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Fast Spreading Diabetes

Sugar is the single most essential nutrient for the human body – fuel for our cells. Taken in excess, though, it causes serious health issues. Statistics are staggering: we eat as much sugar in two weeks as our grandparents did in a year. Wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that, while already diagnosed by ancient physicians fifteen hundred years ago, diabetes is predicted to become the plague of the twentyfirst century?

Refined sugar alone is only part of the problem. We consume way too much carbohydrates, which goes unburt, and eventually converted to sugar and fat. "We tend to eat carbohydrates – mostly simple carbohydrates – well above our bodies' actual need," says Dr. István Filiczky, physician at Dr. Rose Private Hospital. " Obesity is the main reason behind the alarming increase in the number of newly diagnosed diabetics, especially among children."

What makes excess carbs such a potent health threat? "Sugar is easily digested and absorbed; as it enters the blood stream, the pancreas starts pumping out insulin, a hormone that help our cells take up all that sugar," explains Dr. Filiczky. "Regularly overloading your system with too much sugar that needs to be removed from the blood is not without consequences. First off, the surplus sugar is converted to fat and stored in the adipose tissue, obviously leading to obesity over time. Secondly, too much sugar can upset the metabolic process – either the pancreas gets depleted and reluctant to churn out insulin as it should, or years of "force feeding" makes the cells literally fed up and resistant to insulin. Either way, the body's capacity to process and metabolize sugar is deteriorating, eventually leading to diabetes.”

People often believe that type 1 diabetes – the sort that children develop early on with an onset of unpleasant symptoms – is the more dangerous condition. Not so, because these diabetic patients are closely monitored and treated from an early age, making them aware and cautious with their diet and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be dormant for even a decade, while causing irreparable damage to the body: cardiovascular conditions, increased plaque formation in blood vessels, hypertension, and heart conditions, or even kidney disfunction, degeneration of the fundus, and neuropathy.

"Considering that the very early, dormant state of diabetes already causes such serious conditions, a thorough check-up by an internal medicine specialist is recommended annually, including an IFG (impaired fasting glucose) reading, and at least one postprandial blood sugar reading, two hours after a full meal," advises Dr. Filiczky.

Good to know

Simple carbs are found in plain flour, lactose (milk sugar) and fruits. Healthier complex carbohydrates can be found in vegetables, rice and potato. The latter take longer to metabolize into glucose, thus regulating our sugar-intake. The longer it takes to digest and absorb sugar, the longer we feel full and content after a meal. Glycemic index (GI) is a simple chart that tells us how long it takes on average for carbohydrates in a particular food to fully break down into glucose in our system. The scale goes up to 100, the value of pure glucose, which is taken up by your digestive system instantly. The lower the GI number, the slower the carbs get digested, and the better for you. Study a GI chart and you'll be surprised to find that even different varieties of the same food, such as rice, show varied values. Choosing the right stuff is paramount for those already diagnosed or prone to diabetes.