Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycaemia, the presence of high sugar (glucose) levels in the blood. The level of glucose in the blood is regulated by insulin hormone. The normal level of glucose in the blood should be between 4 and 5.9 mmol/L(fasting) and <7.8 mmol/L (random). (There are different views about the normal range of blood glucose. Please discuss the same with your healthcare team.) Impaired production or function of insulin increases glucose levels in the blood.
There are 3 types of diabetes:
The pancreas is situated just below the stomach and produces enzymes for the digestion of food, and the hormones insulin and glucagon for the regulation of blood glucose. Carbohydrates in the food we eat are broken down to form glucose, which is either used immediately by the muscles and liver as energy or stored for later use. When levels of blood sugar start rising after a meal, the pancreas secretes insulin, which transports sugar to the cells. If the pancreas fails to produce sufficient amounts of insulin or the body’s cells are insensitive to the hormone, glucose starts accumulating in the blood stream, leading to diabetes.
The various causes of diabetes include:
Diabetes causes damage to the cardiovascular system, vision, kidneys, nerves, feet, hearing, skin and blood vessels. Gestational diabetes can lead to complications such as high birth weight, requiring C-section delivery, and preeclampsia or high blood pressure that could be life-threatening for both mother and child.
The common symptoms of diabetes mellitus are increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, delayed wound healing, dehydration, altered mental status and frequent infections.
Stages of diabetes are decided based on blood glucose levels. If your blood glucose levels are between 6.1 and 6.9mmol/L (fasting) and 5.5 to 11.1 mmol/L (random) will require further investigation and you may be considered to be in the pre-diabetic stage. And change the following to read – Blood glucose levels >7 mmol/L (fasting) and ≥11.1 mmol/L (random) is considered a diabetic stage and will require dietary modification and possibly medication to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
When you present to your doctor with the above symptoms, your doctor will order a few tests to diagnose diabetes:
When left untreated, diabetes can damage various parts of the body:
Treatment of diabetes involves diet, exercise, medications and other lifestyle improvements. These will help to maintain normal blood sugar levels, and prevent or minimize complications of diabetes.
Regular monitoring of blood glucose is necessary to prevent long-term complications of the disease.
Some other treatments that are suggested to control diabetes include:
Bariatric surgery: This is a weight loss surgery. Though it is not a direct treatment for diabetes, weight loss surgeries may help to reduce blood sugar in patients with a BMI of 35 and above.
Our team of dietitians can help translate the scientific information surrounding the management of diabetes into practical information. You may have been told by your doctor to cut back on fat or refined sugar, but are unsure of how to actually do this. This is where our dietitians can help! Furthermore, if you require insulin, our dietitians can help ensure your diet is tailored to suit your insulin regime, and educate you on managing hypo’s if they do occur.