World Diabetes Day: What You Need to Know About Your Risk and Proven Prevention Strategies
Today is World Diabetes Day. If you think this doesn’t pertain to you, we hope you’re right. But statistically, it affects someone very close to you. The International Diabetes Federation notes that 415 million adults were living with diabetes in 2015. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 in every 2 American adults has diabetes or is pre-diabetic. Think about that for a moment – half of all the adults in the U.S. are living with the disease, whether they are aware of it or not.
We at Zing are dedicated to helping people eat right and maintain their healthiest, most active lives possible. We feel the more people understand diabetes, the better they can combat and prevent the disease.
What Exactly is Diabetes?
Many of us know diabetes has something to do with blood sugar. The CDC defines it as:
“…the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.”
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It can lead to kidney failure, lower extremity amputation, heart disease and even blindness. 90-95 percent of those with diabetes are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Risk factors include obesity, sedentary lifestyles, family history, impaired glucose tolerance, age and race/ethnicity.
For those at higher risk due to factors they can’t control like family history, age, race or ethnicity, diabetes is still not a sure thing. No matter how many risk factors you may have – small changes to your daily habits can significantly decrease your chance of getting this chronic disease.
What is the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster and How Can I Get Off the Ride?
When we eat processed and sugary foods like white bread, chips, cookies, and “low-fat” and “fat-free” options of foods which are filled with hidden sugars, we’re setting ourselves up to ride the blood sugar roller coaster – and we are putting ourselves at higher risk of diabetes.
You only get energy from food up until a certain point. Once you cross this threshold, your blood sugar spikes, followed by a sharp decline. That drop is when you feel sluggish, foggy-brained, and you start craving more of the bad stuff. Once ingested, you might feel good for a little bit, but then the cycle repeats itself.
What’s worse, in addition to feeling miserable, you’re providing the ideal conditions for fat to build up in the body.
Once your blood sugar spikes, the body stops using food as fuel, and starts storing it as fat. Over time, this leads to obesity, which puts you at higher risk of diabetes.
Avoid this roller coaster by:
- Eating 4-5 smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day
- Include more fiber in your diet (Zing Bars are an excellent source!)
- Focus on low-glycemic carbs (whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice)
- Minimize refined carbs like sugar and white flour (white bread, crackers, cookies, muffins, refined breakfast cereal, soda and even large quantities of juice)
“The good news I tell my clients is that ‘starch’ and ‘carbs’ may be included in a meal plan – even if you are living with diabetes,” said Constance Brown Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN. “For starches, I advise eating as many high-fiber choices as possible, as the fiber may help slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.”
Studies show that the more you eat healthy, stay active, and maintain a healthy weight, the lower your risk of diabetes. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, we encourage you to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to learn what small changes you can make to create lasting differences in your health and energy levels. A small tip – a dietitian with the credentials “CDE” behind his or her name denotes they are a Certified Diabetes Educator and are specialists when it comes to helping you!
As professional nutritionists, we at Zing care very much about your health and wellbeing. Together, we can help reverse the growing number of people affected by diabetes and make the need for World Diabetes Day a thing of the past. Let’s start by fueling our bodies with the good stuff to regulate our blood sugar levels!
Please show your support today by Tweeting #Test2Prevent to encourage diabetes screening.