Diabetes Mellitus (DIABETES) affects over 20 million Canadians, with 20 new people being diagnosed every hour…these numbers are staggering and growing!
Diabetes is classified as a “chronic disorder of carbohydrate metabolism characterized by high blood sugar and too much glucose in the urine.” It is a chronic and often fatal disease in which the body cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood.
High blood sugar levels can damage organs, blood vessels & nerves. Complications such as kidney disease, heart disease/stroke, gangrene and loss of eye sight are just a few of the conditions people experience when managing Diabetes. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in Diabetics.
While this information sounds depressing, the good news is that Diabetes can actually be controlled by following a healthy diet:
- Don’t consume processed foods – there is no benefit to eating processed foods, they actually create addictions to sugar
- Make sure you start your day with a healthy breakfast consisting of a protein/carb/fat. An ideal breakfast is ½ cup of plain greek yogurt & fresh berries, with a side of oatmeal (not the instant packaged type) with almond or rice milk/hemp & chia seeds/berries topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Tip: Add cinnamon to anything, its a great way to balance your blood sugar! Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will help to sustain you longer vs. the coffee & donut or bagel which leaves you hungry long before lunch time.
- Eat frequent small meals throughout the day (this will help to avoid the highs/lows that we experience when we are low in “fuel”). For those of us who get grumpy when we are hungry we call this “HANGRY” (Hungry + Angry)! Eating every 3 hours is required to keep blood sugar from getting too low. This is also a good tip for anyone trying to lose weight as it helps to speed up metabolism. Ideally 3 meals and 2 snacks is what you should aim for daily.
- Increase dietary fibre (vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits); aim for up to 50 grams/daily (takes longer to digest and keeps blood sugar levels consistent longer)
- Avoid foods with a high glycemic rating (this is the rating of which foods spike blood glucose) such foods are: grapes, bananas, pastries, bagels, processed foods, white pasta, potatoes and the list goes on. Look up glycemic index (GI) foods to learn which foods are better for diabetics and choose ones in the low score out of 100.
- Take a Chromium supplement. Chromium is a trace mineral that is essential for keeping blood sugar levels stable. I personally experience low blood sugar and when I know I won’t be able to eat every 3 hours, I take a Chromium tablet at breakfast and its enough to keep me from experiencing the blood sugar dips. Having too many of those high/low episodes is a recipe for Diabetes.
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3 times/week. Exercise increases circulation which tends to be compromised in Diabetics, reduces blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity.
- Exercise Stress management techniques. People who are under high stress have increased cortisol levels which in turn raise blood glucose levels.