What is Diabetes?In medical world, diabetes is known more commonly by the name of diabetes mellitus. In simpler and day-to-day language, it is referred as diabetes. It is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced, or the body does not produce enough insulin. In both the conditions, the body is not able to get enough amount of insulin to function properly.
More About Diabetes
As of 2010, an estimated of 285 million people have type 2 diabetes globally, making up about 90% of all the diabetes cases. There is an alarming rise in the prevalence of diabetes in every part of the world, thanks to the eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. And, as opposed to the misconception that eating sweets can result in diabetes, stress and genes can also play a major role in this. As of today, number of diabetics is far more than anytime in the past. Now, even younger generation is not spared by this disease. Generally, diabetes is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Generally, fasting blood sugar levels per 100 ml of blood should be between 80 to 120 mg, which can go up to 160 mg/100 ml of blood after meals. Anything that is constantly above 160 mg/100 ml indicates diabetes. Usually, older and obese people are at increased risk of diabetes because of their inability to produce insulin and lifestyle.
Different Types and Causes of Diabetes
Majorly, there are three types of diabetes mellitus - type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
It is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and results from body's inability to produce insulin. Usually, it occurs in childhood or adolescence, but can surface up at any age. In this, the patient needs to take insulin injections on regular intervals (generally daily) in order to absorb glucose in the body. Type 1 diabetes mellitus is also referred to as juvenile diabetes, at times.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body cells develop resistance to insulin and fail to use it properly. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is more common amongst overweight and obese adults over 40 years of age. The disorder can also be referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes mellitus. Mostly, these patients need to manage their blood sugar levels through regular exercise, weight control, balanced diet, and anti-diabetes medications.
It is the type of diabetes that women develop when pregnant. Even if they have not had any signs of diabetes earlier, they develop high blood glucose levels during their phase of pregnancy, leading to diabetes. Generally, this form of diabetes gets cured automatically after delivery.
Some other forms of diabetes mellitus include congenital diabetes, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes, and different forms of monogenic diabetes. While congenital diabetes is generally due to genetic defects of insulin secretion, steroid diabetes is induced by high doses of glucocorticoids.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are chronic conditions that can only be managed using insulin, anti-diabetes medications, lifestyle changes, etc., but cannot be cured. Gestational diabetes generally resolves on itself after the delivery. If not managed properly, diabetes can cause several other complications, like hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, nonketotic hyperosmolar coma, etc. Other serious and long-term complications include cardiovascular diseases, chronic renal failure, diabetic retinopathy, etc.
Causes of Diabetes
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is mostly outcome of a virus-initiated autoimmune destruction of beta cells in the pancreas.
Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus can be inherited and surface up with age or factors like obesity, diet, lifestyle, inactivity, etc.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Some of the symptoms that indicate diabetes are:
- Increased thirst, frequent urination, and increased appetite.
- Unexplained weight gain/loss.
- Blurred vision, skin irritation/infection, constant weakness and loss of strength.
- Slow or delayed healing of cuts, wounds.
- Fluid/electrolyte imbalance, acidosis, and sudden blacking out.
Home Remedies for Diabetes
Following are some home remedies to keep a control on diabetes:
Greek clover is an annual herb with aromatic seeds having medicinal properties. It is also known as fenugreek, and is largely used in curry. Greek clover has properties to lower down the levels of glucose in the body, which, in turn, controls diabetes. Also, when given in changeable doses of 25 gm to 100 gm on a daily basis, it was found to diminish reactive hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. Furthermore, levels of glucose, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides were also appreciably reduced. Alternatively, one can just stir two teaspoons of Greek clover seeds in powder form in warm milk and consume on a regular basis; it will control the levels of blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In case one does not want to have the powder in milk, seeds can be eaten wholly, too.
Parslane seeds have strong medicinal value and have been used to keep a check on blood sugar since ages. The compounds of parslane seeds help the body to produce insulin in a natural manner. Just consume a teaspoonful of parslane seeds with half a coup of water on a regular basis (everyday) for 4-5 months. It is one of the simpler, but effective home remedies for diabetes.
