DASH Diet: One of the Latest Trends in the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes has long been one of the most dreaded illnesses because of its impact especially on the alarming number of deaths all over the world. Millions and millions of people die not of the disease itself, but of the life-threatening complications especially when this condition is not treated.
In the UK, experts are alarmed at the rapid rise of diabetes. www.diabetes.org.uk research shows that confirmed diabetes cases has doubled since 1996 and is expected to double again by 2025 taking the total to five million people with diabetes. Mostly, type 2 diabetes.
Anyone can be struck by this kind of health condition especially if people lack the knowledge or are living an unhealthy lifestyle. Another fact is that more people are diagnosed with diabetes and die because of the complications than those who pass away due to HIV-AIDS and cancer. And as projected by the World Health Organization, the population of people with diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed with be doubled by the year 2030.
Overview of Diabetes
Because people have been alarmed about what diabetes does to the body and the fact that this health disorder may even cause a person to perish, it has raised a lot of controversies how a person develops diabetes; and of course how diabetes can be treated. Hence, people have formulated different types of speculations about the disease, and some may even sound bizarre. Here are some of the examples of the misconceptions people have about the distressing illness:
1. Eating too much sugar-containing food can cause diabetes.
FACT: This has little truth. However, this can be explained by the fact that being overweight or obese is one of the most common risk factors in developing Diabetes Type 2. Frequently eating foods high in caloric content like sweets can substantially contribute to massive weight gain; when a person’s body mass index falls high above the normal range, then the chances of developing, diabetes mellitus would also be high.
2. Only overweight people will develop diabetes.
FACT: Being overweight puts a person at significant risk to have diabetes in the future. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of risk factors that can predispose a person to this type of disease; a person’s age, race or ethnicity, family history of illness and a lot more can make a person high risk. It will be of great help if people could have information and ideas about all the possible elements and reasons that could cause them to develop diabetes because this will help them to be more cautious about their health.
3. Diabetes is contagious.
FACT: This is one of the most peculiar misconceptions of people; a person could not get diabetes simply by hanging out with a person with the disease. Diabetes is not the same as colds or flu that can be passed on to someone else through what is known as droplet infection. However, diabetes mellitus can be a familial disease because of the genetic predisposition of every member of the family.
4. Everyone in the family will have diabetes if the parents have it.
FACT: This is not true. Although a family history of diabetes is a high-risk factor, not every single family member will have or will develop the disease. Remember, there are still a lot of risk factors to consider.
5. People with diabetes are more prone to develop infections.
FACT: Diabetics are like everyone else; and the risk of having infections like flu, pneumonia or colds are the same as those who do not have diabetes. However, when a person with diabetes becomes sick, it would be more difficult to manage or control the blood sugar levels. When advised by a physician, a person with diabetes could get some flu vaccines to prevent developing them from developing such types of infection.
6. People say eating fruits is good for the body so people with diabetes can eat as much as they want.
FACT: Eating fruits can indeed work wonders in the body by strengthening the immune system and preventing infections and other health disorders because it is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, and minerals. However, fruits also contain carbohydrates that the body breaks down into sugar; so, eating too many fruits could elevate blood glucose levels much further which may, in the long run, contribute to the development of complications.
These are just some of the ideas that people believe about diabetes that need to be corrected by individuals in the medical profession so that people will know more about diabetes and what things need to be done when diagnosed with the illness.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes is a lifelong metabolic disorder which is characterised by an abnormally elevated blood sugar levels for a particular span of time. It is one of the leading causes of developing kidney failure, blindness, amputation, stroke and different forms of heart conditions. Being diagnosed with diabetes puts a significant impact on a person’s emotional, psychological, physical and financial burdens a well.
There are two types of diabetes; the Type 1, the Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes
- Type 1 is considered to be an autoimmune disorder wherein the body itself since birth produces very little insulin or sometimes none because of certain congenital abnormalities that affect the function of the beta cells of the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is diagnosed very early in life and sometimes even during the first few days of life. Patients with this kind of diabetes will need exogenous insulin injections all their life to be able to counteract the increasing level of glucose in the blood.
2. Type 2 starts with a condition known as insulin resistance. This is brought about by the constant increase in the blood sugar levels for a long time.
People with this type of diabetes develops the failure to utilise the insulin produced in the body efficiently to control glucose levels in the blood; this results in a lesser production of insulin coming from the pancreas. Because of the continuous increase in the demand for the needed hormone, the islets of Langerhans becomes exhausted and could not meet the production demand anymore. The absolute cause of this type of diabetes could still not be identified. However, there are a lot of factors that contribute to its development; family history or genetic predisposition, obesity, lifestyle and other environmental factors.
3. Gestational Diabetes is another type which is said to be caused by the insulin-blocking hormones of pregnancy. A mother develops this during the pregnancy and resolves after childbirth. In some cases, a mother with gestational diabetes develops type 2 diabetes when blood sugars are not controlled and remains elevated even after childbirth.
What are the signs and symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus?
