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How the Paleo Diet Can Help You Manage Diabetes

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World Diabetes Day is still several months away (it’s November 14th actually), but it’s still a good time to talk about diabetes and how it has been steadily cutting a swathe in the global population.

 

Diabetes is now the world’s fastest growing chronic condition. According to the Diabetes Atlas of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 1 in 11 adults or 415 million people have diabetes in 2015, with 1 in 2 adults with diabetes undiagnosed. Gestational diabetes affects 1 in 7 births while 542,000 children suffer from type 1 diabetes. More worryingly, 1 person dies from diabetes every 6 seconds, that’s about 5 million deaths around the world. Unfortunately, the outlook for the future doesn’t seem rosy as by 2040, the IDF has projected that 1 in 10 adults, or 642 million people, will have diabetes.

 

 

Knowing the Enemy: Diabetes

 

Diabetes is such an ubiquitous word now, but there are still those who don’t understand it. So what is diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a metabolic disease wherein a person has high blood sugar because the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, the cells don’t respond to the insulin properly or both. It’s a chronic condition that needs daily care, otherwise the complications that might develop will impact one’s quality of life and will reduce life expectancy. There is currently no cure for the disease, but it’s not necessarily a death sentence. Learning more about diabetes and how to manage it, will aid a diabetic in enjoying life to the fullest.

 

There are 3 types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin. A patient with this type of diabetes requires insulin injections their whole lives, which is why this type is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. Patients with Type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin, but it’s either not enough for the body to function normally, or the body is already insulin resistant. This is actually the most common type of diabetes, with 90% of all diabetics diagnosed as type 2. Gestational diabetes, as the name implies, affects pregnant women. The diagnosis is made during pregnancy, with the majority of patients able to control diabetes with exercise and the right diet. Gestational diabetes that’s undiagnosed can increase childbirth complications.

 

What are the Symptoms?

 

They say that forewarned is forearmed. Knowing the symptoms of diabetes can help in early diagnosis. Some of the common symptoms of diabetes are –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often appear suddenly and can be life-threatening, so it can be diagnosed quickly. On the other hand, many patients with type 2 diabetes don’t exhibit any symptoms so by the time the disease is diagnosed, there might already be complications.

 

WARNING: If you experience (a combination of) the symptoms above, please see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis done.

 

 

Factors Affecting Diabetes

There are a number of factors that affect one’s chances of getting diabetes. While some factors, like our genetic makeup, can’t be controlled, others can be. Some factors that increase the risk of diabetes are –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genetics and lifestyle are the two key factors to consider when evaluating whether one is prone to diabetes.  It’s important to note that those with parents who suffer from diabetes don’t automatically develop the disease, but they do inherit a predisposition to it.  This is then triggered by factors like the environment or lifestyle choices.

 

An Ounce of Prevention Delays Diabetes

 

Benjamin Franklin once said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That certainly holds true with diabetes. Sadly, type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. However, researchers are already looking into factors like the environment and the body’s autoimmune process in a bid to understand and prevent this type of diabetes in the future. On the bright side, type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented by doing the following –

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of type 2 diabetes diagnoses could have been prevented or delayed if the patient had made changes to his or her lifestyle. A study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that making positive lifestyle changes resulted in a 58% decrease in incidents of diabetes.

 

 

Lifestyle Changes to Make To Prevent or Live with Diabetes

 

Perhaps the most devastating thing that people diagnosed with diabetes have heard, is that the disease has no cure. However, there are a lot of things that one can do to keep healthy, maintain energy, control blood sugar and prevent complications from the disease.

 

Here are the six key lifestyle changes one has to make to prevent the onset of diabetes or to manage the disease better –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People living with diabetes should also make sure that they schedule regular eye checkups and dental appointments. The disease affects even the tiniest blood vessels and this commonly affects the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Diabetics are at greater risk for developing cataracts, glaucoma and blindness so early detection and treatment is crucial. Likewise, the disease also causes gum problems so good dental hygiene is crucial. More than half of diabetes patients also suffer from some form of nerve damage, which might lead to numbness. Regular inspection of the feet and keeping skin moisturized will help minimize problems.

 

 

Diabetes and the Paleo Diet

 

People living with diabetes have to be extra careful when it comes to making food choices. Their meal plan should help improve their blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol numbers. This can be overwhelming for a lot of people. Some might even need their doctor or dietician to come up with a healthy diet plan for them.

For people living with diabetes, and those who simply want to get healthier, a lot of doctors and nutritionists are now recommending a simpler diet that’s based on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fresh seafood, free-range and grass-fed animal products. One diet plan that can do wonders for diabetics then is the paleo diet.

 

Is paleo good for diabetes?

 

The paleo diet is essentially a movement that follows what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. That means unprocessed food, along with heaping amounts of vegetables, fruits and nuts. Grains, dairy and processed food are naturally eschewed in this diet.

 

Proponents of the paleo diet have long been touting the effectiveness of this high-protein, low-carb food plan in helping people lose weight and become healthier. Many researches are also showing that the paleo diet can indeed help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar. One study conducted by Jonsson, Granfeldt, Ahren et al showed the beneficial effects of the paleo diet in those with type 2 diabetes.

 

According to Melissa Joy Dobbins, a diabetes educator and former spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people with type 2 diabetes can actually control their blood sugar better with the paleo diet since they’re hardly eating anything that would raise their blood sugar.

 

However, it should be noted that the paleo diet might be more effective for those with type 2 diabetes, as they’re still producing a little amount of insulin. It’s not a permanent solution though. For while the patient might be able to go off insulin, the state of the pancreas might eventually necessitate the patient to go back to insulin. Unfortunately, the paleo diet will not stop those suffering from type 1 diabetes from needing to take their medication. But before a diabetic can start the paleo diet, he or she should consult their doctor first.

 

How to Get Started on the Paleo Diet

Any lifestyle change can be daunting, especially if you’re already dealing with a medical condition like diabetes.  Starting the Paleo diet can be downright terrifying for some people, especially to those who are afraid of giving up something they love, like french fries or pasta. But sometimes the real problem is just information, whether it’s the lack of it or the overwhelming abundance of it.

 

So where does one start?

 

Whether you’re a diabetic who wants to try the Paleo diet to better manage the disease or someone who just wants to become healthier, the first step is to understand what a paleo diet is, how you can benefit from it and what kind of food you can eat.

 

As previously mentioned, the premise of the Paleo diet is to follow a diet similar to what our ancestors are centuries ago, which means no fast food, refined sugars, processed food or grains.

 

There are a number of ways to get started on the Paleo diet. Here are five steps you can take as you make the transition to Paleo –

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Diet Superfoods

It might be a bit challenging to make a Paleo friendly grocery list, especially if you’re just starting. To make things easier, here are five superfoods for you to include –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diabetes is an increasing health problem to many, but there are ways to prevent its occurrence, delay it, or manage it. The right diet, like paleo, can go a long way in making the disease more manageable while still enjoying food. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, getting enough rest and exercising will also go a long way in ensuring that people with diabetes can still live long, productive lives.

 


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How the Paleo Diet Can Help You Manage Diabetes
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Is Paleo Diet good for diabetes? Find out how the caveman diet can help you manage your diabetes and live a fuller life. Also get paleo recipes suitable for diabetic people.
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My Evolved Body
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