Early warning signs of diabetes: how to recognise the symptoms

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Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, with different causes and risk factors. The global prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, with India being famously quoted as the Diabetes Capital of the World.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

This results in a deficiency of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Most of us tend to blame our gene’s for causing type 1 diabetes, but genes only load the gun, it is our lifestyle choices that really pull the trigger.

type 2 diabetes risks

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes, accounting for over 90% of cases. It is a complex disorder that develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and a family history of diabetes.

Several lifestyle factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, have been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.

In addition, consuming a diet high in animal protein, processed foods, and saturated and trans fats has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes. On the other hand, a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes and improve blood sugar control in those with diabetes. For a detailed meal plan for diabetes management, check this page.

plant based diet

In India, the prevalence of diabetes has been rising at an alarming rate, with over 77 million people affected by the disease in 2019. Rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes, including a shift towards a more Westernized diet and a decrease in physical activity, are believed to be major contributing factors to the rise of diabetes in India.

Several studies have also highlighted the link between dairy consumption and the risk of type 1 diabetes. The presence of a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) in milk has been associated with an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Avoiding dairy products and choosing plant-based alternatives may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases. Besides this, dairy elimination can also bring an ongoing diabetic to remission as the body start’s healing.

Diabetes is a complex disorder with multiple contributing factors. However, lifestyle changes such as a plant-based diet, following a healthy circadian cycle, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent and manage diabetes.

Early Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes.      

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. It is a progressive disease that can develop gradually over time, with some people experiencing no symptoms in the early stages. However, there are some early signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of type 2 diabetes.

  • One of the earliest and most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes is increased thirst and urination. This is because high blood sugar levels can cause the kidneys to work harder to filter the excess sugar out of the bloodstream, increasing urine production. As a result, people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes may feel thirsty more often and need to use the bathroom more frequently.
  • Another early symptom of type 2 diabetes is fatigue or weakness. This is because the body's cells cannot effectively use glucose, the body's primary energy source, due to insulin resistance. As a result, people with type 2 diabetes may feel tired and sluggish even after adequate rest.
  • Blurred vision is also an early symptom of type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels can cause eye lenses to swell, leading to changes in vision. Left untreated, this can progress to more severe eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy, leading to permanent vision loss.
  • People with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes may initially also experience unexplained weight loss, even if they eat more than usual. The body cannot properly use glucose for energy and begins to break down fat and muscle tissue for fuel. However, over time, weight gain and obesity are common symptoms of diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes can have subtle early symptoms that may be easily overlooked. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must speak with your healthcare provider to get tested for diabetes and begin treatment if necessary.

Adopting a plant-based diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and improve blood sugar control in those with the disease.

Early Signs of Type 1 Diabetes

Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes can be triggered by environmental factors, childhood illnesses, genetic predisposition or even nutritional choices as a child. Either ways, type 1 is more complicated than type 2, because the beta cells responsible for glucose breakdown are destroyed in type 1 diabetes. 

Beta cell regeneration is often unheard of, however, science is exploring the use of stem cell therapy to help with the same. Now while we still wait for a breakthrough in the field of diabetes reversal, you often can make sustainable lifestyle and nutritional changes right now to help prevent disease related complications. 

Early recognition of symptoms is essential as it can help you manage your condition more effectively and delay serious complications. 

Here are some of the early signs of type 1 diabetes: 

Note, all the sign’s mentioned above for type 2 still hold true for type 1 diabetes. But besides those, people with type 1 can also experience: 

  • Swelling – Type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves that control sensation in the extremities. This can cause a decrease in blood flow and fluid accumulation, leading to swelling.

    Additionally, individuals with type 1 diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing kidney disease, which can lead to fluid retention and swelling in the legs and feet.
  • Hives: Hives or skin rashes is often a sign of allergies. Due to a compromised immune system, type 1 diabetics are more prone to allergies, thus, releasing a compound called histamine in the body, that leads to averse skin reactions.

    Hives is also a response to an auto immune reaction in the body. When the body mistakenly attacks its healthy tissues instead of foreign invadors, hives can increase.
    • Slow-healing sores and ulcers: High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the wound site, making it harder for the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients needed for healing.

