What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. Among its many functions is to regulate blood sugar levels during the day and after meals and to inject sugar into the muscles. Every cell in our body needs oxygen and sugar to continue to exist, when a person puts food into his body, the blood sugar level rises immediately and causes insulin to start working and transfer the sugar from the blood vessels into the various cells of the body and thus regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetes, on its various issue, is the result of a disturbance in the ability to balance blood sugar levels due to a failure to produce a sufficient amount of insulin, if any, or the body’s “resistance” response to insulin activity.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by an inability to produce insulin at all or in fact by the destruction of the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes the reasons for this are mainly a failure in the immune system and the body performs an autoimmune action and attacks the cells that produce insulin using antibodies and produces the opposite action to defend against them and attacks the normal cells. This process takes a long time until these cells are completely destroyed. Type 1 diabetics do not have the ability to produce insulin and they must receive insulin externally in order to live. A normal pancreas produces insulin all the time – both during the day and at night and it “knows” to recognize when the body needs the secretion of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes The problem is not with the production of insulin, but with the transfer of sugar from the blood to the cells. The sugar passes from the blood to the cells through receptors but in type 2 diabetics these receptors do not work properly and therefore they suffer from high blood sugar. In type 2 diabetics, insulin is still produced in the body. The problem, as mentioned, is in the receptors that insulin is supposed to affect and they do not respond to it well and do not allow sugar to enter the cells. Type 2 diabetics usually respond excellently to treatment that combines a healthy lifestyle, a low-carb diet and exercise. There are medications taken orally today that may also improve with blood sugar level, also with reducing body weight and most importantly, may prevent future diabetes complications, especially in the heart and kidneys. Therefore, the recommendation is not to postpone drug treatment. After about 10 years of diabetes, the effect of the treatment diminishes and in addition to medication, some patients also need insulin as a supplement to the regular treatment.
The reasons for insulin deficiency are mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle like junk food consumption, obesity, stress and lack of exercise and therefore diabetes is also defined as the 21st century epidemic following changes in the modern world, lack of movement and fast food consumption culture.
This is how you will manage your diabetes properly
- Ensure proper sleep – Sleep is an essential component in the quality of life and ability of the human body to function, especially in diabetics. A continuous and long sleep helps. Many studies have shown that sleep disorders increase the risk of developing diabetes. It is important to ensure adequate and regular hours of sleep – 7.5 hours of sleep per night for an average adult. It is important to stay in the range of 5 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
- Monitoring Sugar Levels – Diabetics treated with insulin are required to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly to know at any given moment what their blood sugar levels are. Today the drug basket allows diabetics to monitor their sugar levels without having to prick their finger.
- Do not skip breakfast – A large study conducted at Wolfson Hospital has shown that a large and protein-rich breakfast can reduce blood sugar levels. The study showed not only that we need to be careful about what we eat but also about the timing of meals and thus achieve maintaining balanced sugar levels.
- Exercise – Do outdoor walking, walking, extreme sports, strength or aerobics, any activity you choose that you like. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent diabetes or improve the health of diabetics. Exercising leads to an increase in insulin sensitivity. Even a single workout can lead to this and it has significant effects on sugar levels. During exercise the muscles use among other things the glycogen stored in the muscles as an energy source, while recovering from the activity the glucose is used to rebuild the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver during this time and therefore, the muscles are used as a sugar pump which helps balance blood sugar levels.
- Maintain a balanced diet – One of the reasons for the onset of diabetes is an unhealthy lifestyle that includes an improper diet and is loaded with calories and uncontrolled trans fat. Healthy lifestyle education should start at a young age, incorporate a fruit and vegetable menu and avoid junk food. Eliminating dependence on fast food requires the preparation of a self-menu that combines nutritional values, free of sugars, fats and high amounts of sodium and processed substances that have negative health effects. You can use a dietitian to determine a personal menu that suits you.
- Avoid stressful situations – Stress, tension and stress are a cause of the release of cortisol – a hormone that helps the body deal with complex situations. When cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, heart rate and respiration accelerate and glucose and protein stores flow from the liver to the bloodstream to become available and immediate energy to the muscles. This basically means that the body releases sugar into the blood so that the energy can be available and therefore, the blood sugar level rises. In addition, cortisol makes it difficult for the pancreas to secrete insulin, which can make the condition worse. Perform breathing exercises, maintain an optimistic attitude and avoid stressful situations when planning your activities and response in advance.
- Drink plenty of water – Diabetics have a higher tendency to dehydration. When you do not drink enough, you do not maintain a balance of fluids in the body and thus the sugar levels rise. An increase in sugar levels leads to multiple urination leading to more fluid loss. It is important to drink a lot even if you are not thirsty.
Professor Julio Weinstein is the director of the diabetes unit at Wolfson Medical Center and a senior diabetic at the DMC Diabetes Center.