of stress. In any case, there is nothing wrong with having sweets once in a while. But what if you simply cannot have anything sweet because of diabetes? So, today in this article, you will learn all about diabetes, how you can reverse diabetes, and how to enjoy your favorite sweets once in a while without serious health issues.
Do you know that around 422 million people worldwide suffer from Diabetes! Furthermore, India itself is known as the diabetic capital of the world since the highest number of diabetes cases are in India itself. In the year 2019, diabetes was the direct cause of an estimated 1.5 million deaths around the world. And if people don’t start taking care of their bodies, millions more will suffer from diabetes.
What is Diabetes? Can you Reverse Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition where your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to properly use insulin present in the body. Because of this, you can face high blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas gland which is present behind the stomach. This insulin is responsible for the amount of glucose that is released into the body. Thus, any hindrance in insulin levels can lead to high levels of glucose, that is sugar, in the bloodstream which leads to diabetes.
In simpler words, insulin releases glucose from your bloodstream to your organ cells. This glucose is then used as fuel by your body cells and organs. As a result, if you have diabetes, then your body is essentially unable to properly use the glucose or sugar in your bloodstream as fuel.
Role of Glucose in the Body
To better understand what exactly diabetes is, you first need to understand the functioning of glucose in our body. Glucose is a type of sugar that the body gets from carbohydrate-rich food items like bread, potatoes, rice, etc. Such food items are broken down into glucose by different enzymes and acids during digestion. And once glucose gets absorbed by the body, this sugar is released into the bloodstream. After this, the insulin helps in transferring the sugar from the blood to the cells which acts as a fuel or energy for the different functions of the body. Glucose also acts as a fuel for the brain and all the various nervous functions. Thus, without glucose, a lot of essential organs might not get enough fuel to work properly.
Since glucose is highly important for various body functions, having the right glucose or sugar levels is quite important. Thus, the pancreas keeps a check on blood sugar levels for releasing insulin accordingly. If the blood sugar level increases, your body releases more insulin. Similarly, when sugar levels decrease, your body also reduces the production of insulin.
Reverse Diabetes and its Different Types
Now that you know the role of glucose in the body and blood sugar levels, let’s look at the types of diabetes that are usually seen in the population.
- Prediabetes: In prediabetics, the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not as high as type 2 diabetes. Hence, it is the earlier stage of type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 Diabetes: This diabetes is an autoimmune condition. Here, the body itself attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas which leads to a lack of insulin in the body. Because of this, blood sugar levels are increased in your body. It is mostly diagnosed in children but can also develop in adults. Type 1 diabetes constitutes around 10% of the total diabetes cases.
- Type 2 Diabetes: In this type of diabetes, the insulin released from the pancreas is not enough for the body. This is caused due to insulin resistance where the body resists insulin and does not respond to it. In a longer period of time, it can even impair the ability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin. As a result, you face high blood sugar levels resulting in type 2 diabetes which is the most common type.
- Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes is seen during pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body develops a bit of insulin resistance. And if you are facing diabetes because of this phenomenon, then you have gestational diabetes. It usually gets better after pregnancy but increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in later stages of your life.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Getting tested in the early stage of diabetes can help you manage it and reverse diabetes before it turns into serious health issues. So, let’s look at the warning signs and symptoms of each type of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes tend to show up in the early stages which include the following:
- Feeling tired
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplainable weight loss or weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Changes in mood
- Increased thirst
Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes
The symptoms for these are not much noticeable in the earlier stages as they are very mild. Instead, they become visible in the later stages which can be as follows:
- Feeling tired
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Unexplainable weight loss or weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Increased thirst
- Slow-healing sores
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in hands or feet
Unfortunately, there are no major symptoms of gestational diabetes apart from frequent urination and increased thirst. Instead, the diagnosis of gestational diabetes is regular blood sugar tests.
Severe Effects of Uncontrolled Diabetes
With time, uncontrolled sugar levels can have adverse effects on your health and can even lead to death in extreme cases. Some of such severe effects of uncontrolled diabetes include:
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage
- Kidney problems
- Serious eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, blindness, etc.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Skin and foot infections
In gestational diabetes, uncontrolled diabetes can even have effects like premature birth, increased child weight, making your child more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, and even leading to death in some cases.
Causes of Diabetes
Apart from the effects and symptoms of diabetes, you should also know about the causes of diabetes if you want to treat it and reverse diabetes. Some of the common causes of diabetes include the following:
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes: As it is an autoimmune condition, it can be caused because of genetics or some virus. Here, the body’s immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells. This creates a lack of insulin because of which the sugar keeps accumulating in the bloodstream raising the sugar levels.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes: In most cases, the possible causes of type 2 diabetes are lifestyle factors like obesity, lack of exercise, and genetics which might impair the functioning of the cells. The insulin resistance created in the body with time affects the pancreas as the amount of insulin produced is reduced. This leads to a shortage of insulin resulting in a build-up of excess sugar in the blood.