      Besides this, diabetes can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. This can lead to the development of chronic wounds that do not heal properly.

    When To See A Doctor?     

    Diabetes is a serious metabolic disorder and requires medical attention. It is suggested to get your fasting blood glucose and HbA1C checked at least twice a year after the age of 30. This helps you treat the diseases in the pre- diabetes stage itself. With sustainable lifestyle and nutritional changes, pre- diabetes is often reversible before it progresses. 

    When managing diabetes, knowing when to seek medical attention is essential. Here are some severe symptoms to watch out for:

    1. High or low blood sugar levels: Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can cause symptoms such as increased irritation, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can cause symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, sweating, and shakiness.
    2. Ketones in urine: Ketones are a byproduct of the body breaking down fat for fuel when it doesn't have enough glucose. High levels of ketones can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe complication of diabetes that requires immediate medical attention.
    3. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet: This can be a sign of diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that can lead to severe complications if left untreated.
    4. Slow healing of wounds: High blood sugar levels can impair the body's healing ability, leading to chronic injuries and infections.

    Seeking medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms is essential. They may indicate that your diabetes is poorly controlled and could lead to severe complications if left untreated.

    What Is Insulin, And How Does It Works?

    Insulin is a hormone the pancreas produces that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin is a sort of the key that allows your cells to take up glucose. Without this key, the glucose cannot enter into your bloodstream. 

    What Is Glucose, And How Does It Works?

    Glucose is the final breakdown molecule of all carbohydrates that you eat. It is also what the body functions on. Insulin helps the body use glucose by signaling cells to take it up from the bloodstream. However, in people with diabetes, glucose levels can become too high because the insulin is not working effectively, leading to a range of health complications.

    It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms related to diabetes, such as high or low blood sugar levels, ketones in urine, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, or slow healing of wounds. 


    Most people blame carbohydrates for excess glucose in the body. However, this is only partially true. Excess fats and proteins are also broken down into glucose in the body for energy. Besides this, the most important food group that helps insulin work efficiently is actually fibre. 

    Fiber is a sub- component of carbohydrates. By limiting your carbohydrate intake to control diabetes, you inevitably also limit fiber intake. This is like painting the brown grass with green colour to make it look beautiful. When instead, you should be working on providing water and nutrients to the soil. 

    The Importance Of Spotting Symptoms Early.

    Spotting symptoms of any health condition early is essential, and this is especially true for diabetes. Early detection of diabetes signs can help individuals receive proper treatment, prevent complications, and improve their quality of life. Remember, pre- diabetes, to a very large extent, is reversible. 

    Some common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, and slow healing of wounds. However, it is essential to note that not everyone with diabetes will experience all of these symptoms, and some may have no symptoms at all. This is why regular check-ups and blood sugar monitoring are essential, especially for those at higher risk of developing diabetes.

    Early detection of diabetes can lead to earlier treatment, which can help prevent or delay the onset of complications. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to various health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision loss. By spotting symptoms early and receiving proper treatment, individuals with diabetes can better manage their blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of developing these complications.

    Additionally, early detection of diabetes can help individuals make necessary lifestyle changes. For example, maintaining a healthy plant-based diet, regular exercise, and managing stress can all help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications. By making these changes early on, individuals with diabetes can improve their overall health and well-being.

    How To Prevent Diabetes?     

    Eating a healthy diet and maintaining good habits is essential for overall health and well-being, especially for those with diabetes. 

    Even when compared to a standard diabetes management diet, a plant-based diet performed statistically better in managing diabetes and even reducing medication dosage. This has shown to be true in multiple research studies. It is also common for people to go off medications completely by following a healthy plant- based diet. 

    Sticking to whole- foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is important. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and can help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes.

    In addition to a healthy diet, several habits can promote good health and help manage diabetes. Regular exercise, stress management techniques like meditation and yoga, and getting enough sleep are all critical for overall health and blood sugar control.


    Plant-based diets are also environmentally sustainable and can help reduce the impact of food production on the planet.

    Incorporating healthy foods and habits into your lifestyle is essential for managing diabetes and improving overall health. A plant-based diet can be an excellent option for individuals looking to improve their health and reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes. By making these changes, individuals with diabetes can improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


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