What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that lasts a lifetime and affects the body’s ability to properly utilise glucose (sugar) from food for energy. The hormone insulin plays a crucial role in controlling the amount of glucose in the blood and facilitating its storage in various tissues until needed. When there is too much glucose in the blood, it can lead to glucose toxicity and cause damage to cells, including nerves.
There are two primary types of diabetes, each with its characteristics and impacts:
Type I Diabetes
This type involves an insulin deficiency and often develops at an early age. In individuals with type I diabetes, the pancreas produces insufficient insulin due to the destruction of cells responsible for its production.
Type II diabetes
Accounting for 85% of diabetes cases in Australia*, type II diabetes is associated with insulin resistance. In this type, the body’s cells become less responsive to the presence of insulin over time, leading to reduced glucose uptake and increased blood glucose levels.
If someone is diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it serves as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of full-fledged diabetes. The following are some recommended lifestyle modifications during this stage:
What is Glucose?
Glucose is the body’s primary energy source. It derives from carbohydrates in the diet. Different types of carbohydrates break down into glucose at varying rates, which you assess using the glycemic index. When individuals with diabetes consume carbohydrates from foods such as bread, rice, cereals, fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, dairy products, and sweets, the glucose produced enters the bloodstream. However, in diabetes, the glucose remains in the blood instead of being efficiently utilised or stored. This elevated blood glucose level is known as glycaemia. Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes may also impact insulin production and reduce insulin sensitivity.
Alarming Diabetes Statistics
Unfortunately, due to lifestyle changes, many Australians are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year. It is crucial to address the factors contributing to this trend.
Taking Action Against Diabetes
Individuals with diabetes should consult their doctors, who will guide them in measuring and balancing their glycemic index. Adopting a suitable diet and incorporating exercise improves the body’s ability to process, utilise, and store glucose, significantly improving overall health. It is essential to consult healthcare professionals for personalised advice in managing diabetes.
The Importance of Diet
Diet plays a crucial role in managing diabetes, and it is essential to maintain a healthy glycemic index range. Learning which foods are likely to cause spikes in blood glucose levels is essential for effective diabetes management. We highly recommend consulting a doctor and a registered dietitian for personalised dietary guidance.
The Benefits of Exercise for Diabetics
Regular exercise benefits everyone, but it holds particular significance for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing it. Exercise improves insulin function, aids in weight management, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease, relieves stress, and decreases inflammation. Some research suggests that exercise helps increase muscle glucose uptake independently of insulin.
Regular exercise should be an integral part of diabetes management. However, if blood glucose levels are poorly controlled (fasting blood glucose levels above 14 mmol/L and the presence of urinary ketones), it is advisable to avoid exercise until the glucose levels stabilise. Engaging in strenuous physical activity while feeling unwell or having ketones in the blood or urine is discouraged.
Organs Affected by Diabetes
Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects the entire body. It can impact various organs, including the eyes, heart, kidneys, skin, liver, and feet. Diabetes affects the healing process of injuries and can cause long-term damage if left unmanaged. Nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, is typical in people with diabetes and typically affects the feet first, but it can also occur in the hands.
Diabetes and Eye Health
Optometrists can detect signs of vision loss or eye problems caused by diabetes, such as damage to the small blood vessels in the back of the eye. If left uncontrolled, this can lead to vision loss and even blindness. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels can temporarily cause blurry vision by affecting the shape of the lens at the front of the eye.
Consulting an optometrist or ophthalmologist is vital for individuals with diabetes, especially if they notice any eye changes.
The Role of Podiatrists in Diabetic Foot Care
Poor management of diabetes can lead to foot problems and an increased risk of lower limb amputation. Regular podiatry care plays a significant role in reducing this risk and ensuring overall foot health.
Regular check-ups with a podiatrist are essential for monitoring and maintaining foot health in individuals with diabetes. These check-ups involve neurological assessments to identify signs of sensory loss, vascular tests to ensure adequate blood supply to the lower limbs, and biomechanical assessments to identify high-risk areas for ulcers and other complications. Early detection of these risk factors allows for developing preventive plans and helps individuals with diabetes lead an everyday life.
If you have diabetes and want to explore new ways to manage your condition better, we strongly recommend consulting a healthcare professional to begin your journey toward improved health.
How is PhysioWorks Different?
Our Experienced & Caring Practitioners Make PhysioWorks Different
At PhysioWorks, our experienced and dedicated practitioners proudly provide our patients with top-notch physiotherapy and massage services. Our staff comprises physiotherapists, massage therapists, and an allied health team, all committing to delivering personalised and effective care to every patient.
Our practitioners possess many years of experience and a deep understanding of the human body, making them well-equipped to help you achieve your rehabilitation and injury prevention goals. Whether you're an athlete looking to return to the field or someone aiming to manage chronic pain, our team will assist you in reaching your objectives.
At PhysioWorks, we stay updated with the latest research and treatment methods. We are committed to providing the highest level of care. Our services range from physiotherapy, and remedial massage therapy, to other related services, aiming to help you achieve optimal health and wellness.
We design our clinics with your comfort and convenience in mind. Our staff is always available to answer any questions and provide you with the support you require. Therefore, if you seek experienced, caring practitioners committed to helping you attain your goals, visit us at PhysioWorks today!