One of the fastest-growing and most widespread maladies in the world today is Type 2 diabetes, so understanding the symptoms is essential, along with information on proper dietary choices and potential cures for this affliction.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Labeled a metabolic disorder that can affect people throughout their lifetime, diabetes mellitus type 2 affects nearly 400 million people around the world, and is often considered the modern “pandemic”. Type 2 is primarily characterized by high blood sugar and a lack of insulin, due to insulin resistance of the body. Proper blood sugar levels are essential in the body for the proper distribution of nutrients and energy levels, as well as the overall wellness of various organ systems. The primary cause of Type 2 diabetes is obesity, unlike Type 1 diabetes, which sufferers are typically born with and is characterized by a complete lack of insulin. Type 2 diabetes commonly manifests in middle age or older, but in the past few decades, the number of younger sufferers of this disorder has skyrocketed.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Some of the most common symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes include a lack of energy, increased levels of hunger and thirst, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination and exhaustion. The long-term effects of Type 2 diabetes are much more serious, and given that diabetes is a “permanent” condition in most cases, these life-threatening complications are something that must be considered. Many people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes also heart disease, strokes, poor blood flow, kidney failure and diabetic retinopathy. These serious complications can result in blindness, amputations of limbs, and a lower quality of life. Generally, someone who suffers from Type 2 diabetes has a life expectancy 10 years shorter than a healthy individual.
If you see these types of symptoms, you should immediately speak to a doctor and determine whether you have developed Type 2 diabetes. However, even if you don’t see these symptoms, it would be wise to ask your doctor about your diabetic risk if you are overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, have high blood pressure, come from an ethnicity that is more prone to diabetes, or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. These can be early-onset factors that often lead to Type 2 diabetes, and may encourage you to make certain lifestyle changes to stay healthy. One of the best ways to prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes is by adopting an appropriate diet.
Type 2 Diabetes Diet
It may be tempting to go for the full-fat milk options in your grocery aisle, or gorging on cheese to your heart’s content, but adding excess fat to your diet not only increases your chances of becoming obese, but also increases your sugar intake. If you want to improve your nutrient intake, feel full and handle the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, try Greek yogurt instead, as the probiotics can optimize your gut and help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Potatoes are extremely popular vegetables, but they are also starchy, which means that they are composed of simple sugars and empty calories. Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, beets and many other vegetables have no starch content, which means that your blood sugar levels will remain level, and you won’t experience the spike of blood sugar that can be dangerous (or even deadly) for those with diabetes. You will also get a rich mixture of nutrients, minerals and vitamins from these vegetables that your body needs for proper metabolic function. Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are also highly recommended for a diabetic diet, due to their antioxidant content.
As a general rule, fruit is excellent for your body, but many people think that anything called “fruit” is healthy. That simply isn’t the case… fruit juices and canned fruits are often packed with sugars and artificial flavoring, making them delicious, but also compromising their nutritional value. You should stick with fresh fruits, particularly citrus fruits and berries, as they are both rich in fiber and antioxidants. Fiber is known to help regulate blood sugar levels in the body, while antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress throughout the body, mitigating the effects of diabetes on the body and improving overall health and wellness.
There is a huge variety of grains in the world, some of which break down into simple sugars, and others that feature more complex carbohydrates. White bread and other wheat-derived grain products are not a wise choice if you’re a diabetic. Wheat flour simply lacks the healthy benefits of other whole grains. Turn your attention to multi-grain breads, wild rice and quinoa. Not only will these take longer for the body to process, but they also contain healthy levels of fiber, which can help to regulate diabetic symptoms and improve your gastrointestinal health.
Starch and Sugar
Avoiding starches and sugars is your best bet if you’re trying to form a good Type 2 diabetes diet. It is impossible to avoid all sugar and empty starch calories, but if you can eliminate most of them from your diet, you will be much better off.
Most people associate their protein intake with meat, and that is largely true, but processed meats are not the right avenue. Despite the fact that these are usually less expensive and more readily accessible, they are also packed with sodium, which can easily lead to high blood pressure and an increased chance of heart attacks and strokes – things you don’t want if you’re already at a high risk for diabetes. Meats like poultry and fish are much better options for your protein intake, as many of these are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Protein is also readily available in legumes, nuts, eggs and certain grains, such as quinoa.
Unlike what many people think, some fats are essential for human health, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the heart and blood vessels. Therefore, you need the “good” fats in your diet as a diabetic patient, so turn your taste buds to nuts, olive oil, avocados and fish, rather than the fat found in fried foods, cheese, gravy and other decadent treats. The right kind of fats can save your life, but the wrong kind can quickly push you to the brink of diabetes.
A Cure for Type 2 Diabetes?
The dream for any disease, particularly one that affects 400 million people around the world, is to find a cure. However, there is no known cure for Type 2 diabetes. What researchers have found is that diabetes can go into “remission”, much like cancer in recovering patients. If your diabetes is in remission, you won’t see the daily symptoms of the disorder, but you are at a much higher risk for relapse.
To reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes and send it into remission, proper lifestyle and dietary changes must be made. The dietary instructions above, although basic, are a great place to start in terms of what you’re putting into your body. Regular exercise to protect your heart health and the elimination of your sedentary lifestyle are the next two key steps to reversing the onset of diabetes. Losing weight is one of the best ways to send your Type 2 diabetes into remission. If you are serious about getting your health back, you need to be serious about changing your behaviors!