Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that results in too much sugar in the blood or raised blood glucose levels over a sustained period. These diseases are becoming an epidemic in our country for both children and adults.
The American Diabetes Association reports that approximately 7% of the United States population has diabetes. One-third of people who have diabetes are unaware they have it and require testing to identify the disease. The symptoms of diabetes may not seem alarming, so it may often go undiagnosed.
In Type I Diabetes, the production and secretion of insulin by the pancreas are absent or dramatically low. The disease usually develops during childhood or adolescence and is also referred to as Juvenile or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes. The cause is thought to involve genetic and environmental factors that trigger an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its own pancreatic cells. Management of Type I Diabetes includes manually injecting insulin and monitoring blood glucose levels daily.
In Type II Diabetes, insulin is still being produced but glucose and the insulin to transport it cannot enter the cell efficiently. About 90% of all diabetic patients are Type II diabetics. The disease is often referred to as Adult-Onset or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Previously, it was far more common to diagnose obese adults and elderly with the disease. However, with the obesity rate becoming increasingly prevalent in children, so is Type II Diabetes. Most of the factors that contribute to Type II Diabetes are controllable. These factors include a poor diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber, lack of exercise, nutritional deficiencies, and being overweight.
Proper nutrition and exercise are the two most important factors when treating diabetes. Educating a patient on what meals to eat and how often to eat can cause significant improvement in controlling and preventing the disease. After examining any deficiencies, the treatment will utilize sources in the diet and supplements to ensure adequate nutrition.