Diabetes Prevention is Not Just Food; It’s a Lifestyle

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: December 8, 2021

Written By Jolina Andrea D. Santos, M.D.- Guest Contributor

Lifestyle Changes Brought by the Pandemic

The start of 2020 was life-changing and disruptive, resulting in adverse social and economic consequences. With the imposition of quarantine regulations due to the global health crisis, people started forming new habits to cope with the unique, isolated, and socially distanced lifestyle.

There were numerous adjustments to make. Suddenly, it was about surviving and coping with the virus, and everything just came to a halt. Most people stopped seeing friends and going to their workplace, leaving behind a life they were accustomed to.

Changes in Food Trends During this Global Health Crisis

Similarly, food habits also shifted. According to statistics, approximately 15–42% of the population has changed their consumption frequency during the pandemic. The factors affecting this change include:

●     Restrictions (i.e., closure of physical workplaces, canteens, cafés and restaurants, schools, and childcare institutions)

●     Changes in households’ grocery shopping frequency

●     Individuals’ perceived risk of COVID-19

●     Income losses due to the pandemic

●     Socio-demographic factors such as food supply-chain issues

Given this, the food categories with the highest rates of change were frozen meals, canned goods, junk food, cake, and biscuits. With everyone shopping less frequently during the lockdown and a reduction in the consumption of fresh foods, there is an overall increase in food consumption with a long shelf life.

Optimizing Public Health Through our Lifestyle

Food is a solace during this crisis and has become a coping mechanism for many. It comforts and provides a sense of security. But, on the contrary, if you neglect what you eat, food can also lead to health issues.

With this being said, optimizing public health during this pandemic entails knowledge not just in food but also in medical, biological, and human sciences. In addition, you must observe your dietary lifestyle and use social and behavioral research to fully optimize your health.

Type 2 Diabetes: What is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the vital type of sugar found in your blood. The pancreas aid in keeping your body’s glucose levels in check by producing the hormone insulin and delivering it after you have consumed protein or carbohydrates.

Your uncertain and volatile change in insulin levels can result in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of death in the world, ranking as the 7th most prevalent cause of death in the U.S.

It also has a high mortality rate among the middle- to low-income countries because a majority of their population has no access to better food and treatment. Unmanaged cases can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.

Before you are diagnosed with diabetes, there are periods when your blood sugar is high but not high enough to be correlated with diabetes. This medical occurrence is known as prediabetes. It is estimated that up to 70% of people with prediabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, the transition from prediabetes to diabetes is avoidable.

6 Tips in Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Even though there are certain aspects that you cannot change, such as your genes, age, and previous habits, there are still things you can do to reduce your risk of diabetes. These changes are not limited to diet. There is no treatment for type 2 diabetes, but weight loss, a healthy diet, and exercise can help manage and prevent the disease. Here are seven ways to avoid getting diabetes.

1.    Be More Active

Regular physical activity has many advantages. Exercise helps you lose weight, improves your mood, lowers your blood sugar, increases insulin sensitivity, and keeps your blood sugar levels within their normal limits.

One study regarding people at risk of diabetes found that burning more than 2,000 calories weekly with exercise was required to achieve the benefits of exercise. Therefore, it’s best to choose an activity that you can enjoy, perform regularly, and maintain for a long time.

2.    Regulate Your Weight

Obesity is the single most significant cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases the chances of developing the disease 20 to 40 times more than someone with a healthy weight. If your weight is beyond the healthy range, losing weight can help. In fact, losing 7% to 10% of your current weight can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half.

3.    Don’t Smoke

Add type 2 diabetes to a long list of tobacco-related health problems. Analysis of several studies involving more than 1 million people found that smoking increased the risk of diabetes by 44% for the average smoker and 61% for those who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day. If you think you’re in danger of developing diabetes, completely cutting off the habit of smoking is an effective step to take.

4.    Light to Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Experts have consistently linked moderate alcohol consumption with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This correlation is because moderate amounts of alcohol (or one drink daily for women and two for men) make insulin more efficient in transporting glucose to cells. In contrast, excessive alcohol intake makes it ineffective.

If you have been drinking alcohol, it is essential to keep your consumption within reasonable limits, as high alcohol levels can increase your risk of diabetes. If you don’t drink, you don’t have to start. Instead, you can start losing weight, getting more exercise, and changing your diet.

5.    Have Regular Checkups

It is suggested to see your doctor at least twice a year. Diabetes raises your odds of heart disease, so you must learn your numbers: cholesterol, blood pressure, and A1c (average blood glucose for three months). A complete eye examination and physical test are also ideal to have each year. Talk to your podiatrist to find problems such as foot ulcers and nerve damage.

6.    Manage Stress

When you’re burned out, your blood sugar levels increase. And when you’re anxious, you may not manage your diabetes well. You may forget to exercise, eat properly, or take medicines. Find ways to reduce stress through deep breathing, yoga, making your home cozy, or doing hobbies that relax you.

7.    Tune Up Your Diet

Dietary changes have a vital impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates, sweet and sugary goods, and dairy have the most considerable effect on your blood glucose levels. Choose whole grains over refined grains and other highly processed carbohydrates.

Skip sweet drinks and choose water, coffee, or tea instead. Choose healthy fats and limit lean meat and avoid processed meat. Instead, choose nuts, beans, whole grains, chicken, or fish.

Prevent It While You Can!

Food indeed plays a vital role in your well-being. A good diet helps reduce the risk of physical health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Diet also improves sleep patterns, energy levels, and overall health. Sadly, the pandemic has become a window to change your lifestyle and eating habits—many have neglected their diets with all the economic and social crises happening.

Your unchecked eating habits will significantly affect you in ways you won’t notice, such as developing terminal diseases like diabetes. Nevertheless, food is not the only way you can prevent the disease. You must also develop healthy habits by exercising, avoiding smoking, monitoring your weight, moderately consuming alcohol, getting regular checkups, and managing stress.

Author Bio

Jolina Andrea D. Santos, M.D.

Dr. Jolina began her journey as a health care professional when she took her medical degree in one of the most prestigious med schools in the Philippines. With a solid foundation, the Thomasian took her residency training in internal medicine at Capitol Medical Center. Deciding her calling was to help treat people suffering from diabetes, she took her clinical fellowship at the Institute for Studies on Diabetes Foundation, Inc (ISDFI). To further her studies, she proceeded to take her Master of Science in Diabetology at UERM-ISDFI and is currently completing her thesis. Apart from serving as a consultant for the For Your Sweetheart website, Dr. Jolina is a visiting faculty at the ISDFI and is currently practicing in Quezon City.