The World Diabetes Day is the perfect opportunity to remind us of the scourge of this disease, which often progresses slowly and whose consequences can be catastrophic.
There is an urgent need to inform and educate in order to prevent what can be avoided
For the World Health Organization diabetes is one of the most serious global health concerns. Some figures:
- 1 in 11 people worldwide have diabetes
- 1 in 2 people are not diagnosed.
- The number of people with diabetes has increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 and by 2030 diabetes is expected to reach 522 million people!
And Mauritius is not at all spared. On the contrary, Mauritius is one of the countries in the world most affected by this disease:
· 300,000 Mauritians suffer today from diabetes, not to mention pre-diabetic conditions. The two put together can easily affect 50% of the population.
· More than 45% of the Mauritian population is obese.
· Diabetes is the leading cause of death in Mauritius.
There are two types of diabetes:
· Type 1 diabetes (autoimmune origin: our body destroys our own cells that produce insulin)
· Type 2 diabetes (almost always associated with obesity).
I will focus on this second type of diabetes which is most common in Mauritius. The disease can be prevented and even in some cases cured or reversed.
Why do we become diabetic?
Since obesity is a major risk factor, let’s take a quick look at the origin of weight problems: the cause is a hormone, INSULIN. When we eat, our blood sugar level rises, therefore immediately causing insulin to rise as well. The richer the meal in rapid sugars (white sugar, white flour, dairy products, etc.) that are known to have a “high glycemic index”, the greater and faster this increase will be. High intake of proteins (such as meat) also causes an insulin increase.
Insulin brings glucose into our cells and our cells draw energy from the glucose. But if the energy provided by food is more than what we need right now, this excess energy (glucose) is stored for later in the form of fat.
As a result, our body does not have the time to use its energy store (in the form of fat) and so it stores more (and one gets fatter!). This causes the insulin level to remain elevated all the time. This inevitably results in becoming increasingly overweight as we store more and more fat. If the insulin level stays high for too long, our body will become resistant to it, which means that we will always need to produce more of it, and as a result we develop what is called “insulin resistance”. This is the stage before diabetes: pre-diabetes.
Low calorie diets are therefore useless, except to slow down your metabolism and worsen this process
Being overweight is first and foremost linked to an insulin (hormonal) imbalance. If the problem comes from an excess of glucose in the cells, the solution is to bring out the glucose from the cells by
· Stop introducing glucose: stick to a very low carbohydrate diet
· Fasting: not eating at all for appropriate periods will force our body to use the glucose stored as fat.
Hence, the interest in the famous ketogenic diet (keto-diet). But let us be cautious as all ‘diets” will have some negative side effects, at the very least negatively affecting our state of mind. For short periods of time it may be helpful and healthy but not for the long term as a way of life. Reducing your consumption of bread, sugar, pastries, pasta is one thing, but eliminating it completely is another!
We can eat everything, it’s all a question of balance
Insulin and our eating habits are not the only causes of diabetes, there is another equally important factor: stress
Stress triggers a state of alert that puts our bodies in survival mode and increases the secretion of two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones work against the effects of insulin. The consequence is that when we are stressed, we tend to eat less healthy by favoring “comfort” foods such as bread, pasta, rice, biscuits, confectionary and the like. This already increases our insulin levels which action will be even more triggered because of cortisol and adrenaline. A real vicious circle. When we are stressed our body stocks up to anticipate a possible famine and this is encoded in our genes. What are the solutions?
MANAGEMENT OF STRESS AND OUR EMOTIONS
Several techniques exist and are proposed. I will focus on the simplest:
Connect to nature and the four elements
Disconnect from the mind in order to connect to the water, earth, fire and air so vivid on our beautiful island. Our island is the perfect place to find or rediscover our connection with the earth and the sky. It is the simplest technique, the most accessible and the closest to humans. Everything is at our fingertips.
We often breathe backwards, when we inhale we pull in our belly and when we exhale we inflate it. We should do the opposite! In addition, when we are stressed we breathe in a totally shallow way which aggravates the stress. Let’s learn to rest and breathe…
How can we do this?
Sit with your back straight and put your hands on your heart. Close your eyes. Slow down your breathing and breathe more deeply. Then imagine that it is your heart that breathes… the air enters through your heart and comes out from your heart. This heart inflates and deflates with the rhythm of your breath. Feel that sense of peace that slowly settles in. Do this every morning when you wake up and at night before going to bed, as well as several times during the day. There is no need to close your eyes. When you are at your desk or in the car, just tune into your breathing, slow it down and connect to your heart.
This technique is called cardiac coherence
Our heart is the organ in our body that emits the strongest electromagnetic field. When we are stressed this field shrinks and becomes totally chaotic resulting in widespread inconsistency throughout our body. This technique instantly brings our heart into coherence. When we are in coherence the stress and the emotions that go with it automatically subside. Advancing from cardiac coherence to regular meditation then becomes easy.
HEALTHY AND BALANCED DIET
Here is a list of easy and simple tips:
· Reduce your intake of white bread (it acts like sugar in the body), sugar, white rice, potatoes, pasta, pastries, sweets, industrial cereals, ice cream
· Reduce frying and avoid cooking at high temperature
· Reduce your consumption of industrial fruit juices as well as sodas with very high sugar levels
· Reduce foods containing hidden sugars: salted cookies, cold meats, canned goods.
· Cut down on dairy products (which strongly stimulate insulin)
· Eat vegetables at every meal
· Eat whole grains
· Eat oilseeds (nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, almonds, various seeds).
· Eat good fats (rich in omega 3): rapeseed, olive and raw walnut oil, choose them cold pressed, as well as fish (2 to 3 times a week.
· Reduce your consumption of saturated fats of animal origin: butter, meat fat, cold meats, hard and soft cheeses, industrial preparations, fatty cooking
· Prefer white meats, less fatty than red meats
· Add spices to foods: cumin, coriander, black pepper and turmeric, ginger and any other aromatic herbs
· Consume fresh onion (20g) and fresh garlic (they have hypoglycemic properties)
The fasting techniques dates back to the dawn of mankind and is the oldest diet and health practice in the world and is the simplest. There is nothing to do!
Fasting is a very effective method to improve insulin sensitivity and therefore prevent the onset of impending diabetes. This technique can even cure type 2 diabetes. However, there is no need to fast for a week. Many variations exist, such as skipping a meal, or not eating at all on one day of the week, or even for a few days every few months. The objective is to increase the duration between two meals. The longer the duration, the more effective it will be. But be careful, if you are already diabetic, such a practice must be done under medical supervision in order to adapt your treatment.
In conclusion, it is absolutely possible to prevent the onset of diabetes by establishing a healthy lifestyle and eating habits that are beneficial not only for this disease but for our health in general. Breathe well, enjoy our beautiful nature, eat in a balanced way and from time to time let us give our digestive system and our whole body a rest
This is the key to good health
Dr Sandra Stallaert is a Belgian medical doctor, homeopath and nutritionist, trained in Belgium and Switzerland. Her practice is based in Mauritius and she also has a remote worldwide practice.
She has spent more than 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry at senior positions before shifting to a global approach of health management.
Today, she is passionate about teaching people how to easily take care of their health.
Her global approach inspires individual responsibility and encourages people to achieve a sustainable and balanced well-being.
She has created a private group on Facebook, called “MIAM la Vie” whose objective is to share with 1001 tips and tricks to improve our health and enjoy life to the fullest !
She publishes once a week a short article dealing with different topics.
The goal is to take care of our health with JOY AND SIMPLICITY !
Tel: +230 52 50 97 76
International: +41 79 803 07 19