Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results from the inability of the body to produce insulin or the body resists insulin, thereby leading to increase in blood glucose. Diabetes mellitus can be type 1 or type 2. Type 1 diabetes mellitus or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus results from the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. It is also called juvenile onset diabetes because it occurs during childhood or below 30 years of age. Diabetes type 1 is usually caused by genetics or heredity, autoimmune diseases or viral infection such as the Coxsackie virus that destroys the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes or Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes mellitus leads to insulin resistance, where the body does not respond to insulin.
This type is also called adult onset diabetes because it occurs later than 30 years old, but cases of type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents have also been reported because of the increased incidence of obesity. Causes of type 2 diabetes include obesity, heredity and increasing age that leads to slowing of the function of the pancreas.
How do you avoid diabetes?
Insulin is important in the regulation of blood sugar level and it is produced by the beta cells of the Islets of Langerhans. Not only diabetes affects the utilization of blood glucose, but also the metabolism of fats and proteins. Diabetes leads to symptoms such as polyuria (increase in the amount and frequency of urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).
Although Diabetes mellitus is highly genetic in predisposition, modifiable risk factors can be controlled to prevent the occurrence of diabetes, specifically diabetes type 2.
Here are some of the measures that can be done to prevent diabetes mellitus:
TIP # 1. Proper Diet
Choose foods with low glycemic index. Glycemic index is the rate of conversion of the food to glucose, the simplest unit of sugar. When foods with high glycemic index are taken, it is anticipated that there is sudden increase in blood sugar levels because of high rate of conversion to glucose. Foods that have low glycemic index include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Calorie intake should also be balanced from the three food groups, carbohydrates comprising 60%, fats 30% and proteins 20% of the caloric needs of a person in a day.
In addition, here are some of the diet suggestions to prevent diabetes:
- Eat small frequent meals rather than big meals. Eating big meals increases workload for the pancreas to secrete insulin, which may in the long run, will fail. Eating 5 to 6 small meals a day is beneficial for the pancreas.
- Balance the source of energy from fats, carbohydrates and protein. Too large carbohydrate composition leads to glucose loading.
- Avoid processed carbohydrates because these contain high amounts of preservatives and have a high glycemic index.
- Avoid fat-free foods. These foods often make the insulin levels become intermittently low or high.
- Avoid trans fat and saturated fats. Substitute lard or animal oils with safer vegetable oils such as canola oil or olive oil.
- Avoid non-whole wheat grains and flours because this has a high glycemic index. Whole grains that are present in bread and pastas lower the risk for diabetes by having a low glycemic index.
Tip # 2. Exercise
Adequate exercise utilizes glucose form the body which helps the pancreas rest from producing insulin. In addition, exercise also decreases fats in the body that may contribute to obesity. Exercise may be in the form of walking, jogging, aerobics or any sports for that matter. Spend 15 to 30 minutes a day exercising with increasing frequency, intensity and duration as days pass by. Just don’t forget to consume some carbohydrates before exercising to prevent hypoglycemia. Physical activity may also increase the sensitivity to insulin. An aerobic exercise with resistance training is the greatest exercise regimen for the prevention of diabetes.
Muscles should be built instead of fats because people who have lean muscle mass have lesser risk for diabetes. Leave the couch or any sedentary lifestyle and begin an exercise program.
Tip # 3. Increase fiber intake
Fiber in the form of whole wheat, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables reduces diabetes by improving blood sugar control. Fiber also reduces the risk for heart diseases and hypercholesterolemia.
Tip # 4. Lose weight
Type 2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes usually results because of obesity. Obesity has been found to decrease insulin sensitivity because of blockage of the insulin receptor sites by adipose tissues. Diabetes risk is reduced by about 16% with every one kilogram of weight loss.
Tip # 4. Avoid smoking
Smoking is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Quitting smoking not only prevents diabetes, but certain cancers and heart diseases as well.
Tip # 5. Avoid alcohol drinking
Alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of simple carbohydrates, which lead to unstable blood sugar level. In addition, alcoholism also leads to hypertension and presence of beer belly. It is theorized that people who have big waists are more predisposed to diabetes.
Tip # 6. Avoid infections
Presence of viral infections such as Coxsackie virus, mumps and rubella may damage the pancreas leading to inability to release insulin. Avoid infections by avoiding overcrowded places. Keeping the body clean and disease free not only prevents diabetes, but other complications as well
Tip # 7. Increase intake of vitamins and minerals
Aside from the vitamins and minerals from food sources, consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements such as zinc and Vitamin C. These reduce chances of acquiring infections.
Diabetes type 2 is highly preventable when genetic predisposition is not present. In the presence of genetic predisposition, complying with the above measures may prevent the onset of diabetes. It is never too late to do these interventions even when you’re old because prevention is still better than cure.