By Arya Vinod, Candok Health Coach and Nutritionist.
Diabetes is a chronic illness that requires proper attention, medical care, awareness, self-management and education to prevent its complications.
When it comes to diabetes, almost everyone has an opinion or cure or suggestion. Is there anyone who has not received unsolicited advice on how to manage somebody else’ diabetes? Yet it remains one of the diseases that seeks the most attention, medical care and self awareness.
Firstly, a person is diagnosed with diabetes due to the inadequate functioning of a hormone called insulin.One of the many functions of insulin is to move sugar from our bloodstream into our cells. Due to inadequate production of insulin, this function does not happen and the glucose stays in our blood stream, and inevitably leads to the rise of glucose causing diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced in our body that moves sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. This is one of their functions in addition to several others. Inadequate protection of insulin happens because of failure of recognition of insulin glucose stays in the blood rather than entering the cells. After effects of this deficiency of insulin leads to the rise of glucose in the bloodstream.
There are mainly 4 types of diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Although not as common as Type 2 Diabetes, this type affects mostly children. It occurs due to improper function of the pancreas and it is almost impossible to reverse. But it can be controlled or reversed through proper medication, diet and exercise.
Type 1.5 Diabetes ( LADA)
Latent autoimmune diabetes (LADA) or type 1.5 diabetes is an autoimmune diabetes in adults. General population is not aware of type 1.5 diabetes as compared to type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus. As the name implies it shows clinical and metabolic characteristics of type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is more heterogeneous than young onset autoimmune diabetes and has high variable beta cell destruction and different degrees of insulin resistance.
The following symptoms are usually seen in patients with 1.5 diabetes mellitus.
Weakness and fatigue,
Dry itchy skin,
Tingling in hands or feet.
It is a frequently misdiagnosed form of diabetes mellitus. People who are overweight are prone to type 1.5 diabetes, especially class 2 or 4 obesity. Appropriate diet and exercise helps to treat this condition.
Type 2 diabetes
The majority of diabetes mellitus all around the world seems to be type 2 diabetes.
This type-chronic disease is due to lifestyle and genetics, it is caused due to the insensitivity, as a result of insulin resistance, insufficient insulin production and eventual pancreatic beta cell failure.
Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset diabetes, because 90% of cases are typically seen in people about the age of 45.
Gestational diabetes is caused due to the impaired glucose tolerance with fist recognition during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and can have adverse effects on the mother and the child. The number of Gestational diabetes cases have steadily increased over the years, so much so that it’s being said that almost one out of every five pregnant women is likely to have gestational diabetes.
Healthy eating, relaxed mind and maintaining good habits in daily lifestyle are basic requirements to recover from gestational diabetes. The good news is that almost 90 percent of gestational diabetes cases get back to normal after delivery. But still a possible risk factor in the future cannot be completely ruled out.
Complications of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus leads to diabetic retinopathy, diabetes neuropathy, diabetic mouth ulcer, skin damage, heart diseases, stroke, cancer, sexual and bladder problems.
Reverse diabetes mellitus type 2 diabetes
Blood sugar variations in our body depend on many factors. They include the food that we eat, our level of physical activity, exercise, genes, sleep patterns and the environment that we live in.
When an individual decides to reverse diabetes the first step is to prepare our mind and body for the significant changes in our lifestyle. Most of the people with diabetes are likely to prefer a low sugar diet or sugar-free diet. But this is not the proper approach in controlling diabetes mellitus. There has to be a combination of many factors which will help to maintain or reduce blood sugar.
One of the major risk factors for Diabetes is Genetics. An individual with a family history of diabetes will have a 50 percent chance of getting it at a young age. Smoking and alcoholism are other risk factors which cause diabetes, in addition to decreased immunity levels in the body.
Stress affects bodily functions such as the liver and the pancreas, and it has a higher effect on the endocrine system which in turn diminish the natural healing power of the body. Today the population experiences different levels of stress and some of them are experiencing severe stress levels and this also affects the function of both liver and pancreas. Emotional stress has a higher effect on the endocrine system. The after effect of this imbalance and over functioning of these arguments diminish the healing power of the body.
