Diabetes and Nutrition
Most of us know someone that has been affected by diabetes. Yet how much do we really know about the disease? For example…how can we prevent it with simple nutritional and diet recommendations?
There are three types of diabetes,
- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease; the body destroys insulin producing cells. Common in children and adolescents it is triggered by factors such as viruses, diet or chemicals in people genetically susceptible. Those who have Type 1 diabetes need to carefully monitor sugar levels because there body cannot produce proper levels of insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes is triggered by lifestyle and diet. Once known to only affect older adults. However recently with rising obesity it has become prevalent with young adults and children as well. Those who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are prescribed medication to support production and secretion of insulin from the pancreas to balance blood sugar levels along with a strict low glycemic diet. Studies show that diet plays a key role in preventing and managing this disorder.
- Gestational Diabetes affects some women get during pregnancy. This occurs when the mother becomes carbohydrate intolerant due to hormonal changes and is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Usually 6 months after the baby is born the mother returns back to her normal self: though, now has an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes especially if she remains overweight after delivery.
Some individuals may experience symptoms of diabetes often referred to pre-diabetes: but, have not been diagnosed by their doctor as having diabetes. Normally, if an individual continues to experience symptoms and makes no change in lifestyle or diet it can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes.
We know diabetes has to do with sugar levels. We need sugar (Glucose) to produce energy. The glucose the body needs is regulated by insulin. When we consume a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars our bodies produce more insulin to digest the sugars then necessary, potentially leading to diabetes.
To diagnose diabetes, doctors will take a blood sample or urine sample to check your blood glucose (sugar) levels.
[box type="note"]Note – If diabetes runs in your family you should take precautions and be aware of all the symptoms. Diabetes treatment is determined on the type and severity of the diabetes.[/box]
The following are some signs and symptoms of those who may have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- Frequent urination- Excess sugar is usually excreted through urine.
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision- an early signs of diabetic condition. High blood sugar levels changes the shape and flexibility of the lens of the eye distorting the ability to focus and causes blurred vision.
- Slow-healing sores or frequent infections- When there is more sugar in your body; your body’s immune system is lowered therefore slow healing occurs from cuts, bruises, frequent infections and prolonged colds
Diabetes if left untreated or improperly managed can cause complications such as:
- heart disease,
- kidney problems,
- gum disease,
- nerve damage,
- and erectile dysfunction.
The sooner you become aware of your condition and address symptoms the better you will be able to prevent any further complications.
Diabetes can be prevented, or delayed by keeping your blood glucose levels within a healthy range. By making simple nutritional lifestyle changes many individuals have prevented diabetes and controlled the blood sugar levels naturally through diet and exercise and without the use of medications which can have many unsettling side effects.
Taking control of your health begins at your grocery store and ends in your kitchen. Following a low-glycemic-index diet by avoiding sweet snacks and processed foods, and emphasizing eating a diet that includes healthy carbohydrates from whole grains, beans, vegetables, and whole fruit will help keep blood sugar levels stable. Eating a diet that is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats can provide your body with the nutrients your body needs for proper insulin secretion and immune function.
Be sure to always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medication.