Type 2 Diabetes

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Type 2 Diabetes

Currently, more than 1.8 million Canadians have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This diabetes used to be considered a disease of late onset; however, it is now being diagnosed in more young people then ever before.

Currently, more than 1.8 million Canadians have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This diabetes used to be considered a disease of late onset; however, it is now being diagnosed in more young people then ever before.

If left untreated diabetes can cause many health concerns, including blindness, circulation problems, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes that can be implemented to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and to improve blood sugar control in patients who have already been diagnosed.

Glycemic index

Diet is the key to maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Our bodies like to maintain blood sugar within a narrow range, which is controlled by the pancreas. The glycemic index measures the carbohydrate content of foods and how quickly these foods will increase blood sugar levels.

Foods that are higher on the glycemic index, which include white breads and pasta as well as any foods containing glucose, stimulate a spike in blood sugar. When a large amount of sugar enters the blood stream, the pancreas has to release insulin into the system to control the amount of sugar in circulation.

In patients with type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the receptors on the patients’ cells are not as sensitive to insulin, so larger amounts of sugar remain in circulation and can cause damage to the body. Foods that are lower on the glycemic index will help maintain appropriate blood sugar levels; these foods include grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, steel cut oats, and certain fruits such as apples.

Food for thought

Cinnamon is a spice that helps control blood sugar levels. A 2006 study found that cinnamon extract has a moderate effect in lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic patients with poor blood sugar control.

Another dietary intervention for reducing blood sugar levels is eliminating caffeine from the diet. A 2007 study found that daily consumption of caffeine reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The effects last for at least 12 hours after consumption. This demonstrates that daily caffeine consumption may have a negative effect on blood sugar control.

Physical activity is also an essential component in controlling blood sugar levels. A study conducted this year looked at the long-term benefit of exercise on blood sugar levels. The researchers found that long-term endurance and strength training were more effective than standard therapy alone for metabolic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

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