Diabetes Mellitus- commonly known as Diabetes- is a group of metabolic disorders involving the blood sugar levels in the body. It results in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), due to inadequate metabolism of glucose.
It has been rising rapidly in the recent years; studies show that about 1 in 11 people suffer from diabetes.
There are various types of diabetes, depending on the cause:
Type 1: due to inadequate production of insulin
Type 2: due to inadequate utilization of insulin.
Gestational: occurs during pregnancy
Some of the symptoms of diabetes are increased urine output, decreased appetite, unexplained weight loss, infections that take time to recover and slow healing wounds. However, at times, the symptoms are not very apparent, leading to the diagnosis a number of years after the person is affected by it.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type; about 95% of the people affected suffer from this type. It usually affects people over the age of 45, but recently MODY (Matured onset diabetes of the young) is also observed.
Treatment includes medication as prescribed by your physician and a change in lifestyle. Exercise or walking for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week goes a long way in reducing hyperglycemia.
Diet too plays a very important role in controlling hyper glycaemia. Avoiding sweets and certain fruits, as advised by the doctor, helps. Studies show that a low carb diet is very effective and has resulted in a 32% increase in remission rates. People strictly adhering to a low carb diet for a minimum of 6 months have shown higher success in remission of Diabetes.
What is a low carb diet?
A low carb diet is one which restricts intake of carbohydrates (found in sugary foods, bread, pasta, highly starchy vegetables), concentrating on a diet high in proteins, healthy fats and fruits.
Foods which are low in carbohydrates are:
Lean meat- chicken breast, pork
Fruits like apples and berries
Green leafy vegetables, cauliflower and broccoli
Coconut oil, olive oil
Grains like quinoa, brown rice.
Foods rich in healthy fats include Avocado, chia seeds, cheese, yogurt and dark chocolate.
Benefits of a low carb diet
Besides controlling diabetes, a low carb diet also helps in weight loss, reduced usage of medicines and better fat concentration in the body. It improves blood glucose control.
Carbohydrates are stored in the body as glucose. High glucose levels in the body require more insulin to metabolize, utilize and store it. With reduction in carb intake, the amount of insulin required is less, thus reducing the load on the pancreas. It may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Adhering to a low carb diet
Though it is beneficial, sustaining a low carb diet for more than 6 months is difficult.
Experts suggest you start one meal at a time. Begin with your dinner –replace high carb food with healthier options like lean meat or green vegetables. Include beans or lentils which have high protein content.
Once you get used to this, alter your breakfast, snack times and lunch.
Avoid sweets- opt for low glycemic fruits like berries. Avoid processed foods; they have high percentage of sugar.
Maintain a food dairy, noting down the food you consumed.
Plan your meals in advance; it helps to maintain the diet. Also, knowing what you’re having for your main meals will help you in selecting healthier options for snacks.
Look for healthier options to make your meals wholesome as well as interesting- try lettuce leaves instead of a taco, zucchini ribbons instead of pasta.
Typically, after about 15 days, people notice a difference- they feel more energetic, fitter, may lose weight.
Remember, any diet in moderation is beneficial. However, carrying it to extreme limits can be harmful. Always consult your physician or a nutritionist before beginning a diet regimen.