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.

Lunch Ideas for Diabetic Children

Being a mom is never easy, but packing lunches for your kids is especially hard. And if your kids have diabetes, things get even more difficult. Kids can be picky in best of circumstances, and most of them don’t have the mental abilities yet to understand their medical condition.

 

But there’s plenty of nutritious food that even kids will love. Not everything is loaded with sugar. And on the other hand, not all foods marketed as healthy will be appropriate for a child with diabetes. Read on for some basic advice on what to seek and what to avoid when putting together your kids’ lunches.

Add Cheese and Fresh Fruit for Lunch

Fresh fruit is a great way to get your children eating nutrient packed foods. Fruits are full of vitamins and minerals, and for most parents, fruit is an easy thing to pack for kids. But if your kids have diabetes, fruit has a catch: it’s often loaded with sugars. Grapes, apples, bananas, and other fruits may lead to blood sugar spikes.

 

One way to counteract this sugar blast is to add some cheese to your kids’ fruits. Cheese is filled with protein, which makes diabetic bodies process carbohydrates more efficiently. Luckily, high protein cheeses are easy to find, and kids love them. Try adding a few cubes of cheese to a small tupperware of grapes to keep your kids happy and healthy.

Avoid a High Sugar Lunch

Not all supposedly healthy food is going to be good for your kids, especially if those kids are diabetic. Yogurts, especially, can pack some seriously absurd degrees of sugar. A little container of yogurt, if you’re not careful, can be as sugary as a can of soda.

 

Yogurt does have plenty of health benefits. If you look at labels, you won’t have too much trouble finding a yogurt that doesn’t overload your kids’ blood with glucose.

Go Nuts!

Another way to add protein to yours kids’ diet—and thus help their bodies process sugars at a safe pace—is to add nuts to their diets. Nuts like almonds and walnuts and loaded with proteins and healthy fats that will give your kids long-lasting and powerful energy. And they’re delicious. Most kids love the crunch and flavor of nuts. Just remember to lay off the salt.

Use Whole Grain Bread for Sandwiches

Kids love sandwiches, and as a mom, you’ve probably already gotten sandwich-making down to a fine art. But did you know that fluffy white bread can be tough on diabetic systems? Processed, white breads are digested quickly and can make blood sugar levels pop up. Stick to whole grain breads, which the body digests more slowly.

Add Some Emergency Sweet Stuff

Diabetes can lead to low blood sugar as well as high. And low blood sugar is scarier. Make sure your child has access to foods that can boost sugars quickly. Send a juice box with them with they leave for school, but remember to tell them to save it for when they need it; a jump in glucose levels is usually not the thing they need.   

5 Tasty Snacks for Diabetics

Diabetes can make snacking a guilt-ridden, nerve-wracking experience. Society provides us with an array of sugary, carb-saturated quick fixes for our mid-afternoon or late-night cravings. For diabetics, these constantly available treats—cookies, crackers, soda pops, and the like—can seem like the only options. And those options don’t look good. Your average supermarket snack will force your blood sugars to spike and your health to plummet.

 

Luckily, though, there’s a variety of healthy snacks just as vast and tasty as anything the neighborhood donut shop has to offer. By focusing on nutrition and taste, you can ensure long-lasting, body-boosting results.

Grapes and Cheese

This one may come as a surprise to some people. Grapes are relatively highly caloric and sugary, and cheese is relatively high in fat. Shouldn’t that make this a nasty decadent cocktail for someone with diabetes? Not so, say many dieticians. The reason is this: when you have diabetes, your blood sugar will spike when it gets filled with unadulterated sugar. But combining that sugar with proteins and fats will help your body digest carbs at an efficient pace. Grapes will give you a good burst of energy, while the protein and fat in the cheese will help your body process that energy at a reasonable pace.

Carrot Sticks

The nutritional benefits of carrots are well established. Ask ten people to suggest a healthy food, and chances are most of them will say carrot before you’ve even finished asking the question. And the reputation is much-deserved. Carrots are one of the most nutritious things you can eat. And unlike that pack of crackers, carrots will actually fill up for more than twenty minutes. If you’re not used to plain carrots, don’t worry—there are plenty of ways to get used to them. Cook them, or dip them a little ranch dressing.

Walnuts

Walnuts are low in carbohydrates, which will keep your blood sugars happy. What’s more, walnuts are high in good fats and protein. This non-carb energy bomb will keep you full and satisfied; your glucose will stay balanced. It should be noted, however, that the fat content of walnuts could get you in trouble. Walnuts are packed with the so-called good fats—polyunsaturated and monounsaturated—and are not nearly as detrimental to your health as other fatty snacks, but they’ll still bulk you up if you overindulge.

Low Sugar Yogurt

Like many of the other products listed, yogurts tend to be packed with protein, ensuring that sugars get processed at decent rate and helping to stabilize your blood sugar. There’s a catch with yogurts, though, and that catch is this: many of them are absolutely loaded with sugars. As a diabetic, you’re already aware of the dangers of high sugar. Lots of yogurts brag about being low-fat, but the real thing you should watch for is low-sugar. Keep an eye on your labels, and you’ll have a delicious, high protein snack in yogurt.

Popcorn

Like yogurt, this one doesn’t always apply. To keep popcorn at acceptable levels, you’ve got do ti right: air pop it, leave the butter and salt out, etc. And even at its best, popcorn has moderate levels of carbohydrate. Furthermore, popcorn’s benefits are more related to what it doesn’t have than to what it does have; frankly, popcorn’s reputation is based on its lack of bad things, not the presence of dense nutrients. Watch your carb points, and use popcorn as a treat.