Mango Tree Leaves
Mango tree leaves have been found to possess medicinal values to lower down the levels of blood glucose. Soak around 30 grams of fresh and clean mango tree leaves in around half a liter of water overnight. Squeeze the leaves in water to make a concoction. Consume this mixture empty stomach in the morning. It is an effective remedy to control beginning diabetes. One can also dry some mango leaves in shade and prepare its powder to be taken twice a day with water.
Among several home remedies for controlling diabetes, perhaps most vital is the bitter gourd. Bitter gourd contains a hypoglycemic or insulin-like principle, designated as 'plantinsulin', which is beneficial in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels. This property of bitter gourd it an excellent anti-diabetes agent. Consuming a glassful of bitter gourd juice first thing in the morning proves to be highly beneficial for diabetics. Also, it should be included generously in the diet of the diabetic. Remedy is also beneficial in long term and shows instant results. It is one of the best home remedies for diabetes.
Citrus pardisi has been known to benefit diabetics a great deal. If consumed on a regular basis in any form, it can prove to be highly effective remedy for diabetes.
Neem Tree Leaves
Neem tree leaves have ingredients and compounds that lower blood glucose considerably. This property of neem makes it an excellent home remedy for diabetes. A glassful of neem leaves' juice when consumed first thing in the morning can benefit considerably. Regular and prolonged consumption can even trigger production of insulin and subside diabetes completely.
Indian gooseberry is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. When mixed with bitter gourd juice, its efficacy manifolds, and it can prove to be a highly effective concoction against diabetes. The mixture arouses the islets of Langerhans, that is, the isolated group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin in the pancreas. Just consume one tablespoon of Indian gooseberry juice mixed with one cup of bitter gourd juice daily for 8 to 12 weeks. It is recommended to take it first thing in the morning, if possible. The mixture has also been found to trigger insulin production. All in all, a great herbal remedy for diabetes.
String Bean Pod Tea
String bean pod tea has compounds that enhance the capability of pancreas to release more of insulin. For diabetics, regular consumption of string bean pod tea over a period of time can be very beneficial as it can enhance the production of natural insulin.
Curry leaves have properties to lower down blood glucose. Regular intake of around 10 to 12 full-seasoned curry leaves can prove to be beneficial in controlling diabetes. Include curry leaves in regular diet or consume as powder for around 15 weeks for benefits.
Asparagus contains only 5 grams of carbohydrates and is a very rich source of fiber. It is also high in vitamin C and B folate. Regular intake of asparagus keeps diabetes under control. You can include it in regular diet or cook it separately.
Blueberries are rich source of vitamin C, fiber, and flavanoids. In addition to this, it is also an excellent antioxidant and strengthens the immune system. Regular consumption of blueberries helps to keep a check on diabetes.
It is a great source of vitamin C and can keep the blood glucose levels within limits. Red grapefruit can be either consumed as a salad or in form of juice. It is a great home remedy for diabetes.
Beans contain nearly every nutrient and mineral in different quantities. Regular intake of beans in diet can help to keep a check on blood glucose levels. Therefore, beans can control ill effects of diabetes.
Broccoli has abundant vitamin C and vitamin A in it. Also, it helps to lower the high blood sugar levels. In addition to this, regular intake of broccoli can expedite healing of wounds in patients with diabetes.
As fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it can be extremely beneficial for people with diabetes. Include fish in your regular diet to keep diabetes at bay.
Cranberries have strong antioxidant properties and strengthen the immune system. In addition to being rich source of vitamin C, cranberries can be helpful in keeping down blood glucose levels. Consuming cranberries wholly on a regular basis can keep diabetes under control.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and it is true in the case of diabetes too. Apple, with its peel, or peel alone, has properties to reduce blood glucose. Therefore, it can be beneficial for patients suffering from diabetes.
Watermelons are high in fiber and rich in vitamin C. Both these properties make it an excellent anti-diabetes agent. Regualr intake of watermelons can keep diabetes and its symptoms under control.
Oatmeal is a rich source of fiber and other vital nutrients. Regular intake of one bowl of oatmeal daily will help keep blood glucose in control.
