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Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is different from type 1 diabetes, which usually happens younger in life and is due to autoimmune factors. Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting the way your body deals with sugar, or glucose, the main source of fuel for energy. With type 2 diabetes your body is either resistant to or lacking in insulin, a hormone that helps regulate the movement of sugar into your cells. If not treated, the consequences of type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening. With careful attention, though, you can follow a diet to prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring in the first place.
The term diabetes mellitus comes from the Greek words meaning "to run through." Literally this is what happens with diabetes -- nourishment is taken in but cannot get into your cells. It runs through the body without feeding it.
Some people with type 2 diabetes do not realize they have it. The following signs are symptoms of the disease: increased hunger for carbohydrates, increased thirst, exhaustion, weight loss or gain, frequent urination, blurry vision or cuts or sores that won't heal.
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Today metabolic syndrome is recognized as the precursor to diabetes. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is made when three or more of the following five factors are present: low HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides or an above-average waistline. The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be reversed by including specific nutrients in the diet. Making poor food choices is one of the biggest reasons for insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome in the first place.
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Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
A diet to prevent type 2 diabetes would include certain nutrients and omit others. First of all, it is important to eat healthy foods which are low in fat and calories. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be included, along with at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume, because fiber keeps blood sugar stable. Choose healthy fats in your diet, such as monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Canola oil and olive oil are good choices, as are the healthy fats found in nuts, seed and avocados.
Balance is important in each meal. An ideal meal should include protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and unlimited non-starchy fruits and vegetables. Glycemic index is important. The glycemic index of a particular food is a measure for how quickly insulin rises in response to the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. Proteins have a lower glycemic value than carbohydrates, and complex carbs have a lower glycemic value than simple carbs, such as white flour and sugar. Micronutrients found in plants come in a variety of richly colored vegetables and fruits and are capable of preventing the diseases of modern life, including type 2 diabetes.
Refined carbohydrates, like those found in white bread, white rice, white pasta and potatoes cause unstable rises in blood sugar and should be avoided or severely restricted. Other culprits include soft drinks loaded with sugar, fruit juices and fruit punch. As a mainstay of your diet, these foods, over time, can greatly increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
If you are overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes. It will take permanent lifestyle changes of healthier eating and regular exercise to keep the weight off, but doing so will also protect you from other diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
In the alternative health field, both cinnamon and chromium have been used with some success to improve insulin sensitivity, but the Mayo Clinic says the jury is still out on these two substances and more research is needed to confirm they help.
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Harvard School of Public Health: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/more/type-2-diabetes
"Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010.