Complications of Diabetes -
Why Should You Want to Reverse Diabetes?

Knowing about the complications of diabetes should motivate you to take action now. In these pages I'm endeavoring to present you with the best information on diabetes to help you with the motivation and the tools to reverse this condition.

Follow the links if you want to know about...

Causes of Diabetes

Diabetes Symptoms

Types of Diabetes

First of all, why should you want to reverse this condition? And how can you do that?

Consider some of the complications of diabetes:

A Threat to Your Heart

As we've seen on a previous page, the problem with diabetes is that it causes glucose to accumulate into the bloodstream, making it stickier and more difficult to flow.

This deprives the body of oxygen and nutrients that are so badly needed and, at the same time, increases the risk of dangerous blood clot formation, responsible for many of the complications of diabetes.

Also, high blood sugar produces a huge amount of free radicals, which can damage your arteries. This, in turn, can cause blood pressure to rise and cholesterol is much more likely to stick like glue to artery walls. Furthermore, high blood sugar causes 'good' HDL cholesterol to drop and triglycerides to rise.

To avoid some of the complications of diabetes most people with diabetes are also prescribed drugs for lowering high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

In people with type 2 diabetes, the body tries to deal with the excess sugar by releasing huge amounts of insulin in an effort to compensate.

High levels of insulin, too, can set in motion changes that raise blood pressure, stimulate the body to produce more cholesterol, making the blood more likely to form clots, and increase inflammation - all of which are known to raise your risk of heart disease.

This is a serious problem, shown by the fact that 55% of deaths in diabetics are caused by cardiovascular disease. You can see now why the right information on diabetes could actually save your life!

Once upon a time, doctors believed that only people with diabetes needed to worry about the effects of food on blood sugar.

Now we know that even in healthy people, constant high blood sugar after meals can, over time, damage the body, even if it never causes diabetes!

So everybody needs to worry about their blood sugar and gather as much information on diabetes as possible to protect themselves.

Energy and Weight Gain

A big starchy meal with lots of fast-releasing carbohydrates can give the body more glucose than it needs.

Most people's bodies can bring blood sugar down quickly, within an hour or two of eating. Their insulin will allow blood sugar into cells to use as fuel and to store the rest in the muscles as glycogen. Whatever is left over, is stored as fat.

If the body has to deal with a serious flood of blood sugar, it overreacts, pumping out too much insulin. If you're already overweight, it may pump out even more.

All that extra insulin brings blood sugar crushing down too far. And the insulin hangs around in the bloodstream for a long time, keeping your blood sugar low for hours. Ironically, your blood sugar may be even lower than it was before you ate.

At this point, you're really struggling and you may feel quite uncomfortable, weak and shaky. Your energy is low and you may get a headache.

Your body has mechanisms set in place to recognize when your blood sugar is too low, so it releases hormones that raise blood levels of sugars and fats, that is, epinephrine (adrenaline) and corticosteroids (cortisol) - the kind that could trigger a heart attack.

Your brain also produces signals that tell you that you're hungry. Even though you consumed more calories at lunch than you really needed, your blood sugar is so low that your body thinks it needs more foods. That's when you usually reach for a quick fix, something that will raise your blood sugar quickly, usually in the form of a cookie or a chocolate bar, and you're in a catch 22 situation.

All this sugar circulating in your bloodstream has to be dealt with, and one way of getting it out of circulation quickly is to store it as fat, hence you keep putting on weight, and it may be very difficult for you to lose weight because of feeling hungry all the time.

metabolic syndrome

When your blood sugar soars, not only your body pumps out insulin to bring it down, but it also stops burning fat for fuel so it can use up the blood sugar instead.

This is why people whose diets boost blood sugar tend to have more body fat, especially around the abdomen, the most dangerous place to accumulate it.


Also a diet that causes your blood sugar to surge and plunge may even slow down your metabolism, so it reduces the rate at which you burn calories when you're sitting still.

The difference may even work out to about 80 extra calories burned or not burned - as the case may be - each day. The more overweight you are, the greater the difference may be.

Damage to the Retina, Nerves and Kidneys

The complications of diabetes are felt in every part of the body.

Diabetes causes small bleeds (micro-hemorrhages) and scarring of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), which can lead to blindness. Diabetics are also prone to cataracts.

Damage to the nerves (diabetic neuropathy) first begins with loss of sensation in the hands and feet and it can then progress into loss of peripheral nerve function with tingling, numbness, loss of function and burning pain.

It can affect also stomach emptying, heart function, alternating diarrhea and constipation and inability to empty the bladder. It can also lead to a buildup of gastric juices in the stomach, and too much stomach acid can cause nausea and diarrhea.

Impotence is a common effect caused by damage to the capillaries and nerves controlling blood flow.

Complications of diabetes are felt also in the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy).

Kidney function can be seriously affected in people with diabetes who don't control their blood sugar. It's important to monitor kidney function periodically.

Diabetes and high blood pressure often go hand in hand, and both can lead to kidney disease. Treating high blood pressure is important, as is eating a low-protein diet containing less than 40 g. of protein each day.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that smokers who have diabetes are two to three times more likely than their non-smoking counterparts to develop kidney damage, often leading to the need for dialysis or a transplant.

Smoking constricts blood vessels and in people with diabetes, this helps push large protein molecules out of the vessels and into the kidneys, leading eventually to kidney failure.

Wound and Ulcers

Poor wound healing and foot ulcers are common complications of diabetes. Damage to the capillaries impairs circulation, causing functional deficiency of vitamin C and immune dysfunction that allow chronic foot infection.

It's vital for people with diabetes to take care of their feet and have them checked on a regular basis. Fifty percent of lower limb amputations in the United States (70,000 yearly) are the result of diabetic foot ulcers.

Diabetes and Cancer

It might be difficult to imagine how fluctuating blood sugar levels could possibly lead to cancer, but high insulin levels seem to promote an environment that makes it easier for certain tumors to grow.

In fact, many studies have shown a link between blood-sugar boosting diets and several types of cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and prostate cancer.

Effects on Mood and Memory

I'm sure you're not surprised to read that the complications of diabetes are felt also in your brain. Both low and high levels of blood sugar can cause trouble when it comes to mood and memory.

People report feeling more symptoms of depression when their blood sugar is low.

Unlike muscles, the brain can't store sugar, it needs a steady supply to function at its best. Even a small difference in the amount of blood sugar available will affect your ability to process information, remember things and pay attention and, over time, can cause cognitive decline and dementia, serious complications of diabetes.

Even high levels of blood sugar can cause trouble, too. Long before they cause diabetes, they can impair the brain, affecting storage of memories and increasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Several studies have found that people with diabetes who have been able to modify their diets, have better moods, less depression and less fatigue than those who aren't able to control their blood sugar levels.

These are only some of the complications that can accompany diabetes and they don't make for a pleasant reading.

But the good news is that you could avoid most if not all of the complications of diabetes by changing your diet. It's not sufficient to eat some of the good foods for diabetes now and then. A complete and radical change is needed. Are you ready for it?


Click on NEXT to read about the right diet for type 2 diabetes or go back to the Treatment of Diabetes main page to select your next article.


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