Blood Vessels And Diabetic Complications
If a significant number of blood vessels feeding organs become damaged, the organs affected will not be able to function effectively.
In diabetes, the organs most at risk from blood vessel damage include the heart, the brain, the eyes, the nerves and the kidneys. Organ damage, sustained as a result of high blood glucose levels, is referred to as a diabetic complication.
- Read more on diabetic complications
What Is The Difference Between The Types Of Diabetes
Both type I and type II diabetes prevent the body from turning sugar into energy. Normally, eating sugar causes an organ called the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. This insulin turns the sugar into energy. Then it signals cells to store this energy for use. In type I diabetes, the pancreas doesnt make any insulin. It leaves the body with no way to process sugar. In type II diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin. The insulin signals cells to store the energy. But the cells do not respond. Because the cells resist the insulin, type II diabetics are said to be insulin resistant. Of the two types of diabetes, type II is much more common.
How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Excessive added sugar has many negative health effects.
Although consuming small amounts now and then is perfectly healthy, you should try to cut back on sugar whenever possible.
Fortunately, simply focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods automatically decreases the amount of sugar in your diet.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your intake of added sugars:
- Swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
- Drink your coffee black or use Stevia for a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
- Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
- Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
- Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
- Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
- Choose marinades, nut butters, ketchup and marinara sauce with zero added sugars.
- Look for cereals, granolas and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving.
- Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or an omelet made with fresh greens.
- Instead of jelly, slice fresh bananas onto your peanut butter sandwich.
- Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages that are sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar or agave.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
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How Does High Blood Sugar Damage Blood Vessels
When the blood flows through the blood vessels, they expand or relax. Blood vessels possess this property because of the presence of nitric oxide, which facilitates proper and smooth flow of the blood in the body. But, when there is an increase in the amount of blood sugar, it affects the blood vessels and causes several complications.
A research team, headed by Dr. Rita C. Tostes of the Medical College of Georgia, School of Medicine, found evidence supporting the fact that high glucose damages blood vessels. In this research, they explained that most of the sugar or glucose in the blood is sent to the cells for the production of ATP, which is an energy source. The remaining 5% form other components which includes O-linked N-acetylglucosamine molecules. These molecules are monosaccharides which are derived from glucose. O-GlcNAc molecules modify proteins and form a process which competes with the phosphorylation process. The process of phosphorylation helps in the production of nitric oxide, which as we know, helps the blood vessels to relax. So, when the glucose increases in the blood, more amount of O-GlcNAc molecules are formed, which further hinders the phosphorylation process. This results in the reduction of nitric oxide molecules, which eventually causes narrowing of the blood vessels. Due to high blood sugar, the vessels will remain contracted which will ultimately make the vessels hard and passage difficult, permanently.
Can Cause Weight Gain
Rates of obesity are rising worldwide and added sugar, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, is thought to be one of the main culprits.
Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas, juices and sweet teas are loaded with fructose, a type of simple sugar.
Consuming fructose increases your hunger and desire for food more than glucose, the main type of sugar found in starchy foods .
Additionally, excessive fructose consumption may cause resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and tells your body to stop eating .
In other words, sugary beverages dont curb your hunger, making it easy to quickly consume a high number of liquid calories. This can lead to weight gain.
Research has consistently shown that people who drink sugary beverages, such as soda and juice, weigh more than people who dont .
Also, drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to an increased amount of visceral fat, a kind of deep belly fat associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease .
Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increases your risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.
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May Accelerate The Skin Aging Process
Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging. They appear eventually, regardless of your health.
However, poor food choices can worsen wrinkles and speed the skin aging process.
Advanced glycation end products are compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein in your body. They are suspected to play a key role in skin aging .
Consuming a diet high in refined carbs and sugar leads to the production of AGEs, which may cause your skin to age prematurely .
AGEs damage collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help the skin stretch and keep its youthful appearance.
When collagen and elastin become damaged, the skin loses its firmness and begins to sag.
In one study, women who consumed more carbs, including added sugars, had a more wrinkled appearance than women on a high-protein, lower-carb diet (
Sugary foods can increase the production of AGEs, which can accelerate skin aging and wrinkle formation.
How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of;severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful;what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating;sugary foods;or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your;treatment plan remember to take your insulin;or other;diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible ;getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if you’re taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- Take extra care when you’re ill;;your care team can provide you with some “sick day rules” that;outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home so you can spot an increase early and take steps to;stop it.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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Reasons Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad For You
From marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products.
Many people rely on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. Since these products often contain added sugar, it makes up a large proportion of their daily calorie intake.
In the US, added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults and up to 14% for children (
Experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Here are 11 reasons why eating too much sugar is bad for your health.
What Health Problems Can Diabetes Cause
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause complications, including
- Eye disease, due to changes in fluid levels, swelling in the tissues, and damage to the blood vessels in the eyes
- Foot problems, caused by damage to the nerves and reduced blood flow to your feet
- Gum disease and other dental problems, because a high amount of blood sugar in your saliva helps harmful bacteria grow in your mouth. The bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath. Other types cause tooth decay and cavities.
- Heart disease and stroke, caused by damage to your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels
- Kidney disease, due to damage to the blood vessels in your kidneys. Many people with diabetes develop high blood pressure. That can also damage your kidneys.
- Nerve problems , caused by damage to the nerves and the small blood vessels that nourish your nerves with oxygen and nutrients
- Sexual and bladder problems, caused by damage to the nerves and reduced blood flow in the genitals and bladder
- Skin conditions, some of which are caused by changes in the small blood vessels and reduced circulation. People with diabetes are also more likely to have infections, including skin infections.
