Healthy Living: Diabetes! Is It Hiding In You?

by Paul Blustein


This week we are going to focus on a sleeping giant that may be lurking inside many of us. Diabetes, and Hypoglycemia can slowly grow to a point and not be detectable for many years. Believe me when I say that.

If you don't mind me talking about myself, I will fill you in how low blood sugar can surface in your unsuspecting lives. Back in 1980, I had just come home from a date around 11:00 at night. I began to watch the sports reviews one weekday summer night. The lights, television, and air conditioner were all on. I did feel somewhat more tired than usual that evening and just wrote it off to a hard day at work.

While watching TV, the sound went off, and then, the air conditioner seemed to also go off. I looked around, then many thoughts ran through my mind. Was it the beginning of a black out? Then, the lights went out. Before I knew what hit me, my head began to bounce back and forth from the wall to my chest. I really got scared and realized that it wasn't PSE & G, our utility company, in New Jersey. It was me, I called my girlfriend at that time and told her to get help. Before knew it, I was in the hospital and woke up with nurses and doctors telling me I had just suffered from a severe attack of low blood sugar.

To make this a short story on how this all came about can basically be told in a short paragraph. Being a bachelor, and always being on the run, we forget to eat balanced meals.

By eating sandwiches, Hawaiian Punch and anything that looked good when we are in a rush, doesn't cut the mustard. After taking a glucose blood test for a period of six hours, it was determined that my blood sugar count was down to 29, which is quite low and therefore put me unconscious.

Here is how this begins and what makes low blood sugar slowly creep into our lives!

The starches, sugars, fats and protein in the food you eat are all converted to glucose, a sugar that your body uses for fuel. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the amount of glucose in the blood. Without insulin, the body cannot use or store glucose, so it stays in the blood.

Type I, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), occurs when the pancreas fails to make enough insulin. This usually occurs in childhood or adolescence, but can develop at any age. People with type I diabetes, unfortunately must inject insulin every day.

Type II, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or (NIDDM), occurs when body cells become resistant to insulin. This reduces the amount of glucose that can be used by the cells at any one time. Type II diabetes is more common among adults, especially those who are overweight, and near or over the age of 40. (I was just about 50 pounds overweight back then), and 33 years old. But because of more over indulgence in terrible foods and sugar loaded soft drinks, got there faster with hypoglycemia that could have lead to this stage, type II.

Many people with type II diabetes are able to control their blood sugar through weight control, regular exercise, and a sensible diet. Some people may need to have injections or oral medications to lower their blood sugar.

The following are risk factors for type II diabetes:

  • Age 40 or over

  • Overweight

  • Family history of diabetes

  • African-American, Hispanic or Native American

The symptoms of diabetes are vague, and by themselves, seldom lead to a doctor visit. They include:

  • Increased thirst

  • Increased urination

  • Increased appetite

  • Fatigue

  • Skin infections

  • Slow healing wounds

  • Difficulty with erections

  • Blurred vision or black outs

  • And finally, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

A blood test is needed to accurately diagnose diabetes. Blood glucose tests are inexpensive and very low risk. Ask your doctor if you should eat or fast before the test.

Prevention

At this time, there is no known way to prevent type I diabetes.

In most cases, the risk of type II diabetes can be reduced by regular daily practicing of well balanced meals, exercise, and by maintaining a healthy body weight. If you or anyone you know has any of these symptoms below after eating something containing sugar, or carbohydrates like:

  • Fatigue

  • Hunger

  • Double or blurred vision

  • Pounding heart

  • Confusion, irritability, appearance of drunkenness.

Then, make a suggestion that they call their doctor and schedule a blood glucose tolerance test to determine whether or not they may have either the beginning stages of diabetes, like Hypoglycemia, or full blown diabetes.

Epilog

This man was very lucky. From that day on, I never drank one more glass of Hawaiian Punch. As a matter of fact, at that time, it was my favorite drink, consuming at least two quarts a day. I have since changed my diet and my lifestyle to eating healthier and well balanced meals. Not to mention, taking more time out in my life to make proper decisions and planning of daily meals too!

We hope that this article brings into focus how very important good eating habits are and how to avoid getting trapped into a lifestyle that you may regret in the future. Remember, it is truly what you eat today, that will determine how you feel tomorrow. Or as better men than I have said, "you are what you eat!"

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