Diabetes: What You Should Know!  

Low carb foods picture

A selection of dishes prepared with Annette low-carb products

I’ve recently talked about diabetes in a post after I was invited to the “Cook with Annette’s” event. After checking their range of products and before posting some of the recipes that I will try with their flour, I think it is interesting to explain a bit more about this disease, its causes and its symptoms.

I am not a health expert, so I thought the best source to know more would be the World health organization. A quick visit to their website and here’s what I got!

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin – hormone that regulates blood sugar – or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

  • 347 million people in the world have diabetes
  • In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes
  • More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries
  • WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030

How many types of diabetes do we know?

Type 1:

  • Characterized by deficient insulin production
  • Requires daily administration of insulin
  • Unknown cause
  • Not preventable till day
  • Symptoms (may occur suddenly): excessive excretion of urine, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.

Type 2:

  • Results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin
  • Comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world
  • Is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity
  • Symptoms may be similar to those of Type 1, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen
  • Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes

Gestational diabetes:

  • Occurs during pregnancy
  • Increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future
  • Diagnosed through prenatal screening, rather than reported symptoms

 

Nutritional intervention

What are the types of foods that a diabetic person should eat or avoid? To have an expert’s advice, I asked dietitian Sarah Zoghbi Maftoum to tell me more about what a person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (the most common) should do. “The nutritional intervention and the amount of carbohydrate in the diet should be individualized based on the patient’s lifestyle, eating habits and weight history, says Sarah. But in general, patients with diabetes should:

  • Lose weight especially if they are overweight or obese.
  • Engage in physical activity and exercise for a minimum of 3 hours per week.
  • Replace sucrose rich foods such as sweets, candies, table sugar with complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes…
  • Consume a variety of fiber-rich foods such as legumes, raw nuts, vegetables…
  • Limit the intake of saturated fats mainly present in high fat dairy products and animal proteins, and replace them with good fats present in avocado, olive oil, nuts…
  • Limit their sodium intake
  • Limit their alcohol intake
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