Proper Nutrition Can Help Prevent or Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Do you or someone you know suffer from diabetes? If not, are you worried about potentially getting diabetes? Well, you’re not alone. The statistics when it comes to Type 2 diabetes are a little shocking. According to the CDC, 9.3% of the population is suffering from this disease. Over 21 million people in America have diabetes and another eight million are walking around undiagnosed and unaware that they even have Type 2 diabetes.
When you look at the stats, each year on average around 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. The statistics from 2010 show that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death among our population. Here’s an even scarier statistic you need to swallow… 208,000 kids under the age of 20 suffer from diabetes. The annual cost for the disease has reached $245 billion and that’s only looking at the United States.
What conditions can you be faced with due to diabetes?
• High blood pressure
• Low blood sugar
• High cholesterol
• Kidney disease
• Cardiovascular disease
• Increased risk of strokes
• Increased risk of heart attacks
• Lower-limb amputations
• Eye problems that can lead to blindness
Those of you who suffer from Type 2 diabetes find yourselves checking your blood sugar on a daily basis. This is just something that is mandatory in order to control the condition and prevent any adverse side effects with your health. The worrisome piece of the equation is that many who suffer from Type 2 diabetes truly don’t understand how to manage the disease through proper nutrition. Maybe you are using your insulin as a crutch to make up for poor nutritional habits (such as consuming products or foods that are high in sugar) and that can create a downward spiral.
This is what Happens When You Eat Food If you have Type 2 Diabetes?
1. You eat food
2. Your digestive tract converts the food consumed into nutrients including glucose
3. Glucose enters your bloodstream to be shuttled out to the body and cells
4. The pancreas produces insulin, but your cells are resistant
5. Glucose is then unable to enter the cells effectively
6. Glucose levels in your blood increase due to the insulin resistance
7. High blood sugar levels damage your cells
If you are pre-diabetic, here’s what your timeline could look like. Your cells will eventually start to become resistant to insulin. What this does is cause the pancreas to produce more insulin to attempt to shuttle the sugar into the cells, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help and there’s still a considerable amount of sugar left in the bloodstream rather than being soaked up by the cells. This eventually causes your pancreas to wear out and bring on the disease.
How Food Can Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
*Disclaimer: we are not recommending you use nutrition to treat or diagnose any health condition, including diabetes. The below simply discusses how different macros affect the body and those who are diabetic. If you currently use medication to treat your diabetes, continue to follow the directions given by your healthcare professional.
If you suffer from Type 2 diabetes or are even pre-diabetic, you can help manage the condition by consuming specific foods and changing your nutrition and food habits. Let’s face it, we live in a country that loves sweets, ice cream, desserts, and overall simple carbohydrate sources.
When choosing foods to consume, you should look for items that rank low on the glycemic index and don’t cause a rise or spike in blood sugar levels. This can help prevent any type of long-term complications stemming from the condition.
Some common diets that would help you with Type 2 diabetes would be the Paleo Diet, Mediterranean diet, Ketogenic diet, as well as the vegan diet. Unfortunately, if you are a carb-lover, carbohydrates are the leading cause of your rise in blood sugar.
Choosing carbohydrates can be difficult if you don’t understand the main difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and what food items fall under each. Simple carbohydrates can spike insulin levels quickly while complex carbohydrates have the ability to slowly increase blood sugar levels and bypass the spike associated with simple carbohydrates.
As mentioned above, some common simple carbohydrates would be sugar, soda, fruit juice, white potatoes, cereal, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, processed carbohydrates, refined sugars, desserts, sweets, ice cream, potato chips, pretzels, and of course sugar.
Your best bet for a carbohydrate source would be complex. These also tend to help you feel full after consuming them. They aid in keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Some complex carbohydrates you should consider are foods like oatmeal, vegetables, lentils, whole wheat, beans, brown rice, quinoa, and fruit.
Two macronutrients that have a very positive effect on blood sugar levels are protein and fat. For this reason, you should always consume protein and a little fat with your carbohydrates. When we consume protein by itself, fat by itself, or both together, we are able to stay satiated much longer, reduce sugar cravings, and keep blood sugar levels stabilized.
Fat is extremely useful in a meal as it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates when they are consumed together. Protein, as we all know, helps build quality lean muscle mass and should be a part in all of our meals and snacks.
What are some of the best protein sources you should consider? Here’s a helpful list:
• Protein Powder
• Plant Protein
Here are some good sources of fat. Keep these to a small amount with meals.
• Natural nut butters
• Olive oil
• Coconut oil
Are There Supplements You Can Use If You Have Type 2 Diabetes?
Absolutely! In fact, there are many out there you can consider adding to your nutrition regimen that can help manage your blood sugar levels all while taking in vital macro/micronutrients. That’s the good news. Now for the bad. You need to pay attention to the products you are considering or currently using. The same rules apply as above where you want minimally processed foods, minimal if not zero sugar, and healthy forms of carbohydrates present all while containing some healthy protein and fat.
A common item used by diabetics are protein bars and shakes (either powder or RTD form). One thing to look at specifically is the number of carbohydrates and sugar found in each serving. If at all possible, your best bet would be to find something like an RTD (ready-to-drink) that you can pop the top or twist off the lid and consume that contains zero sugars. This will help manage your blood sugars and prevent the spike.
Labrada Nutrition makes a fantastic RTD that can be used by diabetics and anyone wanting to reduce sugar in their diet – the Lean Body RTD. It’s a shake that can go anywhere you go and makes for a delicious snack or meal containing either 20g or 40g of protein. Additionally, the RTD is gluten, sugar, and lactose-free – making it an ideal option.
Overall, nutrition plays a key role in managing blood sugar and maintaining your health in the long-term. The longer you can naturally keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range (70-99mg/dl for someone without diabetes and 80-130mg/dl for someone with diabetes in a fasted state) the better. If you can get your nutrition under control and limit how much food you consume that elevates blood sugar, your doctor might be able to lower your insulin dosage if you suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Never adjust the dosage of any medication you are taking without seeing your doctor.
It’s like beating a dead horse, but nutrition plays a key role in our lives regardless if we suffer from something like diabetes or not. Get your nutrition under control to take care of your body and in turn, it will help take care of you!
Matt Weik is the Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 2,000 websites. Learn more or contact him at weikfitness.com