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Eat Right To Beat Diabetes: The Perks Of Mindful Eating

posted on 6/16/2016 Facebook Facebook

The increasing number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart ailments, hypertension, cancer etc. paints a grim picture of the current healthcare status across the globe. With millions of dollars spent on the treatment and management of these conditions, the economic burden is immense. 

One such disease which afflicts about 350 million people across the globe, killing over 50% of its patient and draining huge sums from the economy is diabetes. A metabolic disease—diabetes is spreading in pandemic proportions in the population both old and young. However, what’s more alarming are the problems that follow a diabetes diagnosis. From widespread nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure, and heart diseases; diabetes contributes to a number of health complications. While the market is flooded with medications that promise relief from both the symptoms and complications, the morbidity is still high. Hence, the question—should we be only focusing on treating diabetes? 

A Big Glaring Secret: Diabetes is Preventable 
If type II diabetes was infectious; the world would be in the midst of a serious epidemic. However, the good news is that diabetes is not infectious and is highly preventable. Research has repeatedly indicated that diabetes can be prevented in 9 out of 10 cases by adhering to healthy lifestyle choices. Keeping weight under control, eating a healthy diet, exercising more, not smoking etc. are some of the steps that have been known to keep diabetes at bay. 

Another interesting aspect which has been uncovered in recent years is the genetic nature of diabetes. Although your genes can influence the development of type II diabetes, they take a back seat to behavioral and lifestyle factors which have the ability to trigger the onset of the disease. Even if you have mutations in the genes which increase your risk for diabetes, you may be able to lower this risk by incorporating lifestyle modifications specific to your genomic profile. One major amendment that most clinicians recommend is to eat right. 

The Diabetes & Diet Connection
 “We are what we eat”, the oldest adage in the book sounds more convincing here than ever. In today’s fast-paced world, many of us eat on the run making poor food choices which not only leads to packing in more calories but eating without a conscious thought to the ingredients. Unhealthy foods high in fats and sugar take longer to process inside the body creating an extra burden on our organs. We tend to follow an easy skip out the mantra of “I’ll eat it now and fix it later” when indulging into cravings and oversized portions of unhealthy chow. However, what we fail to realize is that the junk we ingest cannot be fixed later, however hard you train. A healthy diet which is high in nutrients, low in fats and added sugar, and moderate in calories is all you need to keep diabetes and many other diseases at bay. 

Taking steps to prevent or even manage/control diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation: giving up on sweet treats entirely or resigning to a lifetime of bland food. Nevertheless, there are certain ground rules to follow. 

Fine Tune Your Diabetes Prevention Diet With These Tips
These four dietary changes have a major impact on cutting down the risk of diabetes:

1. Skip processed carbohydrates and load on whole grains and whole grain products. 
Processed carbohydrate foods like white rice, white bread, donuts, bagels and breakfast cereals although made from grains have high glycemic index causing sustained spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. In contrast, there is enough scientific evidence to propagate the idea that whole grains and whole grain products can help to cut down the spikes in your blood sugar levels. While they may not contain a mystical ingredient to curb diabetes, they work as an entire package. Rich in fiber and bran—whole grains come with a lower glycemic index and glycemic load—which leads to a slower release of glucose in the bloodstream preventing sudden fluctuations. Whole grains are also rich in essential nutrients—vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals which can reduce diabetes risk. 

2. Let go off those sugary drinks, drink water instead.
Beverages loaded with sugar especially fizzy carbonated drinks and packaged fruit juices have a high glycemic load and can increase the risk of diabetes. Eating too much sugar can result in weight gain, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. There is convincing evidence that sugary drinks contribute to chronic inflammation, high levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL or good cholesterol and increased risk of insulin resistance (wherein your body cannot utilize the produced insulin). Substitute your sugar loaded drinks with water. Some research also suggests that coffee may help protect against diabetes (so long as you do not load it up with sugar and cream). The antioxidants present in green herbal teas are known to fight LDL (bad cholesterol) and improve the functioning of pancreas and is a great way to prevent diabetes. 

3. Choose your fats wisely.
Fats are essential for a normal functioning and cannot be completely eliminated from the diet. However, you can choose which fats you take in on a daily basis. Load up on sources of polyunsaturated fats (good fats) such as nuts, seeds, olive oil etc. which can ward off diabetes. On the other hand, stay clear of trans fats found in fried foods, packaged baked goods, and products containing ‘partially hydrogenated fats’. 

4. Limit your intake of red meats and avoid processed meats.
The high content of iron in red meats is believed to reduce the effectiveness of insulin or damage the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin in the body. Swap your red meats for healthier protein sources like poultry, turkey, eggs, fish or whole grains to lower your diabetes risk naturally.

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