Healthy Diet – An Antidote for Diabetes
Diabetes is a very common lifestyle disorder that is now approaching epidemic proportions. India now has a dubious reputation for being called the diabetes capital of the world and, alarmingly, the diabetic population could grow by 200% in the next 15 years, according to the WHO.
In this short article we will discuss:
a. What is it? What are the most common symptoms
b. What are the causes
c. what are some of the associated conditions.
i.e. How proper nutrition can address the root cause
e. Diet myths associated with diabetes and the real facts
f. Some special foods for diabetics
G. Summary of the main points
1. So what is diabetes? And what are the most common symptoms?
Diabetes refers to too high a level of sugar in the bloodstream. The name insulin was almost heard in the same breath as diabetes. So what is the relationship between the two?
An organ called the “pancreas” secretes the hormone “insulin,” which helps break down the glucose, or sugar, in our food and transports it to the cells where it is used as fuel for our energy needs and bodily processes.
In diabetics, the insulin secreted is insufficient or the cells do not respond normally to insulin (also called insulin resistance). So? The level of glucose in the blood shoots up because it cannot be transported normally to the cells, liver and muscles. So what can this do?
1. Permanent visual impairments can occur, especially at night. There is an increased risk of glaucoma and even blindness.
2. Your feet are prone to infections and sores. In extreme cases, it can even lead to an amputation.
3. Diabetes is dubbed the “silent killer” because it impairs the ability to control cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to heart attacks.
4. Nerves become damaged, causing pain and tingling or loss of feeling.
5. Kidney damage and even kidney failure are common when blood sugar levels remain high.
Frightened? Relax! It sounds scary but can be easily managed with some small diet and lifestyle changes. Worse still, there is no permanent cure. It can only be managed through diet changes, exercise, and insulin injections.
Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes are –
· Excessive thirst and urination
· Blurred vision
2. What are the symptoms of this disease?
There are 3 known types of diabetes.
First, there is type I diabetes. Although it can occur at any age, it is most commonly diagnosed in teenagers, children, and young adults. In this case, the body produces very little insulin and the entire life of these people depends on insulin injections. The exact causes are unknown, but some researchers have characterized it as hereditary or as a result of gestational diabetes in the mother.
The second and most common variant is type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs in adulthood but is now being diagnosed even in teenagers thanks to high obesity rates. Obesity, stress, lack of rest and a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise have been blamed as the main causes.
Third, there is gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy even though the woman has no signs of diabetes beforehand.
3. What are the associated conditions?
As we mentioned earlier, one of the most common and debilitating medical conditions is hypertension (high blood pressure) due to decreased ability to control cholesterol and blood pressure.
Also, diabetic foot as well as glaucoma have become a cause of concern, especially among the elderly.
4. How can the right diet help?
Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Hence weight loss and 30 minutes of moderate exercise definitely help in controlling the disease. In fact, losing as little as 5 kg can dramatically reduce the severity of the condition. Since a diabetic’s body already lacks insulin, obesity exacerbates the problem. Also, obese people accumulate fat around the pancreas cells, which are responsible for producing insulin in the body. According to some researchers, this fat damages pancreatic cells, thereby further reducing insulin production.
The diabetic diet is based on three principles:
a. Consume fewer and healthier calories
b. Eat an even amount of carbs (and replace simple carbs with complex carbs)
c. Reducing total fat while increasing healthy monosaturated fats.
These keep blood sugar levels in check and improve insulin sensitivity. Meal planning with a qualified nutritionist and doctor is essential to develop a diet that keeps your blood sugar levels close to normal. By testing your blood sugar levels regularly, you will learn how different foods affect blood sugar levels.
However, there is no one diabetic diet that is right for everyone, nor can a diet once planned be considered sacrosanct for life. Nutrition must be regularly monitored according to the body’s response.
· Follow the golden rule of frequent small meals and plenty of water.
· Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains such as oats, dalia, atta bread, whole grain flour should be consumed as they are a good source of fiber. The role of fiber in a diabetic’s diet is to stabilize sugar, control appetite, and lower cholesterol.
Oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil (also), to etc. should be used in cooking. These oils are high in omega-3 fats, which help increase good cholesterol.
· Sugar should be replaced with an artificial sweetener such as aspartame, saccharin, stevia, etc
· Lean meats such as fish and chicken can be ingested. Egg yolk should be excluded. Avoid red meat completely.
· Milk and products made from skim milk should be used as they reduce both calories and unwanted fat.
· Foods that should be avoided are mainly refined cereals such as suji, maida, rice and related products.
· Fruits such as banana, cheeku, lichi, mangoes, grapes and custard apples should be avoided completely.
· Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, yams and lotus stems should also be avoided.
· Pickles, murabbas, fruit juices (both packaged and fresh), packaged soups and thick soups containing cornstarch should be excluded from a diabetic diet.
· Diabetics have a higher risk of developing heart problems. Therefore, saturated fats such as ghee, butter, cream, etc. should be limited.
In Ayurveda, meethi seeds, jamun seeds, amla and karela are used to cure diabetes as they help lower sugar levels.
5. Some common myths related to diabetes are:
a. Sugar is poison for diabetics, especially children.
FACT: While excess sugar is indeed harmful, diabetics do not have to cut out sugar entirely, but are advised to control their intake.
For example, for children with diabetes, a total ban on cakes, candies, and sweets means depriving them of the simple joys of childhood. But to control the disorder, these should be consumed in moderation and while partying, the other foods (e.g. rice, pasta, noodles, etc.) should be controlled (consumed in reduced amounts) to balance glucose and calorie levels .
b. Say goodbye to tasty greasy or fried foods if you have diabetes.
FACT As mentioned earlier, total deprivation is not necessary. Occasional consumption is fine as long as it is balanced and occasional. Even otherwise healthy people who eat fried and fatty food every day soon develop one or the other disease.
c. Bitter gourd juice means you can feast at other times
Fact: Due to its hypoglycemic properties, karela juice is good (but not as tasty) for diabetics, but don’t overcompensate by indulging in a breakfast of puris or ghee-laden “parantha” afterwards.
6. Special foods for diabetics:
While fat-free ice cream, sugar-free pastries and candies have become all the rage, especially to meet the needs of the growing and affluent diabetic population, don’t let all the lofty claims fool you. Fat-free ice cream is still high in simple carbohydrates. Sugar-free mithai is still loaded with ghee and saturated fat. So please don’t eat them under the illusion that they might not be able to harm you.
Ayurveda recommends black currant, amla, karela, methi seed and also to control diabetes.
Diabetes develops slowly and will not kill you in a day. A little discipline and lifestyle changes will go a long way in helping you live a happy, healthy, and stress-free life.
We have covered in this presentation the different types of diabetes and their causes, the associated conditions and symptoms of diabetes, how a healthy diet goes a long way in controlling the condition, some dos and don’ts of diabetes and hopefully eliminated some as well myths associated with the condition while emphasizing that diabetes is not the deathblow to all that is delicious and good in life, and not everything sold to diabetics is actually good for them. Diet Solutions wishes you a happy and healthy life.
Thanks to Dr Parul Patni