Learn about diabetes mellitus
Man may be the captain of his fate, but he is also the victim of his blood sugar.Wilfrid G. Oakley
Glycaemia is typically between 60 and 99 mg/dl in non-diabetic individuals. The blood sugar of a non diabetic person never drops below 55-60 mg/dl. After meals this interval can reach 130-150 mg/dl, depending on the amount of carbohydrates (sugars) consumed in the diet.
Diabetes is treated during pregnancy mainly through a diet designed to ensure the right calorie intake necessary for the growth of the fetus, to prepare the maternal body for childbirth and breastfeeding, as well as to avoid episodes of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia for the mother's body. It cannot, however, disregard the practice of physical activity. The symptoms to be controlled are: unjustified increased thirst, frequent need to urinate, loss of body weight, visual disturbances and frequent infections such as cystitis and candidiasis. In addition, there are risk factors such as obesity and familiarity with a diabetic patient that can significantly increase the likelihood of experiencing this form of diabetes.
In addition to the hereditary character, there are aspects of the person such as obesity: cells need sugar to live, the more cells they need to feed the greater the need for insulin. In obese people, therefore, insulin is produced in insufficient quantities. Sedentary life, stress and some diseases are included in the list of environmental triggers. They impose additional work on the pancreas because they increase the need for glucose and therefore insulin. If the pancreas is weakened by a hereditary predisposition to diabetes, these causes accelerate the onset of the disorder. Age also plays its role: the aging of the organism is reflected in the functionality of all organs, not least the pancreas which, as it ages, is no longer able to respond promptly to the request for insulin received.
It is important not to underestimate some risk factors that make some people more likely than others to develop type 2 diabetes.
The main risk factors are:
- Obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2 for DM2)
- Physical inactivity.
- Hypertension (PAS greater than or equal to 140 mmHg e\o PAD greater than or equal to 90 mmHg)
- HDL-cholesterol (not more than 35 mg/dl)
- Triglycerides (greater than or equal to 250 mg/dl)
The symptoms are generally not as evident as in type 1 diabetes and are easily ignored, running the risk of late diagnosis.
Some of the symptoms are types of type 2 diabetes: feeling tired, frequent need to urinate even at night, unusual thirst, sudden and unjustified weight loss and blurred vision.
Preventing diabetes with cycling: mission possible
Constant physical activity - many researches now confirm - clearly improves the cells' capacity to absorb glucose, thus increasing the number of insulin receptors. In particular, one of the most suitable sports for those suffering from diabetes has proved to be cycling, since it is an aerobic activity, of a repetitive and constant type. The bike works against this disease because it activates 70% of our muscle mass, positioned in the lower limbs. And not only that. Cycling also has the advantage of being a non-traumatic sport, with faster muscle recovery times, and offers the opportunity to travel significantly longer distances than other disciplines.
An extensive Danish study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, involved almost 25,000 men and 28,000 women between 50 and 65 years: researchers at the University of Southern Denmark (Syddansk Universitet) examined the health status of participants for several years and collected information on their lifestyle, in particular on the level of physical activity and nutrition. The aim of the work was to demonstrate that even a simple daily commitment such as cycling can help prevent diabetes. The results were clear: cycling reduces the risk of getting diagnosed with diabetes and the more you pedal, the further away you get the disease, with positive effects that are obtained even starting at a late age, after 50 years. The study shows that those who start cycling late (on average) get a 20% reduction in the risk of diabetes. The beneficial effects of two-wheelers emerge independently of other factors that may affect the risk of disease, such as nutrition, weight problems.
In summary, if a diabetic measures his blood sugar before and after a good ride, he sees the difference: the value goes down. But how much physical activity, though mild, do you need to do to see these benefits? Let's point out that there's no need to overdo it. In terms of reducing blood sugar levels, moderate exercise is also more effective than intense physical activity: 30 to 60 minutes of cycling per day is enough to take advantage of the anti-diabetes benefits of two wheels. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that cycling at a moderate pace for an hour allows overweight people with diabetes to halve their blood sugar levels in the next 24 hours. Even cycling faster for only half an hour can reduce levels for an entire day, but only by 19%. What if we don't find suitable and safe outdoor itineraries? You can also cycle indoors: using an indoor exercise bike the benefit is exactly the same, which is a loss of fat mass of 1.2 kilos per month, provided you always follow a proper diet.