Diabetes - how you can help yourself

Excess sugar leads to disease Diabetes can be treated

We live faster and faster, we forget about regular nutrition, often in a hurry we stuff ourselves with high-calorie products of poor quality. In addition, we are stressed at work and have a sedentary lifestyle. These factors contribute to the development of obesity and closely related diseases, such as: hypertension, high levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, reduced levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, too high blood glucose levels, or tissue resistance to insulin. 

Diabetes can be treated, but prevention is better

Improving tissue sensitivity to insulin is an absolute must. In addition to dietary changes, physical activity must be implemented. People with disorders of carbohydrate metabolism must move a lot, they must take care of the type and amount of carbohydrates consumed and the regularity of meals. It is also worth paying attention to the fat and fiber content of the diet. 

The diet should be based on reducing the total amount of carbohydratesThe diet should be based on both simple and complex foods. First of all you should completely eliminate products that rapidly increase the level of sugar, and consequently insulin, in the blood. Processed foods, sweetened drinks, juices, dried fruits, sweets, refined foods - white wheat flour or maple syrup - should definitely be excluded from the menu. 

Products that regulate sugar levels 

When choosing foods, look at their glycemic index (GI). The lower it is, the better. It's also important that the menu doesn't consist of only carbohydrates (e.g. fruit or oatmeal) - the addition of protein, fat and fibre will reduce the GI of the food, which is good for insulin sensitivity.

Some products are low in sugar and help control diabetes

Beans and lentils 

Green, yellow, red lentils, and one of dozens of varieties of beans are all low glycemic index crops. These legumes, like others, are a brilliant alternative to other satiating nutrients, but at the expense of not feeling hungry, they provide excess sugar. Fiber and protein regulate blood sugar levels, inhibiting the effect of its sudden spike moments after a meal. Starch, having the same function, relies on the ability to slow down the digestion of nutrients. 

Magnesium is an element that has a huge impact on metabolism, which cannot be ignored. In addition to the above, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins E, C and B should be mentioned. Beans and lentils are useful in vegetarian and vegan diets. Thanks to the high protein content they are a great substitute for meat. 

Citrus fruits 

Lovers of citrus fruits are divided into those who refer to the natural bitterness of grapefruit or the sour taste of oranges; there are also those who like their sweeter varieties. Despite appearances, even sweet citrus fruits have a low glycemic index. They especially benefit when combined with pineapple, banana or watermelon. 

Unlike the above, you can consume them in larger quantities. In addition, citrus fruits are rich in fiber, making them great as a snack. They do not lack phytohormones, which carry with them rich health-promoting properties. Not all of them are directly related to the regulation of blood sugar levels, but noteworthy are those with strong anti-diabetic properties - naringenin, a polyphenol. 

Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin 

Pumpkin, or Cucurbita L. in Latin, is a plant that is associated especially in the fall, probably due to the fact that it is ripe enough then. In the rest of the year it is worth using its seeds. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which gives a feeling of satiety after consumption. It is also a good source of vitamin C, which is a good source of vitamins and minerals. 

Polysaccharides are carbohydrates with the potential to break down slowly, so they do not contribute to a sudden spike in blood sugar after a meal. 

Diabetics will appreciate pumpkin especially in its powdered form, which, when added to food, also performs its function and adds a remarkable aroma to dishes. In the case of some countries, pumpkin has risen to the status of a full-fledged diabetes remedy, including Iran and Mexico. 

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts 

Broccoli is a vegetable in the Brassicaceae family, a beautiful green color that is called cruciferous because of the way it is arranged in the head. Their consumption should be a standard part of your diet. They are one of the best known concentrated sources of glucosinolates, such as glucoraphanin. The latter is particularly present in broccoli sprouts. It has been shown that, glucosinolates help raise the threshold of insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes notice the above especially when supplemented in powder or extract form. 

In people with diabetes Type 2 when supplemented in powder or extract form. In addition to broccoli, other cruciferous vegetables also help reduce the risk of getting this type of disease. In the case of broccoli and broccoli sprouts, they are best eaten raw or as lightly steamed. 

In addition, eating cruciferous vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind that the best way to get the most nutrients is to enjoy broccoli and broccoli sprouts raw or lightly steamed. 

