Sugar? “ooh No, thank you.” I’m diabetic. You will hear this more often than not. Diabetes has become a major medical condition and it’s among the top causes of premature deaths.
The most contributing factor is a change in our lifestyle and food choices, that often leads to type 2 diabetes.
1. What is Diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which your body produces no insulin at all, produces very little insulin, or does not respond to the insulin produced, in cases where your cells are resistant to insulin, hence affecting how your body processes glucose, from the food you eat. Or otherwise, a group of illnesses characterized by extremely high blood sugar levels also referred to as hyperglycemia.
When we eat, especially carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into glucose that enters our blood system starting from the mouth and then into our body cells with the help of the insulin hormone produced by the pancreas.
Basically, there’s increased uptake of glucose by body tissues and also lots of glucose storage happens at the same time.
When you do not eat, your body breaks down glycogen stored in your liver with the help of the hormone glucagon to provide energy for the body’s functions.
And sometimes the body is forced into burning fat and proteins for energy.
In a situation where your body does not produce enough insulin or resists the insulin produced by your pancreas, the glucose in your blood would not get into the cells for energy, it will stick around in your bloodstream leading to high blood sugar levels, rather diabetes.
When this state of hyperglycemia remains uncontrolled over a long period then we are likely going to introduce diabetes-related complications like stroke, heart attack, impotence, and kidney problems just to mention a few.
2. What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes
Is an auto-immune condition, that basically happens because the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas have been destroyed. Usually, the symptoms would come in when almost all of the beta cells have been destroyed.
This often leads to absolute insulin deficiency. It occurs in the age group of below 30-35 years, at a young age, in children, teens, or young adults.
When you get diagnosed, you will be on insulin therapy. On the other hand Type 2 diabetes mostly occurs at the age of 30 or 35 years.
Type 2 diabetes is mostly because by insulin resistance, whose primary cause is not very clear. The risk factors of type 2 diabetes are often obesity/overweight and lack of physical activity.
Most cases of type 2 diabetes are in people over 50 years.
3. What is the main cause of diabetes?
Often, you are at risk of getting diabetes if:
- You are overweight/obese.
- You eat unhealthy foods.
- There’s a history of diabetes in your family, a 1st degree relative.
- You are physically inactive.
- You have a history of gestational diabetes Or diabetes in pregnancy.
- You have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
- You are 40 years or above (for type 2 diabetes).
- You have PCOs or conditions like hypertension.
3. When to see a doctor.
Sometimes you may actually never know you have diabetes, as you may not show any symptoms at all, especially for pre-diabetes.
But the 3 most common symptoms should send you quickly to the doctor.
- Frequent urination( your kidneys are trying hard to remove the excess glucose), otherwise polyuria.
- Frequent hunger (due to calorie loss), otherwise polyphagia.
- Frequent thirst, because of dehydration, otherwise polydipsia.
4. Why is the insulin hormone important?
Insulin plays a major role in lowering the sugar levels in your bloodstream, it works by enabling the sugar to enter the cells of your body so that it gets used for energy for body functions.
It works to increase the uptake and storage of glucose.
When your body cannot produce enough insulin to work on the sugars, that means more sugar remains in your blood, elevating your blood sugar levels.
5. Why is nutrition important?
We are talking about blood SUGAR, and where we get sugar, from the foods that we eat. Food is, therefore, a crucial part of managing diabetes.
A proper diet is mandatory, to help you maintain blood sugar levels at a normal range.
6. Why is Medical Nutrition Therapy important?
- Very important to help you prevent the onset of diabetes.
- Helps you to manage your blood sugar levels and maintain them at a normal range.
- Helps delay and prevent the occurrence of diabetic complications which can be life-threatening and very expensive to treat.
7. What Foods does a Nutritionist recommend?
- Fruits and vegetables; are low in calories, and full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Slice your fruits into smaller portions, and eat 5 portions every day. Include a variety of these fruits and vegetables to get the most out of them.
- Carbohydrates (Like bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice) are the first culprits, they raise blood glucose levels quite fast. Prefer foods with a low GI-glycemic index mostly whole grains, whole wheat, pasta, and brown rice. Which will enter your blood system more slowly than the foods with a high glycemic index like processed foods like cakes, sweets, soda, and energy drinks. Learn ways for portion control.
- Healthy proteins (less red meat/processed foods) More plant-based proteins. Proteins may not raise your blood glucose levels fast, but animal proteins are to be moderated to also reduce the consumption of saturated fats.
- Dairy foods( More proteins and calcium) Check for added sugars, good for bones/teeth, good for muscles. (eat every day.)
- Oils /fats (Less saturated fat more unsaturated fat from nuts and seeds).
- Say NO to the high fat, high salt, and added sugars.
8. What are the most common complications?
- Cardiovascular diseases lead to heart attacks or strokes.
- Neuropathy and nerve damage may lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Nephropathy leads to kidney failure.
- Retinopathy may lead to blindness.
- Skin conditions.
- Hearing impairment.
- Foot damage.
There are Common Effects of Uncontrolled Diabetes, which are preventable when you adhere well to medications and follow a strict modified diabetes diet.