Characteristically, we all know that diabetes is too much sugar in the blood – our blood glucose meters, fasting blood sugar test, and even the A1C test, used by hospitals to measure average blood sugar level over 3 months, are all diagnostic tools.
Yet, it would be inaccurate to simply conclude that sugar causes diabetes! After all, correlation does not equate to causation. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in high blood sugar. It happens when our pancreas produces either no insulin, insufficient insulin, or ineffective insulin.
Insulin is the hormone that stimulates our cells to absorb and store sugar (glucose). In any of the cases, when the body is unable to effectively utilize insulin, blood sugar levels rise abnormally. This ripples into the general symptoms of diabetes that we notice in our daily lives: increased hunger and thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue, etc.
Diabetes may arise due to various causes. We will focus on the 2 main types of diabetes for today’s post.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a more severe and less common form of the condition. It primarily strikes children and young adults under the age of 35. For unknown reasons, the immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic cells. This immune reaction ultimately results in virtually no insulin production in the body. As a result, Type 1 diabetics must take insulin injections their entire life.
A far wider threat to most Singaporeans (and the world) would be type 2 diabetes. Also known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes usually develops in people over the age of 45. While sufficient insulin has been produced by the pancreas, the body gradually becomes resistant to insulin. This condition accounts for the majority of diabetic cases, afflicting more than 700,000 Singaporeans to date.
As our Minister for Health Mr. Ong Ye Kung has proclaimed on World Diabetes Day 2021, diabetes is a major public health concern. Nearly half a billion people around the world are living with the disease. Locally, one in three individuals in Singapore is at risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime. If nothing is done, by 2050, it is estimated that about one million Singaporeans will be living with diabetes. - That is a truly astonishing number!
Since what one eats has a major impact on blood sugar levels, food is a key player in triggering, exacerbating, and managing diabetes. Below are some ways we should recognize that food can affect diabetes:
Overload of certain foods that cause a sharp spike of blood sugar, mainly carbohydrates, places an excessive burden on insulin; restricting the amount of such foods consumed would thus aid in keeping blood glucose levels in control. We recognize that starchy noodles and rice are staples in our Asian diet, that is why Kosmode Health has specially formulated W0W noodles – a 0 starch, 0 blood sugar spike, 0 waste, protein, and high-fiber noodle! Providing an Asian staple food that meets the protein and fiber needs without the blood sugar elevation associated with starch, W0W noodles is the ONLY functional food with 0 blood sugar spike. This ultimately gives more allowance for indulgence in other sides and condiments in your diet!
Certain foods containing compounds that stimulate insulin sensitivity would also be helpful for a diabetes-friendly diet. One example would be foods that are rich in soluble fiber.
Previous research has also suggested that eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes. This works by fighting free radicals and unstable molecules that cause cell damage within the body.
That's all for today! In our subsequent blog posts, we would love to continue to share more about diet and health. If the concept of ‘Food as Medicine’ interests you, keep your eyes peeled on this site!