Obesity is closely linked to diabetes and it works both ways. Obesity can cause diabetes and uncontrolled diabetes can cause obesity. Obesity causes distress in the endoplasmic reticulum and it suppresses the signals of insulin receptors which then leads to insulin resistance causing diabetes.
How to reverse diabetes mellitus
Reversing diabetes requires not just getting blood sugar out of the body.
Reversing or recovery from the effect of diabetes means more than getting the blood sugar of the body.
First of all consider the type of medication taken, age, other diseases and the current status of the body. Changing habits is a greater challenge than any practical considerations including new healthy ideas into the lifestyle and also making a modification in habits that includes healthy diet, improving physical activity medication or stress management proper timing maintenance of ideal body weight etc.
Diet plays a major role in the recovery and reversal of diabetes and also the interrelation between diet and diabetes is universally accepted. All of the risk factors are insignificant compared with the food we intake.
A healthy food pattern also helps to reduce overweight and reduce blood sugar level. These dietary changes have to do with the quantity and quality of food.
Most people have a sedentary lifestyle and work indoors and do not have any physical activity. People are less agile and active nowadays compared to previous generations.
A healthy diet will contain the right amount of calories. RBA recommends a particular amount of calorie for each group and also some variations included in the gender difference.Taking excess calories can increase the risk of diabetes as the body stores excess calories in the form of fat and which increases the risk of diabetes and obesity.
Calorie management becomes an important aspect of diabetes reversal. Getting the right kind of energy sources will help maintain proper functioning of the body as well as maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels. This also has an effect on weight management.
Trans fat is a type of dietary fat that’s also called trans fatty acids. Trans and saturated fatty acids are liquid fats that can be turned into solid fats by the process of hydrogenation. By product of this process is called trans fat. These trans fat raise bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol in the bloodstream. Trans fat has more severe effects on heart health, it also affects other organs and their functioning. Food that contain high amount of trans fat or fat thought to be healthier since they are advised as being healthier. Nothing could be further from the truth. These high amounts of trans fat in Diet also leads to diabetes. Many of the food manufacturers produce trans fats artificially to increase their self-life and to enhance the flavour of processed food. Almost all processed food available in the restaurants and bakeries contains trans fat. Description of vegetable oil may misguide the customers and they can list trans fat content as ‘0’ even when the product contains up to 0 to 5 g of trans fat. This makes it very important to learn how to read food labels carefully. Analyzing food labels will help us find out hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated ingredients included in the pack.
Saturated fats forces high risk factor for heart disease. Increased consumption of saturated fat also increases the level of LDL- low density lipoprotein and reduces the level of HDL-high density for protein leading a plaque formation and clogging of arteries. Also people with diabetes are at a greater risk for heart disease and so reducing the consumption of saturated fat is necessary. Saturated fats are found in red meats, high fat dietary products, hot dogs, processed foods, chocolates etc. Excluding these from the plate helps the body becomes healthier. Almonds, avocado and nuts contain unsaturated fat so replace the plant with above food items.
Diet for diabetes healing
A nutrient rich low fat food in moderate amount and sticking to regular meal time is considered as a diabetic diet is one of the most important building blocks towards creating a healthier life.
Making small changes in daily routine will help improve the quality of life and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
As nutritionists, when we plan a diet for a person with type 2 diabetes, we exclude certain food items that are not required for our body and replace it with healthy options.
The healthy option diets include
Whole grain cereals
The controversy about carbohydrate and its characteristics is very misleading. Carbohydrates have an important role in a healthy diet. We find two forms of carbohydrates available in our market that are refined and complex carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are processed, most of the vitamins, minerals in the carbohydrates have been separated from it and the calories concentrated and this leads to quick absorption by the body. Best examples are wheat flour, refined sugar, refined oils etc. These refined carbohydrates are to be removed from the diet and we should include unprocessed or complex carbohydrates. They are whole grains, vegetables etc. This contains a high amount of nutrients and helps our body function.
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet and it is required in appropriate quantities for the proper functioning of various organs in our body. Different foods contain different amounts of proteins and in different sources. Animal sources are known for high amounts of protein like milk, egg, fish etc. Plant sources such as nuts, pulses and soy proteins.
