By Mary Gynn, RN, BSN, MSN/MS, MPH, Diabetes Educator
The obvious secret to diabetes success is consistent blood sugar control. No ups and downs of blood sugar levels. Otherwise, the result, over time, is the inflammation that sugar, circulating in the blood, causes to all cells. This up and down blood sugar fluctuation causes irritation to all cells as sugar cir-culates in the blood. The goal for blood sugar is to control it over the years. Otherwise, gradually, complications begin and the resistance of the cells to treatment persists.
The answer is repeated, over and over, that lifestyle modification and changes must be the cornerstone of any management plan for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The diabetic must attend to basic problems of obesity/overweight, nutrition, and exercise. These changes will dramatically increase the success of any long-term treatment plan and help to prevent or delay disease development for those with prediabetes. Otherwise, medications become less effective, and com-plications of hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol levels increase, causing a stress reaction in the cells of the body. The health problems continue to worsen and the cost increases.
popular and available from stores and markets. You may have to pay slightly more, but the foods are usually fresher, more nutritious and less damaging to the environment than foods flown from thousands of miles away and kept in cold storage for months.
The answer to the above is a life-style change by the diabetic. Stopping smoking, getting adequate rest, and doing physical activity, whether sit-ting, standing, walking or running, are key. The biggest change is nutritional meal-planning education and portion control. The diabetic must learn about carbohydrate, protein, fat, and sugar intake and discuss with knowledgeable health professionals who have the time and expertise to discuss the foods that damage cell health. The responsibility remains with the diabetic.
Recent research has identified several natural plant compounds that could play a crucial role in preventing heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. These compounds are known as phytochemicals and may, in the future, be classified as essential nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans, and lentils contain a range of phytochemicals. These foods have a high number of vitamins and minerals in comparison to the calories they contain. They are generally low in fat, rich in antioxidants, known to protect us from the most prevalent diseases, and a good source of fiber. Organic produce, which is grown with-out the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, is becoming increasingly
1) Buy fresh foods from stores with a high turnover of goods. Avoid foods and vegetables that are displayed in the open air or in a hot, light window, since nutrients will be diminished. Fluorescent lighting also depletes nutrients.
2) Remove fresh produce from plastic bags when storing. Loose fresh pro-duce is also much easier to check for quality.
3) Wild or organic salmon and trout
are preferable to farmed fish. Undyed smoked haddock and cod is better than the highly colored, bright-yellow alter-natives.
4) Check labels when buying pack-aged foods. Avoid those with high amounts of sugar, saturated and hydrogenated (trans) fat, colors, additives, flavoring, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.
5) When buying eggs, look for organic, high-quality ones. Farm-fresh or boxes depicting attractive countryside scenes mean nothing: The eggs are usually from battery farms. Organic eggs
come from hens that have been better looked after and are not routinely fed antibiotics and yolk-enhancing dyes.
6) Refined sugars and those found in processed foods, including cookies, candy and cakes, have little or no nutritional value. Eating a sugary food gives a temporary surge in energy (and blood sugar elevation) that is promptly followed by a slump, but the blood sugar elevation remains.
7) Look out for sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, corn syrup, invert sugar, and dextrose on food labels, which are basically sugar by another name. Honey and maple syrup are marginally better, as they contain a few minerals, but they have the same effect on blood sugar levels.
More information will follow in my future articles about the need for diabetics to have ongoing food education. That education for the diabetic is No. 1 in the treatment of diabetes and can lead to eventual weight and blood sugar control.