Food & Drink

Diabetes: Let’s Not Sugarcoat It

Source: Nick Youngson - Alpha Stock Images - CC3

By Sara Abidi

“Let’s get this bread!” You decide, enthusiastically jumping out of bed. Your body buzzes at the thought of some hot, buttery toast just waiting to break it down into glucose. Later, the cells will use it to produce energy which in turn will power another day of bread-getting. However, a diabetic person lacks the insulin needed to move the glucose around; in turn, their blood sugar level increases, all the while halting the production of energy. This is the lifelong condition commonly known as diabetes. With World Diabetes day having taken place last week, 14th of November, this article aims to give insight into the surprisingly common conditions and helping you to reduce its impact by leading a healthy lifestyle

There are two types of diabetes primarily: Type 1 diabetes, where the body’s own immune system attacks and obliterates cells that produce insulin and Type 2 diabetes where the body either doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to the insulin available. According to the NHS, Type 2 diabetes is far more widespread than Type 1; about 90% of all adults in the UK have Type 2 diabetes.

With the vast majority of the population living with a chronic condition that affects the very metabolism of the body, a healthy diet is crucial. With the proper diet, it is in fact possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes. Our objective is to keep the blood sugar levels within the target range and avoid big swings.

Let’s first examine how different food groups affect us. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose faster than other foods and hence can potentially raise one’s blood sugar. Whereas proteins and fats do not directly impact blood sugar; however, they should be consumed in moderation to curtail calories consumed due to research decidedly linking being overweight to the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes.

Let’s begin with the simplest dietary modification: eat less salt. Salt increases the risk of heart disease and strokes by amping up your blood pressure which is a double whammy for a diabetic. No more than a teaspoon a day and check the labels while buying pre-packaged foods. This next one seems like a no-brainer but incorporate more fruit and vegetables in your diet and cut down on the red and processed meats. Fruit and veg provide vitamins, minerals and fibre, plus the natural sugars in whole fruit are good for everyone. They are also handy as a quick snack. Swap the red meat out for pulses, oily fish (for that trusty ol’ omega-3; sear some salmon and make Ramsay proud), poultry and unsalted nuts. They keep you feeling full and don’t affect your blood glucose levels too much unlike red and processed meats, which have all been linked to heart problems and cancer. You don’t need that kinda toxicity in your life, believe me.

Now for the meat of the matter, or rather, the bread of the matter. All carbs affect blood glucose levels so it’s imperative to consume conscientiously. Check your portion sizes and choose healthier carbs like whole grains, unsweetened dairy and pulses. Next breakfast, skip that nefarious white bread and cereal duo: instead, grab a bowl of some brown rice, perhaps with some oven-roasted chicken and a sunny side-up egg, still golden and runny on the inside. Keep it up and soon your blood will be so healthy that if you so wished, you could start a rather lucrative business as a vampire hunter for they’d flock from miles just to — okay I’ll stop now.

That’s about all folks; a rudimentary sketch of a condition affecting millions across the globe each year and the diet accompanying it. With or without diabetes, it’s never a bad idea to embrace a healthier lifestyle not to mention it’s easier on the wallet too, as an added perk. Remember to ask yourself “I’m lovin’ it, but is it finger prickin’ good?”