Health Topic Archives

Diabetes

In recognition of the millions of Americans living with diabetes and November being American Diabetes Month, Corning Chiropractic Associates’ monthly article is about diabetes.


By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to not know someone who has diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 29 million Americans have diabetes. In perspective, this equates to roughly 1 in 11 Americans. This number is only expected to grow, as 86 million Americans are at risk for developing diabetes. (1)

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease that affects how the body deals with sugar intake. Sugars of varying forms are found in almost everything we eat, and blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) are humans’ main source of energy. Within the body, blood glucose is created by the liver and muscles. In order for the cells in your body to have energy, they need to have the glucose carried by the blood.

To help carry glucose to the cells of the body, the organ called the pancreas releases the hormone called insulin. In healthy individuals, this system works very well; however, for others, sometimes the body does not make enough insulin to account for all the blood sugar, or the insulin does not function as it was designed to. Without proper insulin levels to help keep blood glucose in check, the blood glucose levels can rise too high and can cause prediabetes or diabetes, and in the long run this can cause some serious health problems.

Prediabetes is the term used to describe when there is a higher than normal amount of blood glucose in the body, but those levels are not quite high enough to be considered diabetes. Patients with prediabetes can use methods such as weight loss, dietary modifications, and exercise to prevent developing diabetes. (2)

Type 1 Diabetes

Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 is now increasingly affecting adults as well as children. In Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot make enough insulin or none at all due to the patient’s immune system has destroyed the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Patients with Type 1 typically need to take shots of insulin. (2)

Type 2 Diabetes

Traditionally called adult-onset diabetes, Type 2 diabetes can affect anyone, but most commonly affects middle aged and older patients, as well as those who are sedentary (inactive) and are overweight. In Type 2 diabetes, glucose has a difficult time fueling the body’s tissues because the body resists insulin, so the pancreas has to make more insulin to compensate. Over time, the pancreas slows its insulin production down and will not make enough insulin when blood glucose levels rise. (2)

Gestational Diabetes

For some pregnant women, diabetes may develop as the hormonal changes a woman experiences during pregnancy affects the body’s ability to make the proper amount of insulin. For many mothers with gestational diabetes, it goes away after delivering the baby, but some may later develop Type 2 diabetes. (2)

How do I know if I have diabetes?

The signs and symptoms of diabetes can vary based on how severe the condition is, but includes:

How is diabetes diagnosed?

After speaking with your physician, several tests can be performed to see if you have diabetes. The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test is commonly used, and will show an average blood sugar level for the past two or three months. A normal A1C level is less than 5.7%. If your A1C level is 6.5% or higher on two separate tests, this is a strong indicator that you have diabetes. Other commonly used tests are random blood sugar tests, fasting blood sugar tests, and oral glucose tolerance test. Your physician should know which test is appropriate for you! (4)

How is diabetes related to chiropractic?

Diabetes has been associated with disorders of the body’s bones, muscles, and connective tissues with diabetes. Patients with diabetes are very likely to have limited joint mobility and may experience stiffness or muscle pain, and some patients may develop problems with the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles in their arms or legs. Osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome may also be associated with diabetic patients.

Since chiropractors work intimately with the muscles, joints, bones, and nerves of the human body, a chiropractor can help with restoring joint function and reducing some of the symptoms of diabetes. Chiropractors are advocates for proper nutrition and regular exercise, and can help diabetic patients with making lifestyle modifications. In any case, your chiropractor should be working with your primary care physician or endocrinologist to make sure your diabetes is properly managed. (5)

What can I do to manage my diabetes?

In addition to taking any prescribed medication from your medical doctor, research has shown that a proper and nutritious diet and regular physical exercise can help patients with diabetes.

A typical diabetic patient should consume between 1,600-2,000 calories a day, and should break down the food into the following servings:

Exercise is equally important. Physical activity helps insulin absorb glucose more efficiently, which means fuel for your muscles! Physical activity helps blood glucose stay in an ideal target range.

The most important aspect of being physically active is to stay moving. Even small amounts of physical activity can help! The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends 30-to-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activities for most days of the week. Moderate physical activity is considered any activity that feels somewhat hard - you’ll know you’re working hard enough if you are breathing quickly but are not out of breath, are sweating lightly after 10 minutes, and can talk normally but can’t sing! (7)

Helpful Links

References

(1) American Diabetes Month 2016 Fact Sheet. (2016, Autumn). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/adm/adm-2016-fact-sheet.pdf
(2) Types of Diabetes. (2014, February). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/types
(3) Symptoms of Diabetes. (2014, July 31). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/symptoms/con-20033091
(4) Diabetes Tests and Diagnosis. (2014, July 31). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20033091
(5) The Chiropractor’s Role in Managing Diabetes. Joseph DiDuro, DC. Dynamic Chiropractic (V. 27:18). (2009, August 26). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=53991
(6) Diabetes Diet and Eating. (2014, August). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-diet-eating
(7) Diabetes and Physical Activity. (2014, August). Retrieved October 29, 2016 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-physical-activity

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