Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by persistently elevated blood sugar levels. This persistent elevation of blood sugar levels is called hyperglycemia. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), approximately 415 million adults between the ages of 20 to 79 years had diabetes mellitus in 2015. And in addition, about 90% of all cases of Diabetes mellitus are Type 2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is proving to be a global public health burden. And over the years the number of cases in developing nations have been rising. Let’s summarize type 2 diabetes mellitus in a few words.
Understanding type 2 diabetes in a few words
What are the root metabolic causes of type 2 diabetes mellitus?
- Impaired insulin secretion and reduced insulin production.
- A resistance of peripheral tissues to respond to insulin actions. This is also called insulin resistance.
- A combination of both these actions.
Complications/problems that result from type 2 diabetes
Elevated blood sugar levels in synergy with the other metabolic problems in diabetic patients can cause damage to various organ systems. This leads to the development of life-threatening and disabling health complications. Some of these are listed down below
Neuropathy is a weakness, numbness and pain that occurs in the hands and feet. Diabetes mellitus results in the development of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy occurs due to nerve damage. Can result in loss of peripheral tissues and limps eg. fingers.
Nephropathy is a long term kidney disease that affects the person with diabetes. It occurs when high blood glucose levels damage your kidney function.
Retinopathy is another complication resulting from diabetic conditions. It affects the eyes. Poor blood glucose regulation causes the damage of blood vessels in the retina of the eye.
Mortality means you can die from diabetes mellitus. Therefore severe cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus may result in death.
Risk factors of diabetes mellitus type 2/ factors that are more likely to cause type 2 diabetes mellitus
There are several risk factors that are associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Obesity is a condition in which you have excess body fat and weight. This increases your risks of several health problems including diabetes type 2.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Some of these conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high body fat and high blood cholesterol levels.
Poor diet increases your risk of diabetes mellitus. Especially an energy-dense diet rich in sugar-rich processed foods. One of the most common problems is a diet rich in simple sugars.
Lack of exercise also increases your risk of getting diabetes. Because exercise helps burn excess sugars and calories.
Some of the foods that increase risks of type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Processed meat
- Red meat
- Fried meat
- Refined cereals (white rice, dehulled corn)
- Refined cereal products (breakfast cereals)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks and fruit juices)
- Confectioneries (cakes and bake products)
- Diets rich in refined grains/cereals
- Sweetened snacks
- Commercially processed fruit juices and syrups
- Excessive use of cooking oils
- Too much dietary added sugars (e.g . Sugary meat marinades, teas )
- Excessive dietary use of high fructose corn syrups
- Excessive use of honey and table sugars
Foods that reduce risks of diabetes mellitus type 2
- Whole unprocessed cereals ( have low glycemic index meaning they have little effect on blood sugar levels). They also reduce glucose absorption into the body.
- Fish (healthy protein and fat sources
- Non-starchy vegetables are also rich in dietary fibre and other protective phytochemicals.
- Soybeans and soy products are rich in isoflavones that have protective effects against diabetes.
- High intake of various fruits within dietary recommendations.
Fresh beans have protective effects against diabetes. They are rich in dietary fibre which reduces dietary sugar absorption. They are also rich in phytochemicals with protective effects against type 2 diabetes.
Mixed dried beans also have anti-diabetic effects. The benefits are dose-dependent which means the higher the intake the higher the benefits.
The Mediterranean diet also has beneficial effects on diabetes prevention. It is made from healthy foods which include olive oil, whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, wine, dairy and seafood. The diet reduces type 2 diabetes risks.
Diets rich in whole grains are good for type 2 diabetes protection. And also those rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
High consumption of healthy nuts, legumes and tree nuts reduces diabetes risks. This is because nuts are low in carbohydrates and sugars whilst high in fibre. This gives them beneficial effects against diabetes.
How to adjust your diet for diabetes mellitus protection
- Substitute refined grains and cereal products for whole grain cereals in your diet.
- Also, substitute high starch cereals like corn for low starch phytochemical-rich cereals like bulgar wheat, millet and sorghum.
- Eat brown rice instead of white rice all the time.
- Add vegetables and fruits to most parts of your diet. At least half of your meal plate should be vegetables and fruits.
- Try whole wheat or brown bread sometimes and add some extras to your breakfast. For example, add leaf vegetables like lettuce and spinach as well as some nuts.
- Buy a juicer and make fruit juices and smoothies at home. And stay away from commercial ones. Because most commercially prepared products contain too much added sugars.
- Use African herbs and spices to prepare food. Most of them have antidiabetic properties.
- Use African herbal teas like zumbani, rooibos, etc. They help lower sugar intake since they can be taken without sugar.
One of the best facts about whole-grain cereals and vegetables is that they take longer to chew. This means overeating is limited and you feel full before you stop eating! This is unlike processed foods in which you finish eating and start feeling full! Why because they are lightweight and nutrient-dense. They do most of the damage that develops into diabetes mellitus.
In this very short article, I tried to explain type 2 diabetes mellitus facts in less than one thousand words. Whilst this is not all there is about diabetes, it helps understand the condition better. Please leave a comment on your questions and additions.