Health and Fitness

DIABETES AND NUTRITION – the principles of planning a diabetes diet.

Diabetes is the most common disorder nowadays. The number of cases reported is increasing all around the world and in India. About 5% population in India is said to be affected by diabetes. It calls for caution and immediate action to prevent the numbers from rising and reducing fatalities in people suffering from diabetes.

We need to understand diabetes and everything it involves to prevent, protect and preserve good health.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes, medically referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic disease in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either due to inadequate insulin production, or due to resistance of body cells to insulin action or both. The most common symptoms if diabetes  include increased  frequency of  urination, intense thirst and hunger, weight gain or unusual weight loss, fatigue, cuts and bruises that do not heal, numbness and tingling in hands and feet.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

  • Type 1- when your body does not make enough insulin
  • Type 2- the most common type, wherein either insulin production is decreased or not used by the body.
  • Gestational diabetes – affects women who are pregnant. In most cases the condition corrects itself after the gestation period ends.

Diabetes, especially type 2 is a lifestyle disorder and brings with it increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, kidney diseases and many more. Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles are main cause of type 2 diabetes. Research shows that losing weight and following a well-balanced diet plan for diabetes improves sugar control and insulin action.

THE DIABETES DIET

Nutrition is an integral part of diabetes management. Food we eat is closely connected to the blood sugar levels. Thus, watching what you eat is important. There is not specific diet for diabetes but a diet plan which balances the carbohydrates, fat, protein along, vitamins and minerals is crucial for a healthy life and a lifestyle.

The following principles will help you develop a perfect diet plan for diabetes.

  1. THE THREE MACRO NUTRIENTS

The three macronutrients, namely the carbohydrates, proteins and fat are not just fuel for the body but perform many significant functions in the body. Fats and proteins are responsible for body repair and maintenance, cell regeneration, immunity, hormones production and expression. In simple terms they regulate function of each body cell.  Carbohydrates are stored in the body as a source of continual energy. Carbohydrates can be converted to fat and under emergencies protein and fats can be converted to carbohydrates via complex cycles. Thus a diet plan for diabetes should contain all three macronutrient in right amount

  • 40% to 60% of calories from carbohydrates.
  • 20% calories from protein.
  • 30% or fewer calories from fat.

  1. THE GLYCEMIC INDEX

While planning a diet plan for diabetes, the glycemic index of the foods needs to be considered.  Glycemic index of a food is the rate at which it raises blood sugar level. Simple sugars like refined flour, sugar etc immediately cause a blood spike whereas complex carbohydrates like those found in vegetables, whole grain cereals provide a slow and steady rise. Talk to a dietitian for diabetes to know the glycemic index of foods you commonly eat.

  1. CARBOHYDRATE COUNTING

Carbohydrate counting involves keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat and drink each day. Since carbohydrate has greater influence on your blood sugar level, the amount and type of carbohydrate in your diet needs to be evaluated. The right amount of carbohydrate in your diet can be estimated depending on your sugar control, level of physical activity, medication. A dietitian for diabetes can help add a right amount of carbohydrates in your Indian diet plan for diabetes for cereals are a staple food of India.

  1. THE MICRONUTRIENT CHECK

The vitamins and mineral are also a crucial for smooth functioning of your body.  Any diet plan for diabetes should aim to provide a healthful mix of these micronutrients.  Iron, calcium, Vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, chromium, selenium and many more are important nutrients to be considered as they play a major role is managing sugar and insulin action. In case with deficiency, supplementation can also be looked at.

Diabetes can be fatal if not managed well. Over time it will start affecting your kidneys, heart, and eyesight. It also damages your nerves and tissues. So, early intervention is important and making changes to your diet and physical activity along with medication is important for long term protection and prevention of diabetes from progressing.