Animal proteins are known as complex or complete proteins because they have all essential amino acids. Plant proteins are good for health and those opting for plant protein must take a variety of protein sources to meet the requirements. The requirement is one gram per kilogram for a healthy person and it may vary in the case of diabetes. Protein deficiency can also lead to health conditions. An appropriate dietary plan may be incorporated so that the individual receives a sufficient amount of protein in daily diet.
Proteins from red meats are not recommended in the diet; this also condenses bad cholesterol and excess amounts of red meat can cause severe health problems.
If you consume dairy products, a required amount of dairy products may be included into the diet. A small cup of curd in your diet may also add health benefits by improving the digestive system.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the richest source of vitamins and minerals and it contains the highest amount of dietary fiber and water. It helps our body to maintain its flow and also helps our digestive system function well. A diabetic person must take at least one fruit; like apple, orange, guava in the daily diet and also take more raw vegetables. Include raw vegetables salad twice daily. It keeps your digestive system stronger and also helps to detoxify the body.
Intake of green leafy vegetables in your daily diet helps your body fulfil the nutrient requirements you need. It contains essential vitamins and minerals. Include turmeric, ginger cinnamon, fenugreek etc in your diet.
Nuts and seeds are the main sources of oils. It also helps the body meet protein requirements and metabolism of many vitamins. A handful of nuts and seeds are recommended for a diabetic person.
Tea and beverages
Usage of tea or coffee in an empty stomach causes many issues, so for those of you wanting to recovery from diabetes need to make sure you reduce or avoid the beverages from your diet and also restrict the alcohol intake.
Key points that we must keep in our mind are;
Follow a rainbow diet which encourages you to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you consume a rainbow diet, you also reap the benefits of a healthy immune system. For a healthy diet make sure to use fresh vegetables and fruits and also include various colours as possible in your plate everyday.
Aiming to manage and reverse diabetes:
If you aim to reverse diabetes or recover from diabetes the individual should be prepared for an effective meal plan and it should be tailored to the individual’s medical conditions.
The best starting point is three meals and two snacks. Eating too much food at one time will shoot up the blood sugar and can cause an unwanted raise in blood sugar level. Proper timing of meals is an important factor for both recovery and even reversal of diabetes. Maintaining the quantity and quality of food on the plate needs to be given prime importance.
Regular monitoring of blood glucose level helps make required changes in the medication; this also helps the individual understand the dietary pattern and the physical activities are positively affecting blood sugar levels.
Regular time for monitoring blood sugar is to be followed. Monitor blood sugar in the morning on an empty stomach.
According to American Diabetes association following are the normal ranges of blood glucose level
Fasting blood sugar- FBS: 80 to 1.30 mg/DL
1 to 2 hours after the meal: Below 180 mg/DL
Maintaining a record of this will help a doctor or nutritionist to monitor your progress and recovery.
Weight loss and regular exercise is a very important factor in reversing diabetes. Almost 80% of people with diabetes are overweight. This affects the regulation of blood glucose levels. Excess fat in the body can interfere with the function of insulin and it also leads to the condition called insulin resistance.
It is scientifically proven that one of the best ways to reverse your diabetes is to lose extra weight from your body. It also lowers your blood sugar for weight loss. Maintaining a healthy diet along with regular exercise are good starting points. Drink plenty of water to reduce your blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes face dehydration which is because of high blood glucose. Kidneys remove extra glucose from the blood by the help of water. Also drinking water helps to reduce weight .You can take water with foods in your diet and a healthy adult could take 12 glasses of water daily.
Limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, cutting back on white sugars and saturated fats, avoiding trans fats also helps recovery from diabetes. Giving top priority to a healthy lifestyle, building healthy habits helps in maintaining recovery and even reversing type 2 diabetes.
It may not sound easy but it is possible for individuals who take it as a challenge to get back to a healthier life.Those who are usually found to stick to a routine build healthy habits. Diabetes can totally be controlled as well as reversed.
Candok Health Coach can provide guidance, prepare a customized diet plan, suggest basic physical activity and guide you through your journey to health and wellbeing. If you have any chronic conditions, based on the requirement, the coach will involve your treating physician to monitor and taper medications as required.
Understanding and applying Nutrition Series. Edited by Candok editorial board, Candok Lifestyle. Live Life, Naturally!