What is Diabetes?
Perhaps you have heard much about diabetes; maybe some of you may be suffering from this condition. But what really is diabetes and how can it be prevented?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels, either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. These patients usually experience polyuria or frequent urination, Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).
There are three types of diabetes: In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin either in childhood or in their teenage or early adulthood years. On the other hand, in type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance). This is the most common type of diabetes. This is due to a lack of control of diabetes through weight loss, healthy diet, plenty of glucose and blood glucose monitoring. Type 2 diabetes is usually a progressive disease and if uncontrolled will make the patient resort to medications for blood sugar control. Overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes affecting females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose. The diagnosis is usually done during pregnancy.
Untreated diabetes can brong about many complications such as those involving the eye, the feet, the skin, the heart, the blood vessels, the mind, the nerves, the senses, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. Eye complications may include glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others. Foot complications may include neuropathy, ulcers, and sometimes gangrene which may require that the foot be amputated. Heart problems may include ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished. Mental health problems include depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders. Patients may be especially prone to other complications such as hearing loss, gum diseases, gastroparesis, ketoacidosis, neuropathy, HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome), nephropathy, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction, infections and slow healing of wounds.
Diabetes can bring about various symptoms such as frequent urination, unexplained thirst, intense hunger, weight gain, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, slow healing of wounds, more skin and yeast infections, itchy skin, red or swollen gums, sexual dysfunction in men and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
Whey Protein Consumption Can Improve Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetics
A recent study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) suggests that consuming whey protein before a regular breakfast reduces the blood sugar spikes seen after meals and also improves the body’s insulin response. Thus whey protein could be an additional tool to help control blood sugar in patients with diabetes. This study was done in Israel by researchers from the Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Lund University, Sweden.
In this study, 15 people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes who were not taking any medications except for sulfonylureas or metformin (oral diabetes drugs) consumed, on two separate days, 50 g whey in 250 ml water or placebo (250 ml water) followed by a standardised high-glycaemic-index breakfast in a hospital setting. The breakfast contained 3 slices of white bread and sugar-containing jelly, a meal designed to produce the maximum post-meal glucose spike. The results revealed that glucose levels were reduced by 28% after whey protein pre-load compared with no whey protein. Insulin and C-peptide (a building block of insulin) responses were both significantly higher (by 105% and 43%, respectively) in the whey protein group. Notably, the early insulin response (meaning within the first 30 minutes following breakfast) was 96% higher after whey protein than with placebo.