What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects a large number of the world's population at present. Currently, more than 450 million people are living with diabetes worldwide. These numbers are rapidly increasing every day. Along with it, there is a rising trend in deaths due to diabetes-related complications. These are mainly cardiovascular, such as:
How Is Diabetes Mellitus Classified?
Diabetes is broadly divided into two types.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
1) Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus-
It is caused by the total absence of insulin in the body. These patients will require insulin for a lifetime. There have not been any studies that have shown any significant result of reversing diabetes with exercise and diet management.
2) Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus-
It is caused by a relative deficiency of insulin. Here insulin may be produced in sufficient amounts, but the body cells do not respond to it. As diabetes progresses further, there is a decrease in insulin production too. In both these situations, high levels of sugar are left circulating in the blood.
Unused blood sugar damages the tissues, causing:
Neuropathy - weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet.
Retinopathy - damage to the retina of the eyes.
Poor blood circulation.
Atherosclerosis, and many others.
High blood sugar can be categorized into:
Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar is higher than normal, which is a fasting level of 100-125 mg/dL.
Diabetes is high enough to be diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL.
How Is Diabetes Mellitus Managed?
It is advised to get proper guidance and counseling about proper diet and nutrition because people have different needs and their bodies respond differently to several things. However, it is recommended that each patient gets a customized plan. One can also start going by the simple rule of including more non-starchy whole foods, green vegetables, and omitting calorie-dense, high sugar, high-fat foods from the diet. Change in lifestyle, balanced diet with physical activity, diabetic-friendly foods, add fruits and dietary fibers, drink adequate water, a balanced diet with the right nutrients can go a long way in managing the condition well. To date, there have been many studies done that have shown that type II diabetes is reversible at early stages if there is:
Failing to do so will lead to quick progression that will lead to several complications, and eventually, patients will need Insulin. However, long-standing diabetes cannot be reversed. But if stable blood sugar is maintained consistently with a good diet program, it can prevent diabetes-related complications. Therefore, a good diet program can:
Reverse diabetes at very early stages.
If not reversed, it can help prevent several life-threatening conditions.
What Are the Common Myths and Realities of Diabetes Mellitus?
Despite the increasing awareness and availability of information, many people still have some misconceptions about it.
1) Sugar Consumption:
People still believe that getting diabetes is directly related to consuming more sugar. But it is not so. Although consuming too much sugar puts you at risk of being overweight or obese, which can then make your body cells gradually unresponsive to insulin. Unresponsive cells are not able to utilize all of the circulating blood sugar.
2) Diabetes Forever:
Diabetes is a disorder that progresses over time. If a person is proactive, it can be controlled well at the early stages. But that is possible only with the right diet and exercise.
3) Lifestyle Disorder:
One should also be aware that rather than consuming sugary foods, the following contributes more to diabetes at some point in life.
A sedentary lifestyle.
What to Do Once You Have Been Told That You Have Diabetes Mellitus?
It can be quite overwhelming for anyone to know that he or she has to now spend the rest of life with pills and needles. People who are overweight may see a drop in their high blood sugar levels even when they bring about small changes in their daily routine, such as limiting processed and sugary foods along with at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, which can be in the form of brisk walking, jogging or cycling. Therefore, proper diabetic dietary therapy is the key to achieve target blood sugar level as well as weight loss. This helps in improving the insulin sensitivity of the tissues. The following things have to be performed once you have been told that you have diabetes mellitus.
1) Lifestyle Change:
This is your chance to reverse it and show the way out for good. Since diabetes is called a lifestyle disease, one has to get started by identifying and addressing harmful lifestyle habits.
2) Avoid or Eliminate Processed Food:
Keep your kitchen free of all processed food items which are full of empty calories, zero nutrition.
3) Self-Awareness or Dietician:
If possible, set up an appointment with a dietician who can work with you to make a customized diet plan because this is one thing that will boost your chances of showing your high blood sugars a U-turn successfully. Alternatively, one can work itself to find the right amount and nutrition values. It is highly recommended to be vigilant for any signs and get help from your physician or dietician. A nutrition plan will determine your health and overall quality of life in the coming years.
Balanced Serving - A balanced diet is not only about having all the nutrients in the right amounts but also having a balanced serving and learning to control portions. This may not only reverse your rising blood sugar levels but also prevent you from developing several diabetes-related complications in the future. These are:
4) Positive Changes to Bring About in Your Life With Addition of Whole Grain:
A. Whole Grains and High-Fiber Foods - They will not only keep your blood sugars steady, but also the fiber in these will help in reducing cholesterol. They are:
Whole grain pasta.
B. Must-Have Fruits - Low glycemic index fruits are best to control diabetes. They are:
C. Citrus Fruits - Research has shown that vitamin C intake can help lower blood sugar levels due to its anti-diabetic effect. Therefore, try eating one citrus fruit a day.
D. Limited Fruits - Include seasonal fruit occasionally in your diet. You can have mango, pineapple occasionally in very small quantities if your sugar is borderline. One should completely avoid these in case blood sugars are mostly high. Include good protein with:
E. Heart-Healthy Fats - Include a variety of heart-healthy fats in your diet, such as:
5) Do Not Cheat Yourself:
Stay away from fat-free items. Do not get tempted by the words "fat-free," as most of them have fat replaced with sugar and other additives, which are unhealthy. Read the labels before buying food and look for high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, or any other kind of sugar syrup. Say no to soda or soft drinks, or packaged juices. Even 100% fruit juices are not good enough.
A healthy diet is not about having high protein or low sugar but having all the nutrients in the right proportions. Therefore, include a variety of foods in everyday meals. Keeping a food diary helps this is because if you go through your written record, you will become more aware of the wrong foods that you are consuming and be more proactive about the changes that need to be made. Keep a list of unhealthy food items to avoid where you can see it all the time. This will keep you mindful of your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions