by Shannon Willis of www.Physicaltherapyassistantschools.org

It’s a silent killer, and one of the worst diseases that we have brought upon ourselves through lifestyles that are sedentary and self-indulgent. It ranks right up there alongside cancer as a potent ailment that causes intense suffering and even death if you’re not careful about your diet and lifestyle. The worst part of diabetes is that it brings a host of other complications with it – you’re prone to high cholesterol, strokes, cardiac diseases, kidney failure, and complications of the liver.

The liver is one of the most important organs in our body; it is responsible for converting glucose to glycogen; it aids in digestion by generating bile to break down fats, in filters toxic substances from our blood. The liver plays a very important role in regulating your blood sugar – when you eat, the glucose level in your blood rises and this causes your pancreas to produce insulin. When the glucose enters your liver, the insulin acts on it and various enzymes including glycogen are synthesized. Once your meal is digested, your glucose levels fall, and insulin secretion is reduced. Your liver thus holds your energy source – glucose in the form of glycogen – for the next few hours, until you have your next meal.

You can see how diabetics are prone to liver disease because of this process – when your insulin levels are abnormal, your glycogen stores are either too high or too low. The accumulation of glycogen in your liver leads to what is known as the fatty liver syndrome, often seen in people who are diabetic and obese or overweight. A fatty liver leads to cirrhosis, a condition where healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissue and nodules. The more your liver is scarred, the less it functions normally.

As a diabetic, it’s imperative that you maintain your blood sugar levels through a healthy lifestyle, sensible eating habits, and a regular exercise routine. If not, your liver is at risk, and when you endanger one of the most important organs in your body, you’re asking for a host of health complications. As a diabetic, it’s imperative that you maintain your blood sugar levels through a healthy lifestyle, sensible eating habits, and a regular exercise routine. Start by consuming whole grains, rather than processed carbohydrates. This will limit the effect that the carbs have on your blood sugar levels, helping you to avoid extreme fluctuations and manage your diabetes. Stick to healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados, while avoiding sugar-added dairy like ice cream and whipped cream. Although meats have little influence on your blood sugar levels, choosing chicken or fish over red meat can help to lower your blood pressure. For dessert, choose citrus fruits or berries, since they have low glycemic indexes and will help you to keep your blood sugar levels stable. If not, your liver is at risk, and when you endanger one of the most important organs in your body, you’re asking for a host of health complications. That is why it is also important to use all available tools like a glucose monitor, testing strips and insulin when necessary.

Liver cirrhosis is also caused by alcohol abuse; so if you’re an alcoholic who also has diabetes, or are a likely candidate for Type II diabetes because of your genes and sedentary lifestyle, you’re dealing yourself a double whammy, a two-fisted knockout punch. You really need to reevaluate your life and make some tough decisions, because if you don’t, you may not have a life to live. Diabetes is a complicated disease; don’t make it more complicated by neglecting to manage it properly.

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