Diabetes falls under a broader moniker of similar disease states, known collectively as “Metabolic syndrome”. At the heart of these conditions, is systemic and uncontrolled inflammation. This rampant and inappropriate activation of the immune system manifests locally as pain, swelling and/or redness, but when it occurs systemically, is a major contributor to the symptoms of diabetes and insulin resistance. While it is known that diabetes can be caused by inflammation, it can also in turn serve as a cause.
Such inflammation has multiple detrimental effects on the body:
- It induces gradual and progressive degeneration of the cardiovascular system, clogging up blood vessels and arteries, and lowering their elasticity; factors which responsible for the greatly increased risk for heart disease and mortality associated with diabetes-sufferers.
- Inflammation makes insulin signalling even less effective, excaerbating the diabetic symptoms.
- Inflammation in the brain has been recently linked with depression. In fact, most anti-depressants currently on the market are anti-inflammatories, and exert their therapeutic action by decreasing brain-localised inflammation.
- Amongst the myriad negative effects, inflammation is thought to be a major contributor to the aging process.
It is therefore apparent that reducing inflammation with a suitable nutrition approach is critical to breaking this deadly inflammatory cycle, and minimising the complications which arise from it. We can define “clean-eating” very simply, but truthfully. Try and keep the below advice in mind when making food choices. Remember, that healthy eating is not about dieting, but about a way of life which can be maintained consistently, and which can bring about contentment, happiness prosperity and holistic wellbeing.
- First, put the food you are about to eat through the hypothetical “mommy” and “daddy” test. Simply put, you should be able to trace the origin of what is on your plate failry easily and directly. If it’s a piece of meat, chicken or fish, then its history is easy to follow. If its poloni, vienas or a Mac Donald’s patty, their mommy’s and daddy’s died a long, long time ago, in a factory far, far away…
- Secondly, included with every meal, must be something which fell out of a tree, or comes from a bush. This includes all your fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and pulses. These foods have proven efficacy in fighting a multitude of cancers, age-related degeneration, as well as inflammation-mediated diseases. Eating such foods in high quantities simply cannot be overstressed. Think about all your root vegetables for example. Natural anti-inflammatory compounds are found in foods such as turmeric, olives, beans and foods rich in Omega 3, such as oily fish. Antioxidant rich food such as blueberries, strawberries, cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, peppers and spinach and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and paprika also can help to reduce inflammation.
- Salt is BAD! The industrial-scale processing of our food adds superfluous amounts of salt, in order to improve consistency, increase shelf-life, and prevent bacterial contamination. Thus, we are unwittingly receiving many times our recommended daily allowance of sodium, without adding a single extra pinch at home in the kitchen. Each gram of salt you add, is extra, and not needed. Your kidneys strain themselves to eliminate this compound, and it is one of the best described contributors to high blood pressure, and eventual congestive heart failure.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly for diabetic patients, is the elimination of refined, simple sugar from the diet. A diabetic body already struggles with the processing of sugar, as this sugar cannot be taken from the blood, into your body’s cells. Eating even more is like throwing petrol on the fire. Opt instead for low GI sources of carbohydrates. These are wholegrain wheat products, fruits, beans, brown rice, cous-cous, and rye products. Avoid secret sources of sugar, like peanut butter, sauces and condiments, and soft drinks. Once insulin sensitivity has been stabilized, and blood glucose levels have reached a normal plateau, sugars can be gradually, and cautiously reintroduced into the diet.
Keep all these points in mind when cooking your next meal. Note that these changes should be a life-long commitment, and not a 2-month long New Year’s resolution. Please comment with any questions or points you’d like to discuss.