Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that interferes with the body’s ability to utilize or produce insulin. Unchecked, it can lead to a host of serious health problems, ranging from retinopathy to kidney damage, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that first manifests in childhood. The body attacks the pancreas, stopping the production of insulin.
Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin it produces. This is by far the more common type of the disease, affecting roughly 95 percent of all diabetes’ sufferers. Many more individuals are pre-diabetic, meaning that their blood sugar is chronically elevated, placing them at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Both forms of diabetes are treatable, and type 2 diabetes is preventable. Read on to learn how seniors can reduce their blood sugar and greatly minimize the symptoms and severity of this disease.
Most seniors with diabetes have the adult onset form. In fact, older people have a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with the highest number of new cases occurring in people between the ages of 45 and 64.
Significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes are heredity, heart disease, obesity, and a lack of exercise. Obesity is probably the single greatest risk factor for the disease, however, as fat storage triggers hormones associated with insulin resistance.
Some researchers, like pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, link diabetes to the consumption of fructose, which can only be processed in the liver and stored as fat there. Fatty liver disease is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Other scientists believe there is a stronger link between saturated fat and type 2 diabetes.
The standard medical treatment for type 2 diabetes is injections of insulin and daily monitoring of blood sugar levels. Doctors also prescribe drugs like metformin hydrochloride to lower blood sugar.
In many cases, drugs can be avoided, however, especially in seniors who have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Reversing type 2 diabetes causes — like obesity and lack of exercise — will often slow the progression of the disease and can even reverse its course.
In fact, treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes are really the same. Patients should do the following if they want either to avoid getting type 2 diabetes or to prevent the risks associated with the disease:
Does this treatment plan sound familiar? The same exercise and diet modifications can also help you to prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The most common type of diabetes found in the elderly doesn’t need to slow you down. With the right lifestyle choices, many seniors can go on to live full and active lives, using a combination of the right diet and a daily exercise routine to manage their condition successfully.