Dangers of Overindulgence For People with Undiagnosed Diabetes

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Experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas warn that packing on pounds and not exercising, especially during holidays, could be deadly for individuals who have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst or hunger, dramatic weight loss, fatigue, frequent urination, or blurry vision. Diabetes can be a silent killer because its symptoms are not sudden; they build up over time and can lead to heart disease or other maladies.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder linked with obesity. Dr. Manisha Chandalia, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and an endocrinologist at the university, believes that the obesity epidemic is surging and that people do not realize they are setting themselves up for the illness. Without proper treatment, high levels of blood glucose can damage blood vessels and nerves. This process may then lead to high cholesterol, hypertension, stroke, kidney disease, and amputations. There are several basic forms of diabetes:

Pre-diabetes: Blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: In this type, formerly called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, the immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, and patients require insulin to survive. Type 1 diabetes typically affects children or adolescents.

Type 2 diabetes: The body cannot efficiently use its own insulin and insulin production cannot keep up with the high demand. Glucose builds up in the blood, and the body cannot bum the blood sugars that are its main source of fuel. Formerly called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, type 2 is normally associated with older age, but it is being seen increasingly in overweight children as well. Dr. Chandalia indicated that with about 14 million diagnosed cases of type 1 or type 2 diabetes and six million undiagnosed cases, it is vital to stay healthy.

She offers some tips:

Set consistent meal times, and avoid fast food.
At parties, cut food portions in half; do not eat large portions of food, even healthy food.
Use low-calorie ingredients when making treats.
Exercise regularly.
Maintain an appropriate weight for your age.
Long-term tips include:

If you are overweight, try to lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight through exercise and eating right.
Exercise regularly (walking 30 minutes a day).

Eat a nutritious diet high in fiber and whole grain, and reduce the intake of high-calorie food.
Individuals who are older than 40 years of age, who are obese, who lack physical activity, or who have a family history of diabetes should visit their primary care providers for a diabetes test.

Various studies show that making certain changes in our lifestyle can help prevent the development of diabetes or help control an existing condition. These include a balanced diet, weight management, and regular exercise. People should keep in mind that it takes more than avoiding sugary treats. Diabetes does not occur just because of eating sugar. Sugar, as any other food, provides excess calories that can lead to obesity and a predisposition to diabetes. If we do not eat sugar but continue to eat extra calories from other foods, we might still develop diabetes.

(Source: University of Texas, November 2006.)

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