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Diabetes Q & A with Cesar Molina, MD

Just because someone is a vegetarian does not mean that he or she is a healthy eater, maintains a healthy weight or has an overall healthy and active lifestyle.

Cesar Molina, MD, FACC, medical director of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital, sat down with our Twitter community to answer some common questions people have about diabetes prevention and management.

Question: What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus, also known simply as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases that result in high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.

  • Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce enough insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes, occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level.

Question: What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue, unquenchable thirst, frequent urination, unexplained increase in appetite, unexplained weight loss, erectile dysfunction, blurred vision, slow healing cuts, and tingling, burning, or numbness in the hands or feet. Because the symptoms of diabetes may be subtle, many people with this disease aren't aware they have it and may need a blood test from their doctor to diagnose the condition.

Question: What is the normal range for blood sugar levels?

Normal blood sugar levels should be between 70-100 mg/dl when fasting or up to 139 mg/dl about two hours after a meal. Blood sugar levels for individuals who are pre-diabetic will have fasting blood sugar levels between 100-125 mg/dl. People with diabetes will have fasting blood sugar levels over 125 mg/dl and/or have an elevated A1C greater than 6.4. 

Question: What are some medical problems people with diabetes develop?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which sugar (glucose) remains in the blood rather than entering the body’s cells to be used for energy. This results in persistently high blood sugar, which, over time, can damage many body systems. People who have diabetes are at increased risk for many serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, eye problems that can lead to blindness, circulation and nerve problems that can lead to loss of limbs, kidney disease and kidney failure.

Question: What can be done to prevent diabetes?

To help prevent diabetes, the South Asian Heart Center recommends a healthy lifestyle, based on its Lifestyle MEDS program: Meditation, Diet, Exercise and Sleep.

  • Meditation is a simple mind-body process, which leads to deep relaxation and stress reduction. Meditate twice a day for 20 minutes.
  • Do regular, varied and vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Eat a diet that is high in fiber and plant based foods with more greens than grains. Limit consumption of refined carbohydrates, animal fats processed foods, sweet beverages and fried foods.
  • Get seven to eight hours of restful sleep a night. 

Questions and answers were adapted from a TweetChat El Camino Hospital conducted with Dr. Molina about the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about upcoming TweetChats.

Learn more about the South Asian Heart Center and their work to improve the health and wellness of our community.

This article first appeared in the January 2016 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.