Diabetes is a very common disease or disorder of metabolism. It is a complex group of diseases triggered by various causes. People with diabetes have high blood glucose, also known as high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates or sugar and starches found in many foods into glucose, a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. With the help of the hormone insulin the bodies absorbs glucose and utilizes it for producing energy. Diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or use insulin effectively. Insulin is made in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. The Pancreas contains clusters of cells called islets; the beta cells within the islets make insulin and release it to the blood.
If the beta cells don’t produce enough insulin or the body is unable to respond to insulin that is present, the glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells in the body, leading to prediabetes or diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels or A1C levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. In diabetes the body cells lack enough energy, even though the glucose levels are very high.
The increase in the blood sugar levels damages nerves and blood vessels. It also leads to complications like cardiovascular diseases, strokes, kidney problems, blindness, dental problems and amputations. High blood glucose levels also damage nerves and blood vessels. Diabetes can also lead to depression, fertility issues, and increased risk of other diseases and lack of mobility as the age of the person increases. It is very difficult to find out what exactly triggers diabetes, but health experts say that genes and environmental factors are responsible for rise in blood glucose levels.
There are two types of diabetes- Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Let us study the causes that give rise to type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes is caused by lack of insulin due to the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. The Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease and it happens when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys beta cells. Generally, the immune system protects the body from harmful bacteria and virus. But in autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. The beta cell destruction may be a gradual process but the symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop over a short period of time. In the past, type 1 diabetes was referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in adults or LADA is a kind of developing type 1 diabetes. In this case, diagnosis occurs after 30 years of age. It happens because the body’s immune system destroys the beta cells. So the person will need insulin shots or pumps to control blood glucose levels.
1. Genetic Reasons:
Heredity plays an active role in determining who is likely to develop type 1 diabetes. Genes carry instructions for making proteins which are essential for the functioning of the body cells. Many genes and interactions among genes often increase or prevent a person from developing type 1 diabetes.
The key genes vary in different population groups; the variations in genes which affect more than 1 percent of a population group are called gene variants. Certain gene variants that carry instructions for making proteins are called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) on white blood cells increases the chances of developing type 1 diabetes.
The HLA genes are major risk genes for type 1 diabetes, but other risk genes are also present. The HLA genes help in identifying people who are at risk for type 1 diabetes. These genes also provide important clues to help scientist understand how the disease develops and find out the right therapy and preventive measures. Genetic testing helps to detect what types of HLA genes a person carries and also reveal other genes linked to diabetes.
2. Autoimmune Destruction of Beta Cells:
In Type 1 Diabetes the white blood cells or T cells attack and destroy beta cells in the pancreas.The process of destruction begins well before diabetes symptoms come to the surface and continues after diagnosis. Sometimes, type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed until most beta cells have already been destroyed. In this case, the person needs a daily insulin treatment to survive. Scientific research is still on to find out a way to stop the autoimmune process and preserve beta cell function. Sometimes, immune systems of the people who are susceptible to type 1 diabetes respond to insulin as a foreign substance or antigen. To combat the antigens, the beta cells produce antibodies.
3. Environmental Factors:
Sometimes food, viruses and toxins play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes, but the exact nature of their role is not known. Some studies suggest that environmental factors play a crucial role in triggering the autoimmune destruction of beta cells in people who are genetically prone to type 1 diabetes. The environmental factors can still play a role in diabetes even after diagnoses.
4. Viruses and Infections:
A virus can’t cause diabetes on its own, if type 1 diabetes is diagnosed during or after a viral infection then the two can be linked. Also the onset of type 1 diabetes occurs during winters when viral infections are common. Viruses associated with type 1 diabetes are coxsackievirus B, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, rubella and mumps. These viruses trigger autoimmune destruction of beta cells in susceptible people. For example, cytomegalovirus is associated with beta cell damage and acute pancreatitis. Scientists are trying to identify the virus that is causing the type 1 diabetes, so that they can create a vaccination to counter the problem.