Causes of Gestational Diabetes: During pregnancy, increasing the calorie intake excessively can make you overweight easily. This can lead to health complications like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. It happens because of the hormones produced by the placenta during pregnancy. The body is not able to make enough insulin in the body during this period leading to a build-up of sugar in the blood.
Tests for Diabetes
If you notice all or a few of the symptoms mentioned above, it is better to get tested for diabetes. There are various tests curated to check your blood sugar levels and diabetes, such as:
- A1C test
- Random sugar test
- Fasting sugar test
- Oral glucose tolerance test
- Urine test
- Initial glucose tolerance test
- Two-hour glucose tolerance test
Risk Factors of Diabetes
Although the main factors that make a person more vulnerable to diabetes are lifestyle and genetic factors, there are a few risk factors that can increase the chances of diabetes:
Risk Factors of Type 1 Diabetes
- Family History: The chances of type 1 diabetes increase if there are other members in the family with the same form of diabetes.
- Autoantibodies: The presence of antibodies that mistakenly attack one’s own body can increase the risk of this type of diabetes.
- Injury to the Pancreas: Any injuries caused by a virus, surgery, or an accident can affect the production of insulin in the body.
- Illness due to a Virus or Infection: These can also have an impact on your body that can make you more vulnerable to type 1 diabetes.
Risk Factors of Type 2 Diabetes
- Weight: Being overweight or obese raises the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
- Lack of Physical Activity: Lack of exercise can make you more susceptible to getting type 2 diabetes.
- Family History: Having someone in the family with type 2 diabetes can also increase the risk of you having diabetes.
- Age: On average, after the age of 45 years, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases drastically.
- Gestational Diabetes: As mentioned before, having gestational diabetes can increase the risk of having type 2 diabetes later on in life.
- PCOS: 70% of the women who suffer from PCOS have insulin-resistant PCOS which affects the cell’s response to the insulin hormones leading to type 2 diabetes.
- Smoking: Smoking can affect the cells’ ability to respond to insulin creating insulin resistance.
Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes
- Weight: Being overweight during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Prediabetes: Having prediabetes can raise the risk of getting gestational diabetes.
- PCOS: Insulin-resistant PCOS can increase the risk of this type of diabetes as well.
- Personal and Family History: Previous personal or family history of gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
How to Reverse Diabetes?
If you are suffering from diabetes or are on the verge of being diabetic, the first thing you must know is that diabetes is a lifestyle disease and there is no cure for it. However, there are ways by which you can reverse diabetes and maintain your normal blood sugar levels. Down below, you will find the best ways to reverse diabetes and live a long and healthier life:
Lifestyle Changes to Reverse Diabetes
- Healthy Weight: The most widespread cause of diabetes is being overweight. Hence, try to lose weight and stay in the healthy BMI range for your age and height.
- Exercise: You must have read above how lack of exercise can lead to insulin resistance. Therefore, a bit of movement throughout the day in the form of 30-45 mins of workout or even an hour’s walk can bring a huge impact on your well-being.
- Sleep: A healthy lifestyle is incomplete without proper sleep. Hence, make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep daily.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking can increase your chances of getting diabetes and can worsen the situation if you already have diabetes.
- Reduce Stress: Excessive stress can also increase your chances of getting diabetes as it can affect the functioning of hormones. Therefore, try to reduce stress by adopting suitable stress-relieving techniques.
Diet Changes to Reverse Diabetes
- Reduce Processed Food Intake: High amounts of processed food can affect your organ systems as it is low in nutrients but high in sugar, fat, and salt. These can increase insulin resistance in the body.
- Plant-based Diet: Eating a plant-based diet with food items like legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts help in maintaining your blood sugar levels. These provide high fiber and ample micronutrients for keeping your internal organs healthy. This will help in the proper secretion of insulin.
- Low GI food: High Glycemic Index (GI) food can increase your blood sugar levels. Hence, try to have food items with a low Glycemic Index (GI) to lower the risk of diabetes. The majority of the plant-based food items come under the low or medium GI category which won’t trigger insulin malfunction.
Even though diabetes has no cure yet, these tips will help you in controlling blood sugar levels and reverse diabetes. But it is important to note that you need to maintain these lifestyle changes throughout your life. If you return to an unhealthy lifestyle, your diabetes symptoms can worsen again.
Is Diabetes Reversible & Preventable?
For most people, diabetes is preventable and reversible especially if you are talking about type 2 diabetes. If you implement simple healthy lifestyle changes and build healthy habits, you can surely prevent and reverse diabetes.
Diabetes is known as a silent killer, but with the right approach, you can live a healthy life even with diabetes. All you have to do is to be mindful of making healthier changes in your lifestyle. We hope that this article will help you in achieving that. Make sure to drop your thoughts and comments down below.