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Diabetes: Assess Your Risk

Timeless Fitness Tip

Diabetes

Diabetes is a growing concern in America as it is rising at epidemic proportions. More than 2200 Americans are diagnosed with this affliction every day. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease is officially calling it "a definite epidemic". Of these statistics, perhaps the most alarming fact is that children are being stricken with Type 2 diabetes, the form that usually affects adults over the age of 40. Doctors are mystified at this fact, for in medical school they were taught that Type 2 diabetes was a disease of aging.

Diabetes can be controlled more effectively than ever before, but is still a major health concern and should be dealt with as such. It is the number one cause of blindness, amputations and kidney failure and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke by two or three times.

What is diabetes? Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot produce or properly use the hormone insulin, which converts food into energy. There are two basic types:

Type 1:

Type 1 has formerly been called juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes and is less common than Type 2. It is; however, equally as life threatening. In Type 1, the immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. To treat it, one needs daily insulin injections to survive. Type 1 usually develops in children and young adults who are genetically prone to it, but it can appear at any given age. If one is not diagnosed in time, they can lapse into a potentially lethal coma. Symptoms come on suddenly and include extreme thirst, hunger, fatigue and excessive urination.

Type 2:

Formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, this is the most common form. When Type 2 occurs, the body becomes insensitive to insulin and can no longer use it. Approximately 80 percent of all over-weight people are afflicted, however, there are other causative factors. Prenatal factors are one example. Gestation induced (pregnancy-induced) diabetes increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes in both mother and child. The most significant lead has been the identification of a common gene, calpain-10, which increases the odds of acquiring Type 2 diabetes. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop gradually, can be the same as Type 1 but include blurred vision, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. Some people have no symptoms, explaining why one-third of Americans is not aware of having it.

When diabetes is not detected, one can face increasingly serious health risks. Many people in these cases have been insulin resistant for years which sets your body up for accelerated atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), heart disease, blood-vessel disease, eye disease and kidney disease. Sad but true is the fact that the damage does not begin with diagnosis, it begins at least five to ten years prior in Type 2 diabetes. To determine if you have Type 2, a fasting blood sugar level is taken. 126mg/dL or higher means you have diabetes.

Once diagnosed, Type 2 can be controlled with oral medication and lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy and exercising. About 40 percent of Type 2 victims need insulin injections. New oral medications and more effective insulin have made it much more manageable than years past. There are about five different classes of medication now. Each works in a different way and is often used in a combined manner, with or without insulin therapy, to achieve better blood-sugar control. What is most important is the patient's commitment to his or her treatment.

In both types of diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible is a key element of treatment. Normal levels are 70mg/dL to 110mg/dL before meals and not much higher after meals. Using this means of control could delay and prevent the life-threatening complications of this disease.

So, are you at risk? Here are some risk factors:

  • You have a parent or sibling with diabetes.
  • You gave birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds.
  • You are seriously overweight.
  • You are 45 or older -- the incidence of diabetes increases with age.
  • You get little or no daily exercise.
  • You are African-American, Hispanic American or Native-American.
  • You have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
  • You have an expanding waistline.
  • Your triglycerides are elevated. (A blood fat).
  • You have a tendency or do have high blood pressure.

If you are over 45:

  • Get a fasting plasma glucose test every three years.
  • Know your family medical history.
  • Keep your weight under control.
  • Stay active.
  • Eat low-fat meals rich in vegetables and whole grain foods.
  • Get screened for diabetes regularly.

Try Chia Seed

A study published in an issue of Diabetes Care found that chia supplementation compared with wheat bran supplementation for 12 weeks resulted in the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.

Chia Seed creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. The human body is able to digest chia seed easily. As the seeds are able to absorb more than 7 times their weight in water, and form a thick gel, the result is a slow release of carbohydrates facilitating an equally slow conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) for energy.

The human body is able to digest chia seed easily. As the seeds are able to absorb more than 7 times their weight in water, and form a thick gel, the result is a slow release of carbohydrates facilitating an equally slow conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) for energy.

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