If you’re one to indulge your sweet tooth without care, you might want to know a little bit more about diabetes—the condition that afflicts people with high blood glucose (AKA blood sugar) levels. Diabetes happens for one of two reasons: either your body’s natural insulin production isn’t enough or your body doesn’t respond to it. In some cases, it’s even both.
WHAT ARE THE KINDS OF DIABETES?
There are two major kinds. There’s Type 1 Diabetes, which happens when the body does not produce enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile, Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) for two possible reasons: resistance to insulin or poor insulin production.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES?
Some Type 1 Diabetes symptoms include excessive thirst, unusual tiredness and fatigue, needing to urinate more than usual, and unexplained weight loss.
Type 2 Diabetes symptoms are quite similar, but some also have experienced increased hunger and sudden loss of muscle mass as additional symptoms. Don’t let these symptoms slide, girls! As with any potential heath issue, be sure to consult with your doctor if you don’t feel too well.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DIABETES?
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly targets the beta cells responsible for insulin production in our own pancreas. What causes this dysfunction is unclear, but research suggests that people who have it are genetically predisposed to have it.
Type 2 Diabetes can also be genetically inherited, but it’s more closely linked to children and adults who suffer from obesity. Other risk factors include eating an unhealthy, sugar-filled diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and having high blood pressure/high cholesterol levels.
THE DIABETIC-FRIENDLY DIET
Health junkies, we all know that a balanced diet often spells the difference between a balanced life and an unbalanced one. Health is wealth, and we should all start with anything that goes into our bodies!
If you suffer from diabetes or if you’re at risk for it, read up. Once you know what you should be incorporating more if in your day-to-day meals, it’ll be much easier to eat well!
Here’s what you should be avoiding:
1. SUGARY DRINKS. This is fairly obvious, as processed drinks filled with refined sugars is practically a death sentence for diabetics. These beverages contain high fructose corn syrup and way too many carbs, both of which increase blood sugar, risk for obesity, and liver problems.
2. PROCESSED CARBS. White bread, pasta, and rice—say goodbye to low-fiber carbs. Anything high in simple carbs will spike your sugar levels, especially if they’re all carbs with zero fiber.
3. SWEET TREATS. This includes high sugar breakfast cereals, candy bars, baked goods, and so on. Most of these packaged goods are highly processed and come with an obscene amount of bad carbs.
4. SWEETENERS. Natural sweeteners like honey may be a little better for you than refined sugar, but be careful about which options you go for. Some of these still high in glycemic content and carbs, which won’t do your blood glucose levels any favors!
5. DRIED FRUIT. This is usually hailed as a great diet snack, but that’s not the case for diabetics. Even though fruits do contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, dried fruit loses its water content which leads to a concentration of nutrients—including sugar.
6. FRENCH FRIES. Beyond potatoes’ high-carb content, deep-fried foods are generally off-limits as they’re soaked in oil. The compounds released during the frying process may increase inflammation and risk of the disease.
With all of that on the no-no list, is there anything still left for you to enjoy? Of course! Here’s just a small selection of diabetic-friendly foods for you:
1. WHOLE GRAINS. Stick to high-fiber grains like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole wheat foods. These are low in bad carbs yet they’re still energizing and help you reach your RDI.
TRY: Fresh Start Organics Brown Rice (2kg), P331, Nature’s Own Instant Brown Rice Cereal Spirulina with No Added Sugar, P199, Arrowhead Mills Organic Oatmeal Instant Hot Cereal (10oz), P355, The Green Tummy Quinoa (200g), P190
2. SWEET POTATOES. They’re an equally versatile substitute for the regular potato; plus, they’re naturally sweet and high in fiber!
TRY: Spud Buds Sweet Potato Shoestrings, P60
3. GREEN LEAFY VEG. The greener, the better. Go with options like kale, spinach, and arugula. Avoid iceberg lettuce as they’re much lower in nutrients.
TRY: Take Root Kale Chips Peppercorn Flavor, P220
4. FRESH VEGGIES AND FRUITS. Have them raw, steamed, roasted, or grilled—any way you can eat ‘em. Fresh fruit or canned options (in a pinch!) are also handy, as long as you get the ones without added sugar.
TRY: Just Fruit Just Banana (30g), P140, Hammer Nutrition Oatmeal Apple Hammer Bar, P130
5. PROTEIN. The American Diabetes Association highly recommends plant-based proteins, like beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu. Fish, seafood, and chicken are also great—as long as it’s all lean!
TRY: Healthy Munch Raw Sunflower Seeds, P165, Hearth Nuts for Nuts Trail Mix, P130
6. SUPPLEMENTS. If you can’t get what you need out of your diet alone, consider adding supplements to your diet. While nutritious food is still your best get-healthy bet, these will give you a boost whenever you need it!
TRY: Tru Nature Vitamins Advanced Strength CinSulin, P1,350, Nature’s Made Diabetic Health Pack, P1,600
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