According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently more than 100 million adults in the United States who are either prediabetic or diabetic. This means that nearly one-third of the U.S. population struggles with high blood sugar, which is characterized by insulin resistance. Such a diagnosis can result in vision loss, nerve damage, heart disease, loss of limbs, and other complications.
There’s good news, however. As a disease, diabetes is one of the most treatable and can actually be completely eradicated with certain efforts. Specifically, if you have diabetes, you may be able to put it into remission by losing only 10% of your overall body weight.
How Weight Loss Helps Diabetes
You might wonder exactly how weight loss helps people with diabetes get off their medications and stop taking insulin.
It all has to do with how the cells of the body react to insulin. Someone with excess weight will have body cells that are less sensitive to insulin, which the pancreas releases to control blood sugar. This may be because fat cells are especially resistant to insulin (as opposed to muscle cells, for example).
One thing that can help sometimes is exercise because physical activity can help use up excess sugar in the blood. Still, it’s actual weight loss that appears to have the greatest impact on those with diabetes.
Eating a Healthy Diet as a Diabetic
The truth of the matter is that most diseases can be improved with better eating habits. For example, if someone has heart disease, they can switch to a unique “heart healthy diet” and ideally avoid some of the most significant complications of their illness. For heart disease, that would be aneurysms, strokes, heart attacks, etc.
For diabetes, it’s the same concept. A “diabetic-friendly diet” will not only help diabetics lose weight, but it will also help control blood sugar levels. A diabetic diet is unique from other diets, mainly due to the fact that diabetes is a disease highly affected by glucose. When a diabetic eats foods that are high in glucose, their blood sugar spikes, which can be severely dangerous. Consistently high blood sugar levels can do permanent damage to organs and even cause comas and can be life-threatening.
What Is a Diabetic Diet?
Diabetics should aim to do two things with their diets: Lose excess body fat and reduce their intake of high-glucose foods. In order to reduce the intake of high-glucose foods, you must choose foods that have a low glycemic index (GI).
Foods that have a high glycemic index are low in carbohydrates, which end up quickly breaking down into sugars in the body. These high GI foods include:
- White breads
- Pretzels and crackers
- White rice
- Most breakfast cereals
- Cakes, cookies, and doughnuts
- Ice cream
- Some fruits
Foods that have a lower glycemic index include:
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts
- Healthy fats, including olive oil and canola oil
- Legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, and beans
- Some fruits, including berries
- Whole grains, including quinoa, buckwheat, and
- Dairy foods, including cheese, milk, and sugar-free yogurt
- Herbs and spices
In order to eat a healthy diabetic diet, individuals should focus on consuming more low GI foods and fewer high GI foods. This may be hard to keep track of, but a food diary can help, as can counting carbs.
The Clock Is Ticking: Start Your Diet Today
The bottom line is, if you can find a way to put your diabetes into remission and stop dealing with this challenging disease, you should try.
First, diabetic medications have major side effects for many people. Metformin, for example, can lead to muscle pain, abdominal pain and diarrhea, physical weakness, and other complications.
Furthermore, those who need to take insulin to control their diabetes will certainly note many drawbacks. Insulin therapy may mean you have to give yourself insulin — sometimes multiple times a day. Others need to wear an insulin pump, which can be uncomfortable and cumbersome. Insulin therapy may also mean getting swelling, rashes, or bumps near injection sites. Depression or anxiety may set in, and regulating blood sugar overall can be a challenge for many people.
In the end, the very best thing you can do for yourself if you have diabetes is to find a way to lose weight. But you’ve got to do so as quickly as possible.
The recent research, which found that a 10% weight loss can help put diabetes into remission, was based on the idea of losing weight in the first five years of a diabetes diagnosis. This means you need to start now if you want to lose weight slowly and steadily, which is a healthy way to do it.
So, why not start today? If weight loss can give you the gift of being diabetes-free, it’s worth it!