For those that are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, making a change in lifestyle to improve their health becomes paramount in order to prevent the disease from developing and ensuring their health in the long term. Prediabetic patients are those who are at risk of developing the disease and are characterized by consistently high blood sugar levels, and a noticeable resistance to insulin, which diminishes the body’s capacity to metabolize and process sugars. If someone is manifesting these signs, they may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as the body is losing its capacity to process sugars.
This may be due to an unhealthy lifestyle where the patient consumes sweets, junk foods, carbohydrates, and other meals that are generally deconstructed into sugars in the digestive tract, while also leading mostly sedentary habits complemented with passive entertainment and other activities that seldom merit physical activity. The excess of sugar, coupled with poor health upkeep of the individual can take a toll on his or her pancreatic beta cells, the main producers of insulin, wearing them out at an accelerated rate, and promoting the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Those that are showing signs of prediabetes, or are suffering the symptoms of the disease’s onset may still prevent it from taking hold, or from developing entirely by making a timely change in their diet and lifestyle. Besides assuming more active hobbies, the individual must also follow a more balanced diet, with a healthy distribution of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and other vitamins and nutrients in order to prevent the consumption of excess sugars that are the main cause of type 2 diabetes. However, in a world where there are hundreds of food items to choose from — both of the healthy and regular variety — which are the items that can truly benefit those that are seeking to improve their eating habits? How can a prediabetic patient, or a person who is simply looking to lead a healthier lifestyle determine which items would provide the best benefits for this purpose? In this article, we aim to shed some light on the foodstuffs that may help the most for those that are seeking an improvement on their current lifestyle.
A healthy way to lose weight
In order to gauge the effects of several treatments on the prediabetic patients, an initiative called The Diabetes Creation Program was created. This initiative conducted a clinical trial in which several groups of patients were subjected to different treatments, including a placebo, metformin (the most commonly prescribed drug for diabetic patients), and an extensive intervention of the patient’s lifestyle which aimed to improve their physical activity and dieting habits.
Furthermore, since it was known that diabetic patients react differently to each macronutrient, the researchers also evaluated how said nutrients affected the average diabetic patients in hopes to find the ideal balance to help them lose weight in a healthy manner. The results from this additional test can be found in greater detail in The Journal of Nutrition.
As expected, the method that provided the most long-term benefits was the dietary and lifestyle intervention. Specifically, it was discovered that diabetic patients reacted positively to the intake of both carbohydrates and dietary fibers, and didn’t manifest any negative effects from the consumption of said elements. Fats, however, were highly damaging to the subjects, as it had a direct impact on their baseline weight, causing a swift increase in the studied variable.
After a year of study, it was determined that weight loss in diabetic patients can be achieved optimally by a diet rich in carbohydrates as well as dietary fibers while keeping the consumption of fats and saturated fats at the bare minimum. In this manner, it possible to not only produce weight loss in the diabetic patient but to improve their insulin production as well, keeping his or her blood sugar at healthy levels of concentration.
Foods to look out for can include:
Of course, while there's foods to look into and try out, there are also foods that you need to avoid in order to have a healthy diet all around and put that risk for diabetes aside. These can include:
- Fried food
- Sweetened drinks
- Foods that contain trans fat (like margarine and peanut butter)
- Processed and high-carb foods
- Honey and maple syrup
- Dried fruit and packaged snack foods
- Anything artificially flavored
The potential triggers for type 2 diabetes
Diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by a constant state of hyperglycemia, which is a state of high blood sugar, and insulin resistance alongside a relative lack of insulin production by the pancreatic beta cells. Compare to type 1 diabetes, its type 2 counterpart only causes a decrease in insulin production, and not a total deficiency of the hormone, which means that those who suffer from it can live without depending on insulin shots by following the proper medical treatment, as well as making some improvements on their lifestyle.
The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are, as mentioned above, persistently elevated levels of blood sugar. A prediabetic person, however, may feel early symptoms of the disease far before receiving a proper diagnosis. The most common symptoms are a constant state of thirst and an increased appetite, alongside significant weight loss despite the aforementioned increased hunger. Polyuria, which is an increased frequency of urination, is also common in prediabetic patients.
In stark contrast to type 1 diabetes, the causes behind the onset of its type 2 counterpart are clear. While environmental and genetic factors may predispose the person to suffer from this disease, it is ultimately his or her environment and lifestyle habits that trigger its onset. Genetics only play a significant role in 10% of the cases, while unhealthy habits are the main cause of the other 90%. Nevertheless, there are specific factors that can make any given person much more likely to develop this condition at some point in their lives:
Women, for example, are more likely to suffer from this disease, which means that those belonging to the female gender will have to take additional measures to reduce the possibility of developing diabetes. The elderly is the only other group that has an increased probability of suffering from type 2 diabetes, though this is due to the natural aging process that may affect the pancreas and reduce its insulin-producing capacity, thus triggering the disease. However, as time goes on, the disease is increasingly more common in younger individuals, especially in those who live in developed countries or those that are currently in development, due to the easy access to sugary treats and passive entertainment such as video games or television. Today, type 2 diabetes in children and teens is almost as common as it was for the elderly a few decades ago.
Luckily, type 2 diabetes is not nearly as limiting as type 1 diabetes and can be easily controlled with current medication supplemented with positive lifestyle changes. The key element of the disease is that there isn’t a total lack of insulin; there is only a deficiency due to decreased pancreatic beta cell activity, so incorporating a daily exercise routine coupled with the reduced intake of sugar and carbohydrates can help to prevent its onset and control its symptoms.