A Day In The Life of a Diabetic

How does diabetes impact one’s life and can it be cured?

By Kevin RR Williams

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HEALTH Though I have a family history of diabetes, a doctor once told me, at a time when I was at least 40 pounds underweight, that I was not at risk for diabetes because of being a vegetarian. A vegetarian himself, he said: "Diabetes is primarily a diet issue."

Sidebar: Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

With diet and exercise, my father was able to wean himself off insulin injections; he now takes oral medication. Though currently I am a few pounds overweight, I have managed to steer clear of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and registered nurses in behalf of Mayo Clinic elucidate some common diabetes myths.

  1. Myth: I have borderline diabetes or just a touch of diabetes.

    Fact: Either you have it or you don't. Two fasting blood sugar readings over 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L); a random blood glucose over 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L); or an A1C of 6.5 percent or higher are all considered diabetes.

  2. Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

    Fact: Properly managed diabetes can prevent or delay diabetes complications.

  3. Myth: Overweight or obese eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

    Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role.

  4. Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

    Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease. Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. The ADA recommends that people should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes.

  5. Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.

    Fact: Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size is key. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in a diabetic's meals and snacks. Carbohydrates should be approximately 50 percent of your daily food intake. However, you may need more or less carbohydrates at meals depending on how you manage your diabetes.

  6. Myth: People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.

    Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.

  7. Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you're failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

    Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough.

Type 2 diabetes is initially managed by increasing exercise and dietary modification. If blood glucose levels are not adequately lowered by these measures, medications such as metformin or insulin may be needed. In those on insulin, there is typically the requirement to routinely check blood sugar levels.

Can Diabetes Be Surgically Excised?

Does obesity cause diabetes? There appears to be a provocative and controversial cure. Almost a third of obese patients with Type 2 diabetes undergoing gastric bypass were effectively "cured" of their diabetes, being in complete remission for 6 years following the surgery. Patients report proper glucose levels within days of the procedure.

Stacy A. Brethauer, MD (Cleveland Clinic, Ohio) and colleagues say that the remission rates first seen in short-term studies of bariatric surgery, approaching 80%, are not sustained long term. The 2-year diabetes remission rate seen in the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study of 72% declined to a 36% remission rate after 10 years. Considering all factors, the findings indicate that gastric bypass "should be considered as an earlier treatment option for patients with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes."

Sidebar: 10 Celebrities with Diabetes

What do you think, are the odds favorable enough to consider removing most of your stomach, thereby severely restricting your food intake — requiring five extremely small meals daily in order to be free of insulin shots?

November is American Diabetes Month

For Diabetes Awareness Month, the ADA is promoting the Diabetic Mosaic. They are asking patients to submit their own photo of a day in the life of diabetes. Some images uploaded so far reveal children giving themselves injections, adults undergoing dialysis or more positive snapshots like exercising and eating properly. Take part in diabetes awareness to help others to be A Bit More Healthy.

Tags: chronic, endocrinologists, endocrinology, fitness, improvement, research

References
  1. Diabetes Myths. diabetes.org
  2. Top 10 diabetes myths. mayoclinic.com
  3. Diabetes mellitus type 2. wikipedia.org
  4. Gastric Bypass 'Cures' Diabetes in Almost a Third of Patients. medscape.com
  5. Type 2 diabetes: Symptoms. mayoclinic.com
  6. 15 Famous People With Diabetes. health.com
  7. Photo by Jim DeLillo licensed from iStock Photo, retouched by author.