Diabetes type 2/Diabetes is a major health problem today which keeps affecting huge segments of the population all over the world. Faulty dietary practices and sedentary lifestyles are the main causes. The good thing is these can be changed and help change the Diabetes story!!
Diabetes Mellitus or “Madhumeham” has been known for centuries as a disease related to sweetness. It is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin or is not able to use insulin effectively by the cells.
What is insulin? Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the pancreas to control the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. In diabetes, the glucose in the blood (often called blood sugar) becomes very high. If the blood sugar rises above the level of 180mg/100ml in the blood, then the sugar is excreted in the urine also.
We require energy for carrying out our daily activities, literally for doing everything in a day! The stomach and intestines digest the carbohydrate consumed in the diet that comes from all sorts of simple and as well as complex carbohydrates that turn into a sugar called glucose.
After digestion, glucose levels in the blood increase, to which the pancreas responds by secreting insulin produced by the beta cells and stimulating the cells to take in the sugar floating in the blood and use that for energy and this action helps prevent the rise in blood glucose levels maintaining the level within certain normal limits.
However, what we see when one has diabetes is that the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to do its job or what is produced is not efficiently used by the body to effectively control the blood glucose levels.
Diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose levels are higher than the normal range, that is fasting blood glucose > 126mg/dl and postprandial blood glucose which is 2 hours post-meal > 200 mg/dl
Diabetes Type 2 and Type 1 Explained
And this could be due to Insulin deficiency, which is low or no insulin production either due to an autoimmune condition as seen in Type-1 Diabetes or in a genetic defect, for example, in the beta cells of the pancreas, OR Insulin resistance, as seen in Diabetes type 2.
In diabetes type 2, we commonly see two complications that are related to blood sugar and the body’s release of insulin. One is that the pancreas does not release enough insulin to deliver all the glucose to the cells then the blood sugar levels are going to rise. Two, this problem is compounded when the tissues themselves are insulin resistant and don’t respond properly to insulin.
Diabetes type 2 is a more modern-day problem that is predominantly lifestyle-based. Its presence is a direct result of the higher amounts of carbohydrates and sugars in our diet. Thanks to the food industry!! Our traditional diet didn’t include many sugars at all except in the form of fibrous starches.
Diabetes can be controlled with changes in lifestyle (nutrition and exercise) and medicinal therapy or nutritional expert if required. It is imperative for people with diabetes to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, as high blood sugar levels can damage body organs and tissue,
It results in complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, heart attacks, strokes, peripheral vascular disease (causing leg pain and ulcers in the feet), cataracts, and loss of vision, among others.
Symptoms for Diabetes Type 2 Include:
- Polyurea – Excessive urinary output especially at night. In very small children bedwetting may be commonly seen
- Polydipsia – Excessive thirst due to loss of water from the body
- Polyphagia – Increased appetite, sugar cravings due to loss of sugar in the urine
- Loss of weight – Losing weight without trying (people with diabetes are unable to absorb and use the energy from sugar in the blood)
- Lack of energy – Untreated diabetes can cause tiredness, drowsiness, and even coma in later stages
- The blurring of vision – Excess sugar deposits in the eye lens cause refraction changes resulting in the blurring of vision
- Delay in wound healing and minor infections – Lack of nutrients to the wound delays healing. Minor recurrent infections occur such as boils, feet, skin, and urinary infections
- Paraesthesia – Tingling sensation felt in the hands and feet
- Pruritis vulvae – Irritation in the genitalia caused by local deposition of sugar from urine, can also cause disturbed sleep
Let’s look into some dietary changes that can help reverse diabetes type 2.
- Carbohydrates, crowd out all high glycemic foods meaning the foods that increase blood sugar levels such as rice, maida, rawa, corn, table sugar, brown sugar, honey, and excess consumption of jaggery.
To balance blood sugars the focus is on low-moderate GI high fiber complex carbohydrates such as oats, jowar, bajra, ragi, quinoa, brown rice, legumes along with fruits such as papaya, apple, pear, orange, guava, and high fiber veggies and crowd out or minimize starchy veggies such as potato, sweet potato, and yam.
- Proteins are my magical foods responsible for so much good health, should be provided in adequate amounts to maintain normal body composition and prevent depletion of lean tissue mass. We want to increase lean muscle mass, increase BMR and reduce age-related deterioration.
- Combining protein with carbohydrates also reduces the glycemic index, which means slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates to prevent high blood sugar levels. Protein sources such as eggs, lean meat like chicken, fish, deals, and legumes must be added to the daily diet.
I would emphasize eating protein within one hour of waking to help stabilize blood sugar levels
- Fats: Avoid all trans fat, hence avoid your packaged foods that include bread, biscuits, margarine, and processed meats. Use cooking oils such as olive oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil, and ghee in limited quantities. Add omega 3 fats in the form of fatty fish, walnuts, chia, and flax
- Fiber: Dietary fiber helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Fiber can be had in the form of whole grains, pulses, fruits, green leafy vegetables.
There are 2 types of fiber, Insoluble fiber has been shown to decrease the risk of diabetes type 2, it’s been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, and it’s shown to decrease gut transit time as well.
Soluble fiber decreases post-meal glucose response and decreases total and LDL cholesterol.
- Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, some sort of acid are great. When we consume that with a meal, it actually will decrease how quickly that food is converted into blood sugar.
- Insulin sensitizers such as chromium, ALA (alpha-lipoic acid), magnesium, and omega 3 supplements are beneficial
- Flaxseed is a superfood food. It’s also got a lot of great omega fatty acids, the essential fatty acids. It’s got a high amount of soluble, it’s got a high amount of insoluble fiber, and you can just grind it and consume it in water or sprinkle it on your food or on your salad and can even have it in smoothies
- Onions and garlic are beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease, decreasing blood pressure, and having blood glucose-lowering effects. If you chop garlic and onions and let them sit for about 10 minutes, it greatly increases the active constituents in those foods.
- One teaspoon of cinnamon a day greatly increases insulin sensitivity in the cell.
5 Lifestyle Tips to Treat Diabetes Type 2:
- Keep meals small and frequent
- The meal gap should not exceed 2-2.5 hours
- Eat your meal within one hour of waking
- Eat a combination of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber
- If consuming a carb portion, consume a serving of fiber or protein 15 mins prior
Takeaway: The happier news is although diabetes can appear without warning, most people go through a stage of prediabetes or “impaired glucose tolerance” prior to developing diabetes.
If you have prediabetes, the good news is that you can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes through diet and lifestyle interventions. Similarly, when you treat Diabetes type 2 as a lifestyle condition, we have the power to change this as well!