Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce insulin or does not use it properly. Consequently, the blood sugar is not transported to the cells to be used as fuel, but remains in the bloodstream. This leads to high levels of blood sugar, which can damage vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes and blood vessels.
Type 1 diabetes begins in childhood or adolescence and requires daily insulin injections. Type 2, also known as adult onset diabetes, usually occurs in people older than 40 years and is the most common form of the disease. Although it can be controlled by proper diet and exercise, in some cases it may be necessary to administer oral medications or insulin injections.
Symptoms: The most common symptoms include dehydration, excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite and unexplained weight loss. However, there are often no symptoms.
Risk factors: by far the greatest risk factor is advanced age. Other factors include heredity, excessive weight and lack of physical activity. Diabetes affects women a little more than men and a little more affects black people than white women. The prevalence of diabetes in people over 40 ranges from 2% to 16%.
Long-term effects of the disease: in addition to diabetic coma, which can threaten the lives of patients, this condition can also cause a series of long-term complications, such as arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis causes alterations in cardiac function and blood circulation, which can sometimes lead to amputation. It also damages the kidneys, eyes and peripheral nerves.
How to treat diabetes:
* Lower your BMI: the BMI index, is equal to your weight divided by the square of your height. A BMI below 18.5 is very low and is accompanied by greater morbidity. A BMI greater than thirty is associated with serious medical complications. Being overweight or obese is one of the main risk factors for developing diabetes, because having more fatty tissue makes you more resistant to insulin. To reach the ideal weight, your BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9. Try to lose any excess weight by following a diet low in saturated fat, which is found in butter, meat and whole milk products. It would also be a good idea to avoid sweets, salt and alcohol.
* Increase your activity level: leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing the disease, because physical activity can make your cells more sensitive to insulin. For this reason you must learn to exercise more. Half an hour of vigorous walking per day is often enough to normalize the blood sugar level.
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