How Preventable Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder that, according to the 2011 National Factsheet on Diabetes, affects 25.8 million people in the U.S, including adults and children. It is a condition cutting across age, sex and racial barriers and touches both young and old alike. Diabetes mellitus, as it is known, is classified into Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes. How preventable these diseases are would depend on the Type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is often first diagnosed in children and as such was referred to as juvenile diabetes. However, it is not limited only to children, as some adults also suffer from Type 1 diabetes. This is when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin to control the blood sugar levels. It is chronic and there is no known cure for it, although it can be treated. How preventable Type 1 diabetes is cannot really be determined, simply because the cause is unknown. However, the evidence points to genetic as well as environmental factors.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be prevented. This form of diabetes occurs when there are high levels of glucose in the blood, and it is the most common form of diabetes. While in Type 1, the pancreas does not produce insulin or produces too little of it to be effective, in Type 2 the body refuses to respond to the insulin produced. This form of diabetes usually progresses gradually, and those who are overweight are more susceptible to it. This does not mean that people who have no problem with their weight cannot have Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can either be completely prevented or delayed. For overweight people, loss of weight goes a long way towards preventing diabetes Type 2, while healthy eating lowers the risk for all people. Eating fruits, vegetables and foods that are high in antioxidants will lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. A good exercise regime will also help to prevent this form of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is not chronic like the other two, and it is found in pregnant women. This often revolves around the gestational period and sometimes disappears as soon as the woman goes on bed rest. However, even this form of diabetes is preventable, and steps should be taken by an expectant mother to prevent it for the sake of the fetal health. Gestational diabetes is responsible for many birth defects, including miscarriages. Women who are over 25 years of age, have a history of diabetes in the family, or overweight prior to getting pregnant more often stand a higher risk of getting gestational diabetes. A healthy diet consisting of healthy foods with moderate fat and protein intake, coupled with regular exercise, should help prevent gestational diabetes.
In all, with the exception of Type 1 diabetes, which is genetically linked, it is possible to prevent the occurrence of diabetes by living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet and regular physical activity will help keep diabetes at bay for a very long time.
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