Diabetes-Symptoms and Diet. Also what diabetes has taken from me. Diabetes is a silent killer that takes your life one part at a time. These are just a few things I want to talk about in this post.
Although I have only been personally diagnosed as a diabetic for the past 13 years, I have lived with the knowledge and effects of diabetes all of my life.
Diabetes has not just taken apart my health one piece at a time, it has taken my family, one member, at a time.
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Diabetes- Symptoms & Diet
First, let’s talk about the basic facts of diabetes before we get into the symptoms and diet.
Diabetes has a greater health impact on Americans than heart disease, substance use disorder or COPD, with 30.3 million Americans diagnosed with the illness and many more who are at risk for developing it.1
In addition to the 30.3 million Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes, there are another 84.1 million who have pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes.2 Even more alarming, there are approximately 7.1 million Americans who have diabetes but don’t know it.2
As you just read from the facts about diabetes there are millions of people who are pre-diabetic or have Type 2 Diabetes that aren’t even aware of it.
Not being aware of their condition is usually contributed to the fact that the symptoms of diabetes can easily be brushed off as being caused by something else. The symptoms can even be considered an annoyance rather than a sign of something serious.
However, your best hope is early diagnosis if you want to avoid serious diabetes complications, — such as kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve issues.
The Most Common Signs of Type 2 Diabetes explains 15 of the early signs. This is a great list to consider. You can read all of it by clicking on the title of the article, but I will list the symptoms below.
- Tingling/Numbness in hands and feet
- Increased urination
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increase in Appetite
- Blurry vision
- Itchy dry skin
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unquenchable Thirst
- Slow-healing cuts and bruises
- Irritated gums
- Dry mouth
- Frequent Yeast Infections
- Dark Patches of Skin
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Frequent or Recurring Infections
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes they probably think they just need to stop eating sugar, candy, and desserts. That is somewhat true, but it’s not the only change they need in their diet.
Newly diagnosed diabetics will most likely be scheduled with a dietitian. The dietitian will then go over a healthy diabetic diet plan and the changes required by each individual person.
A healthy diabetic diet does require that you not eat refined sugar and limit the natural sugars found in foods such as fruits. Yes, even some fruits have too many natural sugars, so diabetics have to be careful.
Along with sugars, a diabetic diet requires that you monitor calorie intake as well as the number of carbohydrates and fat. The key things you need in your diet are vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. You also need to eat regularly scheduled meals. Don’t skip meals.
If someone eats extra calories and fat, the body creates a rise in blood glucose. If blood glucose isn’t kept at normal levels, and if the high glucose levels are persistent, it may lead to long-term complications, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage.
These complications need to be repeated due to their importance! Diabetes is serious and causes so many complications on all our other vital organs.
Check out these books that help explain the diabetic diet. Also, a few books that offer recipes and meal plans.
Living with Diabetes
Different types of diabetes can occur. Each type will determine the medication and how it is treated. However, the need to monitor blood glucose levels and diet restrictions are the same for each type.
A diagnosis of diabetes instantly changes your daily life. You will now live with a stricter schedule, a strategic meal plan, and routine medicines.
Your daily life is already busy with work, family, and the kids’ after school schedules. Now you must add more things to the list such as some of the following:
- checking and monitoring your blood sugar daily, maybe multiple times on a schedule
- taking meds and/or insulin as scheduled
- eating regularly and on time!
- monitoring and sticking to the meal plan, even snacks
- keeping regular doctor appointments
- regular lab work appointments
- no skipping meals
- keeping snacks with you in case blood sugar drops
- staying prepared with supplies/insulin with you in case you are away from home longer than expected (spontaneity kind of goes out the window)
- Watch for infections from cuts, especially on feet. diabetics should never go barefooted.
Types of Diabetes
Type I diabetes: Also known as juvenile diabetes, this type occurs when the body fails to produce insulin. People with type I diabetes are insulin-dependent, which means they must take artificial insulin daily to stay alive.
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. While the body still makes insulin, unlike in type I, the cells in the body do not respond to it as effectively as they once did. This is the most common type of diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and it has strong links with obesity.
Gestational diabetes: This type occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.
Less common types of diabetes include monogenic diabetes and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.
