November 14 is World Diabetes Day, and while diabetes may not strike you as being particularly serious, it most certainly is. Left unmanaged, the effects of diabetes can range from fatigue and extreme weight loss or weight gain, to blindness, organ damage, loss of limbs and even death.
We’re raising awareness of diabetes and diabetes prevention at MyVitamins, by offering easy solutions and swaps, which you can make in your diet to help manage and crucially, prevent diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
There are two type of diabetes, and both are related to how your body produces and uses insulin, and the effects on your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels.
Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes is normally linked to genetics, and isn’t as closely related to diet as Type II, although the same guidelines for nutrition apply to both Type I and Type II diabetes.
In Type I diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, or there is a major fault in its insulin production. Insulin is responsible for processing glucose from carbohydrates and turning it into usable energy. When your body is unable to process glucose, that sugar builds up in your body, causing damage.
What sort of damage?
The first and most common sign of diabetes, is rapid weight gain or weight loss, followed by:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Sore and stiff muscles and joints
- Eyesight problems
- Skin problems (reddening)
When too much, unprocessed glucose builds up in your bloodstream, blood vessels start to become damaged. It affects the delicate vessels in the eyes first, and left untreated, can severely damage tissues and organs, which can be incredibly serious.
Type II diabetes
Type II diabetes is often acquired because of poor diet and lack of exercise. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to your pancreas becoming overloaded, it’s insulin production thrown way off. When that happens, you end up in the same situation as with Type I diabetes — your body cannot process the glucose you put into it, and it builds up.
It’s easier to reverse the effects of Type II diabetes by addressing your diet and exercise routine, and people who have been diabetic in the past, can become non-diabetic again.
Reduce your sugar intake, reduce your diabetes risk
Sugar in all its forms is the main culprit when it comes to diabetes. Processed sugar is the worst, since it burns up quickly, giving you a short burst of energy, without providing any real sustenance. Natural sugars, such as honey, coconut sugar and agave nectar are better because they release their energy more slowly. You should still limit natural sugars, however, since sugar is sugar and too much of it over time can lead to diabetes.
MyVitamins recommends: Processed sugar alternatives
- Agave nectar
- Date sugar
- Dried fruits (when mixing into yoghurt etc)
- Coconut sugar
- Stevia (a plant-based sweetener)
Replace carbohydrates with protein and fat
Carbohydrates, like those found in bread, bagels, rice and pasta, are still sugars, even if you’re eating quality bread and pasta. Too many carbs leads to too much sugar, which can lead to diabetes. Instead, swap out some of your carbohydrates for protein and healthy fats.
Instead of eating more rice, pasta or bread, eat more of these:
- Organic meats (grass-fed where possible — it’s higher in nutrients.)
- Leafy vegetables
- Fatty fish (salmon and mackerel)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados)
Want another way to help control your blood sugar levels? Chromium has been found to help normalise blood sugar levels by increasing the body’s utilisation of glucose, therefore decreasing the need for insulin. Studies have found that taking Chromium can help lower post-meal blood glucose levels by 23%, amazing! Get yours from myvitaminsUK