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Health | Managing diabetes with a new lifestyle

Diabetes is a hard train to stop, but do not treat it as impossible. As many as half the people in the world are potentially genetically predisposed to develop type 2 diabetes, however, you don’t have to be a victim of your genes and your body will respond to what you give it. That old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is so true.


Many studies have shown that if you’re overweight or obese, losing weight, even as little as five per cent of your body weight can dramatically improve your insulin sensitivity and help to keep your blood sugar under control. In one recent British clinical trial, people with type 2 diabetes followed a very strict diet for two months.


They ate low-carb veggies and no-calorie beverages to keep daily calories under 700. The average weight loss was about 30 pounds. Nearly half of them had a remission of their disease, meaning, no more diabetes at that time. In this study, remission lasted even after participants had switched to a normal, healthy diet for the remaining six months of the study.


In fact, three of those who went into remission had had diabetes for more than eight years. Those who maintained their weight loss were most likely to also have maintained their remission. It’s a short-term study, but it shows what may be possible, even avoiding health complications by controlling your blood sugar levels through lifestyle, medication or both.


Everyone can help themselves do something about weight management and levels of daily physical activity. This will go a long way towards preventing or at least delaying the progression of the disease. Aerobic exercise helps your body use insulin better and the recommended amount is 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise per day.


In simple terms, you should be exercising hard enough to be able to talk but not sing. If you can do at least five days a week you are going to notice a difference in how you feel. This should not just be advice for people with diabetes, it should be for everyone.


A sedentary lifestyle is a dangerous path to choose when it comes to great health and energy. Don’t forget the strength training too as it is important for your bones and muscles. The less you exercise, the more your muscles weaken, and the harder it will be when you finally decide to start!


The bottom line is that even if you don’t reverse your diabetes, these healthy lifestyle changes can help you avoid the many complications of the disease. And if you are successful and can go off diabetes medications, then a big congratulations to you! You’ll want to keep up that good work for the rest of your long, healthier life so as not to slip back down that slippery slope.


One question I get asked all the time is can I eat fruit if I have diabetes? Some fruits do, indeed, have a high sugar content, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up this healthy habit. Fruits are low in fat and rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre—and in moderation (two or three servings daily), they can be safely consumed by people with diabetes. One general way to choose fruits is by using the glycemic index, which measures how a food increases blood sugar (the lower the number, the less likely a food is to spike blood sugar). Choose low-to-mid-GI fruits such as cherries (22), plums (24), grapefruit (25) and bananas (47). A high-GI fruit is anything over 60, such as watermelon (72) and raisins (64), and should be limited you have diabetes.


However, even with higher-GI fruit, eating it along with other foods also can prevent a spike in blood sugar. Combining fruit with low-GI foods, such as a slice of whole-grain bread or oats, may prevent the blood sugar spike that comes with eating a high-GI fruit. Be careful, too, with your serving size. One-half cup of most fruits counts as one serving.


Whats the difference between type 1 and type 2?


Type 1 diabetes, also called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), is a slow-progressing form of autoimmune diabetes. With this disorder, the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. As a result, the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin to control blood sugar levels.


Type 2 diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance—the body responds to insulin inefficiently and fails to keep blood sugar at a normal level. The vast majority of people with diabetes have type


A person who shows attributes of both type 1 and type 2 is said to have type 1.5 diabetes. What initially appeared to be type 2 diabetes, because the pancreas is still able to produce a small amount of insulin, is actually slowly evolving type 1 diabetes.


Type 1.5 diabetes typically shows up at an older age, over age 30, than when type 1 diabetes is diagnosed. Type 1.5 is diagnosed through a blood test for antibodies.


My first recommendation is to realise that any supplement (or drug) should be used in addition to dietary and lifestyle strategies to improve blood sugar control. Foremost is eating a diet that has a low glycemic content which means that it is low in carbohydrate sources that can raise blood sugar levels. Foods low in glycemic load include most fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains. No drug or dietary supplement is going to be effective in the long run unless it is part of a plan that includes a low-glycemic-load diet and a truck load of exercise. If you want to stay fit and healthy, your lifestyle choices are very important.

Posted in Lifestyle.