Type 2 diabetes would seem benign were it not for the threat of rising blood sugar levels – the main sugar found in blood. It is an important source of energy and provides nutrients to the body but having too much of it can inflict damage on the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The pancreas is normally charged with regulating blood sugar – the organ secretes a hormone called that keeps a check on it.
If you have diabetes, however, the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of the hormone or the cells do not process it properly.
The result? High blood sugar is left unconstrained.
Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes rarely produces symptoms in the beginning that could alert you to this destructive process.
Unsettling signs tend to surface if you have lived with the chronic condition for a long time.
One telltale sign is a complication called diabetic hand syndrome, also called diabetic cheiroarthropathy.
According to Mayo Clinic, diabetic hand syndrome is a disorder whereby the skin on the hands becomes waxy and thickened.
Eventually, you may be unable to fully extend your fingers or press your palms together flat, says the health body.
How to respond
“It is unknown what causes diabetic stiff hand syndrome, but keeping blood glucose levels under control is recommended as a preventative method,” explains Diabetes.co.uk.
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There are two key components involved in lowering high blood sugar levels – a healthy diet and keeping active.
Take diet first. As a general rule, there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
Certain starchy foods can send blood sugar levels soaring so are best to be avoided and swapped out for less risky items.
As Diabetes UK explains, they all contain carbohydrate, which is broken down into glucose and used by our cells as fuel.
Common starchy foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, chapattis, naan and plantain.
They rank high on the glycemic index (GI) – a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
Following this classification is a handy way to separate the starchy items that cause blood sugar spikes and those that will have a more modest impact.
The items that have a low glycaemic index (GI) include whole grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and basmati, brown or wild rice, noted Diabetes UK.
“They also have more fibre, which helps to keep your digestive system working well,” says the health body.
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level – you should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week, says the NHS.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
This could be:
- Fast walking
- Climbing stairs
- Doing more strenuous housework or gardening.
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