So much about life is a balance. There are processes at work to maintain order that we rarely recognize when they are occurring, only to realize that they exist when something is obviously wrong.
Mechanical processes are easy. Replace a battery, fix a wire, change the fluids, get a new widget. Send in the warranty. Follow the instructions and balance is restored.
The metabolic balance is naturally complex, especially when it comes to our own bodies. The manual is being constantly rewritten and updated. Balance is maintained through constant monitoring and action. And when that doesn’t work, nature attempts to rise to the occasion in silent triumph to gets things back on track.
Healthy bodies have a better success rate, yet even healthy bodies need some assistance. We know when something is not right with our bodies. We feel it, taste it, expell it, and otherwise respond or ignore it. If you’re like me, my response comes from careful observation and is very well informed – from talking to friends, some in depth research, or consulting an expert such as a doctor or other knowledgeable source. Rarely do I ignore my body – I’m not one to set it up to fail.
In most every instance, I find that whatever is off balance is not unique to me – others, possibly millions of others, have experienced the same, and there are well documented ways of restoring balance.
One of the most talked about metabolic imbalances that I am aware of is diabetes. Yet I still don’t know much about it because I have not personally experienced it.
Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.” ( http://www.cdc.gov/media/presskits/aahd/diabetes.pdf )
Some of the affects diabetes can wreak upon the body include thirst, hunger, vision changes, nausea, numbness in hands or feet, dry skin, more infections than usual and wounds that are slow to heal.
Throughout my childhood, I would occasionally witness my great aunt giving herself insulin shots. She had Type I diabetes, which accounts for 5-10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. For the longest time, that was my view of diabetes.
I wasn’t aware of her symptoms, and if she had any. She enjoyed life, appeared to eat the same foods everyone else did, and was not otherwise inconvenienced. She checked her fluids once a day, injected an additive, and just followed her maintenance schedule.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Scientists do know that in most people with type 1 diabetes, their body’s own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain viruses may trigger the disease. Once the islet of cells is destroyed, the body produces little or no insulin. Symptoms of Type I diabetes occur over a short period of time, and there is no cure.
Complications from Type I diabetes can be disabling or even life threatening, and includes damage to the nerves, heart, kidneys and eyes, osteoporosis and hearing problems.(http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes/DS00329/DSECTION=causes)
It is Type II diabetes that has garnered much of the attention lately. And rightly so. It accounts for 80% or more of the diagnosed cases of diabetes, and comes with all the same risks and potential complications as Type I diabetes. Excess weight and inactivity seem to be contributing factors. Complications include Alzheimer’s disease. Additional risks include race and age. The risk used to be higher for adults 45 and older, yet now an alarming amount of younger adults and adolescents are being diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
With Type II diabetes, the insulin producing cells are not destroyed, they either do not produce enough or the body becomes resistant to it.
Because type 2 diabetes develops slowly, some people with high blood sugar have no symptoms. If you’re at risk, it is important to be Tested, because early on in type 2 diabetes, you may be able to reverse the disease with lifestyle changes.
Screening for type 2 diabetes in people who have no symptoms is recommended for:
- Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes, starting at age 10 and repeated every 2 years
- Overweight adults (BMI greater than 25) who have other risk factors
- Adults over age 45, repeated every 3 years
Treating both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes involves medicines, diet, and exercise to control blood sugar levels and prevent symptoms and problems.
2 cups frozen mixed berries or 1 cup frozen blueberries plus 1 cup frozen strawberries
1 6 ounce carton blueberry fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup light cranberry-raspberry juice
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon fresh blueberries (optional)
In a blender, combine frozen berries, yogurt, juice, and dry milk powder. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses. If desired, garnish with fresh blueberries.