Healthy eating and diabetes
Adopting a healthy diet can often mean eating different foods depending on the person.
It is important to demystify the idea that a healthy diet only includes vegetables and “tasteless” foods and that it is the same for everyone.
That is, the same diet does not always work for different people and it is necessary to adapt it to the needs and restrictions of each individual. And being healthy does not mean not being able to enjoy what you eat, quite the contrary. With the offers that currently exist, of healthy and natural products, a healthy diet allows you to enjoy what you eat, with no burden on your conscience.
How can healthy eating influence diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease where the amount of glucose in the blood is very high because the pancreas does not produce any insulin (type I diabetes) or does not produce enough insulin (type II diabetes).
To help glucose get into the body's cells - or the insulin that is produced doesn't work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Insulin normally moves glucose from the blood into cells, where it is converted into energy.
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This causes the pancreas not to produce any insulin, and people suffering from this pathology are dependent on the administration of insulin injections.
This type of diabetes is genetic and develops early in life.
Type 2 diabetes it develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin or when the insulin produced does not work properly.
This is the most common form of diabetes. The probability of developing this disease increases depending on the presence of the main risk factors: obesity, sedentary lifestyle and genetic predisposition.
Type 2 diabetes is the only one that can be delayed or prevented with lifestyle changes, and in the early stages, small changes in diet to lose weight and increased physical activity may be all that is needed to reach a level normal blood glucose.
Type 2 diabetes usually affects people over the age of 40, although it is being diagnosed in younger and younger people.
In Portugal, the incidence of Diabetes has been increasing from year to year. Data from 2019 confirm that every year between 60,000 and 70,000 new cases of Diabetes are registered, most of them type II. It is estimated that about 8% of the population suffers from this disease.
Over the age of 60, figures show that 30% of men and about 20% of women have diabetes. In Portugal, this disease already represents about 10% of health costs, which corresponds to about 1% of the national GDP.
Considered a Public Health problem, diabetes is often the result of the way people live and the habits they have. People with diabetes face a variety of health risks, risks that reduce the quality of life of those affected.
This condition has no cure and is considered the main cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations and heart attacks.
It is important to bear in mind that there are modifiable risk factors, "possible to control" and non-modifiable risk factors, "which we cannot control".
Modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyle; already in the non-modifiable we have factors such as pancreas or endocrine diseases and family history.
Thus, there are some modifications that can be made in order to delay the progression of the disease.
The ideal diet:
Contrary to what was advocated a few decades ago, diet for diabetics does not need to be different from that of a person without the disease. Therefore, you must follow the Mediterranean Diet, which represents a complete and balanced food model.
Essentials of the Mediterranean Diet:
- Frugality and simple cooking, based on preparations that protect the
nutrients, such as soups, casseroles, stews and stews.
- High consumption of plant-based foods to the detriment of the consumption of
foods of animal origin, namely vegetables, fruit, bread
quality and unrefined cereals, dried and fresh legumes and fruits
- Consumption of plant-based foods, locally produced, fresh and from
- Consumption of olive oil as the main source of fat.
- Moderate dairy consumption.
- Use of aromatic herbs to season instead of salt.
- Frequent consumption of fish and low consumption of red meat.
- Low to moderate consumption of wine and only with main meals.
- Water as the main drink throughout the day.
- Conviviality around the table
Therefore, preference should be given to fresh (non-processed) products, vegetables and greens, pulses, soups, stews, stews, grilled meats and you should only use olive oil!
And the following rules must be adhered to:
- Eat two or three pieces of fruit a day : at the end of lunch and dinner or in small snacks (a piece of fruit and a dark bread sandwich, which allows for slower absorption of carbohydrates). There are fruits that have a higher amount of carbohydrates (sugars) than others. Equivalences between fruits must be known: for example, one medium apple is equivalent to two plums or 16 strawberries;
- You more complex carbohydrates (called farinaceans) should not be eliminated from the diet . But they must be eaten in moderation and obtained from sources such as dark bread, potatoes, beans, chickpeas, couscous, rye and oats and must not be eliminated from the diet;
– Avoid other sources of flours and sugars such as cakes/sweets and pastries (reserved for special occasions);
– prefer the meat fish, for having less fat and being rich in omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids, with important functions in the prevention of inflammation (they strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to invasive external factors) and cardiovascular disease;
– Opt for lean meats and poultry (skinless) because they contain a lower fat content than red meat. Excessive intake of red meat increases saturated fat and protein intake which lead to higher cholesterol levels and kidney overload, respectively;
– avoid soft drinks and other sugary drinks;
– Drink 1.5 to 2 L of water a day is the recommended dose for adolescents and adults;
– Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation (3 dl wine or two beers a day for men and half for women) and always with carbohydrates;
– Coffee and tea should be drunk in moderation . (two cups a day). However, anyone with hypertension or arrhythmia should seek advice from their doctor or nutritionist.
- sweeteners: Sometimes there is the idea that the use of sweeteners is harmful to health, however it is known that if it is not consumed in excess there is no danger. Non-caloric sweeteners, such as saccharin, do not alter blood glucose levels, so they can be used by diabetics. To the Hermesetas - 1200 tablets, Ref:7002931 are the ideal substitute for sugar, with 1 tablet sweetening as much as a teaspoon of sugar.
And are there any forbidden foods for diabetics?
It makes no sense to ban food. The diet should be varied, balanced and unrestricted. The new Food Wheel should be adopted, which allows adequate food diversification.
But watch out for sugars and other carbohydrates. The consumption of sweets, which leads to an increase in weight, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, should be reserved for a special occasion (if blood sugar levels are well controlled), at the end of a meal. And, when this occurs, the amount of carbohydrates consumed (rice, potatoes, pasta, bread…) must be reduced. These recommendations, which are important for diabetics, should also be taken into account by the general population.
Should the diet be different for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?
No. People with diabetes who take rapid insulin with meals may increase their insulin dose depending on the amount of carbohydrates they have consumed. However, if these are excessive, they end up gaining weight and will not have any benefit from it.
However, in type 2 diabetes, to avoid glycemic oscillations, six meals a day should be eaten, with intervals of 2 and a half to 3 hours and with an overnight fast of no more than 8 hours.
In type 1 diabetes, individualized guidance should be given to ensure a balance between the amount of carbohydrates ingested and the amount of insulin administered.
It is very important to know your blood glucose levels throughout the day, so that you can adjust your diet. There are numerous gadgets on the market; at My Pharma Spot we have the FreeStyle PrecisionNeo blood glucose meter, Ref: 71390-80.