Diabetes which is also called the “sweet killer” can affect anyone, from any walk of life. And it does – in numbers that are gravelly increasing. Worldwide, it afflicts more than 380 million people. And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with diabetes will more than double.
Today, diabetes takes more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke.
Living with diabetes places an enormous emotional, physical and financial burden on the entire family. Just what is diabetes?To answer that, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body.
When you eat, your body turns food into sugars, or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin.Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter - and allow you to use the glucose for energy.
But with diabetes, this system does not work.
Several major things can go wrong – causing the onset of diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms.
Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, is describes as a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Major symptoms that a person can typically experience are polyuria meaning frequent urination, they will become increasingly thirsty (polydypsia) and hungry (polyphagia).
Fast facts on diabetes
Here are some key points about diabetes :
• Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.
• Type 1 Diabetes - the body does not produce insulin.
• Type 2 Diabetes - the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function.
• Gestational Diabetes - this type affects females during pregnancy.
• The most common diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst and hunger, weight gain, unusual weight loss, fatigue, cuts and bruises that do not heal, male sexual dysfunction, numbness and tingling in hands and feet.
• If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life.
• Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.
• As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is important that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly.
• As smoking might have a serious effect on cardiovascular health, diabetics should stop smoking.
Facts and myths about diabetes
1. Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.
Fact: If you manage your diabetes properly, you can prevent or delay diabetes complications. However, diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
2. Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.
3. Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.
4. Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.
Fact: Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size is key. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. In addition to these starchy foods, fruits, beans, milk, yogurt, and sweets are also sources of carbohydrate that you need to count in your meal plan.
5. Myth: People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.
Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more "off limits" to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.
6. Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you're failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.
7. Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.
Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be
included in your meal plan. Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.
A diabetes diet simply translates into eating a variety of nutritious foods in moderate amounts and sticking to regular mealtimes. Rather than a restrictive diet, a diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan that's naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, a diabetes diet is the best eating plan for most everyone.
Making healthy food choices and tracking your eating habits can help you manage your blood glucose level and keep it within a safe range.
• Healthy carbohydrates. During digestion, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) break down into blood glucose. Focus on the healthiest carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and low-fat dairy products.
• Fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Fiber can decrease the risk of heart disease and help control blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole-wheat flour ,wheat bran and barley flour.
• 'Good' fats. Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — such as almonds, walnuts, olives, and canola, olive and peanut oils — can help lower your cholesterol levels. Eat them sparingly, however, as all fats are high in calories.
Foods to avoid
Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries. Foods containing the following can work against your goal of a heart-healthy diet.
• Saturated fats. High-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as paneer , khoya, beef and egg yolk contain saturated fats.
• Trans fats. These types of fats are found in processed snacks, baked goods, shortening and stick margarines and should be avoided completely.
• Cholesterol. Sources of cholesterol include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, shellfish, liver, and other organ meats. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day.
• Sodium. Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Less than ½ teaspoon of salt per day.
Putting it all together: Creating a plan
There are a few different approaches to creating a diabetes diet that keeps your blood glucose level within a normal range. With a dietitian's help, you may find one or a combination of methods that works for you. A dietitian can also teach you how to measure food portions and become an educated reader of food labels, paying special attention to serving size and carbohydrate contents.
A sample menu
Your daily meal plan should take into account your size as well as your physical activity level. Following is a tentative diet plan:
• Breakfast. Mixed flour roti 01, one cup of green vegetables and 1 cup of low fat curd.
• Lunch. Mixed flour roti 02, one cup of green vegetables and 1 cup of low fat curd,1 cup of pulse/legumes/fish/chicken, 150 g of green salad.
• Dinner. Mixed flour roti 02, one cup of green vegetables and 1 cup of low fat curd,1 cup of pulse/legumes/fish/chicken, 150 g of green salad
• Snacks. 100 g of fruit. 1 cup soup,30g sprouts,1 small gram flour pancake, Green tea ( any one)
Dr. Gauri Bawa