One of the most common chronic illnesses that affects millions of people worldwide is diabetes and it is important for people who are affected to be able to manage diabetes properly. This medical condition is usually categorized into Type 1 or Type 2. With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin. As for Type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to properly process the insulin it is making.
There are many differing causes for diabetes, including specific viral infections, genetic predisposition, and personal diet. In particular, Type 2 diabetes tends to manifest in patients whose diet is poorly managed. Currently there is no known cure for diabetes, meaning this is an illness that requires constant careful management.
A diabetic’s diet has a great deal to say about how the condition will continue to affect them. Proper diet can help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes, but even in patients who have been diagnosed with either condition, a healthy diet can reduce the side effects and secondary illnesses that tend to crop up.
Here are five factors to consider when diabetic patient learn to manage diabetes
1. The Glucose Cycle
The primary element that requires management in diabetic patients is their glucose cycle. Glucose (a simple sugar) is brought into the body, then processed by way of insulin and removed. Diabetics’ bodies cannot accomplish this second task properly, which leads to glucose buildup and the development of secondary illnesses such as kidney damage. This is why many diabetic patients have to monitor their blood sugar.
A healthy diabetic diet must take sugar and glucose intake into account. High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) can cause kidney damage, retina damage, or even a diabetic coma and eventually death if left untreated long enough. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is equally dangerous, leading to potential brain damage or fainting spells.
Being able to properly control glucose intake requires understanding where it comes from. Not all carbohydrates have glucose in them: while sucrose sugars have a high glucose content, crystalline fructose does not. There are many resources on the Web that list comprehensive breakdowns of glucose content, and your dietician should have a primer or guide as well.
A very important part of this is record keeping. Similar to a dietary journal for weight loss, a simple glucose journal is no more than a list of the foods and portions you had throughout the day. Kept up for a month or more and compared to your blood sugar over time, this will allow you to track the contents of what you’re eating and measure their effects.
2. Mushrooms, Mushrooms!
As we’ve discussed, keeping your blood sugar level in check is an important part of diabetes management. Interestingly, there are certain mushrooms that are noted for their ability to lower blood sugar levels. The three most common are the reishi, maitake, and the agaricus blazei varieties. If you enjoy adding mushrooms to your recipes, consider including these with the usual shitaki or canned variety.
3. Water, Water Everywhere
Water is always a vital nutrient to the body, and is even more critical for diabetics. Water promotes healthy bodily function, flushes out toxins and accumulated wastes, and maintains body temperature properly. When your body has the proper amount of water intake, you feel better, operate more healthily, and your system can adapt to greater strains, which include those brought on by diabetes.
The general guideline is eight to twelve cups of water per day under average conditions. If you perform greater exercise, you will of course require more water. The trick is not to flood your system at any one time, such as just drinking during meals. Drink at a rate of a cup every two hours to keep your system operating at peak condition, with more during meals. A bonus effect is that water imparts a sense of fullness, reducing the urge to snack on glucose-heavy foods.
4. Another important factor to manage diabetes is Whole Grain, No Pain
Fiber is a very important element in controlling blood sugar. The soluble fiber found in whole grain foods is particularly beneficial, since it slows digestion and allows your system more time to even out the process of managing blood sugar. This means insulin management is much more effective, making management of your entire condition much easier.
Good sources of whole grains include breads, oat based foods, and other sources. An additional benefit from the slower digestion caused by whole grains is that you gain a sense of fullness and feel full longer. This reduces the urge to snack between meals, and lets you keep meal portions to more manageable sizes. So consider replacing the afternoon snack with a whole-grain sandwich.
5. The Doctor’s Orders
Before making any changes whatsoever to your diet, it is vitally important that you speak at length with your physician and dietician about your specific case. Diabetes is a highly individual illness, manifesting in different ways in every patient. Any changes to your diet should be checked for approval with your doctor, so you can be sure you’re going to get the best possible results. You don’t have to go it alone, so take your physician’s advice to heart.
Last but not least …
By improving and making healthy changes to your diet and by following your physician’s guidance carefully, one may help to prevent or eliminate many side effects associated with the disease or the medication. You can still live a normal, happy life if you manage diabetes diligently.