In a July 2017 report, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that there are now over a hundred million American adults suffering from diabetes or its precursor. Moreover, as of 2016, almost ten percent of the US population or more than thirty million already have diabetes whereas more than 80 million have prediabetes.
This means that if this condition is not treated, these 80 million Americans are likely to develop diabetes within 5 years. Of these 80 million, sadly, only a little more than 9 million are aware that they have prediabetes. What’s even more unfortunate is that 25% of Americans with diabetes are not aware that they have the condition.
These statistics paint a disheartening picture, considering that the condition is the sixth LCOD or leading cause of death among American males in 2014. Looking at the rising number of people who are affected by diabetes, it is likely that this lifelong medical condition will remain as one of the top ten LCOD.
It is characterized by the decreased capability of the body to produce insulin or respond to its actions. When we eat carbohydrates, the body digests and metabolizes the carbohydrates until they are converted to glucose which is then transported to the different parts of the body through our blood.
Insulin basically helps in this process so that the glucose can then get to our cells wherein the glucose will be used by our cells for energy. If glucose isn’t converted into energy right away, it gets stored as glycogen. Later on, when the body is low in carbs, or there is not enough glucose in the blood to fuel the cells, the body will tap into the stored glycogen for energy. The amount of glucose in our bloodstream is referred to as blood sugar level.
In Type 2 Diabetes, either the patient’s pancreas produce insufficient amounts of insulin, or the patient’s cells do not respond well to insulin. The latter is called insulin resistance which means that the cells in the body are having problems absorbing the glucose from the blood. Either of these two can lead to excessively high glucose concentrations in the bloodstream or high blood sugar levels.
The reason for this is that having elevated blood sugar levels can damage bodily organs. The cells in our kidneys, heart, and blood vessels take glucose directly from our bloodstream and don’t use insulin to convert the glucose into energy.
Thus, these organs are more exposed to the high glucose levels in diabetic people. Which is why these organs are the ones that get the most damaged. This is also the reason why many diabetic people who are unable to manage their blood sugar levels end up needing dialysis because their kidneys are damaged already.
Aside from the kidney, the blood vessels, and the heart, too much sugar in the blood also affects other parts of the body. Once the blood vessels already get damaged, this can cause further damage to other organs, including the eyes, which later on leads to loss of vision or blindness.
Remember that the mechanism of an erection requires blood flow to the penis? If the blood vessels are damaged already, this means that the blood flow going to the penis is impaired. This explains why many diabetic males often suffer from erectile dysfunction as a result.
This is the most drastic effect of diabetes on the sex life of male diabetic patients. Suffering from diabetes is already psychologically stressful. And if you add erectile dysfunction to the problem, it can get even more disheartening and frustrating. In fact, one study showed that in patients with Type 2 Diabetes, sexual disorders often develop and in relation to this, the patients also develop depression.
Once depression sets in, it becomes a vicious cycle in relation to the patient’s sex life. For depressed people, they are less likely to be interested in sex. For diabetic patients, this is more likely to happen, considering that diabetes also negatively impacts testosterone production. This means that male diabetic patients tend to have lower testosterone levels. Then again, even if they do get interested in having sex, they’re unable to achieve an erection, which then aggravates their depression. And so on.
Fortunately, even if it’s a lifelong medical condition, if you take good care of your body and manage your blood sugar levels, you can prevent your condition from deteriorating too rapidly.
Paying attention to what you eat and engaging in regular physical activity or exercise are two of the easiest ways to manage diabetes. This is not to say that you can’t eat delicious foods anymore. You just need to watch your carbohydrates because that’s the type of food that directly impacts your blood sugar levels.
Understanding the glycemic index of different foods can also help a lot when you’re carb-counting. The glycemic index basically helps you identify which carbs are good for you – they’re the ones that are slower-acting, which means that they do not cause your blood sugar levels to rise quickly. The bad ones are the fast-acting carbs which can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels after you eat them. Dried beans and whole grain bread and cereals are examples of food with low glycemic index.
When you have diabetes, physical activity becomes more important for your health. The more active you get, the more sensitive to insulin your cells can become. This will then allow the insulin in your body to work more efficiently which will then ultimately result to lower glucose levels in your blood. And for diabetics, that’s the best thing you can do – keep your blood sugar levels down – to prevent your diabetic condition from worsening.