A Diabetic’s Life is Not Simple
All of this monitoring!! It’s very frustrating honestly! Keep snacks with you, watch for infections, take your meds, and check your blood sugar levels! Egads!!!!
Eat this, but don’t eat that! What to eat, how much to eat, when to eat it and don’t go without eating? It sounds like too much to wrap your brain around!
Frankly, it is a lot of information to absorb, especially at first. And I won’t lie, it is complicated in the beginning. But don’t let it overwhelm you if you are newly diagnosed.
One step at a time and you will be doing everything out of habit before you know it. You have to because your life depends on it!
Check out these books to help get you started with understanding it all.
Actually people should change their eating habits before they are diagnosed! If people would eat a healthy diet similar to a diabetic diet, then perhaps the rate of those being diagnosed with diabetes might slow down.
What Diabetes Has Taken Away From Me
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that diabetes has taken away my family one member at a time. I grew up hearing about diabetes from as early as I can remember.
Soon as I was old enough to comprehend I remember my Granny explaining that she couldn’t eat certain things because of diabetes. I saw her taking her insulin shots, which she also explained to me very early on.
Both of my maternal grandparents were diabetic. My mom’s youngest sister was also diabetic. She was diagnosed at age 3, having juvenile diabetes or Type 1 diabetes. I also had a cousin that was diagnosed at age 3 with juvenile diabetes as well.
My mom was diagnosed later in life, just before she died from colon cancer. My brother was diagnosed in his mid-fifties, and I was diagnosed 13 years ago at age 45.
Also, my children have a family history of diabetes not only from my side of their family but from their father’s side as well. My youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 13 and her twin brother just last year at age 32.
Family members, I have lost to diabetes
Both of my maternal grandparents died due to complications of diabetes. But long before that, when I was only 9 years old, I lost my favorite aunt to diabetes. She was only 27 years old at the time. Two years before she died she lost a baby during pregnancy also due to her diabetes.
Diabetes was the culprit that robbed my cousin of his eyesight as a young adult. He also had one leg amputated due to infection that would not heal because of diabetes. He then lost his life to diabetes at the age of 27 also, like our aunt.
Two years ago, my children’s grandmother and my ex-mother-in-law finally succumbed to diabetes-related heart disease. She was still like a second mother to me. I divorced her son, not her. I miss her very much.
All that I personally have lost
Diabetes has taken a lot from my overall health in the past 13 years. I have suffered from three massive heart attacks and one major stroke.
I am also in first stage kidney disease due to diabetes. I have neuropathy in my toes and feet.
Another problem I have is gastroparesis which is a digestion problem caused by diabetes. Gastroparesis can occur when the vagus nerve, which controls the movement of food through the digestive tract, stops working or becomes damaged. Digestion is controlled by muscles surrounding the GI tract. Those muscles are controlled by a nerve system.
Diabetes can damage these nerves, and it is this neurological long-term complication of diabetes that can lead to gastrointestinal disorders.4
Also due to digestive problems I now have difficulties absorbing nutrients which have resulted in iron-deficient anemia. I can’t just simply take iron supplements to fix this because I don’t absorb the supplements through digestion either. I must go weekly and receive iron infusions through IV.
Although my daughter is only 33 years old, she is already suffering from chronic pancreatitis due to diabetes. Fortunately, she is a mother of two healthy, energetic and handsome boys. However, both pregnancies were extremely high risk due to her diabetes.
Diabetes has a greater health impact on Americans than heart disease, substance use disorder or COPD.
30.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 84.1 million have pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes.
While diabetes can be linked to genetics and family history, there is an even higher risk of adult-onset diabetes linked to unhealthy diets, obesity, and lack of exercise.
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Once someone is diagnosed with diabetes they most likely will require medicine and possibly insulin. As well as close monitoring of their blood glucose levels.
However, even with medicine, a diabetic will also require a strict, healthy diabetic diet and regular exercise. So why not start a healthy diet and exercise routine before developing diabetes?
Now it’s your turn!
How about you? Are you diabetic? Or maybe pre-diabetic? Perhaps you don’t even know what your blood glucose levels are right now. Why not get it checked?
What is your diet and exercise routine like right now? Why not consider adding healthier choices to your diet? Go for a walk at least a few times each week.
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Until next time,
SharonReferences and citations:
- American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/
- American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/