Most of us are aware that diabetes has become a rapidly rising health concern in New Zealand. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin, or if the cells in the body become resistant to insulin. Our cells need glucose (sugar) to produce energy. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in the blood and the rate at which glucose gets absorbed by cells. In people with diabetes, glucose can build up in the bloodstream instead of being taken into and used by the body’s cells, leading to hyperglycemia (abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood).
There are two types of diabetes; Type 1 (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent mellitus). Type 1 diabetes is an organ-specific autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 is by the far the most common form of diabetes and affects around 90% of diabetes sufferers. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin in small quantities, but the cells don’t respond to it as they should. As a result, the pancreas tries to make more insulin but it cannot keep up with the demand. The cells then become resistant to the effects of the insulin that is in the bloodstream. Often, under the care and guidance of a GP, Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise alone, without the need for drugs.
To reduce the risk of developing diabetes, it is important to control elevations in blood sugar by careful monitoring and making dietary modifications. It’s especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you’re at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Risk factors can include (but are not limited to); obesity, a family history of the disease, and consumption of a high-sugar diet with little exercise. Making some of the simple lifestyle changes listed below may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road.
Get more physical activity, to help you:
Get plenty of fiber in the diet, to help:
Avoid sucrose and ‘simple sugars’ such as cane sugar:
Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates;
If you have diabetes, you should consult with your own medical professional before making any major changes to your diet. If you are concerned about being high-risk for developing diabetes, it is a good idea to book a consultation with your GP to get tests done and then decide on your best course of preventative action.
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