More than 18 million people in the United States have diabetes. And nearly one-third of them are undiagnosed. This can be devastating, as diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputation, and new onset blindness in American adults.
People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to develop heart disease. In fact, 65 percent of diabetics die from heart attack or stroke.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapatis, yams and plantain, from sugar and other sweet foods, and from the liver which makes glucose. Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way your body deals with the foods you eat. Normally, carbohydrate foods are broken down into the sugar glucose, which travels in the blood (hence the name blood sugar) until it reaches your cells, where it is taken in and used for growth and energy. For this to happen, however, the hormone insulin must be present. Produced by the pancreas, insulin acts as a key that unlocks cells so that they can receive blood glucose.
Insulin works like a key to open the door of the cells so glucose – the fuel you get from food – can come inside and be converted into energy – cause serious complications and premature death. Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body.
The main symptoms of untreated diabetes are increased thirst, going to the look all the time – especially at night, extreme tiredness, weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, and blurred vision.
In diabetes, either the pancreas may produce insufficient insulin, or the body has lost its ability to use it effectively (insulin resistance). Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body without fulfilling its role as the body’s main source of fuel.
Two types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. It is treated by insulin injections and diet and regular exercise is recommended. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). In most cases this is linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian and African-Caribbean people often appear after the age of 25. However, recently, more children are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, weight loss and increased physical activity. Tablets and/or insulin may also be required to achieve normal blood glucose levels.
The main aim of treatment of both types of diabetes is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as near to normal as possible. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.
Managing Diabetes: Begin with the ABCs
The National Diabetes Education Program suggests that you reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by working with your health care team to monitor three critical factors, which they have named the Diabetic ABCs.
“A” is for the A1C test.
This is a number that shows how well your blood glucose has been controlled over the last 3 months. Bad glucose control can hurt your eyes, kidneys and feet. The goal for most people is an A1C of less than 7. It should be checked at least twice a year.
A 1998 research study showed that increased in blood pressure could be prevented significantly by goji’s master molecule polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are very long-chain sugar molecules that provide nourishment for macrophages, the large white blood cells which are an important component of the body’s defense system against invading microbes and the malignant cells which form tumors.
Four polysaccharides discovered in Goji berries have not been found in any other fruit. The Goji polysaccharides enhance the body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps build muscle and repair skin cells. The LBP polysaccharide complex unique to Goji berries has been found to be a powerful secretagogue – a substance that stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) by the pituitary gland.
One research study in China showed that the LBP polysaccharide facilitated the proliferation of stem cells and increased the number of monocytes in bone marrow. The LBP polysaccharide helps the monocytes convert to matured leukocytes.
“B” is for blood pressure.
The goal for most people is 130/80. High blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
“C” is for cholesterol.
Bad cholesterol (LDL) can oxidize and clog blood vessels, causing heart attack or stroke. Good cholesterol (HDL) helps to lower bad cholesterol. The goal for most people is LDL under 100 and HDL over 40.
Goji contains eta-sitosterol, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Its antioxidants keep cholesterol from oxidizing and forming arterial plaques. Goji increases exercise tolerance, stamina, and endurance. It also helps to eliminate fatigue, especially when receiving from illness.