5. Infant Feeding Practices:
Dietary factors may increase or lower the risk of type 1 diabetes. Breastfed infants and infants receiving vitamin D supplements may have a reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes. However, early exposure to cow’s milk and cereal diet can increase the chance of getting type 1 diabetes. More research is needed to find out how infant nutrition increases the risk of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by the combination of factors, which includes insulin resistance, when the body is unable to use the insulin effectively. It also happens when the body can’t produce enough insulin to compensate for the impaired ability to use insulin. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed for years. Here are some possible causes behind type 2 diabetes.
1. Genetic Reasons:
Genes play a significant part in susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. Certain genes or combinations of certain genes may increase or decrease a person’s risk of developing a disease. Scientists have identified many gene variants that increase susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, many are yet to be discovered. Studies have shown that the variants of TCF7L2 gene increase susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. People who have two copies of the variants, the chances of developing type 2 diabetes are 80% higher. Genes also increase the chances of diabetes by increasing a person’s chances of becoming overweight or obese.
2. Obesity and Lack of Physical Activity:
Physical activity and obesity are related with the development of type 2 diabetes. If people are genetically susceptible to type 2 diabetes, then obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can make them vulnerable to the risk factors associated with the disease. An imbalance between caloric intake and physical activity can lead to obesity, which cause insulin resistance in people who have type 2 diabetes. Excess abdominal fat can lead to cardiovascular diseases; the body in such case produces hormones that can damage blood vessels and other chronic health problems.
The muscle, fat and liver cells stop responding to the insulin, this compels the pancreas to compensate by producing extra insulin. If the beta cells are able to produce insulin then the blood glucose levels stay in the normal range. If insulin production falters because of beta cell dysfunction, then the blood glucose levels rise and this directly leads to diabetes.
3. Abnormal Glucose Production by the Liver:
In some cases, an abnormal increase in glucose production by the liver often leads to high blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases the hormone glucagon when the blood glucose and insulin levels were low. Glucagon stimulates the liver to produce more glucose. Generally the glucagon levels go down and the liver stores the extra glucose for later use. However, for some unknown reason the glucagon levels remain high, this cause the liver to produce unneeded glucose and this leads to high blood glucose levels. Metformin is the common drug used to control glucose production by liver.
4. Cell Signaling and Regulation:
Cells communicate through a complex network of molecular signaling pathways. The insulin receptor molecules help to bind the insulin molecules circulating in the bloodstream. The interaction between insulin and its receptor leads to a biochemical reaction that helps the cells to absorb glucose and use it for producing energy. However, problems in cell signaling systems can create a chain reaction that lead to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
5. Beta Cell Dysfunction:
Scientists think beta cell dysfunction is the key cause of type 2 diabetes. Beta cell impairment can cause inadequate or abnormal patterns of insulin release. Beta cells can also be destroyed by increased glucose levels, this is called glucose toxicity.
Gestational Diabetes is caused by hormonal changes and metabolic demands of pregnancy, where environmental and genetic factors also play a role. Hormones produced by the placenta and other pregnancy related factors lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the amount of insulin in the blood and if the pancreas can’t control the insulin due to beta cell dysfunction then gestational diabetes takes place. Having a family history of diabetes increases the risk factor of gestational diabetes.
Top 14 Home Remedies For Diabetes:
Diabetes is a grave medical condition, but with a healthy diet and regular exercise, managing the condition becomes a child’s play. Here are a handful of diabetes home remedies every diabetic can rely on to keep fluctuations of sugar levels under control.
1. Bitter Gourd:
Bitter gourds are one among the most effective ways for preventing sugar level fluctuations. Being a safe vegetable, this iron-rich gourd can be consumed by anyone. It influences the glucose metabolism in the body and helps stimulate pancreatic insulin secretion. Known to thwart off insulin resistance, bitter gourd is equally beneficial for people suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Drink a glass of bitter gourd juice, flavored with a little honey, every morning to keep diabetes away.
[ Read: How Does Honey Help Diabetics ]
2. Fenugreek Seeds:
These tiny, brown seeds are powerhouses of fiber and other nutrients, all of which possess the potential to improve glucose tolerance and lower blood sugar levels. The rich presence of fiber along with its hypo-glycemic properties make them the most sought after home remedies for diabetes. Soak 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in hot water overnight, and consume the following morning on an empty stomach for best results. You can also swallow a handful of them with milk each day. Follow this for a few days to stimulate the secretion of glucose dependent insulin.
