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Diseases » Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes- Definition, Causes, Types and Home remedies 

By Dr. Kanchan Harjwani   |   May 1, 2016

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What is diabetes mellitus? How it is detected? Is there any alternative way to maintain my blood sugar levels normal? What are the complications of diabetes? How to prevent diabetes?

Yes these questions come to our mind after the name called diabetes. This article helps you understand diabetes in better way. Diabetes mellitus is the metabolic disease condition in which your blood glucose levels are too high. Your body gets glucose from the food you eat. Glucose is essential to your health because it's a chief energy source for the cells which make up your tissues and muscles. It's also your brain's main source of energy.

In our body there is a hormone named Insulin (released from the pancreas) which helps the glucose to enter your cells to give them energy.

Diabetes occurs when one of the following condition takes place:

  • When the pancreas is unable to produce hormone called insulin.
  • When the pancreas produces insufficient insulin
  • When the body does not respond to the insulin which is called as insulin resistance condition.

Normal blood sugar level:

A normal fasting (no food for eight hours) blood sugar level is between 70 and 99 mg/dL

A normal blood sugar level two hours after eating is less than 140 mg/dL

Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed if any of two consecutive fasting blood sugar are equal or greater than 126 mg/dl or any random blood sugar is greater than 200mg/dl

Types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes): 

This type of diabetes is called as insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes or early onset diabetes. This type of diabetes is common in the teenage (juvenile diabetes) or early adulthood before 40 years of age. Type 1 type of diabetes is autoimmune type of disease in which body produces antibodies against its own pancreas and which damage the pancreas because of this it is unable to produce insulin. This type of diabetes is genetic in nature. There are around 10-20% of people suffering from diabetes type 1. Type 1 diabetes always requires insulin through insulin pump or daily injections. This will be required for lifelong to keep control on blood sugar levels.

Causes of diabetes type 1: 

There is destruction of beta cells as it is autoimmune disease so causes can be

  • Genetic
  •  Autoantigen
  •  Viral infections like rubella, cytomegalovirus are linked to type 1 diabetes
  • Infants who are exposed to dietary products, rich in nitrogen water, vitamin D deficiency are linked to diabetes 1 type.

Type 2 diabetes: 

This type of diabetes is commonly seen worldwide, about 90% of cases suffer from this type of diabetes. It is seen that body does not produce enough insulin or sometimes cells in the body do not react to insulin, so it is called insulin resistance type of diabetes. This type can affect people at any age, even children. However, type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people. People who are overweight and inactive are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is progressive disease, it gets worse and patient ultimately have to depend on insulin someday if it remains uncontrolled for longer time. Some people may be able to control their diabetes by maintaining healthy weight, healthy eating habits, more of physical activity and keeping blood glucose level under check.

Obesity and Overweight people are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People with a lot of abdominal fats, are especially at high risk. Obesity causes the body to release chemicals that can weaken the body's cardiovascular system and metabolic systems. Being overweight, sedentary lifestyle and eating unhealthy food all lead to high risk of type 2 diabetes.

Causes type 2 diabetes: 

Insulin resistance is the main reason of type 2 diabetes which may be because of

  •  Genetic: family history is linked to this type of diabetes
  • Obesity or weight gain
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  •  stress

Gestational diabetes: 

This type of diabetes is seen in the females during pregnancy. Reason behind it is some women have high blood glucose level, and their bodies are not able to produce sufficient insulin to carry all of the glucose into their cells, which results in progressively high glucose level. Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can be controlled with exercise and diet. Some 10% to 20% of women will need some kind of medication controlling blood-glucose. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can lead to complications in childbirth. Overweight women have a higher risk of gestational diabetes. Also, gaining too much weight during pregnancy increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes mostly is normal after the baby is born. However, a woman who has had gestational diabetes is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. It is also same with the Babies who are born to mothers who had gestational diabetes are likely to get obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats”.

Other types of diabetes can occur due to infection, surgeries or disease of pancreas. These are rare type of diabetes and occur 1-5% of people.

What is prediabetes?

Majority of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes initially had prediabetes, which means they had high blood glucose level but not high enough to categorize them as diabetic. But cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin hormone. Research shows that even at this prediabetes stage, damage to vital organs like heart and circulatory system have already occurred.

