Diabetes is an illness characterized by complications in producing insulin. It is a chronic and often debilitating illness, which effects 9.3% of Canadians. Diabetes can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or race. Despite it’s potential to be a very dangerous and even fatal illness, with the right resources it is a very manageable disease, and those effected can live normal and healthy lives. This week The Medical Station discusses how to manage diabetic health and nutrition through glycemic-conscious eating.
What is Glycemic-Conscious Eating?
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a 100-point scale, based on how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods that have a low GI are slow to metabolize and absorb, and do not cause fluctuations to blood sugar levels as high GI foods do. It is important for diabetics to consume foods with a low GI as they improve glucose and lipid levels, and reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.
The Glycemic Load (GL) is an application of the Glycemic Index, calculated by multiplying the percentage GI of a food by the total carbohydrates in that food. Foods should be between 10-20 GL, with a Glycemic Load lower than ten are considered to be low, and are often recommended for weight loss and diabetic management.
How You Can Maintain Health With Diabetes
Proper Eating and Exercise
Healthy eating and exercise patterns are the key to managing any health-related issue, diabetes included. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, with activities such as running, dancing, hiking, and kickboxing. They also recommend at least three sessions of resistance activity a week, such as weight lifting or core build-up exercises. Exercising consistently can lower glucose levels in the blood, which can result in the ability to minimize medical treatment for diabetes. Practicing good nutrition by consuming foods with a low GI can also have incredible benefits, such as normalized or reduced blood sugar, improved lipoprotein profiles, and the prevention of cardiovascular and kidney disease.
It is important for diabetics to maintain their cardiovascular health as they are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, generally developing heart problems ten to fifteen years earlier than those without diabetes. Cardiovascular health can be maintained by healthy eating and exercise habits, as well as by not smoking and avoiding anything that is high in sodium.
Dental and Podiatric Care
Foot problems and dental damage is common in those with diabetes, as there is lessened blood supply to the small arteries in the feet, and having high blood sugar takes a toll on one’s gums and teeth. Diabetics should be sure to visit their dentist and podiatrist regularly, as well as to avoid smoking and practice proper hygiene.