Are You Becoming a Diabetic?

by : Sandra Prior



Four warning signs you shouldn't ignore

Full blown diabetes is easy to spot: frequent, uncontrollable urges to urinate, virtually unquenchable thirst, numbness in your hands and feet. Symptoms leading up to the full blown disease are easier to ignore. But ignorance isn't bliss. Here are the top silent alarms.

You feel sleepy right after a meal if your body gets flooded with sugar it can't process. It'll stage a sort of rolling blackout. It will pull energy from other systems to marshal the resources needed to pump out the extra sugar.

Your vision has become a little blurry. When too much sugar crowds into your bloodstream, it can cause the lenses in your eyes to stretch, resulting in blurred vision. Watch for headaches after reading or doing paperwork.

Your blood pressure is higher than usual. It's hard to tell which comes first, the diabetes or the high blood pressure. But it seems that even slightly higher than normal blood pressure levels are related to insulin resistance.

Your breath constantly smells like nail polish remover. Without enough insulin to turn carbohydrates into energy, your liver will begin to break down fat for fuel. Acetone breath is one by product of fat combustion.

Diabetes is actually an easy disease to understand. Basically, it's an interruption in the body's supply line of food. Here's how it works. Just about everything we eat is digested and turned into glucose, also called blood sugar. The glucose is then carried to the body's cells, where it's burned as fuel. One crucial element makes the entire process possible. Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, allows glucose to penetrate the cell walls.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, also called juvenile diabetes, occurs when a person just stops producing insulin, necessitating insulin injections. Type 2 is a lifestyle and genetic problem brought on by overeating and lack of exercise. The pancreas produces plenty of insulin, but the body is insulin resistant and the insulin cannot enter the cell walls. Because people are becoming less active and overeat more, diabetes is becoming a serious threat in our modern society. Diabetes will destroy your heart, kidneys and retinas.

There is no such thing as a diabetic diet. If you look carefully you will see the diet is the same as prescribed to patients with heart disease, cancer or any other terminal illness. A healthy eating plan is what you should strive for and diabetics should keep the following meal planning guidelines in mind.

You are able to eat a variety of ordinary foods that make up a healthy eating plan. You may be asked to prepare some foods differently or change some of the ingredients used in your recipes and eat less or more of some foods. But the basic foods themselves will be those you have always eaten. A healthy eating plan helps to control the blood glucose, blood lipid (fat) levels, reduce weight where necessary and prevent diabetic complications such as heart disease, damage to the kidneys, eyes and nerves. There is also no need for you to eat differently from the rest of the family. There is no such thing as a diabetic diet and buying special diabetic foods is not necessary. They are just expensive and high in fat.

Starchy Foods

These should be eaten at every meal and be the main part of every meal. The following are good sources.

Cereals: Pronutro, weetbix, all bran flakes, oats and oat bran.
Breads: Try heavy breads like seed loaf, rye and linseed bread.
Pasta and rice: Especially wild and basmati rice.
Potatoes: Especially cooked and left overnight (potato salad), new potatoes, baked/boiled rather than roasted or fried.

Fruit and Vegetables

Aim to have five servings per day as they contain anti oxidants (Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Vitamin E) which may protect against heart disease.

Try not to add butter, margarine, or sugar to vegetables. Rather use lemon juice, low fat/fat free natural yoghurt or oil free salad dressing.

Dried fruit and fruit juices (even those with no added sugar) are concentrated forms of carbohydrates and therefore should be eaten in limited amounts.

Milk and Dairy Products

These good sources of protein and calcium are also high in fat and you therefore need to choose skimmed/low fat milk or dairy products.

Try low fat/fat free yoghurts (check the sugar contents).
Choose low fat/fat free cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, low fat processed cheese or small amounts of strongly flavored cheeses.

Protein

Aim for two to three matchbox size servings per day by making meat or fish the smaller part of your meal.

Choose lean/fat trimmed meat and use skinless poultry.
Try to grill, bake, roast, or braise with no or very little oil.
Legumes (peas, beans, lentils) are excellent protein sources which are naturally low in fat and a good source of fiber.
Fish, especially oily fish (mackerel, sardines, pilchards, herring, salmon) may protect you from heart disease.

Fats and Oils

Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease through building up fatty deposits in arteries. What helps prevent this is eating less fat, especially saturated fat - mainly found in animal products such as butter, lard, full fat milk, cheese and fatty meat.

Rather choose small amounts of unsaturated fats like oily fish, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. Better still are mono unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.

Exercise

Regular exercise results in better blood glucose control and the need for less medication. It helps control blood pressure, increase your sense of well being and helps maintain a healthy weight. Snacks may be necessary before strenuous exercise or unexpected exercise. Remember that snacks eaten late at night should include a little protein as it makes the food last longer and will prevent the blood glucose levels from dropping too low at night. Ask your dietician for more information.

Change

Eat at least three regular meals. Try to eat similar amounts of foods, spaced out evenly and eaten at about the same time of day. Aim for a healthy body weight. Eat less fried foods and fats by cutting down on oil, margarine, butter, fatty meat and cheese. Eat lots of high fiber, starchy foods especially unrefined products, legumes (lentils, peas, beans), vegetables and fruit.

Be more active - exercise will help control your diabetes, help you to lose weight and help prevent heart disease.