Diabetes is a metabolic condition that affects the removal of glucose from the body. The damage that occurs to internal organs from excessive glucose in the body requires a special diet, medication, and sometimes insulin injections to regulate blood sugar. Women often have additional risks regarding diabetes, due to the hormonal changes of menopause.
Here is some information to help you minimize the risk of developing diabetes and some tips to help you manage blood sugar levels more effectively:
Special cells in the pancreas produce insulin in the human body, a critical hormone for removing excess glucose. In some people, the production of insulin may become impaired, or the body may not utilize the insulin effectively. The glucose then builds up in body tissues, causing damage to blood vessels.
Without proper treatment, diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve problems and blindness. Managing diabetes with medications, diet and exercise helps regulate blood sugar, reducing the risk of complications from diabetes.
Factors That Increase Your Risk of Diabetes
Research has found that hereditary factors play a part in the development of diabetes. Diet also has a significant effect on the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes as people age. Foods that are high in sugar and fat increase body weight, which can lead to diabetes.
Aging itself may cause impairment of insulin production that can lead to higher levels of glucose in the blood. Some racial groups have a higher rate of diabetes, and having gestational diabetes during pregnancy also increases your risk for developing diabetes in later life. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels also increase your risk.
How Menopause Increases Diabetes Risk
Menopause is the natural cessation of the menses and it occurs in women between the ages of 45 to 55. During this period, the production of estrogen gradually decreases. A number of physical symptoms may occur as a result of the changing hormonal levels, including hot flashes, weight gain, sleep problems and increased risk for urinary and bladder infections. Some women experience sexual dysfunction and problems with vaginal dryness.
Unfortunately, these changes can also affect blood sugar levels in the body. Increased weight increases the risk for higher blood glucose. Poor sleep can cause increases in blood sugar levels. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you may find it more difficult to maintain normal blood glucose levels. You may even be more prone to infection. Nerve damage from diabetes can increase sexual problems.
How You Can Manage Blood Sugar Levels Better During Menopause
If you have diabetes and are going through menopause, visit your doctor frequently to ensure you are managing your blood sugar levels properly. Double your efforts to maintain a healthy weight by avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar and fat. Focus your diet on leafy green vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts, fish and healthy oils like olive oil and canola.
Make a point of getting daily exercise to maintain normal glucose levels, manage weight and improve mood and sleep patterns. These measures will help prevent the development of diabetes if you haven’t been diagnosed. Talk to your gynecologist about help for vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections.
The hormonal changes during menopause can cause a variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be obvious, but others may be hidden. Ensuring that you do the appropriate self-care can help reduce your risk for developing diabetes and problems with controlling blood sugar levels if you already have the condition.