Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Type 2 diabetes means the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not absorbed into the cells. This is problematic because insulin regulates blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood. Deprived of this mechanism, blood sugar levels can soar, which in turn causes a cascade of problems.
Fortunately, diet offers an alternative means of moderating blood sugar levels.
The key is to cut back on foods with a high carbohydrate content because certain high-carb items are broken down into glucose (blood sugar) relatively fast, which results in blood sugar spikes.
The worst culprits are starchy foods, as Diabetes UK explains: “They all contain carbohydrate, which is broken down into glucose and used by our cells as fuel.
“The problem with some starchy foods is that it can raise blood glucose levels quickly, which can make it harder for you to manage your diabetes.”
Although vegetables are a net good, you should only eat “some” of the starchier variety, advises the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The ADA singles out the following starchy vegetables:
- Green peas
- Sweet potatoes
To identify the safer options, you should refer to the glycaemic index (GI) – a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates.
It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
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You should generally opt for non-starchy vegetables that rank lower on the GI as they are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
- Amaranth or Chinese spinach
- Artichoke hearts
- Baby corn
- Bamboo shoots
- Beans (green, wax, Italian)
- Bean sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
Some low GI foods, such as wholegrain foods, fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils, are foods we should eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
However, using the glycaemic index to decide whether foods or combinations of foods are healthy can be misleading.
“Foods with a high GI are not necessarily unhealthy and not all foods with a low GI are healthy,” explains the NHS.
The health body continues: “Also, foods that contain or are cooked with fat and protein slow down the absorption of carbohydrate, lowering their GI.”
If you only eat foods with a low GI, your diet may be unbalanced and high in fat, it points out.
“Therefore, relying on GI alone is not a reliable way to decide whether foods or combinations of foods are healthy.”
Type 2 diabetes – do you have it?
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
The health body says: “A GP can diagnose diabetes. You’ll need a blood test, which you may have to go to your local health centre for if it cannot be done at your GP surgery.”
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