Diabetes is a key concern for Singaporeans, given our eating habits and lifestyle. Diabetes is a condition when there is too much sugar in the blood. It is a serious illness that can affect the entire body. If complications occur, it can have a significant impact on the quality of life as well as reduce life expectancy.
However you may wonder; how many types of diabetes are there and what causes them?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes today, especially in Singapore. Known as the ‘lifestyle disease’, it occurs when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the ability to make sufficient insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. Another form of diabetes is Type 1 diabetes, which is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Finally, gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually disappears after the baby is born. These 2 types of diabetes are not linked to lifestyle causes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition to watch out for. It happens when the blood sugar levels are higher than normal as a result of insulin resistance, although not as high to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. There are no symptoms but if diagnosed with it, a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is much higher.
Studies have shown that 60 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases can be avoided and when it comes to eliminating the risk factors, making changes to your diet has the greatest capacity to prevent or even reverse the disease.
Consuming a diet with too much refined carbohydrates is more likely to cause pre-diabetes of Type 2 diabetes than a diet high in whole foods and low in refined carbohydrates. In a nutshell, here are the basic principles for a healthy diet to reduce diabetes.
- Avoid sweet fruits that are high in sugar such as mango, pineapple, banana and melon and replace them with berries, apples and pears.
- Reduce or remove starchy ‘white’ foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, replacing them with healthy alternatives such as brown rice or whole meal bread.
- Avoid most breakfast cereals, which are generally high in sugar.
- Stick to healthy snacks such as unsalted nuts, chopped vegetables and full-fat yoghurt and making a conscious effort to cut down on sugary treats, drinks and desserts
- Consume more healthy fats and oils such as olive or coconut.
- Choose high quality proteins such as oily fish, prawns, chicken, pork, beef and eggs which are cooked in a healthy way, i.e. steamed, grilled or baked.
- Eat plenty of different colored vegetables as they all differ in nutritional content
- Flavor your meals with various spices and spices such as lemon butter, garlic, chili, salt and pepper.