All About Diabetes

Types of diabetes:

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. Glucose comes from the food you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. In type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin or produces less insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means it results from the immune system mistakenly attacking parts of the body. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system incorrectly targets insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.  Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, is characterised by the body losing its ability to respond to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood.


Common differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes
Often diagnosed in childhood Usually diagnosed in over 30 years old
Not associated with excess body weight Often associated with excess body weight
Often associated with higher than normal ketone levels at diagnosis Often associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels at diagnosis
Treated with insulin injections or insulin pump Is usually treated initially with lifestyle changes or with diabetes medications
Cannot be controlled without taking insulin Sometimes possible to come off the diabetes medication

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes:

  • Family history
  • Environmental factors
  • The presence of damaging immune system cells (autoantibodies)


Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes:

  • Weight
  • Inactivity
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Symptoms of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia:

Complications of diabetes:

Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar, the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening. Possible complications include:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  3. Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  4. Eye damage (retinopathy)
  5. Foot infection (eg. diabetic foot ulcer)

Self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG):

Self-monitoring of blood glucose or SMBG refers to home blood glucose testing for people with diabetes. SMBG has been recommended for people with diabetes in order to achieve a specific level of glycemic control and to prevent hypoglycaemia. The goal of SMBG is to collect detailed information about blood glucose levels at many time points to enable maintenance of a more constant glucose level by more precise regimens. It can be used to aid in the adjustment of a therapeutic regimen in response to blood glucose values and to help individuals adjust their dietary intake, physical activity, and insulin doses to improve glycemic control on a day-to-day basis.

How frequently you check your blood glucose levels should be decided according to your own treatment plan. You and your health-care provider can discuss when and how often you should check your blood glucose levels. Usually, people with Type 1 diabetes measure their blood-glucose levels every day before meals. Some individuals are testing their blood glucose once or twice daily, while others do it four or five times. Testing in the morning, during the wake up (before taking any food) help you decide how much insulin you need. On the other hand, people with Type 2 diabetes treated with oral medications should measure their blood-glucose level once or twice a week. It is preferable to test either before meals or  2 hours after a meal. However, if you are on insulin instead of oral medication (or in addition to oral medication), then your blood-glucose measurement will be more frequent.

Pharmacist’s Choice:






Health supplements:

  • Blood sugar regulator

Chromium is an essential micromineral for glucose metabolism and it plays a role in accelerating the action of insulin. Supplemental chromium has been shown to improve glucose tolerance or the rate at which the body is able to clear sugar from the blood. As you eat carbohydrates your digestive system breaks them down into sugars, they are then absorbed into your blood stream and your pancreas secretes insulin to help regulate the sugar level in your blood. This is where the mineral chromium steps in, it boosts the cellular uptake of sugar, which in turn reduces the sugar in your blood and lowers blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar levels even is a key factor in preventing diabetes, insulin resistance, weight gain and heart disease.

Chromium plus biotin supplementation may represent an adjunctive nutritional therapy to people with poorly controlled diabetes. Biotin, vitamin B-7, is a member of the water-soluble family of B complex vitamins. Biotin functions in fatty acid metabolism and the production of glucose. A daily supplement of chromium and biotin will help to improve glucose tolerance.

Pharmacist’s Choice: 

  • Nerve care

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), an antioxidant, is a type of compound found in plant foods we commonly eat. It scavenges free radicals, fights inflammation and slows the ageing process. It is most commonly used in diabetes nerve care. Humans also make a small amount of ALA on their own, although the concentration in our bloodstreams goes up substantially when we eat a healthy diet. Yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid. It is also made in the laboratory for use as a health supplement.

Like other antioxidants, ALA can help slow down the cellular damage that is one of the root causes of diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It also works in the body to restore essential vitamin levels, such as vitamin E and vitamin C, along with helping the body digest and utilise carbohydrate molecules while turning them into usable energy. In addition, alpha lipoic acid works synergistically with B vitamins, which are needed for turning all macronutrients from food into energy.

The B vitamins are a group of vitamins that play many vital roles in the body including nerve function and generating cellular energy. Neurotropic B vitamins are a combination of vitamins that play an important role in the health of the nervous system; they nourish and help regenerate nerves. These vitamins, thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12), are naturally obtained by eating meat, eggs, and grains. It is also commonly found in supplements. One disadvantage of being diabetic is that the elevated blood sugar levels were seen in diabetes diminish a number of B vitamins especially vitamin B12 in the gastrointestinal tract. This puts the diabetic at a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause the nerves to be damaged. Daily supplementation with B vitamins is a great way to reduce and prevent nerve damage in a diabetic patient.

Pharmacist’s Choice:

  • Diet and lifestyle changes
  1. Sugar replacement

Stevia is a herb that belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). It is grown primarily in Central and South America and is sometimes called sweet leaf or sugar leaf. Stevia itself is calorie free and contains no carbohydrates, so it does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels. Steviol glycosides, the compounds which give stevia its sweet taste, have a level of sweetness graded at 250-300 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose). Steviol glycosides, whilst sweet, can have a bitter aftertaste when stevia is consumed in its purest form.

Pharmacist’s Choice: 

  • Carbohydrate and sugar blocker

Carbohydrate is one of the body’s main sources of energy. Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein. This makes awareness of carbohydrate an important factor in the management of diabetes.


Generally, the higher the amount of carbohydrate eaten, the more likely it is that the body will struggle to produce enough insulin. Thus, people with type 2 diabetes on a relatively high-carbohydrate diet are more likely either to have too high blood glucose levels or need larger doses of stronger diabetes medication. There are two main ways to combat and cope with insulin resistance. The primary way is to reduce your body’s need to produce insulin by lowering your calorie intake, including the amount of carbohydrate eaten, and by exercising. Supplementation with carbohydrate and sugar blocker is a great way to control your sugar level.

Pharmacist’s Choice:

  • Meal replacement

Meal replacements are products that you can eat or drink as an alternative to or as part of your meals. They are a quick and easy way to get the nutrition you need. Meal replacements provide a known calorie amount with specific macro and micronutrient levels to provide complete nutrition for your body.

The right meal replacement can help you manage your weight and help manage blood sugar response while providing complete nutrition. Meal replacements for people with diabetes should contain the right types of carbohydrates for people with diabetes, including low glycemic carbohydrates.

Pharmacist’s Choice:

Added with omega 3 for cardiovascular protection

Complete nutrition with high fibre content to increase satiety & helps in healthy bowel movement.

  • Exercise

When you have type 2 diabetes, physical activity is an important component of your treatment plan. If you stay fit and active throughout your life, you’ll be able to better control your diabetes and keep your blood glucose level in the correct range. Controlling your blood glucose level is essential to prevent long-term complications, such as nerve pain and kidney disease.

In either case, exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you are exercising. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re insulin resistant or if you don’t have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose level goes down. If you are insulin resistant, exercise makes your insulin more effective and your cells can use the glucose more effectively.

A 30 to 40-minute brisk walk at least three times a week is enough to improve your fitness level and reduce cardiovascular risk. Some other simple ways to increase activity levels are:

  • use stairs instead of a lift or escalator
  • cycle or walk short journeys rather than using the car
  • regular walking, swimming and playing golf.

Energetic housework, such as vacuuming and gardening, are also good ways to exercise. This is because setting aside exercise as something that is only done at a certain time or place makes it easier to avoid.