What is Diabetes and How Can You Prevent It

Diabetes mellitus is a health condition where the body is either unable to produce insulin or the cells are unable to respond to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas; its function is to lower the amount of sugar (glucose) in our bloodstream. Insulin is released when we consume food. As the food enters our body and is broken down into glucose the pancreas will release insulin. Insulin will direct the cells to take in glucose thereby lowering its levels in the bloodstream. Excess glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen.
There are two kinds of diabetes mellitus: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make insulin. 5-10% of people suffer from this type of diabetes. Sufferers have to take insulin every day for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately there is no way to prevent this type of diabetes.
Most people, 90-95%, suffer from Type 2 diabetes. This occurs when the cells stop responding to insulin. The body does respond to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream and releases insulin but the cells do not take in glucose. Type 2 diabetes develops over many years and is preventable. 88 million people are prediabetic and don’t know it. Fortunately, pre-diabetes can be reversed with certain lifestyle changes:
1. Weight Loss
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with pre-diabetes lose about 7% of their body weight. In one study people reduced their chances of developing diabetes by 60% by losing 7% of their body weight.
2. Physical activity
Being physically active does not only help in weight loss it also increases your cells’ sensitivity to insulin.
3. Eating healthy foods
A plant-based diet works wonders for the prevention of diabetes. Plants provide you with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. Fiber is a key component in preventing diabetes. A study conducted among prediabetics showed that fiber lowered blood glucose and insulin levels.

It is also important to avoid highly processed foods which are full of added sugars, unhealthy fats and preservatives. In fact, reducing the intake of foods high in vegetable oils, refined grains and preservatives reduces your risk of diabetes.
Diabetes is not a health condition anyone wants to have. It can lead to other complications like kidney failure, heart disease, blindness etc. The silver lining here is that it is a preventable disease and the lifestyle changes that prevent it will result in overall improvement in health as well. People who are not prediabetic can benefit from these life changes too!

Amna Qureshi