What is it?
Diabetes is the most widespread metabolic disease in the Western world. It is characterized by a deficiency in insulin synthesis or functionality. Insulin is a peptide hormone, secreted by the pancreas, whose function is to regulate blood sugar, or glucose concentrations in the blood, especially in the post-prandial phase.
Specifically, its function is to lower high levels of sugar in the blood and bring it back to physiological values. It does this by taking glucose out of your bloodstream and moving it into cells throughout your body. .
Because in people with diabetes the insulin doesn’t work properly , they will always have high blood glucose values, with serious repercussions for health.
As previously mentioned, diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in the Western world.
These are the data reported by the World Health Organization regarding diabetes:
- Diabetes increases with age, especially after the age of 50;
- According to estimates, in 2030 it will be the main cause of mortality;
- It is a very common pathology among obese people and poor families, due to poor nutrition;
- In Italy 3 million people suffer from it, both male and female. It is more common in the South, the region with the highest percentage is Calabria.
Diabetes is classified into several types:
- Type I diabetes: it is a form of diabetes that’s thought to be greatly influenced by genetic factors. Type 1 diabetes results from the destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells by a beta cell-specific autoimmune process.
- Type II diabetes: it is a new form of diabetes, more common than type I diabetes. It has spread in the Western world since the Second World War. It is caused by unhealthy lifestyle and high-calorie diets, rich in saturated fats and high consumption of red meat.
- Diabetes insipidus: it is a form of diabetes caused by either neurological factors or a malfunction of the kidneys. We have a primary form caused by problems with a chemical called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), produced in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. ADH enables the kidneys to retain water in the body. Deficiency of ADH can cause dehydration, hyperosmolality, hypovolemia, and eventual death in severe cases. The secondary form of Diabetes insipidus is caused by a functional deficiency of the receptors expressed on the surface of the cells of the renal tubule. Following the binding with ADH, these cells do not respond to the signal. Even in this case, water will not be reabsorbed by renal tubules and a strong polyuria will occur. It is defined insipid your blood glucose levels are normal, but your kidneys can’t properly concentrate urine.
- Gestational diabetes: it is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. Pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower blood glucose levels. It is a transient form of diabetes, which must be kept under control during the pregnancy. If not treated correctly, it can lead to the onset of permanent diabetes.
The pathology of diabetes can be diagnosed with several tests:
- The use of the lancing device is a practical and quick procedure, carried out by the patient himself, to monitor blood sugar.
- Fasting blood glucose measurement.
- Fasting blood insulin dosage;
- Dosage of glycated hemoglobin;
- Glucose tolerance test
Fasting blood glucose values should be:
- Physiological values between 7 and 110 mg / dl of blood;
- Values greater than 125 mg / dl are indicators of diabetes.
Therapies vary according to the type of diabetes:
- For type I diabetes, therapy must be both pharmacological and nutritional. With regard to drug therapy, a type I diabetic subject must inject insulin before main meals.
- For type II diabetes, therapy can only be nutritional. If patients with this type of diabetes do not follow a targeted diet, over time they are forced to follow a pharmacological treatment. Drugs prescribed to type II diabetic patients are defined as anti-diabetic drugs. These drugs increase insulin secretion, decrease intestinal glucose absorption, decrease insulin resistance and increase renal glucose elimination . The most common anti-diabetic drug is metformin, belonging to the class of biguanides, which has the function of increasing the activity of endogenous insulin. Another class of drugs to treat diabetes is sulfonylureas, which stimulate a greater secretion of insulin by the beta cells of the pancreas. Glycolipid is a drug belonging to this category. Then there are the inhibitors of the renal glucose transporter SGLT-2, which reduce the renal reabsorption of glucose, increasing the expulsion of glucose through polyuria.
- For diabetes insipidus, therapy is pharmacological. The main goal is to reduce polyuria and restore the loss of body fluids. For central diabetes insipidus, drug therapy involves the administration of hormones, which mimic the action of ADH. For nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, the drugs used reduce dieresis. Among these we have chlorthalidone.
There are also natural remedies to treat diabetes, which can be followed especially for a type II diabetic patient, while for type I diabetics, pharmacological treatment is mandatory.
Here is a list of herbs that are useful for type II diabetics:
- Cranberry leaves are rich in tannins, bioflavonoids, polyphenols, which are substances that help microcirculation, which is altered in almost all diabetic patients.
- Burdock is rich in inulin, a substance with a detoxifying and hypoglycemic action.
- Stevia has natural sweetening and hypoglycemic actions.
- Cinnamon has natural sweetening and hypoglycemic actions.
- Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, anticancer and hypoglycemic.
- Ginger aids digestion and lowers blood sugar.
- Curry has hypolipidic and hypoglycemic actions.
- Aloe vela reduces blood sugar and has a detoxifying action.
- Berberine lowers blood sugars.
Diet is certainly the most important point for any type of diabetes.
The general guidelines for a diabetes diet are:
- 60% Whole carbohydrates, with hypoglycemic actions;
- Consumption of oily fish rich in omega 3 with hypoglycemic and hypolipidic actions;
- Consumption of extra virgin olive oil rich in monounsaturated fatty acids with hypoglycemic and hypolipidic actions;
- Consumption of almonds and walnuts rich in good fats with hypoglycemic and hypolipidic actions;
- Of which maximum 10% simple sugars;
- High consumption of vegetable fibers and legumes;
- Low salt consumption. Not more than 5 grams per day;
- Prefer low glycemic index foods such as legumes, low-fat yogurt, semi-skimmed milk, apple, pear, orange, peach, strawberries, apricots, plum, pineapple;
- Avoid high-glycemic index foods: non-wholemeal bread and pasta, white rice, pizza, croissants, grapes, bananas and figs once a week;
- All alcohol and sugary drinks are prohibited.