Diabetes is a health condition where the amount of glucose or blood sugar is higher than the normal standard. This happens because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to help glucose enter the body’s cells, or in other cases, the insulin doesn’t work properly.
Based on recently released data by the World Health Organization, one of eleven adults worldwide has diabetes. Compared to the statistics three decades ago, the number has risen by four times—from 108 million people in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Indonesia is ranked seventh with as many as 10 million people affected by diabetes in 2016 (International Diabetes Federation). Prevalence grows every year, from 5.7 percent in 2007 to 6.9 percent in 2013—making diabetes the third leading cause of death in the country.
Diabetes Type I, also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes, is a type of diabetes where the body produces very little or no insulin at all and needs insulin shots to keep the level of blood sugar normal. Diabetes Type II or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. There is also Diabetes due to Malnutrition, as well as Gestational Diabetes that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. It occurs if the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs during a pregnancy.
Factors contributing to diabetes are obesity, an unhealthy diet – food with too much sugar, fat and cholesterol – irregular sleep, lack of exercise, smoking and drinking habits as well as a high stress level. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of diabetes.
WHAT TO EAT, WHAT TO DO
It is a common belief that people who have diabetes cannot eat sweets or chocolate. The fact is, that sweets and desserts can still be consumed if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise – as long as it is only a small portion.
When it comes to the daily diet, it is suggested to consume food made of whole seeds or complex carbohydrates (brown rice, potato, oatmeal), lean meat, green vegetables (broccoli and spinach in particular) fresh fruits (don’t add any sugar if you juice them), beans including products like tofu, plain popcorn, low-fat dairy products and eggs, as well as fish – namely tuna, salmon, sardine and mackerel.
Food that must be avoided includes white rice, white bread, flour-based food, canned fruits and veggies, high-fat meat and dairy products, cow or chicken innards, fried food, chicken skin, assorted popcorn, vegetables cooked with extra salt, cheese, butter and sauce. To ensure that only appropriate ingredients of high quality are used, it is safest for diabetics to cook their own meals.
It is also crucial to maintain a daily diet journal. Diabetics are encouraged to take note of everything they each day as detailed as possible—portion, type of food, ingredients, time and frequency of the meal. They should not skip breakfast, as one tends to have a bigger portion of lunch as a result. If they feel a strong craving for something sweet, diabetics can eat strawberries as they have low carbohydrate and do not boost up blood sugar quickly.
Drinking enough water is a necessity as well. During hot summer days, the water can be mixed with slices of lemon, apples or berries; this will help make the water taste naturally sweeter. Water is not only important to keep a person hydrated; it also helps diabetics to cut down their sugar intake.
Lastly, diabetics should exercise regularly. The exercise can be kept simple: a quick run between 15 and 30 minutes every day should do the trick. Taking extensive walks and cycling are also recommended.