The term Diabetes Mellitus refers to a group of diseases characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes is caused by problems with the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates and controls blood glucose and its uptake into the body’s cells where it is used as energy. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter into the body cells and thus sits in the blood, creating high blood sugar levels whilst offering no usable energy for the body. This creates a problem as every single body cell and process relies on a continual supply of usable energy, as without it our brain function, muscle use and body
processes are compromised.
There are multiple types of diabetes, including type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. All forms are characterized by elevated blood sugar levels and need to be managed, but unlike type 1 and 2 which are for life, gestational diabetes lasts only through pregnancy (a serious condition that has the potential to harm the baby if left untreated). Management can include oral hypoglycemics (tablets) and/or injected insulin, both of which help the body use the ingested glucose and decrease blood glucose.
People with diabetes need to pay special attention to their dietary intake as this has a direct effect on their diabetes. As mentioned above they should aim for a diet rich in complex carbohydrates (think wholegrain and high fiber options with a low glycemic load), as well as plentiful vegetables and legumes. The emphasis is on high fiber and lower sugar foods. Although some fruit is fine, diabetics should avoid processed sugars found in baked items, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. Exercise is also very important with regular moderate to high intensity aerobic activity being encouraged multiple times per week.
Diabetes, especially type 2, can be diagnosed at any age so it's important to know the symptoms. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to; excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, weight loss or gain, fatigue and irritability, slow-healing wounds and frequent infections. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms we recommend you seek medical advice.