5 things you probably don’t know about diabetes

There is an excessive amount of information to digest regarding diabetes, whether you have it yourself or play a role in caring for someone who does.

The more you absorb, however, the more you begin to understand about the disease, and as your knowledge grows so does your comprehension of how diabetes is managed.

There are some things about diabetes that will you surprise you, though.

We’ve researched some less well-known information on diabetes that may shock even the most well-versed of diabetic intellectuals.

1. Protein and fat can raise blood sugar levels

Carbohydrate counting is done by people with diabetes who need to match their insulin injections with how much they eat, with one unit of insulin often correlating to 10g of carbs.

However, a number of studies have investigated whether protein and fat raise blood sugar levels, and if they subsequently require consideration regarding insulin medication.

One commonly reported theory is that because protein is broken down slowly, this affects how fast insulin regulates carbohydrate and can result in higher blood glucose levels.

This was supported by AL Peters and MB Davidson, who reported that the addition of protein (but not fat) to a meal increases postprandial (after meal) glucose response.

Their findings suggest that diabetic patients injecting insulin before eating their meal may need to increase their dose when protein is added to a dish.

Andrzej Gawrecki et al also concluded that protein and fat intake necessitates extra quick-acting insulin. They reported that eating one protein-fat exchange requires half the insulin dose from the carbohydrate/insulin ratio being added to the overall dose.

In relation to the effects of fat on blood glucose levels, studies have displayed conflicting results.

Findings from Howard A. Wolpert, MD et al suggest dietary fat increases glucose levels and insulin requirements and that fat should be considered as part of glycemic control. However, the addition of fat to a meal does not increase the glucose response or insulin requirements, according to Anne L Peters and Mayer B Davidson.

2. Blood sugar levels change with the seasons

You may have noticed that your blood sugar levels are higher during the winter, and this may not be down to anything you are doing differently.

Wen Wei Liang, MA investigated this link and concluded that patients had higher HbA1c results in the winter and lower values in the summer.

This research was backed up by CL Tseng et al, who reviewed variations in HbA1c values of 285,705 veterans with diabetes.

The findings also showed that regions with colder winter temperatures had increased winter-summer contrasts compared to areas with warmer temperatures.

Dr. Richard Bernstein believes these seasonal changes may be due to increased dilation of peripheral blood vessels during warm weather. As a result, the delivery of glucose and insulin to peripheral tissues is increased.

3. Some professional athletes stay low before sport

This is the case for Hibernian midfielder Scott Allan, whose “perfect number” before playing a game would be 5 mmol/l.

Why does he keep his blood glucose levels so low? Scott found that his adrenaline levels rose to such highs when he turned professional that he also has to inject insulin without sugar before games, to avoid blood sugar spikes during the match.

4. Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in adults

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA) is adult onset type 1 diabetes that progresses more slowly than type 1 diabetes diagnosed in younger years.

David Leslie and Cristina Valeri write that it is probably much more prevalent than classic type 1 diabetes, with LADA patients showing a similar insulin secretary deficiency to those with type 1.

LADA is characterised by the presence of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies in the blood, affecting adults between the ages of 30-50. A significant amount of insulin can be produced be people with LADA for up to six years after their diagnosis.

The researchers report that due to the prevalence of non-insulin requiring diabetics in the world’s population that have GAD antibodies, LADA is more common than classic type 1 diabetes.

5. There is good pattern LDL cholesterol

LDL (low density lipoprotein) is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because a significant build-up can increase the risk of a heart attack.

Heart disease and stroke are both linked to high cholesterol and are among the leading causes of death for people with diabetes.

LDL, however, is not cholesterol. Along with HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL is a protein that transports cholesterol through the blood.

Not all LDL particles are the same, though. Melissa A. Austin, PhD et al reported that small, dense LDL are three times more likely to cause heart disease compared to normal LDL.

Smaller, dense LDL have been found to be more susceptible to oxidation, with Meisinger et al showing high oxLDL in patients resulted in four times the increased risk of a heart attack.

This is where Pattern A and Pattern B came about.

Pattern A is defined by researchers as when small, dense LDL is low, with Pattern B characterised by much higher levels. Pattern B is significantly associated with an increased risk of a heart attack.

Research from Dr. Ronald Krauss investigated how people can shift into the Pattern A column – recommending limited carbohydrate intake and replacing it with saturated fat.

Were you surprised by any of this information regarding diabetes? Is there other research that has surprised you on the condition? Let us know!

Photo credit: galleryhip.com

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About the author

Jack Woodfield

Jack is Editorial Manager of Diabetes.co.uk. He works hard, plays fair and sleeps whenever possible. He has type 1 diabetes, doesn't mind being called a "diabetic", and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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