Diabetes is a metabolic disease that has become well known in the last ten years as Americans have grown accustomed to an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 24 million U.S. citizens have been diagnosed with diabetes. Type I Diabetes affects approximately only five percent of those diagnosed with diabetes and is unpreventable with patients injecting insulin as they do not produce it. Type II Diabetes affects the other 95 percent and is associated mostly with poor diet and lack of exercise. To break it down more simply: Insulin is a hormone and its primary purpose is to get blood sugar from the blood into our bodies’ cells for energy. Without this properly functioning “lock-and-key” system between blood sugar, insulin and our bodies’ cells, diabetes develops. If Type II diabetes is not controlled with diet and exercise, and in a lot of cases with medication, severe medical complications can occur and include: blindness, nerve damage, amputation, kidney failure, and heart failure. Although diabetes in irreversible and Type I diabetes will always require exogenous insulin, Type II diabetes is preventable and manageable with diet and exercise.
Diet and exercise are the two most important players in the fight against diabetes. Diet is one of the major factors influencing the severity of diabetes. As stated, blood sugar is the energy that our cells need and is derived from the carbohydrate foods we eat. Our diets determine our blood sugar. A healthy diet helps regulate blood sugar due to the way it is slowly broken down due to healthy foods inherent structural properties. An unhealthy diet can force our blood sugar to go awry because these foods are quickly broken down, due to the processing these foods undergo, and raise and lower our blood sugar to dangerous levels. Blood sugar can be regulated with a diet plan that is specifically formulated for a certain carbohydrate percentage intake. With the help of a registered dietitian, one who is specifically educated in meal planning, diabetes can be prevented and managed with diet. Exercise plays an important role by helping the cells receive the insulin they need. More specifically, exercise helps blood sugar into the cells by making the cell more insulin-friendly. Although any exercise is important in managing diabetes, it is extremely important to seek the guidance of an exercise specialist because exercise can drop blood sugar levels dangerously low. An exercise expert can devise an exercise plan and monitor health-related consequences. Furthermore, an exercise specialist will help prevent diabetes-related health conditions, like heart disease, by promoting weight loss and strength training. In short, diet and exercise professionals are key players in helping prevent and manage diabetes.