Diabetes is a metabolic disorder associated with abnormally high sugar levels in the blood. This occurs as a result low production of insulin in the body.
Note that sugar (also called glucose) is behind regulating several bodily functions.
Thus diabetes causes the impairment of several bodily functions and is a serious disease if not detected and treated early.
Everyone needs to understand the various forms and causes of this disease which affects millions of people globally. This would help you plan your diabetes prevention strategies and in maintaining good overall health even in old age.
Table of Contents
- Different Types of Diabetes
- Diabetes Prevention Foods
- Diabetes Prevention Tips
- What is Prediabetes? Its Prevention
- What is Gestational Diabetes? Its Prevention
Different Types of Diabetes
Mainly, diabetes is of two types: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes:
This is the less common of the two forms. Herein, insulin production gets hindered, resulting in the immune cells themselves attacking the body.
Type 1 diabetes is mostly seen in children and young adults. If someone has this type of diabetes then it becomes imperative to take insulin shots daily.
Type 2 diabetes:
This is the most prevalent form of diabetes, often seen in 90% of people who suffer from the disease. Herein the body is unable to utilize insulin properly, resulting in blood sugar levels spiking considerably.
This form of diabetes takes time to develop and is mostly seen in adults. However, a rising number of cases are being noticed in children as well.
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
As we mentioned, Type 1 diabetes stems from a faulty immune system, in which it destroys the beta cells of the pancreas which are responsible for producing insulin. It is believed to be caused by environmental factors such as viruses, and genetic disorders. So, type 1 diabetes prevention is practically impossible.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
This form of diabetes is mostly the result of lifestyle and dietary habits; though not entirely limited to them.
(A) Overweight, Obesity, and Physical Inactivity
If you are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle with no form of physical exercise, you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes over time. This is because being overweight can cause insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the muscle, liver, and fat cells are unable to utilize insulin properly. This results in a higher level of insulin required to push sugar (glucose) into the cells. This over-taxes the pancreas, which produces insulin – resulting in them not being able to cope up with the excess demand of insulin – and leading to high levels of un-utilized blood glucose.
Especially people with belly fat are more likely to fall prey to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
(B) Genes and Family History
Like type 1 diabetes, certain genes put you in a higher risk bracket of developing type 2 diabetes. This is when the disease shows a family history or certain racial/ethnic groups such as:
- African Americans
- Alaska Natives
- American Indians
- Asian Americans
- Native Hawaiians
- Pacific Islanders
So these genetic factors can increase the likelihood of putting on excess weight and obesity; leading to type 2 diabetes.
Also See: Is Shilajit Helpful For Diabetic Health?
Diabetes Prevention Foods
Certain foods help in blood sugar stabilization, thus reducing chances of developing type 2 diabetes, such as:
1. Almonds & Walnuts
High carbohydrate foods such as the ones most people tend to snack on during the day are the prime cause of high blood sugar. To cut back refined carbs, adopt a habit of chewing nuts such as almonds and walnuts. These are high in protein and healthy fats and would keep you fuller till you eat dinner in the evening.
Moreover, nuts have polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Oatmeal is a powerhouse of fiber and an excellent breakfast choice. It will keep you fuller for longer and avoid the tendency to snack on unhealthy refined carbs. A study revealed that those who ate over 26 grams of fiber daily cut back their chances of type 2 diabetes by 18% compared to those who ate much less.
This is because fiber helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
3. Fiber-Rich Fruits
Note that not all fruits are beneficial in preventing chances of type 2 diabetes. Fiber-rich fruits like whole apples, berries, and citrus fruits should be your choices.
Also See: List of Fruits for Diabetics to Eat
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Here again, not all veggies are equal as far as diabetes prevention is concerned. Go for green leafy vegetables which are non-starchy. Examples include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. These provide several vitamins and minerals besides containing fiber and sulforaphane – which is an anti-inflammatory compound. Sulforaphane is believed to prevent blood vessel diseases and in regulating blood sugar.
Another great vegetable is spinach, which contains abundant magnesium – a good insulin regulator which controls your blood sugar level.
Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils are two great foods to help prevent type 2 diabetes. They are loaded with fiber as well as protein, which helps you stick to a clean diet and aid weight management.
