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Diabetes and Protein Needs (I)

by Protica Research

Diabetes is a disorder caused by the pancreas' inability to release enough insulin to handle the blood sugar in the body during digestion. There are three types of diabetes: Type I, or juvenile diabetes, Type II, also called adult onset diabetes and Gestational diabetes. Each type of diabetes has its own considerations and warnings for good health. Proper nutrition is important no matter what type of diabetes has been diagnosed.

Type I diabetes affects about 10% of all diabetics and is typically diagnosed at a fairly young age. Type II diabetes is typically discovered sometime after the age of 30, however, with so many children being obese, it is being found at younger and younger ages. The mechanisms for Type I and Type II diabetes are very different - juvenile diabetes is considered to be a defect in the pancreas itself. The body will start attacking the organ, destroying its ability to make insulin.

Type II diabetes, on the other hand, starts because the other organs in the body start resisting the insulin which is produced by the body. Type II is a progressive disease, starting with a need for dietary changes, then leading to a need for medications and eventually to needing insulin. A precursor to diabetes, pre-diabetes, can be present in the body for many years. Type II diabetes is more common in women than in men and tends to run in the family. Reduction of the risk of this type of diabetes is regular exercise and weight control. Warning signs of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, especially at night, constant hunger, blurred vision, unusual fatigue, sores that will not heal, unexplained weight loss, menstrual irregularity, and chronic yeast infections.

Risk Stats for Diabetes

Type II diabetes affects about 10% of all adults in the United States, with 90% of those people considered to be overweight or obese. Women who develop gestational diabetes are 20-50% more likely to develop Type II diabetes within five to ten years after the birth of the baby. Gestational diabetes is dangerous for the baby as well as the mother - the pregnancy is automatically classified as high risk (Source: Ammer, 2005).

Risk factors for diabetes include being more than 20% over your ideal weight, having persistent hypertension, having poorly controlled blood cholesterol, having a family history of it, especially in parents or siblings, being of certain ethnicities, including African American, Hispanic American, Native American or Asian American, or having gestational diabetes or having had a baby that is over nine pounds (with or without the diagnosis of gestational diabetes).

Testing needs to be done, including fasting blood sugar, A1C testing starting at 45 and completed every three years unless there is reason to test more frequently. Those who are at higher risk may need to be tested every year.

Protein Needs in Diabetes

Type II diabetes can be controlled with diet - just a small reduction in weight can typically eliminate the need for medication. Diabetes, if left unchecked, can lead to some very serious health risks, including an increased risk for kidney disease, blindness, heart disease and amputation. Protein plays a very vital role in not only helping to lose weight but in stabilizing the blood sugar levels that can be so hard to control for the diabetic.

When the body digests food, it is broken down at a rate based on what it is made of: fats and simple carbohydrates break down very quickly, while complex carbs digest at a slower rate. Proteins break down very slowly within the body and require more work by the body. This creation of energy also causes increased heat, a phenomena called thermogenesis. (Only alcohol creates more thermogenesis than protein)(Source: Westerterp). Fats are broken down to fats, carbs are broken down to be used for energy and protein is used as the last resort for energy but is used by the body for a large range of other functions.

(to be continued)

Labels: diabetes management

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