One in four Americans is not aware that they have diabetes. As many as one in three have higher than normal blood sugar levels. While discovering that you may have diabetes or even prediabetic can be terrifying, early intervention is crucial in avoiding life-threatening damage to the body.
How our body uses glucose
We talk a lot about “cutting out” sugar, howeber our body uses sugar as it’s fuel (people in ketosis tend to use ketones for fuel instead of sugar). The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of 37.5g for men and 25g for women. There’s a reason why we crave the sweet stuff. Speaking on a fundamental biological level, sugar is our power source and when absorbed in a reasonable amount our body knows just what to do with it. It wasn’t until relatively recently that the easy accessibility of sugar through sweets and processed carbs has begun to take its toll on American bodies (too much anything is always bad).
Typically, the sugar we eat found in sweets and carbs moves from our stomach, through our bloodstream to our muscles and fat cells. Once inside the muscle, glucose can ideally be used as an energy source. However, our bodies can’t use glucose without regulation from the hormone insulin. In this system, sugar entering the blood through the stomach can exit the blood through the muscles and fat cells.
In a person with diabetes, this process does not function correctly, allowing sugar to build up in the bloodstream as a result blood sugar levels rise. Because the glucose is not permitted to enter the muscle and fat cells, your body does not receive the energy it needs. Over time, exposure to high blood sugar can damage vital organs in the body. Blindness, amputation, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure are all possible severe complications of untreated diabetes. Though Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes both have similar symptoms, there are significant differences in their causes and how they are expressed. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas does not create insulin, and it is often made apparent early on in life. In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin due to sustained high levels of sugar in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is often preceded by Prediabetes.
Often type 2 diabetes symptoms are so minor that they go unnoticed. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have more acute signs of diabetes, such as blurred vision or heart trouble. Those with diabetes may experience increased hunger, fatigue, dehydration, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, and unexplained weight loss.
Signs of High Blood Sugar A.K.A “PreDiabetes”
Sustained high blood sugar is a dangerous health condition known as Prediabetes. Being prediabetic puts you at risk not only for type 2 diabetes but for heart disease and stroke as well. Common risk factors for Prediabetes includes being overweight, being over 45 years old, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, not exercising regularly, or having gestational diabetes. Americans who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at a higher risk of becoming prediabetic.
A good first step to evaluating these potential health risks involves a simple blood sugar test at your doctors office. Preventative measures to counter these health risks include exercise and weight loss. It has been proven that exercise is a powerful tool against insulin resistance, and you can drastically lower your chance of developing diabetes by losing only 5%-7% of your body weight. Working to make life-long changes to diet and exercise is the most powerful tool in diabetes prevention.
What to include in your diabetic diet
For diabetic diets it’s important to choose foods which help you avoid a blood sugar boomerang effect. If you eat foods with high levels of glucose, such as simple carbohydrates and sugars, it causes your blood sugar to spike. This rise in glucose levels in the blood is met with a spiked release of insulin and an inevitable sugar crash. We’ve all felt it before: the irritability, brain fog, or weakness after a particularly strenuous workout or a long period without eating. Low blood sugar is a sign that you are not getting enough nutrients from the food you are taking in. Other symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety, sugar cravings, fatigue, and shaking. Fiber from vegetables help to absorb sugar and improve blood sugar levels.
- Dark Leafy Green Vegetables: vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens are low in calories and carbs while packing a nutritional punch. Fiber, iron, Vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, and potassium to name a few.
- Some fruits: We know that some fruit such as mango, pineapples, and bananas can be filled with sugars. If you’re looking for the benefits of fresh fruit without the spike in blood sugar it’s important to know which fruits are Diabetes safe. Citrus, berries, and tomatoes in moderation are all nutrient-rich fruit options that can help you get your sugar fix without negative consequences.
- Nuts are the perfect snack to give your body that sustaining protein punch it needs to get you through your workout. The magnesium, fiber, and Omega 3 fatty acids are some of the benefits of opting for a handful of almonds over a bag of salty corn chips.
- Fatty Fish is a great source of protein allowing you to feel fuller longer. Not to mention, studies have found that those who eat a diet rich in fatty fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, and Sardines are at a lower risk for heart failure and disease.
At Sola, we’re committed to creating foods that are low in carbs, low in sugar, and have no artificial sweeteners. With low glycemic impact, Sola foods are the perfect products to introduce into your diabetic diet. We have packed our foods with fiber and protein to help those in need of the extra nutrients.