Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes in kids. Although, type 2 diabetes is less prevalent among children, studies suggest that in recent years the incidence of insulin resistant diabetes is rapidly rising among kids. In either form of diabetes, sugar cannot get into the body cells, resulting in elevated blood sugar level.
Childhood diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing a number of diabetes-related health complications. Although the factors that inhibit insulin production or insulin sensitivity in children are often unclear, certain steps may be taken to prevent diabetes in kids.
Tips to Prevent Diabetes In Kids
Exclusive breastfeeding for a longer time may protect a child from type 1 diabetes. The exact association between breastfeeding and lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes is unclear. Some researchers speculate that colostrum, the fluid produced by the mammary glands before milk production begins, contains proteins that may help to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Others suggest that breast milk contains fewer calories than formula milk. Children exclusively fed on breast milk develop slowly but steadily, whereas formula-fed children tend to gain weight rapidly, which may increase their risk of developing diabetes in childhood.
According to some researchers, delaying introduction of solid foods and cow’s milk may help to protect a child from diabetes. As exposure to food allergens are believed to be responsible for triggering type 1 diabetes, delay in weaning reduces the risk of developing food allergies.
Increased Physical Activities
The sedentary lifestyle of modern day kids are frequently blamed for the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes in children. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune disease. While the pancreas does not produce insulin in type 1 diabetes, the insulin secretion by the beta cells of the pancreas is not affected in type 2 diabetes patients. In this form of diabetes, reduced sensitivity to insulin impairs absorption of insulin in the body cells.
Increase in body fat is sometimes blamed for poor insulin sensitivity, which may lead to type 2 diabetes. Encouraging children to play outdoors can protect them from insulin resistant diabetes. Physical activities are essential for burning the excess fat in the body. In addition to maintaining a normal body weight, outdoor physical activities expose children to sunlight, which helps in triggering vitamin D synthesis. Recent studies suggest that vitamin D can reduce the risk of diabetes.
The effect of diet in diminishing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes cannot be overlooked. Increased intake of fried and fat rich foods increase the fat reserve in the body, making children vulnerable to diabetes. Too much consumption of dietary fats increases insulin insensitivity.
Moreover, a fat and sugar rich diet increases the level of triglycerides and harmful fatty acids in the blood, which may contribute to reduced sensitivity to insulin. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables rich in dietary fibers help to eliminate the harmful lipids from the body, thereby improving sensitivity of the body cells to insulin. By encouraging children to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grain products and limiting consumption of sodas and sugary foods, diabetes can be prevented.