Eat well and fight diabetes

Led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Diabetes Day is celebrated annually on November 14th.

Diabetes is a chronic disease where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high (known as hyperglycemia) because the body cannot use it properly. This occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin is the hormone that allows glucose, which comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver, to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, where there is no insulin to unlock the cells for glucose to pass and Type 2 diabetes where there is enough insulin but its not working properly, or the locks on the cell are damaged.

Diabetes, particularly Type 2, can be prevented. It can be done through lifestyle changes such as healthier diets and increased physical activities. Weight management and physical activity are the true foundation of diabetes prevention.

This year, World Diabetes Day will focus on healthy eating as a key factor in the fight against diabetes. Sidra nutritionist, Kim Underwood gives the following advice on eating well to prevent diabetes.

Healthy eating can both prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and is also essential in the management of all types of diabetes to help avoid complications. Individuals can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and those with type 1 diabetes may help improve their control by following some of the simple dietary recommendations below:

  • Choosing water, unsweetened coffee or tea instead of fruit juice, soda, and other sugar sweetened beverages
  • Eating at least three servings of vegetables every day, including green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce or kale
  • Eating up to three servings of fresh fruit every day
  • Choosing nuts, a piece of fresh fruit or unsweetened yogurt for a snack
  • Choosing lean cuts of white meat, poultry or seafood instead of processed meat or red meat
  • Choosing peanut butter instead of chocolate spread or jam
  • Choosing whole-grain bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain pasta instead of refined pasta
  • Choosing unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, or sunflower oil) instead of saturated fats (butter, ghee, animal fat, coconut oil or palm oil)

Over 50 countries around the world are hosting events to create awarness and raise support for those who are affected by diabetes. Locally, the Qatar Diabetes Association is celebrating this year by hosting a walkathon in Aspire park on November 13th. Details to take part can be found here. At Sidra we have created the ‘Fitspiration’ Challenge to encourage regular exercise in support World Diabetes Day. For further information and guidance on healthy eating, the Supreme Council of Health in Qatar has recently released the National Dietary Guidelines. Please click here to view.

International Diabetes Federation

Qatar Diabetes Association