Around 460 million people in the world have diabetes.
Although diet is a fundamental factor that must be taken into account to control blood sugar spikes or falls, there are other factors that can alter glucose levels, and they often go unnoticed. Find out here which ones and what you can do to prevent diabetes.
What is the diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the use of glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood, whose function is to act as a source of energy or fuel for the body.
To distribute glucose between cells, and thus provide them with energy, our body uses a hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas. When this is not enough or does not work properly, it leads to the different types of diabetes.
Diabetes type 1
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which occurs because the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Its exact cause is still unknown, although it is believed that genes, environmental factors and the intervention of a virus could trigger this response.
Food and lifestyle are not responsible for its appearance, which, although it is usually during childhood and adolescence, can occur at any time in life. This diabetes also has no cure, but insulin treatments can be taken to control it.
Doctors can prescribe the most appropriate combination for each case: fast-acting, long-acting, or intermediate options. As the hormone cannot be administered orally, because certain digestive compounds affect its function, it is applied with syringes or pumps (devices connected to the abdomen).
Type 2 diabetes
More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In this type, the body is not able to use insulin correctly.
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Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels through frequent exercise and healthy eating, although there are also cases that require medications or treatments similar to those of type 1 diabetes.
In prediabetes, blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. However, different investigations have estimated that, without any type of intervention, this condition can turn into type 2 diabetes after approximately 10 years .
The progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable, and blood sugar levels can be normalized by incorporating lifestyle changes.
Gestational diabetes appears in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. When this happens, the baby is at higher risk for health complications.
Although gestational diabetes usually clears up after delivery, it can increase the mother’s or child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Why do blood sugar levels rise?
In addition to diet, there are other factors that can affect insulin metabolism. This causes the cells to not be able to properly assimilate glucose and it begins to accumulate. Among the main responsible for this situation we find:
- Lack of sleep.
- Time of day (it is generally more difficult to control blood sugar in the evening / night).
- Menstrual period.
- Skip breakfast.
- Be sedentary.
- Get sunburned.
- Have gum disease
- Use nasal sprays.
Blood sugar levels range from 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL) fasting, and just under 140 mg / dL after eating. If these numbers are constantly exceeded, in the long run they can cause different symptoms:
- Extreme tiredness or very sleepy.
- Stomach ache.
- Bad breath.
- Spots on the skin.
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Blurry vision.
As with high blood sugar levels, other factors can trigger dangerously low levels. For example, high temperatures cause blood vessels to dilate, so insulin is absorbed faster. This can cause a significant drop in blood sugar.
Experts explain that it is important to learn to recognize the symptoms of very high blood sugar levels and what their triggers are to prevent any problems.
How to prevent diabetes?
There is evidence that some simple lifestyle measures are effective in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes:
keep a healthy weight
Being overweight, especially when distributed in the abdominal area, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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Specialists advise losing between 5 and 10% of overweight, not regaining it and maintaining it in the long term. This can also provide protection against other types of health problems.
Have a healthy diet
Eating the right foods is helpful in controlling your blood glucose level and helping you lose excess weight. Among the best options are:
- Fruits and vegetablesCitrus fruits, berries, apples, pineapples, grapes, kiwis, green leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, broccoli or kale and other non-starchy options.
- Fiber: herbs and spices, such as coriander or oregano, legumes, such as lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans, or fruits and cereals.
- Healthy fats: fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout, flaxseeds or oil, nuts, chia seeds, canola, olive, or soybean oils, and avocado.
- Infusions: cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, hibiscus, or ginger.
In the same way that some foods are beneficial to prevent diabetes, others can promote its onset or make it worse. Limit or eliminate from the diet:
- Added sugars (which are usually present in processed foods).
- Refined products, such as flour or white rice.
- Soft drinks, sodas or industrial juices.
- Red meat, especially processed meat, and sausages.
Physical activity fulfills a double function to prevent type 2 diabetes, since it increases the consumption of glucose by the body, and stimulates muscle fibers, favoring the transport of sugar into the cells.
Try biking, swimming, or even walking.
Although all types of movement are positive when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes, the greatest benefits are seen in moderate intensity activities.
Experts warn that sedentary or overweight people who start exercising, start from lower to higher intensity, to avoid complications.
Nicotine and certain chemicals found in cigarettes damage cells, cause inflammation, affect the response to insulin, and increase the risk of increased abdominal fat – all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Until there is significant scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: American Diabetes Association, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.