Symptoms of diabetes:

  Frequent urination (polyuria)

  More frequent thirsty (polydypsia)

  Excessive hunger (polyphagia)

  Unusual weight loss

  Weight gain

  Easy fatigue

  Vision blurred

  Frequent infections( mouth or skin)

  Slow healing wounds

  Itching on skin and dryness.

  Vaginal infection

  Numbness or tingling sensation

Complications of diabetes:

  Heart disease: Diabetes increase risk of heart disease like stroke, heart attack, chest pain, and atherosclerosis.

  Diabetic neuropathy: excessive sugar damage small blood capillaries which supply to nerves especially to legs so there is tingling numbness, burning or pain at leg or tip of toes.

  Nephropathy (kidney damage): kidney has capillaries of blood in clusters which filter waste from blood. High blood sugar can damage this delicate system and can lead to complication if it is severe then it can lead to kidney failure.

  Retinopathy: diabetes can damage blood vessel in retina and can lead to blindness or can lead to other vision problems like glaucoma or cataract.

  Foot: diabetes may damage nerves in feet or poor blood flow to feet can increase foot complication. It may lead to gangrene if blood flow is obstructed. Serious infections which delay to heal can lead to amputation of toe or even foot.

  Skin: skin gets more prone to fungal and bacterial infections.

Prevention of Diabetes and healthy lifestyle:

Making small changes in your lifestyle can have huge positive impact on your health.

  • Choose healthy food habits and maintain healthy weight.
  • Make physical activity as part of your daily routine.
  • Make a regular health checkup.
  • Maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under check.
  • Avoid regular alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
  •  Try to manage your stress.
  • A few minutes of daily exposure to sunlight can also help control diabetes because it helps produce vitamin D, which is essential for insulin production.

5 home remedies for Diabetes

Some easy home remedies may help you to maintain your blood sugar levels with your regular medicines:

bitter gourd for diabetes
Bitter gourd

1.  Bitter gourd: Bitter gourd, helps in lowering your blood sugar levels as it has rich content called charantin and momordicin. It acts on the glucose metabolism all over your body not only particular organ or tissue. It helps increase pancreatic insulin secretion and prevents insulin resistance. So bitter gourd is useful for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It can't replace insulin treatment but can help you maintain blood sugar levels under check. You can drink fresh bitter gourd juice on an empty stomach morning at least 3 times a week. Remove the seeds of bitter gourds and then extract the juice by using juicer. You can add water in the juice and can consume it. Continue this for at least 2 months. You can also add bitter gourd in your regular diet.

Fenugreek seeds for diabetes
Fenugreek seeds

2.  Fenugreek seeds: Fenugreek can be used to control diabetes, it improves glucose tolerance and also it has hypoglycemic activity which lowers blood sugar levels. It also stimulates the secretion of insulin which is glucose-dependent. It is rich in fiber, so it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars. You can soak two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds overnight in water. Drink the water along with the seeds in the morning on an empty stomach. You can continue this for few months to see its effects.

neem leaves for diabetes
Neem Leaves

3.  Neem leaves: It is commonly available everywhere. It has great medicinal properties, it enhance insulin receptor sensitivity which helps in blood circulation by dilating blood vessels. It lowers blood glucose level and reduce the dependency on hypoglycaemic drugs.  You can drink juice made of tender shoot of neem leaves in morning on empty stomach. 

Basil leaves for diabetes
Basil leave

4.  Basil (tulsi) leaves: It is called as holy basil. Leaves of basil are rich with antioxidant and essential oils which produce eugenol, caryophyllene. These contents helps pancreatic beta cells to function normally and increase sensitivity to insulin. And its antioxidant helps in reducing ill effects of oxidative stress. You can take two to three basil leaves or one tablespoon of its juice on an empty stomach to lower the blood sugar levels. 

Indian gooseberry for diabetes
Indian gooseberry

5.  Indian Gooseberry (Amla): it is rich in vitamin C and it promotes good functioning of your pancreas. You can make paste out of two to three Indian gooseberries, by removing its seeds and then grinding it. Put the paste in a cloth and squeeze out its juice. Add two tablespoon of its juice in one cup of water and drink it daily on an empty stomach.