Diabetes mellitus is a complication with the normal production and usage of insulin by the body. Insulin is created by the pancreas and in Type 1 diabetes, there is a physical inability by the pancreas to create insulin (Petersen, 2016). Type 2 diabetes is when the cells don’t respond correctly to insulin. While there is no prevention for Type 1 diabetes there are ways to lower your risk for Type 2.
There are risk factors to be considered when gauging your risk for developing diabetes (Association, 1995). High blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family history, gender, smoking and high blood glucose can all be indicators you need to address your health. Maintaining a healthy, appropriate weight, eating fresh whole foods, limiting sugar intake and being physically active all help to prevent diabetes from occurring. Blood glucose checks by your doctor can help to diagnose small changes in how your body is handling insulin. Before full-blown diabetes, many people are diagnosed as prediabetic which can be reversed when changes are made early (CDC, 2016).
The CDC has gathered the research and created a recognition standard for Diabetes Prevention Programs. The plans involve dietary and exercise, and they state research has shown even losing 5-7% of a person’s body weight can have a lasting impact on overall health, and specifically diabetes prevention, for over a decade. The plans are a year long commitment and involve a lifestyle coach to help you learn to manage stress, eat healthier and get more active physically as well as offering group support from other participants.
Once a person has diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2, nutrition plays an important part in maintaining health by keeping blood sugar levels within a certain range (Staff, 2016). The goal of maintaining blood sugar levels is achieved for Type 1 diabetes by combining insulin injections with diet. For Type 2 diabetes, it is critical that foods are eaten in a way to maintain the blood sugar levels because your cells don’t respond correctly to the insulin you produce. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has a large resource list for learning to eat healthier when managing diabetes, but the general guidelines are limit foods high in sugar, eat smaller amounts and eat more regularly and more often throughout the day, learn about different carbohydrates, eat more vegetables and fruits, less fat, less alcohol and less salt.
While much has been said about the glycemic index for planning a diet, research research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that the glycemic index is not a reliable way to judge how a food will affect blood sugar levels (Preidt, 2016).
Maintaining a healthy diet and getting exercise are critical to preventing complications that can be caused by diabetes (M. C. Staff, 2014). These complications include cardiovascular disease, neuropathy in multiple body systems, kidney damage, eye damage, hearing damage and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Higher incidences of some cancers is also associated with diabetes. All of these diabetic complications can be issues separate from diabetes, but whether they are related to diabetes or not all of these conditions occur less often in people who are regularly engaged in physical activity who eat whole, fresh foods, vegetables, fruits and limit caffeine, sugars and alcohol.
Association, A. D. (1995). Lower your risk. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/
CDC. (2016, January 14). Research-based prevention program. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/preventing.html
Petersen, D. (2016). Nat 211: Anatomy and Physiology II. Portland, Oregon: ACHS.
Preidt, R. (2016, September 8). “Glycemic index” may be too unreliable to manage diabetes: Study: MedlinePlus health news. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_160837.html
Staff, M. C. (2014). Diabetes complications. Mayoclinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091
Staff. (2016, September 13). Diabetic diet. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from Medline Plus,https://medlineplus.gov/diabeticdiet.html