Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which there is too much sugar in the blood and the insulin that is required for processing it is either absent, insufficient, or ineffective. Diabetes is an inherited disease. There are two forms of diabetes, Type I, or juvenile-onset, and Type II, or adult-onset. Type I begins in childhood and is an autoimmune disorder in which the cells of the pancreas are eventually destroyed by the body's own immune system. Consequently, the pancreas cannot produce any insulin and the individual is dependent on insulin injections to prevent coma or death. Diet and lifestyle can at the most reduce the amount of insulin required.

Type II is less severe and affects adults usually over the age of 40. Insulin is available but there is either not enough to meet the demand, or the cells are resistant to accepting it, thereby not allowing the glucose to pass through the cell membrane. Type II can be controlled by diet, exercise, and maintaining proper weight. Oral medication may or may not be necessary, 90% of all diabetes is Type II, and half may not know they have it.

Symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst and urination due to the excess of sugar in the blood, fatigue, weakness, and slow wound healing. Diabetics are more prone to cardiovascular disease because of faulty fat metabolism. They may have poor circulation, due to the narrowing of blood vessels, which leads to complications involving the feet, eyes, and kidneys, and susceptibility to infections. Inadequate diet, food allergies, viral infections, and stress can aggravate diabetes Type II. During stress, adrenaline levels increase, which causes a rise in blood sugar.

What is eaten can either cause blood sugar to rise or keep it at a moderate level. The more fiber in the diet, the lower the glycemic index of foods, the slower the rise in blood sugar. See Section IV for more information on glycemic index. Type II diabetes takes years to develop. Although genetically predisposed, diet will determine if the disease becomes manifest.

Studies have shown that a protein in milk can act as an antigen causing the immune system to dysfunction and begin to attack the beta cells of the pancreas. This process can trigger Type I diabetes when infants are fed cow's milk, especially in the first year. For infants from families who have a history of diabetes, breast-feeding is an alternative.

Maintaining proper weight is extremely important, because if too much food is eaten, all systems get overloaded. The pancreas overworks in trying to meet the insulin demand and the cells get weary of having to handle so much of the glucose that insulin brings to them. Eventually, diabetes is the result. Exercise is equally vital to the extent that it can actually prevent or stabilize diabetic conditions.

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