Diabetes

Consumption of excess sugary foods lead to Diabetes and Obesity.

Diabetes

Obesity is a major risk factor for many health-related disorders such as diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a term given to increased blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar may occur due to reduced production of a hormone called ‘insulin’, or the body cells have become insensitive to the action of insulin. The prevalence of diabetes can be attributed to obesity in individuals. The prevalence of diabetes increases with increase in the prevalence of obesity in population.

  • Understanding Diabetes +

    When food enters the body, the carbohydrates in the food are broken down in the stomach to produce simple sugars such as “glucose”. Then, it is absorbed by the small and large intestines and released into the bloodstream. The glucose present in the blood can be immediately used by the cells as “energy” or stored as “glycogen” in the liver, to be used later. During fasting or in the absence of glucose, the stored glycogen is converted back to glucose and is utilized as energy.

    If excess glycogen is formed, the liver converts it into “fat” and stores it in the adipose tissue (fat cells). Usually, this type of fat is a long-term fat, as it is hard to burn.

    Moreover, the body needs “insulin” to carry the glucose into the cells of the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Beta cells can sense the amount of glucose present in the blood and produce the required amount of insulin. The blood glucose is higher immediately after a meal, but insulin reduces it to normal after a few hours.

    This rise and fall of glucose and insulin occur many times in a day. And depends on the type and the amount of food ingested. For instance, when a person eats a piece of bread, the blood glucose rises and the beta cells are triggered to release more insulin into the blood. After a few hours, the blood glucose drops to normal range. However, this mechanism is impaired in patients with certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

    Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by the inability of the pancreatic cells to produce insulin, or due to defective uptake of glucose by the cells of the body. There are three types of diabetes:

    1. Type 1 (insulin-dependent) - it is usually seen in children. The body produces very less or no insulin.
    2. Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) - it is usually associated with obesity. Type-2 diabetes is common in adults but may also occur in children. In this type, the cells of the body are unable to utilize the insulin (insulin resistance).
    3. Gestational - high blood levels during pregnancy, associated with complications in both mother and child. The child born is at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • How obesity can cause diabetes? +

    Obesity is caused by the excessive accumulation of fat in the fat cells (adipose tissue). Although, obesity is caused by genetic, hormonal imbalance coupled with over-eating of refined carbohydrates and sugars and sedentary lifestyle. The consumption of processed foods such as refined grains (devoid of bran, fiber, and nutrients) and sugar causes a spike in the insulin levels. The increase in insulin levels can cause faster utilization of glucose and the person may carve for more food, even after having a meal.

    Eating more food for a longer period makes a person obese and may gradually lead to insulin resistance and thus, diabetes. The obese individuals show a strong relationship between their body mass index and diabetes.

    Insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity in obese individuals occurs due to increased release of free fatty acids, hormones, glycerol, proinflammatory substances, and other substances from the adipose tissue.

    Moreover, in obese individuals, the intra-abdominal fat (excessive body fat around the stomach and abdomen) is not easily affected by anti-lipolytic action (prevents hydrolysis of fats) of insulin. Thus, intra-abdominal fat also causes insulin resistance, which leads to the development of diabetes.

  • Further consequences +

    Most of the obese people are unaware of the presence of diabetes until they are diagnosed with it. Usually, diabetes can be referred to as a “slow killer” to the body. The disease can gradually develop complications such as depression, vision problems, kidney and nerve problems, heart diseases and stroke.

  • What can be done? +

    Diabetes can be under control by taking insulin injections or certain prescribed medications, performing regular exercise and eating healthy foods.

    It is also essential to shed weight. Reducing weight requires the right approach, which includes, decreasing the consumption of processed foods such as refined grains (devoid of bran, fiber, and nutrients) and sugar. And eating natural foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains, barley and brown rice which are digested slowly and makes a person feel fuller. Intermittent fasting can also be adapted which helps burn fats easily.

    Currently, majority of drugs available for diabetes act on beta cells of pancreas to produce more insulin or insulin is provided directly by injections. There are limited drugs available which improves insulin resistance. So, Weight reduction and maintaining healthy lifestyle is best way to improve insulin resistance.

    Performing physical exercises helps manage both diabetes and obesity. Physical exercises don’t mean high-intensity exercises; these are not recommended as obese people have a risk of heart disease and also have joint disorders. Thus, these individuals should opt for routine activities such as taking stairs instead of the lift, walking, or anything that gets a person moving. It is also advisable to keep a check on the lipid profile and possibly avoid the risk of developing severe heart diseases.

    References

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259868/

    https://library.med.utah.edu/NetBiochem/FattyAcids/7_3.html

    https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/choosing-healthy-carbs.htm

    https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/55/6/1537

    https://www.ncsf.org/enew/articles/articles-convertingcarbs.aspx

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20375742

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