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Basics of Diabetes: A Simple Guide

Diabetes is a problem that deserves your attention as it is growing at a rapidly fast rate and in a few. years will be a cause of concern for most households. This is because Diabetes is only the last stage of a cascade of metabolic issues that begin years before your blood sugar levels rise. Insulin Resistance, the precursor to Diabetes, starts early and can be seen in those with increased belly fat, sugar cravings, feeling hungry after eating, skin tags and dark skin discolouration. High Triglycerides, low HDL and non-alcoholic fatty liver, are preliminary signs of metabolic issues which may eventually lead to diabetes.

That is why taking preventive steps is more important than ever, because when you work on prevention, you have autonomy and control as well as freedom to work at your pace. This freedom goes away when chronic diseases set in and that reduces quality and experience of life.

So, let’s take a quick look at what exactly is diabetes and how you can prevent it from entering your life.

Diabetes Demystified

1. The Basics: What is Diabetes?

Very simply, diabetes is a state where your blood glucose levels continue to stay higher than normal. Normal fasting glucose levels are <100mg/dl and post-prandial should be <140 mg/dl. You can find the latest details on glucose and HbA1c numbers to diagnose diabetes on this link to the American Diabetes Association.

2. The Cause: Why Does Diabetes Occur?

In Type 2 diabetes (the most common form), this happens because your cells stop listening to Insulin. This is called Insulin Resistance. It often develops silently without any obvious symptoms in the early days. One of the many possible reasons it develops is excess fat in muscle and liver cells. Fat should ideally be stored in fat cells (adipose tissue), and theoretically, fat cells have unlimited capacity. However, due to reasons such as increased inflammation, the fat cells malfunction, and the fat spills out, getting deposited in muscles and the liver, which are not equipped to handle it. Once there, this fat makes the cells resistant to signals of insulin. That is why losing body fat and restricting calories rapidly reduces insulin Resistance

3. Role of Insulin

Insulin is a pivotal hormone responsible for transferring glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. This glucose is then utilized to produce or store energy. The failure in this communication line, due to insulin resistance, leads to an elevated blood glucose level which can harm blood vessels and various organs.

Along with promoting the uptake of glucose from the blood, Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of fats and that’s why according to some researchers and scientists is linked to weight gain and obesity. This is however debated extensively and not all scientists agree.

4. Recognizing the Symptoms

The journey towards diabetes starts quietly, often manifesting symptoms like:

  • Excess belly fat
  • Dark patches on the skin
  • Skin tags
  • Feeling hungry even after eating a meal
  • Strong sweet cravings
  • Abnormal blood reports: normal sugar levels but elevated triglycerides and low HDL

Conditions such as PCOS, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver, and high BP may also accompany the above.

Mapping Out Solutions

Option 1: Medical Treatment: The Physician’s Approach

Lifestyle changes are the first line of recommendation. However, they are seldom adhered to. That’s why patients are often put on medicines, and the journey would look like this.

  • Initially, physicians recommend drugs like Metformin.
  • As the disease progresses, they might suggest additional oral antidiabetic medications, including the recent GLP-1 (Ozempic).
  • When all else fails, you’ll be given Insulin therapy, which is often a last resort. It is lifesaving, but it’s linked to weight gain and potential heart health issues.

Option 2: Self-driven Diabetes Prevention: The Proactive Approach

The most proactive strategy to prevent diabetes or reverse prediabetes revolves around maintaining a healthy weight and body composition. Here’s how:

  • 🥗 Dietary Habits: Choose between a low-fat or low-carb diet and increase protein intake.
  • 🏃🏽‍♂️ Physical Activity: Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities weekly.
  • 🧘🏽‍♀️ Mindfulness & Relaxation: Prioritize relaxation through hobbies, meditation, breathwork, and ensure adequate sleep.

Conclusion: Diabetes Prevention is better than Diabetes treatment. Therefore you must arm yourself with the first line of defence – Diet, Exercise and Stress Management.

To get started on your wellness journey, you can look up my YouTube Channel, where you’ll find many helpful Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation videos. I would recommend starting with the free Yoga Nidra for beginners session.

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