Total Health

Diabetics Know a Thing or Two

November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada. Makes sense since it immediately follows the sugar-laden Halloween holiday! Many diabetics have developed this illness because of their lifestyle but be assured that they’ve learned (and changed) A LOT in order to manage it. They can teach us (if we`re open to it). Keep reading to find out just a taste of what you can learn from a diabetic…

Diabetics can teach us a great deal about moderation and an overall healthy lifestyle. Many of them have HAD to change their lifestyle in order to survive and prevent some major health repercussions.

Boxing With Pink Gloves 3The potential results of a diabetic NOT changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one include: amputation of limbs, blindness, strokes, heart disease, kidney failure, gum disease and tooth loss, digestive problems, incontinence and sexual issues.

G Force owner and operator, Gidon Gabbay, says, “Eat like a diabetic to avoid diabetes.”

This means being aware of the hidden sugars in food. As an example, most ingredients that end in “ose” are sugar substitutes or derivatives and throw our blood sugar into high gear. They are quite common in packaged foods.

How does sugar affect our health? Well, we all know that candy is simply pure, processed sugar and usually additives of some kind. Both of which will spike glucose levels in the blood, triggering the release of an equal dose of insulin from our pancreas (our body`s response based on the goal of maintaining internal balance).

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is basically an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the pancreas causing very little to zero amount of insulin to be released (Type 1) OR the pancreas breaks down releasing too little insulin to do its job or the body becomes insensitive to the insulin being released and can no longer respond to it like nature intended (Type 2).

In any one of these cases, the sugar builds up in the blood and causes all sorts of havoc to our internal organs and mind, and overtime, our external body.

Type 1 diabetes is always treated with regular insulin injections and meal planning. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with only meal planning and exercise; in advanced cases, medication and/or insulin injections along with careful lifestyle maintenance are needed to manage it.

The Importance of Being Aware of Hidden Sugars

Did you know that many of the energy bars on the market contain not only healthy ingredients but also a whole whack of sugar? Did you also know that even though white bread doesn`t contain sugar per se, it is a simple carbohydrate that turns into sugar during the digestive process? Did you know that most restaurants will have hidden sugars in their meals, from the sauces, soups and even the marinades for their meats?

Many diabetics manage diabetes by counting carbs. If they know they`re going to have a delicious Italian dish of Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner, they can calculate how much insulin they need prior to the meal in order to off-set the affects of the meal on their glucose levels. They also know that if they eat a protein source with it (like chicken), it lowers the glycemic index (the food`s effect on blood sugar) of the pasta and cream sauce. (Read more about the glycemic index at the Diabetes Association of Canada). 

Even though non-diabetics don`t have to take insulin at meal times, it is still important for us to be aware of what we`re eating (and drinking!) and how it affects our blood sugar — as a preventative measure. We want to avoid as many high spikes of glucose in the blood as possible because over time, many instances of high spikes of glucose in the body can lead to diabetes (just ask any Type 2 diabetic).

Eating Like a Diabetic

Successful diabetics, no matter their type, have learned about food and how it affects their body. We`ve mentioned so far about the dangers of pure sugar on glucose levels in the blood, how simple carbohydrates turn into sugar in the blood when ingested and how eating a protein source can lower the effects of certain foods on blood sugar.

Another part of eating like a diabetic is knowing how important fiber is to a healthy diet. Many people (when they wish to lose weight or have been recently diagnosed with diabetes) shy away from fruit, knowing that it contains high levels of sugar. However, what they`ve forgotten or don`t know is that fruit also contains fiber, which counters the effects of sugar levels in the blood. just like protein.

It all really comes down to education. Packaged and/or processed foods, especially those with any types of additives, spike blood sugar. This is pretty straight-forward but other information can confusing. For instance, some would love to say that ALL white foods have a high glycemic load but it`s all relative: white basmati rice is healthier than regular white rice BUT white rice is better than a microwavable, pre-packaged pizza.

The best meals are those that are homemade because you KNOW what`s in them. Pre-planned meals are ideal but life sometimes gets in the way. This is where self-education in food and how it affects the body is extremely helpful.

How Activity Affects Our Blood Sugar

Healthy living isn`t just about eating like a diabetic to avoid being one; it`s also about making exercise an important part of every day. You see, the available glucose in the blood is used first to fuel our activity. When we`re active enough to burnout the glucose immediately available in our blood, the body moves to the glucose in our fat reserves.

A good rule of thumb is that if you plan on indulging in any form of sugar, EARN it. Either before or after, engage in an intense workout. Come on, warrior you, move your body, work those muscles, pump the sweat out of your pores! Work a little harder to earn that indulgence! It`s all about moderation so if you go all crazy with the sugar, you can off-set it`s effects with a little hard work.

This is a TON of information in one post, we know. We hope we didn`t overwhelm you all at once and effectively explained the effects of sugar on health and diabetes in an easy-to-understand way.

Diabetics who have been successfully managing their diabetes once had lifestyles similar to ours. They may have been forced to change but we have the opportunity to make a decision which includes forethought. We have the chance to make the decision to change before we are forced to change.

Do you have any tricks of treating yourself so that diabetes isn`t a reality for you?

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