Diabetes Prevention Tips
While nothing much can be done against type 1 diabetes, you can still ensure to do something for type 2 diabetes prevention (which is most common) by adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as:
1. Being Active and Keeping Your Body Weight Ideal
Weight training, jogging, and brisk walking are good lifestyle choices. Such activities keep your weight in check, increase metabolic rate and help keep your blood sugar level healthy.
2. Adopting a Fiber-Rich Diet
Fiber helps keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. It also helps to maintain ideal body weight by way of keeping you satiated, thus avoiding chances of over-eating. So, as mentioned earlier, adopting a fiber-rich diet is great. Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fiber-rich fruits like whole apples are a good source.
If required, take fiber supplements after consulting your dietician.
3. Sensible Dieting Over Fad Dieting
The dieticians’ fraternity is chock-a-block with specific diets which promise to rapidly bring down your weight. Never go for such fad diets. Eat natural, healthy foods as we mentioned in the previous sections.
In short, don’t deprive your body of nutrients by adopting any such diet randomly. Eat wisely. Follow diabetes diet plan.
What is Prediabetes? Its Prevention
As the term suggests, ‘prediabetes’ is a phase when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but haven’t touched the stage of diabetes itself.
In medical terms, this may also be called ‘impaired fasting glucose or ‘impaired glucose tolerance.
Prediabetes is the first step in people who eventually suffer from diabetes. This can be a dangerous situation as prediabetes is not always accompanied by symptoms. However, if you notice any of the following, immediately consult a diabetologist
- Unusual thirst
- Excessive urination
- Blurry vision
- Excessive fatigue
So, regular cardiovascular exercises, avoiding high-carb, high-salt, high-sugar foods are your best measures for prediabetes prevention.
Additionally, don’t smoke, avoid alcohol, or limit to just one 30 ml peg a day.
What is Gestational Diabetes? Its Prevention
Another type of diabetes is ‘gestational diabetes’, which can affect pregnant women. The hormonal changes in the women’s bodies during pregnancy, coupled with lifestyle and genetic factors can contribute to this type of diabetes.
An additional risk is for the fetus, as gestational diabetes can lead to several complications for the developing baby inside the womb.
While this form of the disease goes away after delivery; such a woman can still get type 2 diabetes later in life. Moreover, children born to women who have suffered from gestational diabetes are also at risk of getting obese and catching type 2 diabetes later in life.
So, it is best to keep a track of your blood sugar levels even post-delivery.
Gestational diabetes prevention can be taken by women by planning childbirth wisely. This includes getting your body in shape if you are overweight; eating a healthy diet rich in fiber and protein, and avoiding high carbs and high sugar. Additionally, adopt some form of cardiovascular exercise. Even a brisk one-hour walk daily can work wonders.
What should I eat to prevent diabetes?
Foods that are rich in fiber such as green cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, spinach, and sprouts; whole apples, and berries. Also, eat lean sources of protein such as boiled egg whites and double-toned milk.
Which vegetables and foods should diabetics avoid?
Vegetables and fruits high in starch and sugar are best avoided. These include potatoes, peas, corn, and butternut squash. Also, avoid vegetable juices – consume whole veggies instead, best in steamed form or cooked with low-fat very little oil.
Worst fruits for diabetics – Fruits high in sugar, such as mangoes, pineapples, sweet cranberries, lychees, kiwi, cherries, and raisins are some of the best-avoided by diabetics.
Should I go on a crash-diet to lose weight and avoid getting diabetes?
No; it is always better to consult a dietician if in doubt. However, we recommend eating fewer meals, and in smaller portions. And avoiding high-starch, high-sugar, high-fat foods. Also, it is best to complement your diet plan with some daily form of exercises such as jogging or brisk walking.
Which type of doctor should I consult if I suspect I am diabetic?
Ideally, a diabetologist MD should be consulted. This is a medical specialist who is trained to diagnose and treat diabetes most efficiently. It is best to get your fasting and non-fasting blood sugar test done before you approach the doctor; as he would anyway ask you to get it done.
My family has a history of diabetes. Will I get it too, later in life even if I have a healthy lifestyle?
It depends. Type 1 diabetes is mostly related to genes; so in such cases, changes could be high later generations too could have type 1 diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes in family history reduces your chances of getting it as well – if you keep your weight in check and eat a clean, healthy diet full of fiber and protein and avoid high-starch, high-sugar, high-fat foods. But it is best to keep testing your blood sugar every quarter after age 45.