Seafood 

Although on the surface it seems not very logical, the fact is that protein has an invaluable ability to control blood sugar levels. Seafood, including fish and shellfish, are particularly valuable sources of protein. In addition to having the basic building block of protein, protein is also praised for its abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which play a major role in sugar regulation. Protein slows down digestion (and gives a longer feeling of satiety), so there are no sudden "postprandial" sugar spikes. 

Importantly, like any meat, seafood and fish, is provided with fats, but in their case these are the so-called healthy fats. Therefore, the protagonists of this piece of text are not indifferent to other health aspects either. The regulation of sugar levels is influenced by the amount of body fat, so a small amount of body fat is preferable. The conclusion is simple: it is worthwhile to partially replace poultry or beef with fish and shrimp. 

Hyperglycemia 

Hyperglycemia is a condition in which the concentration of glucose in the blood, or blood glucose, exceeds the upper limit of normal. It is also called overdiagnosis. Its opposite is hypoglycemia (hypoglycemia), which is too low a concentration of this sugar in the blood. Hyperglycemia can take the form of an acute condition or a chronic form.

avoid excess sugar leads to serious diseases

Fasting blood glucose in a healthy person is 60-99 mg/dl, and 120 mg/dl up to 2 hours after a meal. Hyperglycemia is said to occur when blood glucose levels exceed 180 mg/dl. It is considered an alarm signal of pre-diabetes, and a sustained sugar level above 126 mg/dl is already considered by most specialists as a sign of diabetes. 

Glucose is a simple sugar formed during the digestion of carbohydrates. It is the primary energy source for all cells in the body. However, insulin is needed for it to enter them in most cases (exceptions include the brain, nerve fibers, retina, kidneys, adrenal glands, blood vessels, and erythrocytes). 

Insulin is a hormone produced in beta cells in the islands of Langerhans, which are located in the pancreas. Elevated blood glucose levels provoke the release of insulin, which allows the cells to take up this sugar, and blood glucose levels drop. 

Hyperglycemia - symptoms 

Unlike a hypoglycemic state, symptoms of hyperglycemia often remain latent and pass unnoticed. In most cases, symptoms do not appear until blood sugar levels exceed 270-360 mg/dL.  

The three classic symptoms of hyperglycemia are hyperphagia - excessive appetite, polydipsia - increased thirst, and polyuria - excessive urination, especially at night (this is a mechanism for excreting excess glucose). 

Complications of hyperglycemia 

High sugar levels have many side effects, including:

causes damage to blood vessels
disturbs lipid processes, causing the formation of abnormal compounds of cholesterol and triglycerides, deposited in the arteries (increased risk of atherosclerosis)
damages retinal vessels (risk of vision loss or cataracts)
damages enzymes involved in metabolic processes
interferes with blood clotting
raises the risk of heart attack
causes erectile dysfunction
leads to accelerated aging processes and destruction of cells and collagen
slows down wound healing processes
dries the skin (excess glucose is excreted from the body in the urine, causing dehydration)
increases the risk of infection
increases the likelihood of developing diabetes
can cause ketoacidosis, which often leads to coma or death

Carbohydrates 

They are the primary source of energy for humans. They perform many physiological functions in our body. These are organic compounds, which are divided into simple and complex sugars. However, we should carefully choose their source and know in which moment it will be more beneficial for us to take simple carbohydrates, and in which complex ones, because the excessive intake of simple sugars, especially at the wrong time, causes a number of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. 

Structure and division of carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are organic chemical compounds that are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They are usually divided according to the number of sugar units in the molecule. They are divided as follows: 

  • Monosaccharides (simple sugars): glucose, fructose, ribose, deoxyribose 
  • Disaccharides (disaccharides): sucrose, maltose, cellobiose 
  • Polysaccharides (polysaccharides): starch, cellulose 

Functions and role of carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are the main and most readily available source of energy for our body. This is their primary function that they perform. They are needed not only for all physical activity during the day, but also for the proper functioning of our brain and muscles. Carbohydrates are part of DNA and RNA, so they are modifications of some proteins and are responsible for the work of our endocrine system. 

