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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/17/09

Taking Control of Your Blood Sugar

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Message Denise McKinley

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Most people feel they don't need to worry about diabetes. A vast majority of people think you have to have a familial tendency toward diabetes or they are too young to worry about diabetes. If you or a loved one thinks this way then you definitely need to keep reading. Hopefully by reading this you will start to understand why taking control of your blood sugar is a primary factor in maintaining good health.

Today doctors are not only looking for warning signs such as age, family history but also waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels and stressors on the body. The development of diabetes has no symptoms, early detection is crucial. If you do have a family history you owe it to yourself to have your blood sugar checked regularly, eat a healthy diet and keep your weight intact. Research has found that you don't necessarily have to have the genes to predispose you to pre-diabetes but it can be triggered by poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity. According to the American Diabetic Association, ADA, pre-diabetes develops before Type II Diabetes. This occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as Type II Diabetes. Long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory systems, may occur even during pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes can be a silent disease, without taking preventative measures pre-diabetes can lead to Type II Diabetes, a deadly disease. The Diabetes Prevention Program has conclusively shown that people can prevent pre-diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity. So for those of you who thought like so many others that having to take control of your blood sugar level didn't pertain to you, are you starting to see how it may definitely pertain to you and you need to take control of your diet and your weight?

The ADA estimates that more than 23 million Americans suffer from the disease, and 57 million more are at risk. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce insulin or cannot adequately utilize insulin. There are four types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes otherwise known as juvenile-onset diabetes, gestational diabetes or pregnancy induced diabetes, pre-diabetes and Type II Diabetes or adult onset diabetes. Monitoring of blood sugar levels through a simple lab test called a FBS, Fasting Blood Sugar, is the best way to determine if you are at risk.

Studies show that twenty percent of people with Type II Diabetes are lean and physically active but what happened to the other 80%, does that mean that the other 80% were obese? Very much so! The obesity trend has been reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. You just have to look around you to see how evident this is. Go to the food court in any mall across America and what do you see? From small children to teenagers to parents and grandparents most people today are larger than ever before. If trends continue, about one in three people born in 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Bruce S. McEwen, who heads the neuro-endocrinology lab at Rockefeller University in New York and Dr. Joyce Lee, pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan C.S. Matt Children's Hospital are both concerned about the growing rate of obesity in the young. The implications of diabetes are not just for the elderly but for the growing number of overweight children and teens that are at risk of Type II Diabetes. Lee says, "Obesity increases your risk factor for developing diabetes. The longer you have it, the more likely you are to have serious problems Â- blindness, kidney problems, early heart disease."

Doctors have now found that nearly half of all patients develop high blood sugar levels from the stress of undergoing heart surgery. "Stress Induced Hyperglycemia" requires temporary insulin treatment after their operation even if they have never had pre-diabetes or diabetes. Obese, older patients and those whose blood sugar remain high two days after their operation are most likely to need medication for days or even weeks after they leave the hospital. "Stress Induced Hyperglycemia" occurs when the body reacts to an assault such as surgery. Heart and vascular surgeons know that constant monitoring of the patient's blood sugar during and after surgery is essential for overcoming surgical risks such as infection and death and for improved recovery time and proper healing to take place. According to Dr. Sima Saberi, the University of Michigan endocrinology fellow who spoke at an ADA Session stated that overweight patients especially those with a larger abdominal girth, excess belly fat, are more likely to have metabolic syndrome, which involves both increased cardiovascular risk and increased risk of diabetes. Due to the findings of patients undergoing cardiac and vascular surgery more physicians are starting to monitor patients undergoing other surgeries for example; hysterectomies.

Elevated blood sugar levels are also being linked with the brain and aging. Dr. Scott Small an associate professor of neurology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and Aging has found that the area of the brain that is affected is within the hippocampus that helps form memories. These finding may help explain normal age-related cognitive decline, since glucose regulation worsens with age. People who exercise don't have as many cognitive problems as they age because exercise helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Understanding how your body is affected by what you eat is of the utmost of importance. A meal that consists only of protein and fats will not affect your blood sugar but a meal of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars will give you the highest spike. Simple sugars are foods like white potatoes, white rice, and refined sugar products including any foods or beverages containing high fructose corn syrup. When we eat a high carbohydrate meal or snack your body goes into action. Insulin is excreted by the pancreas as it tries to utilize the sugars into energy for your cells. The more sugary the snacks or sweets, the more your body can't utilize the high levels of sugar leaving them freely floating through the blood stream. Spiking insulin levels put undue stress on your pancreas. As we age our insulin levels can't keep up with this abuse opening us up to the beginning of diabetes.

When these sugars are free floating you gain weight but there are also studies by plastic surgeons and dermatologists showing that not only will you gain weight but sugars will also attach to protein fibers in collagen and produce compounds. These compounds have a negative effect on the skin. All of our hormones work in harmony with each other when one hormone, insulin, is off-balance it throws other hormones off-balance which in turn influences the release of the hormone androgen. Increased androgen production results in the excess secretion of oil in the skin. Skin becomes less resilient, causing wrinkling of the skin, and becomes more prone to acne.

The Diabetes Prevention Program based on a study by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, concluded that a low-fat diet and moderate exercise reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58% over three years. People who lose 7% of their body weight and do at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week can even get their blood sugar levels back to normal. Taking immediate steps is necessary to not only preventing diabetes but all of the other devastating effects that diabetes can have on your body.

Make a habit to read food labels, look at the ingredients that are listed and remember the most predominate ingredients are listed first. Just say "NO" to refined and processed foods; manufactured foods. Stay away from densely sweetened high carbohydrate juice drinks which spike blood sugar levels. In developing Nature's Virtue it was vital to have a blend that was so well-balanced it would prevent these spikes from ever occurring.

Parents it is time to change you're eating and grocery shopping habits so your children will follow in your footsteps. We all need to get off the couch, start exercising and take the kids. Incorporate a healthy lifestyle, if each of us does our part we can we can put an end to the obesity trend and developing diabetes in our time.

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Denise McKinley R.N., Vice President Head of R&D, Medical Advisory Board Member of Internal Creations, Inc. Featured Expert at on Health Products and Services. Denise has always had a strong interest in biology and health care. She (more...)
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