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High Blood Glucose Without Ketones
HHNS is a condition of high blood glucose that usually occurs only in people with type 2 diabetes. HHNS is short for hyperglycemic hyperosmolar non-ketotic syndrome.
In some ways, HHNS is like DKA in people with type 1 diabetes. The difference is that people with type 2 diabetes rarely get ketones in their blood.
For people who have type 2 diabetes, their pancreas still makes some insulin. Even a small amount of insulin can change glucose into energy.
The body uses the sugar first before it has to use fat for fuel, so it rarely produces ketones.
What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels
Managing diabetes is like a three-way balancing act because you have to watch:
All three need to be balanced. If any one of these is off, blood sugar levels can be too. In general, higher than normal blood glucose levels can be caused by:
- not taking your diabetes medicine when you’re supposed to or not taking the right amounts
- not following the meal plan
- not getting enough exercise
- having an illness, like the flu
- taking other kinds of medicines that affect how your diabetes medicines work
A single high blood sugar reading usually isn’t cause for alarm it happens to everyone with diabetes from time to time. But if you have high blood sugar levels a lot, let your parents and your diabetes health care team know. Insulin or meal plans may need adjusting, or you may have an equipment issue, like an insulin pump that isn’t working right. Whatever the case, make sure you get help so you can get your blood sugar levels back under control.
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Manage Your Diabetes Abcs
Know your diabetes ABCs to help you manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Stop smoking if you have diabetes to lower your chances of developing heart disease.
A is for the A1C test. The A1C test;shows your average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. This is different from the blood glucose checks you do every day. The higher your A1C number, the higher your blood glucose levels have been during the past 3 months. High levels of blood glucose can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.
The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7%. Some people may do better with a slightly higher A1C goal. Your A1C goals may also change as you get older and your lifestyle changes. Ask your health care team what your goal should be.
B is for blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard. High blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke and damage your kidneys and eyes.
The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg. Ask what your goal should be.
S is for stop smoking. Quitting smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to work harder. E-cigarettes arent a safe option either.
If you quit smoking
The Effects Of Diabetes On Your Body
When you hear the word diabetes, your first thought is likely about high blood sugar. Blood sugar is an often-underestimated component of your health. When its out of whack over a long period of time, it could develop into diabetes. Diabetes affects your bodys ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone that allows your body to turn glucose into energy. Heres what symptoms may occur to your body when diabetes takes effect.
Normally after you eat or drink, your body will break down sugars from your food and use them for energy in your cells. To accomplish this, your pancreas needs to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin is what facilitates the process of pulling sugar from the blood and putting it in the cells for use, or energy.
If you have diabetes, your pancreas either produces too little insulin or none at all. The insulin cant be used effectively. This allows blood glucose levels to rise while the rest of your cells are deprived of much-needed energy. This can lead to a wide variety of problems affecting nearly every major body system.
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Who Is At Risk For Diabetes During Pregnancy
The risk factors for diabetes in pregnancy depend on the type of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes often;occurs;in children or young adults, but it can start at any age.
Overweight women are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes.;
Overweight women are more likely to have gestational diabetes. Its also more common in women who have had gestational diabetes before. And its more common in women who have a family member with Type 2 diabetes. Women with twins or other multiples are also more likely to have it. ;
Effects Of High Blood Glucose On The Brain
High levels of blood glucose entering the brain cause damage to blood vessels over time. The brains white matter is the area where nerves are linked and communicate in order to carry out every day activities of life. Think of the white matter as the subway of the brain, providing the essential connectivity, and uniting different regions of the brain into networks that perform various mental operations. When excess blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels of the brain, this connectivity is disrupted and the result is often a dramatic disturbance of normal mental function. Over time, this damage causes changes in thinking, known as vascular cognitive impairment or vascular dementia.
Besides cognitive function, diabetes also affects memory and can result in poor reasoning during intellectual tasks.
The Rotterdam Study also links increased serum insulin with decreased cognitive function and dementia.
How Is High Blood Sugar Diagnosed
There are different kinds of blood tests that can diagnose hyperglycemia. These include:
Random blood glucose: this test reflects the blood sugar level at a given point in time. Normal values are generally between 70 and 125 mg/dL, as discussed earlier.
Fasting blood glucose: this is a measurement of blood sugar level taken in the early morning prior to eating or drinking anything since the night before. Normal fasting blood glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL. Levels above 100 mg/dL up to 125 mg/dL suggest prediabetes, while levels of 126 mg/dL or above are diagnostic of diabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test: this is a test that measures blood glucose levels at given time points after a dose of sugar is consumed. This test is most commonly used to diagnose gestational diabetes.
Glycohemoglobin A1c: is a measurement of glucose that is bound to red blood cells and provides an indication about blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months.
How To Test For Ketones
You can use a urine test strip or blood ketone meter and ketone test strip to test for ketones at home. Testing either urine or blood is important, but when possible, a blood test is preferred because it gives you and your care team more precise information about your ketone levels. Because urine may have been in the bladder for some time, the results from these tests may show levels that are either higher or lower than the ketone levels that are actually circulating in your body. It is also very important to know that urine test trips degrade over time, so if you are using this method, you need to look at expiration dates carefully.
Your diabetes care team can give you specific directions about when you should check for ketones, but in general, you should check for them when your blood glucose is 240 mg/dL or higher. You should also check for ketones if you notice any of the DKA symptoms listed above or if you are sick ; it is possible to have ketones while your blood glucose levels are within range .
At-home urine test strips will change color to show the level of ketones in the urine. They typically report results as negative, trace, small, moderate or large. Blood ketone meters will provide a number that indicates the ketone levels. The following ranges are generally used:
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