Before we address the type of diet which has shown to prevent type two diabetes, we will identify the types of diabetes that exist and distinguish them. Type one diabetes begins at a very young age, usually childhood or adolescence and causes a complete insulin deficiency. This means that during the onset of type one diabetes the cells in the pancreas completely lose their ability to secrete insulin (a hormone that acts like a sponge to help cells uptake available sugars from the blood). Without insulin, glucose floats around the bloodstream, unable to slip inside the cells that need it. In contrast, type two diabetes usually begins at a later age, most often during mid to late adulthood and it starts off by causing partial insulin deficiency. This means that the body ‘s pancreas either secretes less insulin or secretes insulin that is not capable of fulfilling its job (malfunctioning sponges). Type two diabetes is highly correlated with obesity and the type of diet that accompanies it. By altering our diet, we can save ourselves from the onset of a very under rated disease.
Many people think that diabetes is just about managing sugar levels, but this silent monster does a lot more damage than we think. Over time diabetes can cause retinopathy (damage to the eyes), neuropathy (damage to nerve endings, causing diminished sensations), and nephropathy (damage to the kidneys, which then become life threatening). Individuals with diabetes are at a much higher risk of infections and amputations at their peripheries (feet and hands). Below are a few tips on how diet can help prevent the onset of this disease:
Control Your Weight
In an observational study called the Nurses Health Study obesity was the most important modifiable risk factor for diabetes. This study showed that the prevalence of diabetes was much higher among individuals who were outside of the healthy BMI bracket. It also showed that women who lost 5kg over a 10 year period reduced their risk of diabetes by 50% or more. Refer to our blog post about dieting and weight management to learn more about how you can reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Choose the Right Type of Carbohydrates
Consumption of the right kind of carbohydrates showed a lowered risk of diabetes. These carbohydrates were high in insoluble fibre, high in whole grains, and low in their glycemic index. The intake of foods high in insoluble fibre and whole grains has shown to be slower in gastric emptying and so it increases the feeling of satiety. This means that after consumption of such foods, you would feel satisfied for longer which in turn would control over eating, obesity, and thus diabetes. Whole grain carbohydrates also tend to be lower in their glycemic index (an index indicating the sugar raising effect of a food). Foods with a low glycemic index tend to cause less spikes in a person’s blood sugar levels, and maintains a more steady level throughout the day. This helps maintain properly functioning insulin and thus prevents the onset of diabetes.
Choose Good Fats Instead of Bad Fats
A study by Lopez- Miranda et al. reveals that the type of fat one consumes has an effect on their risk of acquiring diabetes. Saturated fats tend to be a cause of higher risk, while polyunsaturated vegetable sourced fats tend to lower the risk of diabetes. This means that you should consume less fatty meats, gravy, and processed foods and more olive oils, nuts, and seeds instead.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that follows its victims around like a shadow, never leaving their side. It’s possible to manage type two diabetes with medications but it seems that by looking into our plates and being more aware of our consumption we can decrease our risk of acquiring diabetes and instead increase our quality of life.