They maintain the so-called "happy hormone", serotonin, at a high level, thus ensuring well-being. They regulate fat metabolism, which helps to reduce body fat. In case of their insufficient intake (below 50g of carbohydrates per day) ketone bodies are formed, from which the body is forced to draw energy. This of course has its pros and cons (hence the ketogenic diet), but it should not last too long, and we should be under constant medical supervision during its use. 

When following a balanced diet and eating rationally, carbohydrates should make up as much as 50-60% of caloric needs per day. 

The process of carbohydrate digestion 

Carbohydrate digestion begins as early as the mouth, and the enzyme responsible for carbohydrate digestion is called amylolytic enzyme. 

Polysaccharides are broken down into dextrins and maltose by salivary amylase. Next, the digestion of starch, glycogen, and dextrins continues in the duodenum due to the action of pancreatic amylase. The next stage is carbohydrate digestion under the influence of intestinal amylase. Thanks to its action, the final breakdown of polysaccharides takes place.

diet is important for diabetes to help digest carbohydrates

Disaccharidases are involved in the digestion of disaccharides. Under their influence, simple sugars (glucose, galactose, fructose) are formed and the stage of digestion of this type of carbohydrate ends. Simple sugars are absorbed in the duodenum and jejunum (one of the three parts of the small intestine) via the intestinal villi. They then enter the lumen of the blood vessels. Appropriate digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down each type of carbohydrate. 

Glycemic index 

It refers to carbohydrate products and determines the average, percentage increase in blood glucose concentration after consuming at least 50g of assimilable carbohydrates. The greater the glycemic index of a carbohydrate product, the greater the increase in blood sugar levels, and therefore the greater the level of insulin secreted by the pancreas. 

However, the glycemic index of a product is becoming less and less relevant because it only refers to one product and we can't use it for the whole meal we're eating. A carbohydrate product with a glycemic index of 70, for example, when combined with a protein product and a fat product, will have a lower glycemic index and its blood glucose level will not rise as high as if it were eaten without protein and fat. 

Major carbohydrate sources:

rice
groats
pastas
potatoes
oatmeal/egg flakes
flours of various kinds
dairy products
pulses
vegetables
fruits 

Ways to lower sugar levels 

Check your blood sugar levels regularly

If you have high blood sugar, you do not need to take medication to restore its level. The most effective way is to make lifestyle changes that will permanently lower your sugar levels.

The most important and integral part of fighting the problem is to follow a proper diet. After all, dietary mistakes are the main cause of increased glucose levels in the blood. The diet must be rich in dietary fiber, i.e. in vegetables and whole grain cereal products. It also becomes important to eat regular meals, about 4-5 every day. In addition, it is advisable to avoid overcooking cereal products such as groats, pasta and rice, associated with an increase in their glycemic index. It is also necessary to avoid sources of simple sugars and to limit the consumption of fruit, especially very sweet ones. 

In order to beat glucose levels, it is important to remember to be physically active, as movement causes glucose to be used up faster. Therefore, it is worth taking care of a small dose of physical activity every day. It does not have to be intensive training, but moderate exercise, adapted to the needs and abilities of a person. 

High sugar is in many cases the result of severe nervous tension, which can be very dangerous in people living under constant stress. It is therefore worthwhile to provide yourself with a little relaxation every day. It's a good idea to find an activity that calms you down and acts as an anti-stress device, while also helping to improve your performance. 

What to avoid to keep your blood glucose levels low 

If the blood glucose level is too high, it is necessary to eliminate products containing simple carbohydrates from the daily diet. These include sugar and foods containing it, such as sweets, confectionery, sweetened juices, nectars, sweetened drinks and fruit products. In addition, the consumption of refined cereal products such as wheat bread, white rice and groats such as semolina should also be limited. 

It is important to control the amount of fruit you eat. In the daily diet are allowed mainly those with a low content of carbohydrates, such as apples, citrus fruits. However, bananas, grapes and dried fruit should be excluded or eaten only occasionally. 

Some vegetables are also not recommended in a high sugar diet. These include: potatoes, broad beans, peas and corn because of their high starch content. In addition, it is necessary to eliminate alcohol (especially sweet), reheated meals and fast food. In the case of abnormal glucose results, it is also important to avoid eating flour products (dumplings, noodles, and pancakes). 

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