Type 2 diabetes: A nutrition expert expert busts common myths
It’s quite common to find someone with type 2 diabetes in India. In fact, some estimates suggest that the country could have about 134 million cases of diabetes by 2045! The increase in the prevalence of this disease is primarily due to modifiable risk factors such as sedentary lifestyles, obesity, unhealthy diets, environmental pollutants, stress, and lack of sleep. Taking the right steps can help manage diabetes better and allow patients to lead a normal life. So, it’s important to dispel the myths associated with type 2 diabetes.
Diet and nutrition play important roles in managing type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be managed by diet and nutrition, rather than being solely reliant on pharmaceutical treatment. The level of glucose in the body, the way insulin is produced and the sensitivity of the cells for insulin is influenced by a person’s food choices, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors play an important role in this. Many people with diabetes make the mistake of considering their diet just a small contributor in combination with medication. For example, they may decide on the amount of food they eat and the type of food based on their insulin dosage. However, if they were eating the optimum amount of carbohydrates, they might not need medication in the first place.
The key to a successful diabetes diet is really more about understanding how different types of food and physical activity affect blood sugar levels and making changes accordingly, rather than relying solely on medication.
Type 2 diabetes and excess consumption of sugar
Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is an excess of sugars in the diet, which are converted to glucose in the body and lead to spikes in insulin. To manage it, it is important to reduce consumption of carbohydrates, sugars, and other foods that increase glucose levels in the body. Certain nutrients can help to regulate blood sugar levels and improve overall health. These include macro nutrients such as fibre and micro nutrients such as zinc and folic acid. These nutrients support optimal biochemistry and hormonal balance, leading to better blood sugar control and potentially reducing the need for medication.
Common myths around type 2 diabetes diet
We often hear people saying “eat this” or “avoid this” if you are a diabetic. They aren’t all facts, so it’s important to know several myths surrounding the diet for type 2 diabetes.
Myth 1. Eat small and frequent meals
Diabetics are generally told that if they want their blood sugar to be balanced, they have to eat small frequent meals. This is a complete misnomer. The fact is they should follow time-restricted eating.
Eating during a specific time window is shown to be an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and help reverse the underlying biochemistry that led to the development of diabetes. One approach to do this is to eat within a specific time window each day, such as from 10 a.m to 7 p.m, and then to abstain from eating for the rest of the day until the next morning. It’s one of the easiest ways to reverse the condition and it has been clinically researched and proven. Every time you eat, you cause insulin spikes because insulin production is a response to food intake. The lesser the frequency of eating, hyperinsulinemia, which causes insulin resistance in the first place, goes away. This means that you should only eat 2-3 times a day. This is applicable only for those people who are on oral medications and not injectable insulin.
Myth 2: Type 2 diabetes cannot be reversed
People think that diabetes is here to stay and they won’t be able to live their life normally. They have been constantly told that they have to live with it forever.But to tell you the fact, Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed.
It develops as a result of bioregulatory aberrations within the body arising from diet, lifestyle, and other factors. By making changes to these factors, it is possible to improve insulin function and reverse type 2 diabetes. These changes may include modifying the types and amounts of food that are eaten, making lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and addressing other factors that may contribute to the development of the condition.
Myth 3: Diabetes is a progressive disease
It is a common misconception that individuals with type 2 diabetes who have had the condition for a long time are at risk of developing severe complications such as kidney failure, glaucoma, and cataracts. It is true that these complications can occur in some people with type 2 diabetes. However, it’s important to note that these complications are often the result of poorly managed blood sugars and the medications used to manage the condition, which can be toxic to the kidneys and liver. By effectively managing type 2 diabetes with the use of appropriate nutritional and lifestyle interventions and minimizing reliance on medication, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing these complications.
In fact, diabetes is not a progressive disease if conquered with the right interventions. It is a lifestyle disease. People who get these complications are typically those who are excessively dependent on medication to manage diabetes, instead of doing the right lifestyle interventions.
How to reverse diabetes?
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they assume that they now have to live with compromised health and choices. When we eat food, we know what we are eating and we’ll know if it is going to make us diseased or healthy. Many times we don’t put our mind to what we are eating. People think that they have to live without eating their favourite foods, or avoid festive occasions to avoid eating anything wrong or live a compromised lifestyle. If you proactively understand and manage the disease, keep your food intake and weight in check, stay physically active, manage stress and have adequate rest then you can reverse diabetes.