Diabetes can be a misunderstood concept, and many people still shudder at the mere mention of the word. They envision diabetes as an endless task of sticking needles into oneself several times daily. One common myth that exists is the link between sugar in our diet and the development of diabetes. Any refined sugar in your diet is unhealthy, but there is little evidence that it is the cause of diabetes. What we should probably be more concerned about is something called high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is rapidly replacing cane sugar in almost all junk food type products because it is cheaper to produce. Start reading those labels and you will soon begin to share my concerns. Fructose is handled a little differently than glucose in our bodies. It is simply unknown what the end results of such massive influx of fructose into our systems would be.
Blood sugar levels are used to track diabetic control. Diabetes is referred to as "starvation in the midst of plenty." The cells are starving for glucose and keep calling for more, yet the blood is brimming with glucose. The problem is that the glucose cannot be transported into the cell without insulin. The medical definition of diabetes has been changed over the last number of years. Officially, a fasting blood sugar greater than 7.0 mmole/L is diabetes. Levels close to this are now called carbohydrate intolerance.
Diabetes is divided into several types. Not all require insulin. Many people considered "diabetics" are still able to produce insulin. Having high levels of blood sugar can lead to problems such as cataract formation and heart attacks, but kidney failure is the most significant. Failing to control blood sugar often leads to kidney problems. Once these filters fail, dialysis or transplant is required. There are now at least five classes of medications that are employed to help control diabetes before insulin is needed. Because they work in different areas of our body, we can now mix combinations which may further delay the onset for insulin. And even with insulin there is progress in terms of implantable pumps, islet cell transplantation and sleek self-injecting pens.
Confusion is arising with the advent of new medication classes. Biguanides such as Metformin decrease the glucose released by the liver, while Thiazolidinediones such as Pioglitazone and Rosiglitazone increase the ability of muscle cells to take up glucose. In both cases, effectiveness is measured by testing a drop of blood for glucose levels. Sulfonylureas such as Glyburide, Glimepiride and Gliclazide increase the ability for the pancreas to release insulin. Repaglinide and Nateglinide are non-sulfonyureas which have recently appeared and seem to increase pancreatic insulin secretion. Insulin injections are usually started when the pancrease can no longer produce natural insulin. Of interest is another drug called Acarbose which works in the small intestine to block an enzyme which promotes carbohydrate absorption. Early recognition and intervention are paramount to successful control. The most important aspect of diabetes is prevention. To properly control diabetes or to prevent it, you need to exercise regularly, drink alcohol only occasionally, quit smoking, and take radical steps to improve your diet by identifying potentially harmful elements.
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● This Is Your Brain On Sugar: Study Shows High-Fructose Diet Sabotages Learning, Memory from Science Daily.
● What's Worse Than Sugar? by Mark Francis Cohen, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
● What Is HFCS? The facts about high fructose corn syrup from Corn Refiners Association.
● Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment Original Research Communication from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN).
● Too much sugar, too much carbohydrate, or just too much? from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN)
● Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Worse Than Sugar? Posted by Valerie Sullivan in Diet, False Advertising.