There are currently 29 million Americans living with diabetes, an overwhelming majority of those cases being Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent or adult onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is most prevalent in adults over the age of 35, but that demographic is starting to change; currently, more than 200,000 Americans under the age of 20 have the disease. In the past decade, the number of Americans living with diabetes has increased by 50 percent, and this epidemic is not only affecting those who have the disease but also the entire American healthcare system. The Diabetes Research Institute estimates that diabetes costs the American public more than $245 billion annually.
Diabetes occurs when the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, and as a result, the pancreas strains to produce more of it. Eventually, the pancreas can no longer maintain a healthy level of insulin production, which can lead to a number of adverse, long-term effects such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, gum infections, skin infections, and even life-threatening comas.
Studies show that the development diabetes is closely linked to diet and weight, and that the increased availability of high-sugar foods like sodas, candy, juices, sweetened teas, and breakfast cereals has led to a growing prevalence of the disease in all ages. For example, people who drink one to two sugary beverages a day increase their risk of developing of Type 2 diabetes by 26 percent compared to people who rarely consume these beverages.
Needless to say, if one is diagnosed with diabetes, monitoring blood glucose levels becomes essential, but there’s also a glut of vague and sometimes contradictory information out there regarding the best foods and drinks for diabetics. Diabetes is a complicated disease, and each facet each diabetic’s diet needs to be personally customized with the help of a specialist. Not all carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and proteins are equal, so it’s important to differentiate between the rules that need to be followed strictly and those that can be shrugged off.
Here are seven things you didn’t know about diabetes and diet.