DIABETES

is on the increase, we have become a nation of not knowing what to eat for our better health.

In this article Ruth explains what diabetes actually means and gives tips to help combat the problem.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Ruth says: “Diabetes is a chronic disorder of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism characterised by raised blood sugar (glucose) levels. Under normal conditions insulin is produced moments after we eat something to keep our blood glucose levels normal. “Diabetes occurs when the pancreas becomes exhausted and unable to produce enough insulin to maintain optimal glucose levels or when the cells in the body become resistant to insulin. When this happens, symptoms may include frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased appetite, fatigue or weakness, craving sweet foods, headaches, sweating, poor memory and irritability. When glucose levels get too high, tissue damage arises, with further complications such as renal conditions, peripheral neuropathy and cataracts.” If you suffer from any of these symptoms ask for a fasting glucosetest with your GP.

CAN DIET HELP?

Ruth says: “Controlling your blood sugar is essential. This is primarily determined by the amount of carbohydrates – cereals, bread, pasta, rice, cakes, biscuits, fruit, vegetables, we eat.

The amount of protein – fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds – also has an effect on insulin production. “If you eat a portion of carbohydrates, for example, this raises your blood glucose far more than if you ate the same amount of protein, resulting in more insulin being released. Indeed the modern diet of high carbohydrates encourages high insulin levels which means that the body stores more glucose as fat and we are at greater risk of becoming overweight and obese as well as developing diabetes. Therefore diet modification is essential.”

NUTRITIONAL TIPS

 Never skip meals, breakfast is essential.

 Eat frequently to help stabilise blood sugar levels.

 Avoid alcohol – it raises blood sugar.

 Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar foods such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, processed cereals, cakes, biscuits, pastries, waffles, pizza dough, muffins, crisps, sweets, ice-cream, snack/cereal bars and chocolate.

 Opt for higher fibre carbohydrate foods such as porridge, wholemeal/seeded bread, wholewheat pasta, brown basmati rice, quinoa, homemade cakes using wholemeal flour and ground almonds, oatcakes, ryvitas, kidney/butter/borlotti beans, lentils, vegetables and fresh fruit with their skins on.

 Eat protein at every meal including snacks, so several nuts with a piece of fruit, hummus with oatcakes, and cottage cheese with seeded ryvitas.

 Don’t be frightened to eat real fats in moderation – they are necessary for health and do not raise insulin levels. These include seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed. Nuts – almonds, walnuts, brazil, pecan, hazelnut, nut butters. Oily fish – salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel – avocado, olive oil and even butter sparingly – not spreads. Avoid the fats used in high temperature cooking – chips, crisps, doughnuts as well as commercial cakes, and biscuits. They have been mutated into abnormal chemical structures and are damaging to your health.

 Opt for non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, peppers, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and watercress. They provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and fibre.

 Choose fresh fruit and keep the skins on for extra fibre, or frozen fruit without added sugar.

 Check labels for hidden sugars – sucrose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrup, sorbitol, maltodextrin and molasses.

 Never eat carbohydrates without another source of food – always eat with protein and fats.

Ruth continues: “A balanced meal composed of protein, fat and non-starchy vegetables and complex carbohydrates will not only provide each of the types of nutrients your body needs to function well, but help to stabilise blood sugar levels thereby reducing the load on insulin production. Monitor the effects of meals on your blood sugar levels to

develop an understanding of how much and which carbohydrates you can tolerate." Ruth works with clients to  plan a programme individually tailored to suit your needs.

 
     


© Ruth Pretty 2011