Diabetes has hidden dangers that begin before diagnosis and continue to worsen if certain steps are not taken to prevent the complications that are the true, "killers" in terms of diabetes.
Statistics show that there are around 18 million diabetics in America, both Type 1 and Type 2. It is amazing how many people, diabetics included, who have no idea what dangers a diabetic faces over their lifetime. A diabetic, all things being equal, lives almost 10 years less than their non-diabetic counterpart on average.
Why do diabetics life shorter life spans than non-diabetics? The answer is both simple and complicated. Simple in explaining in general terms, complicated in the medical sense. Without traveling the complicated route in this article, I will try to give a simple, straight forward answer to the above question. Diabetics live shorter lives than non-diabetics because of diabetic complications.
What Are Diabetic Complications?
Diabetic complications are chronic medical conditions that begin to affect the body of the diabetic. These complications are brought about mostly by a condition the medical community had named, "Advanced Glycation End products" which is simply, "excess sugar" saturating the inside of the cells of the body. This condition also called AGE for short includes coronary artery disease, vascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, retinopathy (blindness) and loss of feeling in the hands and the feet (peripheral neuropathy) among others.
Diabetes in the early stages does not produce symptoms. Unless found during a routine medical exam, it is possible for a diabetic to remain undiagnosed for years. It is during these years that the beginnings of diabetic complications can gain a foothold due excess sugar in the cells (AGE). The statistics show there is the possibility of as many as over 5 million people going about their normal lives while having undiagnosed diabetes.
Are Diabetic Complications A Certainty?
While the current consensus is that the formula for diabetic complications Diabetes + Time = Complications. What this means is there is a much higher potential of a diabetic becoming diagnosed with one or more diabetic complications over time. This is partly due to how well the individual monitors and controls his/her blood sugar.
Drastic rises and falls of blood sugar can be hard on the body and the excess sugar present in the cells create havoc on the different nerves within the body as well as the capillaries, veins, and arteries. The evidence to date show that excellent control of blood sugar and an active lifestyle goes a very long way in preventing and/or slowing down the onset of diabetic complications.
The Different Types Of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes - Type One and Type Two. Type One attacks children and young adults and is characterized by the pancreas failing to produce insulin which is a hormone that breaks down sugars and starches while converting them into energy. Type Two occurs usually later in an adult's life and is characterized by the pancreas being unable to produce enough insulin due to several factors, obesity being one of them.
Around 10 percent of diabetics are Type One while the other 90 percent are Type Two. The major difference between the two being that Type One diabetics are completely dependent on insulin and take daily injections while the Type Two's have both those who require insulin shots while others can rely on oral medication and/or changes in diet and exercise.
The Risk Factors Surrounding Diabetes
There are several risk factors that can push a pre-diabetic into full blown diabetes.
1) being overweight.
2) family history of diabetes,
3) lack of adequate exercise.
4) history of gestational diabetes (occurs during pregnancy and usually disappears after delivery).
5) certain ethnic groups
People over 45 years of age and has one or several of the risk factors mentioned above should be screened for diabetes each year, preferably during an annual medical exam. It has been shown that people with these risk factors comprise the majority of diagnosed cases of diabetes each year.
What Tests Help Diagnose Diabetes Cases?
There are two, main tests used for determining whether or not a person has a glucose intolerance:
1) Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
2) Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
Both of these tests can determine glucose intolerance which is where blood sugar is higher than what is considered normal. This is not always an indication of diabetes however.
Can The Onset Of Diabetes Be Prevented?
People with the above risk factors can go a long way toward preventing the development of full-blown diabetes by making significant lifestyle change. What are lifestyle changes? Changing unhealthy diets to more blood sugar friendly ones, doing enough exercise to help offset increased blood sugar levels and keep the body healthy and losing weight especially if considered obese by the medical community.
If you are pre-diabetic you need to stay on a strict diabetic diet. Ask your healthcare professional for a diet that meets that criteria and limit cakes, candy, cookies, and other things made of simple sugars. Eat small, nutritious meals and eat 5 times a day instead of only three.
If you are already diagnosed with full-blown diabetes, you should follow the same diet while under the meticulous care of your healthcare professional. Keep your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar within proper limits and have your eyes checked every year.
Diabetes can contribute to blindness, kidney disease and heart disease. Complications caused nearly 70,000 deaths in 2000.
What Can The Diabetic Look Forward To?
Diabetic complications can be prevented or lessened for a longer time period by paying serious attention to lifestyle. A diabetic who eats right, keeps his blood sugar in control and within accepted limits, exercises and gets proper rest can expect to have a quality of life that is much higher in terms of the pain and suffering that diabetic complications brings into the lives of diabetics who do nothing to change their lifestyle.
What begins to occur in the diabetic who starts to develop complications because of uncontrolled blood sugars over time is a life filled with the possibility of becoming an invalid, either blind, an amputee, or suffering renal failure or a heart attack.
The above paints a rather grim picture if lifestyle changes are not adhered to. Research has shown that the diabetic that keeps their blood sugar within acceptable limits and follows a healthy, diabetic lifestyle that has been shown to be effective against diabetic complications stands a much better chance of not developing many of the complications their less than dedicated counterparts do.
There is a new derivative of thiamine (Vitamin B1) available now that is showing great promise in greatly reducing the excess sugar in the cells of the diabetic, the process known as Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGE).
Is Benfotiamine Effective Against Diabetic Complications?
Benfotiamine is a lipid soluble derivative of thiamine. Japanese researchers developed benfotiamine in the 1950's and later patented it in the United States in 1962. No one in the US medical community paid much attention to it at the time. For the past 12 years in Europe it has been used for neuropathy, retinopathy and other uses.
The chemical name and formula for benfotiamine is: S-benzoylthiamine-O-monophosphate (C19H23N4O6PS). It wasn't until a group of researchers in New York at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University released the results of their research in 2003 in Nature Medicine Magazine did the rest of the world begin to take a look at this substance.
Benfotiamine is unique and was reported by Michael Brownlee, M.D., as showing much promise in preventing nerve and blood-vessel damage in diabetics. Every diagnosed diabetic has been told by his/her healthcare provider that diabetic complications are the true killers in terms of diabetes.
If you are a diabetic or know a diabetic, you may find additional information about benfotiamine and view research that has been recently conducted showing the benefits of preventing diabetic complications by following the link to the website below.
Zach Malott is CEO of Brentwood Health International, a nutritional supplement company involved in distribution and supplying wholesale, retail and end users.