5 Important Nutrients Diabetics Need
Diabetes is a disease that is caused when little or no insulin is secreted by the pancreas as a response to glucose intake or also when the insulin secreted by the pancreas is defective. There is no cure for diabetes and this is why people with the disease have to take several extra measures in order to lead relatively normal, healthy lives. Insulin of course is a hormone in the body responsible for the regulation of blood glucose levels.
There are three types of diabetes, which are; Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or child-onset diabetes; this is because people with this type of diabetes usually get it from a very young age. People with Type 1 diabetes suffer from a condition whereby their bodies or pancreas do not produce enough insulin to regulate the glucose in the blood or they simply don’t secrete any insulin at all. This occurs because the insulin producing cells in the body called beta cells are attacked and destroyed by the body’s immune system, therefore little or no insulin is produced and too much glucose accumulates in the blood stream. People with Type 1 diabetes manage it mainly by taking insulin shots regularly to help them compensate for the inadequacy of their insulin production.
Type 2 diabetes also called adult-onset diabetes because it normally occurs in adults (mostly people above 40) but because of the increasing number of overweight or obese children, it doesn’t just affect only adults. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the insulin produced in the body isn’t utilized effectively or is defective, so the insulin is unable to bind to glucose molecules and transported to the cells to be metabolized or stored off. This type of diabetes is more common and also is diagnosed in even people that aren’t overweight.
The other type of diabetes is Gestational diabetes which occurs in pregnant women though a minute number. It could be developed as a result of frequent hormonal changes that occur in pregnant women; these changes can hamper the insulin produced from functioning properly. This type of diabetes usually goes away months after child birth but still needs to be managed properly for the health of mother and fetus and also because women who get gestational diabetes are likely to develop type 2 Diabetes in their future.
Over the years, the number of people living with diabetes has been on the rise and this is why we see governments and international health organizations putting in place campaigns and awareness programs to encourage healthy eating habits and lifestyles. Also there has been more funding for research into possible treatment of the disease or management of the disease. This is because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with diabetes around the world rose from 180 million to over 400 million from 1980 to 2014. Also, tragically in 2016 over 1.5 million people died from the disease and its complications.
Statistics according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in 2015 9.4% of the American population is diabetic, this number translated to about 30 million people above the age of 18 and mostly non whites (Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Blacks). No doubt this number has risen since then and does not account for Americans with pre-diabetes which as of that time was at 81 million people.
So if you are have been diagnosed with either type of diabetes, it’s safe to say you are not alone. More importantly, all hope is not lost as you could effectively manage this disease and lead a normal life. This is why when people are diagnosed with diabetes, aside from other measures or therapy doctors refer patients to a dietician who will give them advice on what to/not to eat and help them plan their meals. While blood sugar control is the main focus in diabetes management, nutrition and general health is extremely important. Persons living with diabetes are more susceptible to illnesses, infections and other issues. Therefore, it is paramount that diabetics do all they can to bolster their immune system and strengthen their bodies. Let’s look at a few nutrients that are great for people managing diabetes that could help them improve their quality of life and general health.
Eating the right type of food with the right nutrients goes a long way in the management or treatment of diabetes. Eating foods with healthy proteins definitely helps in the management of diabetes, especially plant based proteins because they are healthier and less inflammatory. Plant protein sources like; beans, foods produced from soy (like tofu, soy milk), nuts (like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia etc.) and vegetables (cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprout etc) contain healthy proteins and are very low in carbs. But being diabetic does not mean becoming vegan, some animal protein are also healthy food options for diabetics and even good for prevention of diabetes. Animal protein like; eggs, some dairy products (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese etc), lean poultry (chicken, turkey) are healthy when consumed in the right amounts. Adding protein to carbohydrates at meal time will slow the absorption of the carbs preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar. An adequate amount of protein is also required for the muscle building process and even muscle retention.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Riboflavin has numerous health benefits that makes it a nutrient that is not just essential for the general health of the body, but also a critical nutrient for people managing diabetes. Riboflavin helps in the metabolism of energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates and is also essential for cell growth. It has antioxidant properties that help in the mopping up of free radicals which are produced a lot in people with glucose intolerance and could lead to damage of some organs like the liver or kidney. Foods that contain vitamin B2 and that are healthy for diabetics are; poultry (such as turkey and chicken), eggs, mushrooms, nuts, avocados, asparagus and some other select foods.
Fats (Fatty Acid)
There are good fats (unsaturated fatty acids) and bad fats (saturated fatty acids). Eating the good type of fats isn’t just good for managing diabetes, there are many other health benefits. Healthy fats can help you lose weight, reduce risk factors for heart disease, reduce cancer risk, improve insulin sensitivity and even reduce inflamation. Foods containing good fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids) include; some types of fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and rainbow trout. Plant sources like avocado, peanut butter and oil, almonds, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, olive oil, corn oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, soy beans products and so on.
Vitamins are important for healthy, balanced diets as they have a lot of health benefits and ensure that the metabolic processes occurring in the body are optimal. Vitamin D (calciferol) is essential for healthy bones, teeth, healthy heart and also can help in preventing type 2 diabetes. Foods containing Vitamin D include; fish such as salmon, herring, milk, orange juice, eggs, and certain types of mushrooms amongst others.
Iron is a mineral necessary for the production of hemoglobin and the deficiency in iron intake could lead to the development of anemia which is also noticed in diabetic patients. Eating iron rich foods can help in management of diabetes and also prevent some other health complications. Foods such as; lentils, oysters, iron fortified foods (breads and cereals), fish and so on can prevent iron deficiencies and improve overall health.
Eating healthy is necessary for people managing diabetes and also for the prevention of diabetes. The foods we eat can either help us or hurt us. Diabetics should employ the assistance of professional dieticians to help them draft healthy meal plans which entails; types of foods to eat, portions that these foods should be consumed and also supplement prescriptions that can help mitigate some deficiencies. Besides eating healthy pre-diabetics and diabetics can take on other healthy lifestyle practices such as exercise and other activities to help them manage diabetes or even preventing it. They can hire fitness trainers or research safe workouts or exercises that they can do on their own. If you are recovering from an injury or looking to reduce pain during exercises you can use kinesiology tapes. So go ahead live healthy, live happy and win the fight against diabetes and other diseases by making healthy decisions one day at a time.
Article written by Marshal Jak. Marshal Jak is enthusistic writer on Digital Marketing, Real Estate, Shipping, Medical and Business related subjects. His posts are fun to read and full of information. His passion hingers on the different niches related topics.