Methi can also prove to be beneficial in controlling blood glucose. Just soak a quarter teaspoonful seeds of methi in water overnight. Consume the mixture first thing in the morning after brushing teeth.
Jambul fruit is an effective anti-diabetes agent considering its effect on the pancreas. The fruit, its seed, and juice, all are helpful in treatment of diabetes. Jambul fruit seeds contain a glucoside compound called "jamboline", which, supposedly, has the power to check the pathological conversion of starch into sugar in cases of increased production of glucose. Regular intake of jambul fruit can trigger pancreas to release insulin. Also, it can bring down blood sugar levels considerably. Therefore, jambul is an excellent anti-diabetes agent. It is one of the best home remedies for diabetes.
Diet for Diabetes
Depending on the severity of diabetes, an individual can keep control on his/her disease using diet alone, diet & oral hypoglycemic drugs, and diet & insulin. While a mild diabetic can practice disease control with diet alone, a severe diabetic might need to practice diet control along with insulin administration. Whatever the method of controlling diabetes, routine and reliability should be strictly pursued. A person suffering from diabetes should have limited amount of carbohydrates and fats along with moderate amount of protein in the diet. High-fiber diet like vegetables, whole wheat products, oats, whole legumes prove to be more beneficial. Let us have a look at what all should be had and what all should be avoided.
- Avoid products made from refined wheat flours.
- Eat as much salad as possible, but without rich, creamy, high-fat salad dressing.
- Fruits can be taken as recommended by dietitian; avoid juices.
- Consume fruits a couple hours before or after meals.
- Prefer oats porridge along with milk in breakfast.
- In case you cannot have coffee/tea/milk without sugar, substitute it with honey.
- Avoid whole milk, egg yolk, red meats, and high-fat foods.
- Prefer skimmed milk, egg whites, de-skinned chicken.
- Avoid visible fats like ghee, oil, butter in your daily diet.
- Include anti-diabetes foods in your diet, like bitter gourd, string beans, onion, garlic, cucumber, etc.
- Restrict intake of meat and salt in your diet. It will help control body weight and diabetes.
- No restriction on soy and fish for patients suffering from diabetes.
- Avoid white bread, potatoes, sweets, rice, and sugary foods.
Preventive Measures for Diabetes
Here are some prevent measures to keep diabetes at bay:
- Exercise on a regular basis. It keeps the person fit and assists in controlling diabetes. Jogging, brisk walking, swimming, or light exercising can be beneficial.
- Never walk bare feet as it can result in injury, which might take ages to heal.
- Never miss meal after insulin or oral hypoglycemic drug.
- Unless recommended by your physician, do not alter the dosage of your anti-diabetes medication.
- Make a fixed-time schedule for your meals, and try not to deviate from it, if possible.
- Avoid rich, starchy, oily food as it is difficult to digest.
- Do not consume heavy meals. Instead, distribute your meals in smaller courses across the day.
- Try not to take stress, it will worsen the situation.
- Check blood glucose levels frequently.
Other Treatment Methods
Insulin therapy is taken by diabetics who have type 1 diabetes mellitus, or IDDM, i.e., insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. In this condition, body is not able to produce any insulin, therefore, it has to be administered externally. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are either resistant to insulin or have relatively low insulin production, or both.
Oral Hypoglycemic Medications
Anti-diabetic medications are used to control type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this case, body cells are resistant to insulin (injections), therefore medications are given orally to lower the blood glucose levels. In most of the cases, oral hypoglycemic agents are highly effective. One just needs to ascertain which suits him/her the best. There are several classes of anti-diabetic drugs. Largely, their selection depends on the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person, as well as other factors.
Diabetes education is very important for any diabetic or a person who has a diabetic at home. The education helps an individual to know more about this dreadful disease. Once educated, the individual can control diabetes in a better manner. Administering insulin, medications, and understanding emergency situations like hypoglycemic attacks, etc. are major points of diabetes education. It also includes the diet a diabetic should avoid and have. Diabetes education is very essential for each and every diabetic and individual who has someone close living with diabetes.
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.