3. Indian Gooseberry:
Rich in vitamin C, the Indian gooseberry promotes the proper functioning of the pancreas. Discard the seeds and grind amla into a fine paste. Strain the paste to extract the juice. Mix two tablespoons of this juice into one cup of water and drink it up on an empty stomach to regulate your sugar levels.
4. Mango Leaves:
Latest studies indicate that tender mango leaves possess the ability to improve blood lipid profiles while regulating insulin levels in the body. Dry the leaves of the plant and grind it to a powdered form. Drink ½ a teaspoon of this powder with warm water every morning on an empty stomach to curb the rising sugar levels.
5. Curry Leaves:
An Indian kitchen staple, consumption of these leaves in plentiful amounts can also help diabetics. Chew 10 to 12 fresh, cleaned curry leaves everyday for better results. These leaves are known to lower the rate of starch breakdown, thus aiding in keeping the blood sugar at normal levels. It also lowers cholesterol and helps in losing weight.
6. Aloe Vera:
Aloe Vera juice can help control and regulate sugar levels in diabetics. Prepare a concoction by mixing in two teaspoon bay leaf powder, one teaspoon turmeric powder, and one teaspoon aloe sap. Drink this twice every day. Rich in phytosterols, aloe vera exhibits anti-hyperglycemic effects on those who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Powdered cinnamon can lower sugar levels considerably by stimulating insulin activity in the body. It contains bio-active ingredients that help to prevent and combat diabetes! Mix one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your morning cup of milk and drink it up. This flavored milk is no less than a treat, and can lower blood sugar levels. Alternatively, just swallow a pinch of cinnamon powder with water daily.
[ Read: Benefits Of Cinnamon For Diabetes ]
Studies indicate that guava is rich in both vitamin C and fiber, both that help in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. A very good home remedy for diabetes. Just peel the skin and consume one fruit daily to reap its benefits.
9. Black Plum:
The black plum, fondly known as the ‘jamun’ owing to its resemblance to the popular Indian sweet, is rich in anti-diabetic properties. Jamuns contain hydrolysable tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – all of which are known to lower both blood and urine sugar levels considerably. This fruit is however, seasonal; so buy them when they are sold cheap and dry them up. Further, make a powder of the fruit and consume a teaspoon of it daily. You can also pick jamun juice available in the markets, but make sure they do not come with sugar added.
A universal cure for just about any ailment, water mobilizes sugar levels in the blood stream. So drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is one of the best natural remedy for diabetes.
Garlic also known as allium sativum, have anti-oxidant properties and micro-circulatory effects. Garlic does help to reduce blood glucose levels.
12. Fig Leaf:
It is used in Spain and South Western Europe as a remedy for diabetes.
13. Ivy Gourd:
This grows abundantly in the Indian subcontinent and has insulin-mimetic properties. The ivy gourd can really help to control the glycemic index.
Ginseng is a collective name of various plant species. It helps to reduce the fasting blood sugar. The common varieties of Ginseng are American Ginseng, Japanese Ginseng, Korean Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng.
5 Tips to Prevent Diabetes:
It is important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you have a family history of diabetes and if you are overweight. You need to make lifestyle changes and be careful of what you are eating. You can consult a dietician and chalk out a well-planned diet chart. Here are five simple steps you have to follow to curb diabetes, after all prevention is better than cure!
[ Read: How Dates Help Control Diabetes ]
- Get some physical activity daily to burn calories and stay in shape. This will also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Have a lot of fiber in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Always select whole grain foods to cut down calories and blood glucose levels.
- You don’t need to follow fad diets or low calorie diets just for the sake of it. Just make healthy eating choices and stick to it.
- Visit your doctor if you are 45 years of age or more and if you are overweight. Share your concerns with the doctor. Earlier the diagnosis, the chances of cure becomes higher.
There is no permanent cure for diabetes. The only way you can keep a check is by adhering to a healthy lifestyle.Visit a doctor immediately, if you are facing problems controlling your blood glucose levels. It is true you need to take medicines to control blood glucose, but you can certainly give these natural remedies a try! So follow the home remedies for diabetes outlined above and see the differences they bring in your life!
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