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My oldest grandchild and his fiancé are currently visiting me. Mads has a very special connection to Spain, as he lived here for a year together with his father and attended school here as well. Mads was very involved in the daily operations in the store, where we discussed at length the significance of vitamins, minerals, and how a quality diet effects the health of a person. The years must have affected him greatly, as he chose to study human nutrition and finished with his doctoral dissertation at 28 years of age. It therefore seemed natural to ask Mads if he would provide his scientific input to this article, which I had chosen should revolve around type 2 diabetes.
Diet’s significance in type 2 diabetes
Mads Vendelbo Lind
Institute of Sports and Nutrition
University of Copenhagen
Type 2 diabetes is a disease, where the blood sugar levels become too elevated and the body can no longer regulate it on its own. It can lead to a long list of other diseases, such as heart and nerve afflictions. Type 2 diabetes was called “old man’s sugar disease” back in the day, as you would normally be diagnosed and treated for the disease at an old age. However, this is no longer the case, as the obesity epidemic is developing, the number of cases of type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed. Studies have shown that there has been an increase in type 2 diabetes cases from 5% in 1980, to 10% in 2020. But can you do anything to prevent type 2 diabetes? And how do you know if you are at risk? The difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes With type 1 diabetes, your insulin production will completely stop. This is caused by the body’s own immune system, as it will eliminate all the cells that produce insulin. This usually happens to young children or adults, and it mandates that you get your insulin regulated with injections. It is still not known what exactly causes type 1 diabetes, and we therefore don’t exactly know how to prevent it. Type 2 diabetes primarily affects adults, even though it in rare cases also can be observed it highly overweight children. The disease is hereditary, which means that our genes also plays a role in whether or not we develop diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is in many cases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle with little physical activity and poor dietary habits. Therefore, a lot of energy is spent on researching the disease, and how you could prevent and treat the disease, to decrease the severity of the affliction.
Type 2 diabetes, precursors, fatty liver, and aging
There are a number of different ways, that you could go about finding out whether you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You are at a heightened risk if you are heavily overweight (BMI over 30 and/or a waist size over 88 cm for women and over 102cm for men), if you have a parent or a sibling with type 2 diabetes, have had diabetes during a pregnancy, receive medication in connection with cardiac disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, is a smoker, or has a high alcohol consumption. But just because you are in the risk group, doesn’t mean you have to suffer from type 2 diabetes. It is normally a disease which develops slowly, and where the regulation of the blood sugar is gradually worsened. Researchers have now started to talk about the precursors to type 2 diabetes, also referred to as pre-diabetes, where you already can see that the blood sugar levels are slightly elevated, without being so high that it can be called a disease. Pre-diabetes will often come with a series of other symptoms, such as heightened blood pressure, cholesterol, and a fatty liver, which is why there is such an interest in preventing the development of the disease. During the research, a large emphasis has been placed on preventing further development of the disease once it has been contracted. A lot of effort has also been spent on examining how a reordering of a lifestyle can be used to prevent type 2 diabetes.
The diet and type 2 diabetes prevention
I am researching what role the diet has in the prevention and the development of type 2 diabetes. Together with a series of researchers have we examined how eating whole-wheat products affects the blood sugar regulation, instead of products containing white ore pre-processed corn. We found that it can provide small changes in weight, which in turn might bring small improvements in the blood sugar regulation. We are currently examining the diet’s significance among inuits in Greenland. There we are examining whether the traditional Greenlandic diet might be able to slow down the explosion of type 2 diabetes, which has also arrived in Greenland, after the western foods such as burgers, pizza, chips, and candy has become everyday consumer goods in Greenland.
There is some general advice you can follow, to both eat healthy and prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Eat rough (by for instance choosing whole-wheat).
- Eat a varied diet.
- Don’t eat too much.
- Eat plenty of greens and a bit of fruit.
- Cut down on the alcohol consumption.
In order to prevent type 2 diabetes, it might be beneficial to reduce your carbohydrate consumption, such as sugar, candy, soda, but also when it comes to rice and potatoes. It can contribute to extra large fluctuations in your blood sugar, and the body prefers amounts which are easier to regulate. To prevent type 2 diabetes, it has been shown that even small weight losses of 2 – 3 kg can have great significance, it can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 30%. Even small changes in your lifestyle can have major implications for the development of type 2 diabetes. It can also help if you have already developed type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are extreme thirst, many toilet visits, itchiness, and tiredness. If you experience this, then consult your doctor.
Here ends Mads’ part of the article and I will end by recommending different dietary supplements, which I have experienced can bring improvements when suffering from type 2 diabetes and help prevent complications later in the process.
- Strong vitamin-B tablets daily. You could also supplement with an extra 100 mg vitamin-B6.
- Magnesium can together with vitamin-B6, prevent complications.
- Vitamin-C I large doses, for instance 1000 mg twice a day, preferably with added bioflavonoids.
- Vitamin-E can be a good supplement to improve circulation.
- Zinc can help prevent eye complications. It is best to take it in the evening.
- Almost all people lack vitamin-D, which can aid in preventing type 2 diabetes.
- Chromium can help reduce the cravings for sweets and regulate the cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Life important fatty acids, such as Omega-3.
- Berberine is often used in Chinese medicine and have shown very effective in combatting type 2 diabetes.
- Taurine 500 mg 3 x daily. Can prevent complications and trouble with the eyes.
- You might benefit from a detox or going on a liver diet a few times a year.
Remember that especially with type 2 diabetes, you personally have the possibility to take on the responsibility of the disease. You could for instance change your lifestyle to a healthier one. A good opportunity could be to challenge the entire family, this also applies to the exercise part of a healthy lifestyle. You could perhaps contact a doctor who is well informed about the disease. The person could perhaps give you some advice on how you should plan your diet and exercise habits. There are some doctors who, together with the patient, will help fill out diet and exercise schedules. Meetings are then planned and conducted until you and your family can manage the changes on your own. It is important that you start with a level that will challenge you, but not become a stress factor. Be careful with too much alcohol, fast food, ice cream, and other sugary treats, as well as all the different energy drinks. I hope with all my heart that you will avoid being a part of the diabetes statistic, which Mads mentioned is in rising rapidly these years.
With the above mentioned in mind,
I hope you have a great summer!