280 people are diagnosed with Diabetes everyday and currently there are over 1.7 million people currently living with Diabetes.
The three types of Diabetes are Type one, Type two and Gestational. While Type one Diabetes is a genetic illness and cannot be prevented, Type two can be prevented and it is estimated that 80% of Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented by making lifestyle and dietary changes. This week is National Diabetes Week when we can focus on Diabetes and ways that we can discover, prevent and care for this chronic condition.
Detection of Diabetes can be as simple as visiting your GP for a blood test for your fasting glucose or sugar levels in your blood. It is important to remember that even if you are diagnosed with Diabetes, it is a condition that can be managed well, avoiding any long-term complications of the illness.
Here are three steps you can take prevent and care for Diabetes:
- Choose low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods
Foods with a high amount of carbohydrates include pasta, rice, noodles, bread and foods containing any type of flour. Once digested, these foods are converted into glucose which is then delivered to the bloodstream. The glucose, with the help of a hormone called insulin, is then used by the body as energy.
It is best to choose carbohydrate foods that are digested slowly and deliver glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate. These foods are known as Low GI while foods which are digested quickly are known as High GI. Low GI foods give us sustained energy over a longer period of time. The benefits of this is these foods keep us full for longer and ensure that our glucose levels are not fluctuating between very high and very low. Low GI foods can also help to control sugar cravings and are usually high in fibre, therefore providing additional benefits to our bowels and general health
- Look out for Saturated fat
Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products such as the white fat on meat, skin on chicken, butter, full fat dairy products and butter. It can also be found in some vegetable oils such as coconut oil and palm oil.
Eating foods that are high in saturated fat can increase your ‘bad’ or ‘LDL’ cholesterol which is a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Reducing saturated fat in the diet can be as simple as removing the skin on the chicken. This step reduces the saturated fat content from 7.7g per chicken breast to 0.7g! When shopping, choose foods that have less than 1.5g of saturated fat per 100g.
- Skip the Salt
A diet high in salt can increase blood pressure which is a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Approximately 85% of the salt that we consume is from packaged products. Therefore, shopping for low salt products can have a big impact on the salt your daily salt consumption.
When cooking, it is best to avoid adding salt altogether. Some great salt alternatives include herbs, spices, pepper, lemon and vinegar.
Making dietary modifications are challenging as many of our eating habits are set early on in our lives and can be difficult to change. It is also worth noting that our food choices are not only guided by our hunger but also many factors in our lives such as food availability, association with mood and social influences. To make dietary modifications in a positive way, I encourage you to think about one or two changes that you would like to make over a short period of time and set out to achieve these goals. Ask yourself whether these goals are SMART in that are they Specific, are they Measurable, are they Achievable, are they Realistic and do they have a Timeframe? The goals for change do not need to be drastic as, sometimes, making small and gradual modifications to the diet ensures long-term success for our health!