Diabetes is an endocrine disease, which is marked by high blood sugar levels, either due to the complete lack of insulin as witnessed in Type I diabetic patients or due to the development of insulin resistance as seen in Type 2 diabetic patients. Considering the myriad of long term complications associated with diabetes, it most definitely is worth taking certain precautionary measures to prevent this debilitating condition from creating havoc in our lives.
The importance of healthy food habits and regular physical activity in beating the symptoms of diabetes cannot be emphasized enough. Even though, a genetic predisposition to diabetes does not seem to have a cure, a genetic flaw most often gets manifested only when it is accompanied by any other confounding factor like stress, smoking, alcohol, excess weight, hormonal imbalances and consumption of foods loaded with excess sugar or fat.
However, this may not be true in the case of Type I diabetic patients, whose pancreas fail to produce insulin due to the attack of the body’s own immune system on the pancreatic cells and hence Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured. Nevertheless, breast feeding and avoiding the introduction of solid foods at an early age have been reported by scientists to delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes, which is the most predominant form of diabetes can be prevented by making subtle changes in your lifestyle, a few of which have been listed below.
Steps to Prevent Diabetes
Limit Your Intake of Foods That Are High In Carbohydrates
Although, glucose serves as one of the main sources of energy and acts as a fuel for the body, one needs to limit the intake of glucose to avoid over-burdening the pancreas with the task of producing more amount of insulin to enable the uptake of glucose by the cells. Foods like sugar filled beverages like fruit juices containing high-fructose corn syrup, sodas, sugary cereals, candies, cakes, crackers, potato chips, cookies, jams, pizzas, sauces, white rice, white bread, etc., must be consumed in moderation to avoid the build-up of excess sugar in the bloodstream.
For those who lead a sedentary life that hardly involves any physical activity, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended a daily intake of 130 grams of carbohydrates for both, adults and children. However, for athletes and people who are into sports, the intake of carbohydrates can be as high as 200 grams per day.
Utilize the Benefits of Exercising
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucially important for avoiding the sudden spikes in your sugar levels. This is especially true in preventing Type 2 diabetes, which is one of the most inevitable consequences of obesity. Regardless of your age, spending more time in sedentary activities likewatching TV, playing video games or constantly sitting in front of the computer can dramatically raise your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the spare tire surrounding your abdomen or belly fat can increase insulin resistance, thereby putting you at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Walking, jogging, running, steady aerobic exercises, cardio, etc., not only help you in burning the excess fat from the body, but also aid in keeping your sugar levels under control. In fact, physical activity mimics the role of insulin by promoting the entry of glucose into the cells, thus reducing the sugar levels in the bloodstream. Recent findings from a study conducted by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have reported that study participants who practiced a combination of steady exercises and weight training for 30 minutes had a 60 percent reduction in their diabetes risk.
Increase Your Intake of Low Glycemic Index (Gi) Foods
Glycemic index (GI) serves as a scale for rating foods on the basis of the rate at which they release glucose into the bloodstream, 2-3 hours after eating. While high GI foods like corn, dates, raisins, rice, white bread, yogurt, oats, pretzels, etc., raise blood sugar levels rapidly, low GI foods like whole wheat, fruits like peaches, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, etc., vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, potatoes, etc., gradually release glucose in the bloodstream.
Low GI foods take a longer time for digestion and absorption and therefore, do not require very high amounts of insulin to be released by the pancreas. Also, replacing animal protein with plant-based protein like beans, lentils, Brussels sprouts, tofu, hemp seeds, etc., can help you gain muscles, which obtain energy for contraction and relaxation by constantly metabolizing glucose, thus preventing the accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream.
Consume Foods that Have Anti-Diabetic Properties
Consumption of foods that have an outstanding ability of tackling diabetes by boosting the functionality of insulin, without eliciting any adverse effects, in conjunction with avoiding calorie-laden fast foods can serve as a natural alternative for alleviating the symptoms of diabetes.
These foods include cinnamon, fenugreek, bitter gourd, black plum, grapefruit, apple cider vinegar, Indian gooseberries, aloe vera, flax seeds, green tea, basil leaves, curry leaves, oats, etc.
Adapt Ways to Ward-Off Stress
Stress can affect blood sugar levels in a profound manner by tapping into the additional sources of glucose in the body like liver, muscles and fat reserves that release excess sugar into the bloodstream. Melt away stress from your life by spending some time exercising or walking each day, get close to nature, pursue your passion and adapt simple approaches like deep breathing, meditation, prayer, visualization, yoga, etc., for relaxing your mind. Stay active and busy in order to still the mental chatter and let go of constant worries that can cause you more harm than you can imagine.
Yet another reason for taking the aforementioned steps for preventing diabetes is to keep yourself away from the side effects like gastric upset, headaches, hypoglycemia, dizziness, allergic skin rashes, etc., that most anti-diabetic drugs are associated with. By preventing diabetes, you are not just eliminating one disease, but many other long term risks associated with diabetes like kidney failure, hepatic failure, leg amputations, loss of sight and cardiovascular diseases.
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Hence, it is always better to prevent diabetes from affecting your lifestyle by consuming every food in moderation rather than having to eliminate certain foods from your diet, after you have been afflicted with diabetes.