By Dr Harold Gunatillake FRCS- Health Writer
If there is a history of diabetes in your family, then you should start considering the possibility that you may be a candidate, probably in your early fifties, or later. The prior warning is that you become a borderline diabetic at the start, and this would be the time you should think seriously about changing your lifestyle to fit into a pattern and prevent it from developing into a full blown situation.
The first thing to do is to get educated on diabetes. Buy books on diabetes and read: see a dietician to get a diet sheet to follow, start exercising consistently on a regular basis. You may be able control your blood sugar levels without medication, if you seriously think about it. Investing in a glucometer is necessary to monitor your progress, and to detect the eventuality of side effects like hypoglycaemia.
Doctors, dieticians, and other medical personnel can only advice you, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You should become your own doctor to control your diabetes on a daily basis. Do not neglect yourself under the pretext that you are with the best diabetic specialist, ultimately, it is you who needs to control your sugar intake.
Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be reversed by eating right (low GI foods) and exercising regularly. You need to understand the complications of neglected diabetes, terminating as chronic kidney failure, stroke, heart problems and other serious health concerns that come with diabetes.
You could walk for 30 minutes daily and with the right diet, you can put diabetes in retreat. Give up most of the high calorie carb foods like pizzas, mashed potatoes, rice, and sweets. Two tablespoonful of brown rice would be the amount you should eat, if you are a rice addict.
Noodles and pasta are good substitutes for rice, provided you limit the load intake. Lowering carbohydrate intake is crucial because most carbs release too much sugar and cause spikes in the blood. Focus on leafy greens, and enjoy a salad for lunch.
Get more proteins from poultry rather than from red meat. Eat oily fish at least twice a week. Eat wholemeal bread with high fibre. Limit the bread to one or two slices.
If you are overweight reducing by eating less and exercising more would bring down excess sugar levels in your blood, and you may lose weight, too. Exercise in addition to losing weight, helps build muscles, and stimulates insulin sensitivity. Do some daily stretching exercises and aerobics (climbing the stairs at home or at work as many times as possible.
Motivation is the key to long-term success and helps you achievable goals. Your family needs motivation too to cooperate with you as a team.
So, it is not difficult to nip diabetes in the bud and prevent its progress, if you undertake the responsibility of controlling your pre-diabetic state.
What are low GI foods?
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a way of classifying the glucose content derived from the carbohydrate foods we consume. The test is done one to two hours after eating 50g of the food and checking the blood glucose level, which is then compared with and indexed with glucose which is considered having an index of 100%. It is a response characterised by the effect foods have on blood sugar levels after eating.
The main foods that cause a glycaemic response are carbohydrates. Foods that have carbohydrates are: Breads, Asian foods cooked with wheat flour and rice flour, pastries, cereals, grains, legumes, rice, noodles, pasta, fruits, vegetables and high carbohydrate processed foods.
The Glycaemic Index (GI) can be used as a guide as long as you are aware of the limitations. For example, the GI of some fruits, vegetables and cereals can be higher than foods that are considered to be treats, such as biscuits and cakes.
Carbohydrate foods that breakdown quickly during digestion have the highest GI. Their blood sugar response is fast and high. Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have low GI. Those who eat carbohydrates with a high Glycaemic Index regularly, i.e. an index over 60 are most probably, sure candidates for diabetes especially if they have a family history of diabetes.
People who eat high GI foods regularly, such as white rice having a GI index of 87, or cooked carrots and baked potatoes with a GI of 85, or white bread of GI 70, or products cooked with wheat flour such as string hoppers, hoppers, pittu and rotti, are the sure candidates to become diabetics, complicated by obesity.
Rice eaters should feel happy that there is one imported variety of rice – basmati — that has a GI index of 57 (provided you restrict the quantity).
Mashed potatoes have a GI of 90: Cooked carrots have a GI of 85: Breakfast corn flakes have a GI of 85: Chocolate bars have a GI of 70; snack foods – GI 90; it is advised that diabetics should eat sparingly of the above-mentioned high GI indexed foods.
For the chocolate lovers, dark chocolates have a GI index of 22 (over 60% cocoa), and a regular bite is recommended.
Diabetes is a disease unlike cancer which you can control with discipline and you can live as long as non-diabetics with far less risk factors.
Think about it!
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