In 2015 9,4 % of the American population had diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That is 30 million people with diabetes and the organisation also reported that 84,1 million Americans had prediabetes, meaning they have elevated blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. 1,5 million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year and diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in America. Type 2 diabetics make up the majority of people with diabetes. Furthermore, an estimated 415 million people worldwide had been diagnosed with diabetes.
The signs of having diabetes can be various and the consequences can plentiful. Diabetes is an illness that can be debilitating, lower your life quality, and even have fatal consequences as a result of the additional diseases and conditions you can develop if your diabetes is not managed properly – but did you know, that diabetes be managed through your diet?
The food you consume and the fluids you ingest impact your body in numerous ways. Sugar of one kind or another are present in most foods, in varying amounts. This sugar, be it sucrose, fructose, or galactose, needs to be separated from the food in order to be broken down and used by the body. This happens with the help of insulin. In short, insulin is a pancreatic hormone that transports sugar from food into the body’s cells to be used for fuel when needed. The body’s resistance to insulin is measured by its ability to remove glucose (sugar) from the blood and thereby maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when your body is unable to produce enough insulin to regulate the blood glucose levels, or if your body cannot use its produced insulin efficiently enough. This causes the sugar to stay in the blood stream instead of entering the cells, thus resulting in high blood glucose levels.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic, auto-immune disease where the body turns on itself, instructing the immune system to falsely deactivate the pancreas rendering it unable to produce insulin. This type of diabetes usually runs in the family and cannot be prevented or modified with diet or exercise, although a healthy diet is recommended to help prevent additional illnesses that often occur in the wake of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin injections or an insulin pump to help their body turn glucose into energy.
Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by lifestyle choices and circumstances. While you are definitely at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if there is a family history of diabetes, the risk greatly increases if you are overweight or obese, physically inactive, or aging. These risk factors mean that where there used to be a prevalence of older people getting type 2 diabetes due to aging, now there is a surge in diabetes in children and teenagers due to poor dietary choices and an inactive lifestyle.
Certain ethnic groups, such as Pacific Islanders, Indians, Native Americans, and Mexican Americans are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive illness and the treatment is dependent on the stage at which it is diagnosed. Symptoms include pronounced dizziness, an involuntary increase in weight, a constant feeling of hunger and thirst, frequent urination, headaches, and mood swings. While there is no cure for diabetes, preventative measures can be taken if you are diagnosed as prediabetic, and there are multiple steps you can take to manage it after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The last type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the condition if they have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, if they are over the age of thirty, or if they have experienced gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. The condition rarely requires insulin treatment and can usually be managed with diet. Most often gestational diabetes disappears again after birth.
Pregnant women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. Speak to your doctor about getting tested if you have concerns.
While a healthy, active lifestyle is also important in order to live a healthy life with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes, this article will for all intents and purposes focus on type 2 diabetes. During the course of this article you will learn what diabetes is and how you can tweak your diet to help you manage it and increase your chances of avoiding diabetes complications such as glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.
Nutrients for the Body
In order to understand diabetes, it is important to understand how different nutrients affect our bodies. All food consists of one or more macronutrients and a variety of micronutrients. Macronutrients are the major nutritional players such as carbohydrates, fatty acids, and protein, whereas micronutrients are vitamins and minerals.
The human body needs both macro- and micronutrients on a daily basis to thrive. The different nutrients serve different purposes within the body, but they each provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform optimally. Let’s break it down, starting with carbohydrates (the remaining nutrients will be covered later in the article), which is one of the key components in diabetes management. Understanding how carbohydrates is digested and absorbed and thereby affecting your body is paramount to understanding diabetes and learning how to manage it through your diet.