Diabetes diet: Create a healthy-eating plan
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Diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood sugar. It is one of the most common diseases found in Thailand and worldwide. Recent statistical researches indicate that its incidences have continued rising every year. In Thailand, the estimated number of people diagnosed with diabetes is more than 4 million. Without careful disease management, uncontrolled diabetes can cause vascular damages and eventually lead to serious vascular complications including diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy), chronic kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. Moreover, other complications such as diabetic neuropathy and diabetic foot largely impair patient’s quality of life.
Lifestyle modification and diabetes prevention
Lifestyle changes have significant impacts on diabetes prevention and slowing of disease progression. Lifestyle modifications refer to lifestyle management to control blood sugar levels while minimizing other contributing factors of diabetes. It is a fundamental aspect of diabetes care including diabetes self-management education, nutrition therapy, appropriate physical activity, smoking cessation and psychosocial care.
Nutrition therapy has an integral role in overall diabetes management. If nutrition advice is strictly followed, it considerably helps to reduce chances of developing diabetes in both high risk groups and patients diagnosed with pre-diabetes condition. The key for success is to achieve an optimal body weight and proper waist circumference.
Weight reduction and diabetes prevention
Being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing elevated blood glucose levels (impaired glucose tolerance) which can eventually lead to the increased risks of diabetes. To significantly reduce diabetes risks, weight reduction, if obese, is primarily essential. Weight reduction programs include:
- Calorie restriction gained from daily diets. It is advisable to decrease high fat-food consumption with taking enough a balanced diet of the five food groups. For instance, boiling or steaming is recommended instead of deep fried meals. The average calorie reduction is approximately 500 – 1,000 calories per day, depending on initial body weight.
- Regular exercise. Having regular exercise aims for burnout at least 700 calories per week or achieves moderate physical activity at least 150 minutes per week until weight reduction reaches 7% of the initial weight with a continual reduction of 5% from the reduced weight. It must be strictly followed until body weight falls within normal range.
- Increased protein intake (30% of all energies for a day) such as protein from meat with low-fat e.g. fish and chicken breast as well as protein from plants such as tofu that can help to minimize the risks of developing diabetes in pre-diabetes groups.
- Carbohydrate intake should be derived from vegetables, grains, fruits and semi-skimmed or low-fat milk.
- Eating a varied high-fiber diet, especially vegetables.
- Avoid beverages with added sugar, for example, soft drinks and fruit juices.
- Restriction the consumption of processed foods such as sausage, bacon and fermented food.
- Avoid taking artificial sweeteners. Although they do not provide extra calories, artificial sweeteners are detrimental to the sugar addict.
Making simple changes in daily lifestyle, especially restriction of sugar intake largely helps reducing the risks of diabetes. Maximum amount of sugar consumption should not exceed 6 teaspoons a day. Not only to minimize the chances of developing diabetes, regular exercise combined with weight reduction significantly reduces the risks of other serious health problems in the future.
- Prevention or Delay of Type 2 Diabetes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2019.
- Clinical Practice Guideline for Diabetes 2017. Diabetes Association of Thailand under The Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.