By Lurina Williams, Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner –
Sugar and sweets are always pleasant to eat and taste so good. On the other hand, consumption of too much sugar is deemed unhealthy and can lead to rotten teeth, cavities and even unwanted weight gain.
Many people also tend to believe eating sugar is the result of diabetes, according to Pam Davis, diabetes educator for Novo Nordisk Inc.
“A lot of times people believe that they ate too much sugar and that is what caused their diabetes,” Davis said.
However, many people may not know that sugar plays a vital role in the body and affects its energy levels. After meals, carbohydrates are broken down and turned into sugar, or glucose. During digestion, sugar enters the bloodstream. As a result, sugar from food and carbohydrates causes the body’s blood sugar levels to increase. The insulin in your body is then used to open up some of the cells in your body allowing the sugar to exit the bloodstream and enter into the cells for energy. The insulin is also used to balance the sugars out which in turn lowers blood sugar.
But for some, this may become a problem. In Type 1 diabetes, the body produces too little or no insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body is insulin resistant, sometimes making too much insulin and the body is unable to use it properly. In both cases, Type 1 and Type 2, sugar is not allowed into the cells and stays in the blood stream, causing extremely high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. In Type 1 diabetics, insulin is then injected to regulate blood sugars, and in Type 2 diabetics, exercise and oral medications are taken.
According to http://www.novonordiskcommunitycare.com, one out of 12 Americans has diabetes. Typically doctors test and can tell if you have the disease if you have an A1C of 6.5 percent or higher or your blood sugar levels are higher than 126. The A1C is an average number from your blood glucose levels over the course of two to three months. A healthy A1C should be no higher than seven percent. Symptoms include constant and frequent trips to the restroom, being thirsty and hungry more than often, unusual weight loss, frequent periods of fatigue, irritability, blurry vision, wounds that won’t heal and numbness or tingling hands or feet.
“In reality, there’s a lot of things that contribute to why people have diabetes and so often times it’s multiple factors that kind of gang up on them that cause diabetes to come to be. And certainly what you eat can play a role in those factors presenting themselves. But, for instance, genetics, having a family history of diabetes, age, ethnicity, all of those kinds of things that we cannot change are kind of the underlining things that we always have to look at,” Davis explained. In 2010, out of the 3,284,300 people living in the state of Texas with diabetes, 460,700 were African Americans. By the year 2025, the number of African Americans with diabetes is projected to raise to 814,300, pursuant to the Institute for Alternative Futures.
Risk factors include, but are not limited to: being overweight, not being very active, high blood pressure, being over 45 years of age, having a family history of the disease, belonging to certain ethnic groups and giving birth to large babies. There is no cure for this chronic disease, but if managed and controlled properly people with diabetics can live long healthy lives. Some ways to manage diabetes are: taking medication properly, eating healthy, exercising and staying active, regular doctor’s visits, checking blood sugar levels and avoiding stress.
The key to keeping diabetes in control is first having a good team. A good team usually consists of support from family and friends, a doctor, a nurse, an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist, a nutritionist and an endocrinologist. Your team will help with creating meal plans, planning workouts or physical activities, scheduling when to check sugar and take medications, planning blood sugar goals and providing emotional support.
“There’s no reason why someone with diabetes can’t live a long healthy life, but they do have to do something about it to make it stay that way,” Davis stated. “One of the things that we teach people is that diabetes is a progressive disease meaning that it does tend to get worse unless we do things to combat it. So, any complications that can result from diabetes is preventable ... and so we prevent that by keeping our blood sugar in good control and making sure that it’s as close to normal as possible.”