Winning the battle over diabetes once and for all
Diabetes is a condition that affects over 425 million people globally. In Nigeria, its rising prevalence is a public health concern, because over 2 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Bearing in mind that the number of people actually living with diabetes may be more, estimated at approximately 7 million. Unfortunately, it is one of the most under-diagnosed, yet often fatal conditions as most adults with diabetes do not know they have it until complications arise. These complications include heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, and blindness, amongst others.
Diabetes is a disease often associated with consistently elevated blood glucose, but in fact, diabetes is actually an insulin issue. Before the onset of diabetes, there is a stage called “insulin resistance.”
During digestion, your body breaks down food into its individual components: amino acids – protein, fatty acids -fat, glucose – carbohydrates.
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas to help move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells that need it in the body. The more glucose in your body, the more insulin you need. Carbohydrates that are digested quickly, for example, sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white flour) usually flood the blood with glucose, and therefore excess insulin is produced. Over time, these continuous insulin spikes would begin to have adverse effects, the cells become less responsive to insulin and this is known as insulin resistance.
With insulin resistance, blood glucose levels remain high and gradually, these elevated blood glucose levels would harm blood vessels and nerves. In addition, insulin resistance promotes fat storage in the body. The general understanding about diabetes, regardless of type, severity, or level of progression, is that it is irreversible. Cumulative research, however, has disproved this and offers solutions for both prevention and reversal of diabetes with different lifestyle choices.
Maintain a healthy weight by losing weight around the midsection.
Excess abdominal fat secretes inflammatory proteins and toxins that impair the healthy functioning of the liver, pancreas, heart and blood vessels. Therefore, excess fatty tissue or obesity would lead to insulin resistance which would eventually lead to diabetes. A study conducted in 2011 shows diabetes can be reversed with a drastic diet change and weight management. In fact, a plant-based, low-calorie diet showed beneficial changes in as little as one week and a complete turn around in eight weeks.
Choose the right foods.
Insulin is one of the major hormones that we have the power to control and it begins with our fork. One of the main things to pay attention to is the Glycemic index. Glycemic Index is a scale used to measure your body’s insulin response from a particular food. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested and metabolized and cause a slower rise in blood glucose and therefore insulin levels. Low GI foods include oatmeal, sweet potato, beans, non starchy vegetables and most fruits etc. Fiber rich foods such as fruits, nuts, legumes etc should also be included. Fiber moderates how the body digests food and helps to control blood sugar levels.
Regular Exercise, particularly high intensity interval training (HIIT), has shown to provide significantly lower insulin levels. Exercise burns calories, which aids in weight management and a decrease in the fat cells’ demand for insulin. Exercise also increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors, which lowers blood glucose and insulin demand. Exercise helps the body’s detoxification system and mobilization of toxins through your lymphatic system. It also allows for a more efficient utilization of hormones such as insulin. It helps to control hunger, decrease food cravings, and the regulation of the body’s energy storage.
Diabetics are often deficient in many nutrients the body needs to function properly. Supplementation with nutrients and herbs such as Alpha-lipoic acid, Magnesium, Chromium, Cinnamon, Green Tea, etc is advised as they all possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, responsible for turning sugar into energy within the cells, reducing oxidative stress and insulin resistance. They have been shown to help with prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes
Most visits to the doctor can be connected to chronic stress. Stress has three different ways it can impact an individual: physically, chemically, and emotionally (or a combination of all three).
Stress affects diabetes specifically by decreasing insulin receptor sensitivity, raising cortisol levels thereby causing sugary, salty, and fatty food cravings and ultimately raising blood sugar.
In addition to maintaining a proper diet and exercise regimen, other harmful habits such as excessive alcohol intake and smoking must be stopped. You must be compliant with your medications. Diabetes medications are good and would help manage the condition but it won’t reverse it. Diabetes is a condition that is fueled by lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet or lack of physical activity. Therefore, practicing a healthy active lifestyle and eating a strict diet would help our bodies heal and hopefully reverse Type 2 Diabetes.