Diabetes is a very serious health concern for many people who are diagnosed with this disease. Statistics indicate that diabetes is surging in the US due to many factors. By 2050 diabetes can affect as much as 30% of the population. At present, over 20 million Americans have diabetes and millions remain unaware that they too have the disease. Sadly, there is also a growing rise in children being diagnosed with diabetes, something that was almost unheard of a few decades ago. Having diabetes also appears to increase your risk of developing cancer as well. Medical costs to care for diabetes cost the US over 175 billion per year. That astronomical amount is indicative of the state of poor health we are facing as a nation. Estimates say that over 60% of adults are considered obese, a key factor in developing diabetes. This doesn’t take into account the tragic side effects associated with diabetes such as kidney failure, heart disease, and amputations from infections.
Diabetes Defined: Diabetes is caused when the body fails to secrete insulin properly from the pancreas. Insulin helps sugar to reach the body’s cells in order to create energy. When insulin levels aren’t working properly it effects sugar levels and diabetes can develop. There are two types of diabetes; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in childhood. It is more serious because it involves the immune system destroying pancreas cells that secrete insulin. This is about 10% of all diabetes. Type 2 is also known as “adult onset diabetes” because it predominantly affects adults. The pancreas cells improperly utilize insulin. This results in a cycle of producing more insulin to compensate. Eventually the body loses the ability to produce it, literally from “burn out”. There are numerous medications that are used to help control diabetes but as of yet there is no cure. However, there are various natural healthy ways you can help yourself feel better if you are diabetic. Healthy lifestyle choices can also potentially prevent you from developing it in the first place. Of course you should always be under the care of a trained medical professional if you are diabetic and follow your doctor’s instructions regarding prescriptions, diet and lifestyle.
Exercise: Exercise helps to improve the way your body utilizes insulin. By exercising you help your body burn fat and build muscle. Lower fat levels also help decrease blood pressure to normal ranges and reduce your risk of heart disease. You will also get the added benefits of more energy and strength. If your blood sugar levels are very high, always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise programs.
Glycemic Index of Foods: The glycemic index of foods is a chart that shows how much insulin in involved in digestion. It indicates how a carbohydrate type food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with a high glycemic index are unhealthy choices for diabetics. You should plan your meals around foods that have a low to medium glycemic index. Balance any high GI foods with low GI foods to balance out the meal. Low GI foods that are good choices include non starchy vegetables and whole grain breads. Protein foods such as meats and fats don’t have a GI Index because they do not contain carbohydrates. There is much reason to believe that diabetes is a modern day disease brought on in large part by diet and lifestyle in its type 2 form. When cultures switched from a plant based high fiber diet to the westernized high fat sugar filled type, diabetes became a commonplace illness. Our eating habits are very poor and we are literally inducing disease through poor nutrition. Research indicates we could reduce type 2 diabetes by 50% if we incorporate exercise and reduced sugar in our diets.
Resveratrol: The skin of red grapes contains a very powerful substance known as “resveratrol”. These polyphenols help control glucose levels in the body. What does this do? It prevents spiking in blood sugar levels which is what diabetics experience as part of the disease. Nutritionists recommend one glass of wine with dinner or supplementing with a high quality resveratrol capsules. Research indicates that type 2 diabetes is directly related to how much fat is in the bloodstream. The higher the fat the more likely diabetes can develop. It appears that resveratrol counteracts this fat and allows insulin to function properly.
Other Helpful Foods: Tumeric: This popular Indian spice is similar to curry in flavor. Tumeric has been widely studied and it appears to be beneficial to health in numerous ways. It may be helpful to diabetes as well as having liver cleansing properties. The main ingredient in turmeric, known as “curcumin” is what holds the key to the powerful benefits of turmeric. You can use this spice on your favorite meat and rice dishes to add a healthy zesty flavor. Omega 3 fatty acids: Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful. Best fish for omega-3 includes salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Dark chocolate may help reduce insulin resistance according to an Italian study conducted in 2006. However it must be dark chocolate, not the highly processed chocolates that we commonly eat. Eating foods such as blueberries and strawberries that contain antioxidant phytochemicals can also help reduce the risk of diabetes. Cherries contain one of the highest sources of anthocyanins. A 2004 animal study concluded that anthocyanin helped increase insulin production. Other fruits that contain anthocyanins include strawberries and red grapes. Other foods you may consider incorporating into your diet include beans which help stabilize insulin and blood glucose levels in the body. Of course eating a diet high in whole fresh vegetables and fruits, small amounts of lean protein and whole grains is an ideal choice for diabetics and for anyone wishing to prevent the development of this disease. Remember whenever beginning any dietary or lifestyle changes, always consult with a medical professional, particularly if you are taking prescription drugs or suffer from any disease or ailment.