Diabetes is a disease that often doesn’t get the same attention as other major health issues such as heart disease and cancer in the UK. Whether in the media or understanding how to treat and prevent there needs to be more awareness.
It is estimated that over 4 million people are living in the UK at present suffering with diabetes. This needs to be addressed. In this blog I’ve highlighted a few ways to help minimise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin.
Symptoms include; needing to wee a lot, feeling extremely thirsty, cuts and grazes healing slowly and getting infections like thrush. People often perceive some of these symptoms as not being serious, meaning they ignore them, often for many years.
Over a prolonged period, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet (even leading amputations in severe cases) and your kidneys.
Some ways to manage diabetes include healthy eating, being more active, and losing weight.
For more info see – What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Mediterranean diets rich in fruit and vegetables are known to be healthy for people with diabetes. Diets rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.
Large-scale studies have linked a Mediterranean diet with a lower chance of developing diabetes.
What is in a Mediterranean diet?
A traditional Mediterranean diet is principally composed of:
- Oily fish
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Olive oil
Five ways to manage Diabetes using the Mediterranean Diet
1. High veggie content makes for a healthy and good-looking plate of food!
One of the reasons why Mediterranean diets are healthy is that they include a strong vegetable content. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, olives, onions, rocket and lettuce are not only great for blood glucose levels but make for very visually appealing meals too.
Most people should be able to include a moderate amount of fruit. If you are susceptible to sharp spikes in blood glucose levels opt for lower carb fruits such as berries.
This diet is not a restrictive diet and so it is not linked with vitamin or mineral deficiencies and therefore gets further praise as an easy diet to adopt and follow.
2. Good fats
Lay off the trans fats. The golden rule here is that we eat whole, unmolested foods, as nature intended.
A Mediterranean diet typically includes a good intake of fat from a diverse set of foods including feta, halloumi and mozzarella cheeses, goats milk, yoghurt, olive oil, avocado, oily fish and nuts.
The diet is often recommended by health charities and the NHS because it has a higher proportion of unsaturated to saturated fats
3. Varied protein (some read meat)
Beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry and a moderate amount of red meat provide protein.
It’s worth noting that some diets can actually be too high in protein (proportionally) meaning you miss out on vital micronutrients found in fruit and veg.
Try and vary your meat sources, don’t rely on Whey shakes and chicken breasts 7-days a week.
4. Be careful with your starches!
Whilst the thought of a baguette in France or a Cabonara in Italy may be enticing, do consider; not everyone with diabetes can handle starchy foods as well as others so stick to portion sizes that won’t greatly raise your sugar levels.
Do not overload on the breads and pasta’s, aim for the root vegetables if you feel you need a dense carbohydrate.
Earn your carbs! Plan the higher starch meals in/around exercise, when you’re experiencing lower blood sugars.
5. Focus on fresh
You do not need to stick to just having Mediterranean dishes but should embrace the spirit of the diet which is to focus on fresh rather than processed foods.
By steering clear of packaged foods with long shelf lives, in favor of fresh seasonal veg you’ll be sure to thrive.
The golden rule is that you shouldn’t need to read the ingredients. You should just know what is in the dish. Every ingredient. No questions need to be asked.
Why not try visiting your local green grocer or framers market? Mix it up, set challenges, like cooking with a new vegetable each week.
Once making the above changes one should be able to avoid any blood sugar spikes or dips and hopefully keep of any risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Success in health,