What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a group of chronic metabolic disorders that compromise the body's ability to utilize glucose for energy metabolism. Characterized by high blood sugar or hyperglycaemia, its classic symptoms are frequent urination, increased hunger and thirst, body weight imbalance, fatigue, slow healing and many more. It can lead to life-altering complications if not checked and controlled at early stages.
There are primarily 2 kinds of diabetes: insulin-dependent type 1- where the pancreatic beta cells fail to produce insulin to utilize glucose; and non-insulin dependent type 2- which is the more common type making upto about 90% of the cases, characterized by insulin resistance, a condition in which although there is sufficient insulin produced, the sensitivity of cells to respond to insulin is reduced, and is caused primarily due to obesity, lifestyle factors and genetics to a great extent.
The third type is gestational diabetes, resembling in characteristics to type 2 diabetes, which occurs is 2-10% of pregnant women and usually improves after delivery; very few go ahead with developing long term diabetic complications. Another kind which is less common is a heritable variant of diabetes, autosomal dominant maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) caused by mutations in genes responsible for insulin production.
Diabetes increases risk of various complications, often serious and debilitating. Some of the most common complications are diabetic foot ulcers, slow wound healing, diabetic nephropathy affecting renal functions, diabetic neuropathy affecting the central nervous system, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract and vision impairment, and diabetic cardiopathy, the most prevalent complication and leading cause of death in diabetic patients due to heart failure and stroke.
Diabetes essentially has no cure. It can only be controlled by proper nutrition, weight management and lifestyle changes.
Should I stop eating sugar altogether if I have diabetes?
It is a common belief that diabetics should eradicate sugar from their diet but veritably, in either types of diabetes, cutting down sugar intake may not be necessary but it is essential to control its consumption and lower blood sugar levels to prevent further complications.
Also modulation of diet in terms of sugar intake varies between the type of diabetes one is diagnosed with. Individual with type 1 diabetes have an intrinsic defect of producing insulin to metabolize glucose. Such patients are usually prescribed insulin treatment in the form of injections or pump to control blood glucose level. They can therefore continue with a normal daily diet (a balanced one of course) with moderate quantity of sugar in it.
Those with type 2 diabetes, the more common one, need lifestyle intervention. Since obesity is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, reducing weight by significant diet modification and regular exercise becomes imperative. Which means, this group needs a stricter regimen for cutting down sugar consumption.
Therefore, rooting out sugar from diet is not necessary in diabetes but moderating it will surely enfeeble the sugar coated devil !
How Can I Reduce Sugar Intake With Diabetes?
Various ways in which we can reduce sugar intake and naturally lower/control blood sugar levels are:
The sweetest fruits are harvested out by the most laborious farmers; introducing these simple and effective approaches to lifestyle can substantially regulate diabetes mellitus and render a better quality of life.