Avoiding Diabetes

Whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, sugared soft drinks should not be on your menu. If you are a type 1, you need to raise blood sugar and get your energy from fresh or dried fruits. If you are type 2, sugar should be off the table – for life. However; have you ever given much thought as to how to avoid diabetes altogether? 

If you have gestational diabetes, even more care is required, because you can pass the tendency to this disease on to all your offspring.

In fact, it’s now a distinct possibility that as few as two sugared drinks a day could double the risk of developing both type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disorder – and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study out of Sweden.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 92 percent of all diagnosed diabetes cases in the United States, is generally regarded as a disease of lifestyle related to obesity, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices. About 28.5 million Americans have diabetes.

Other Forms of Diabetes

Sugared drinks, also called soft drinks, also increase the risk of developing latent autoimmune diabetes, which shares characteristics with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes, or glucose intolerance, develops slowly, and victims may not need insulin for at least six months after diagnosis, but the process is inevitable nonetheless.

In short, notes the study, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, each soft drink you consume raises your risk for developing diabetes by 20 percent. And that’s a lot. Double that, to about 24 ounces (about 700 ml) and you have insulin waiting in the wings for you whether you want it or not.

In addition to the forms mentioned above, diabetes can also appear as:

  • MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (irreversible), develops later than Type 1 diabetes but usually before age 25. It is often genetic, and does not always require insulin treatment.
  • Double diabetes (irreversible) is an autoimmune disease like Type 1.
  • Type 3 diabetes is insulin resistance in the brain (reversibility unknown), and some researchers now associate it with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Steroid-induced diabetes (irreversible in context) can result from the use of steroids in treating asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RAs), and certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Brittle diabetes (irreversible), a hard-to-control form of Type 1 diabetes, which has elements of IBD, thyroid imbalance, and adrenal gland malfunction.
  • Secondary diabetes (irreversible), which results from certain health conditions like cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, to name a few.
  • Diabetes insipidus (unknown), a very rare form of diabetes that results from excessive urination.

The Role of Insulin in Diabetes

Insulin is made in the pancreas and helps the body convert sugar into energy as part of the metabolic process.

When the pancreas fails to work as well as it should, most patients are diagnosed with diabetes, usually type 2 diabetes. Doctors may also refer to something called “metabolic syndrome”, which is a whole complex of problems, type 2 diabetes being only one aspect of a general, body-wide failure.  

Diabetic researchers have begun to believe that one aspect of diabetes (at least, type 2 diabetes) may be as simple as energy storage. Until the problem is identified and fixed, however, insulin is the weapon of choice when diabetics are no longer able to control their blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and oral medications.

Insulin currently comes in liquid form, in vials or prefilled pens, and is injected by “units” into a fatty area on the body, typically belly, thigh, or forearm, in either slow-acting or fast-acting formulas. In the latter case, one unit typically represents about 10 degrees above normal blood sugar, which is considered to range from less than 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) before meals to up to 140 mg/dl up to two hours after meals.  

The Future of Insulin

Not too far in the future, expect to get insulin from a patch, an implanted pump, a skin port (like a permanent IV port), or even inhaled insulin. Some scientists are even looking at a bionic pancreas, surgically inserted to take over where the pancreas has failed.

Until we reach that wonderful future, the best thing diabetics can do – for themselves and their loved ones – is to eat right (no sweets, fewer carbohydrates, lots of veggies, focus on lean proteins), exercise, and getting restful sleep. Believe it or not, sleep apnea may be a leading trigger for diabetes and insulin resistance. So if you sleep badly, wake frequently, and never feel rested, see your doctor.

Should Restaurants Offer Diabetic Friendly Menus?

In a survey done in the year 2014, around 9.3% of the population was suffering from diabetes. That is about 29.1 million Americans. The most inconvenient thing about being diabetic is keeping track of everything that is consumed. This makes it difficult to “eat out” at a favorite restaurant. Most restaurants do not take into consideration any of the needs or preferences of the 29 million diabetics that visit their establishments. Generally, most of the restaurants are for non-diabetic individuals who do not have to manage and check what they eat. These establishments do not bother much about cooking food or preparing menu items that are diabetic-friendly.

Wait Times

Restaurants serving food to individuals with diabetes should keep in mind that the patients with a high (or low) glucose levels need to eat on time. Individuals that are diabetics likely take insulin injections or tablets, and within a certain time, they need to eat. Restaurants should understand this and should provide services accordingly. Restaurants should also be mindful of not keeping patrons waiting for too long. There should also be emergency medical kits in case anyone falls sick in the establishment.

Menu Redesign

Experienced chefs should redesign menus that are appropriate for consumption for those that suffer from diabetes. They should know and report on the menu the amount of sugar and salt that is in the food. Moreover, they should know and disclose which starchy items that may be included in meals. Menus should be more transparent and disclose exactly what is in their food. For many Americans, this is a crucial determinant in keeping their sugar levels in control.

Diabetic-Friendly Options

Restaurants should also provide diabetic-friendly options in their menus. Having diabetes does not mean eating having to eat tasteless or bland foods. Those with diabetes need to know that they have a high range of options too. With the increase in diabetes across the nations, our restaurants should be doing more to provide meals that everyone can enjoy, while still being healthy.

Choosing a Restaurant

There are certain important things that the diabetics should also remember while choosing to eat out:

  • They need to find out whether the restaurants they are visiting offer diabetic-friendly options. Research the restaurant and their menu beforehand.
  • They should not accept just anything that is available in the menu. They should be particular about the menus they are choosing.
  • They should not feel awkward letting the waiter know about food preparation preferences. It is very important to watch what you eat.
  • Be mindful about portion control.
  • Avoid the extras, and ask for substitutes when necessary.

Having diabetes has become a social problem and social responsibility. We all must work together to have a healthier nation. Restaurants can opt to include healthier options, but we have to opt to pick those healthy options. That is our personal responsibility. We all deserve to be healthy. That starts at the table.

Do you suffer from diabetes? How do you choose a restaurant?