Symptoms and Causes of Diabetes

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Insulin resistance is a silent condition with no symptoms that, because it goes unrecognized and untreated, causes diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57 million adults are estimated to have insulin resistance – also known as (AKA) “impaired glucose tolerance”, “impaired fasting glucose”, “prediabetes” and “metabolic syndrome”.

And you know what? You have more power over this condition than your health professional does. A diagnosis of diabetes is a life changing event. So head diabetes off at the pass and prevent it.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that takes sugar (glucose) out of the blood and transports it into the cells where it can be used for energy. Higher than normal amounts of sugar (glucose) in the blood is not only useless – it’s dangerous. It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a metabolic condition in which the tissues in the body – liver, muscles and fat cells – do not respond properly to insulin. It’s like a car sitting in a driveway not able to pull into the garage because the garage door is closed.

So what the body does is it makes more insulin. The pancreas churns out as much insulin as it can (to try to get that garge door open) and that works for a while. That’s why you can still have normal blood sugars for years, but your pancreas is working on overdrive trying to keep up with your ever increasing insulin needs.

If nothing changes eventually the pancreas burns out – it just can’t keep up anymore. And – BOOM – you have diabetes. It may seem to come on suddenly, but it’s actually been coming on for years.

Who is at risk for insulin resistance?

People who have a family history of diabetes may have genes that make them more likely to become diabetic. But being overweight, not getting enough exercise and poor diet are the main causes of insulin resistance – regardless of your family history. It is our lifestyles more than our genes that are responsible for the epidemic of diabetes that has occurred.

What can I do about it?

Control your weight and get adequate exercise. As for diet, you don’t have to eat perfect – you just need to eat better.

Weight Control

Weight loss schemes are a billion dollar business. I try to post helpful and sound advice on this blog. Here are a couple of links on this site you might want to look at:

This post is the whole nine yards on weight and the human body.

This is a short post on weight that I hope makes the point that it doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t matter how you do it – it just needs to get done.

Exercise – How Much and What Kind?

Here’s post, also on this blog, about the amount of exercise needed to achieve weight loss that is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

In the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine researchers published a study comparing resistance exercise versus aerobic exercise versus resistance and aerobic exercise combined. Their subjects were 136 older, sedentary obese adults studied over 6 months. Researchers found resistance exercise alone did not alter insulin resistance. But insulin resistance improved in both the aerobic group and the resistance plus aerobic group. Not surprisingly, the group that did both aerobics and resistance exercise improved insulin resistance the most. Where exercise is concerned the more the better.

What to Eat

If you are insulin resistant it’s the carbs you want to watch. If you are a sugar freak and consume a lot of refined sugar – cakes, candies, cookies, and non-diet sodas – you are really stressing your pancreas and may speed up its burn out. If pasta, bread and potatoes are your thing, try to pair them with lean proteins, watch your portion sizes.

Try meals with only lean proteins and vegetables a couple of nights a week and leave off the carbs altogether. It will give your pancreas a rest. Try going vegetarian a couple of days a week. Most of us do not get enough fruits and vegetables. Check out local fresh produce and figure out how prepare it without a lot of fat and salt.

Instead of thinking about cutting things out or restricting yourself, try to find things to put into your diet that you like and are good for you. The goal is to crowd out habits that hurt you with habits that help you.

Here’s more info from the National Institutes of Health on Insulin Resistance

Good luck!

This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat. For that please seek direct care from a health professional.

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