- Excessive thirst or Polydipsia
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Frequency of urination or Polyuria
- Excessive hunger or Polyphagia
- Dryness and itchiness of the skin
- Non-healing wounds
- Blurring of vision
- Dark spots or patches on the skin especially in the nape, armpits and other skin folds (Acanthosis Nigricans)
People diagnosed with diabetes mellitus who are not compliant with their treatment or meal plan has the highest risk to develop different types of complication. These complications, in fact, are the conditions that could make the disease absolutely debilitating and fatal, however, they are produced over a span of time.
Major Complications of Diabetes
- Cardiovascular disorders that could lead to Stroke and heart failure
- Visual problems that could lead to a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy
- Infections of the skin and other soft tissues
- Numbness of different parts of the body brought about by nerve damage; a condition known as Diabetic Neuropathy
- Kidney failure caused by kidney damage due to Diabetic Nephropathy
- Amputation of the limbs caused by peripheral vascular diseases or obstruction in the blood flow
- Some elderly are also put at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease because of the poor blood flow to the brain or excessive blood sugar circulating in the brain.
These are only some of the major complications that diabetics may develop if they are not compliant with their treatment. Having this in mind, it is also important that people are aware of the different modalities of treatment for diabetes. There are a lot of different ways how “euglycemia” or healthy levels of blood sugar can be achieved.
Furthermore, there are some people with different specialities who are involved in the care for people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
l First and foremost, an Endocrinologist or a Diabetologist will be the leader of the medical team. They are the ones who is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The primary aim of the treatment is maintaining the blood glucose level within normal range and ultimately preventing the development of complications.
l The diabetic educator also plays a very vital role because they are the ones who put the doctor’s plan of treatment into action. One of the most significant responsibilities of a diabetic educator is providing health education regarding daily blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection techniques and instructions as to what should be done during sick days.
The dietitian or nutritionist is also one of the major specialities in the treatment of diabetes because the diet is one of the major components in the treatment of diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels is the primary objective of every meal plan formulated by a nutritionist, and every meal plan should be personalised for each and every diabetic patient.
It is also important to check the foot of a diabetic if they have skin problems, infections, or non-healing wounds on the foot and this role is significantly played by a foot specialist or a Podiatrist. He is the one responsible for the thorough assessment of the lower extremities including sufficiency of the blood circulation and other physical deformities that can affect the patient’s foot. If and when a patient has developed diabetic foot, the Podiatrist will be responsible for the treatment and daily change of dressings as well as wound debridement.
The eyes should regularly be checked as well through fundoscopy and this is being done by an eye doctor or an ophthalmologist specialising in the detection and treatment of retinopathy.
There may also be a need to refer a diabetic to a Nephrologist to ensure that the kidneys are being taken cared of properly.
What are the five major ways of diabetes treatment?
L DIET: It has been mentioned previously that diet plays the most important role in the treatment of diabetes. Most people are unaware that they are eating wrong types of food. Some health-conscious patients think that they are already having a healthy meal, but what most are not aware of is that they are not eating those food items in healthy proportions.
l ANTIDIABETIC OR ORAL HYPOGLYCEMIC AGENTS: There are a lot of medications that could help lower blood glucose levels. Some of the medications help stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, while some directly counteract the elevated blood sugar level; and then again some helps in the management of weight.
l INSULIN: For people with type 1 diabetes and for those who have poorly controlled blood glucose levels, Insulin is considered the best treatment, of course, with the help of a well-balanced diet.
l LIFESTYLE MODIFICATION: Diabetics who are into cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking are the most who are at risk of developing various complications. It is important that diabetics avoid these vices as well.
l PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: One of the best ways to burn up the excess blood sugar in the circulation is to have diabetics involved in different physical activities as well as sports.
Since diet plays a very critical and crucial role in the management of diabetes, diabetics should be aware of the newest trends in formulating a meal plan. One of the types of diet that have raised controversies in the treatment of diabetes is referred to as the DASH Diet. DASH Diet is primarily intended for preventing or controlling blood pressure for people with hypertension.
However, some medical specialists contemplated on the use of this particular type of diet for diabetics as well. “Would it be effective?”, this remains to be answered through actual clinical research. The most probable reason why physicians want to try these specific type of diet for patients with diabetes mellitus is that the diet plan involves a balance of the major nutrients like protein, fibre, calcium, potassium and potassium.
The major question is, “What make DASH diet effective in the prevention of diabetes?” This diet is that this type of meal plan is also a weight-loss type of diet, taking off some pounds will help the body produce more insulin and control blood sugar levels. One study that proves that DASH Diet is effective in weight loss was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
DASH Diet, on the other hand, also has a lot of benefits and advantages for diabetics. Here are some of the reasons why people diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus should try it:
- Preparing a DASH Diet plan is very convenient because there are a vast number of DASH guide presentations on how to prepare different healthy yet scrumptious meals.
- There are more than hundreds of appetising DASH Diet recipes that you could ever imagine and they are, all offered in different medical websites and what’s best about it is that the recipes can be freely downloaded.
- l Diabetics who are into the DASH Diet could still enjoy dining out with family and friends. However, when dining out, what diabetics should avoid are food items packed with tonnes of salt in it like picked veggies, cured and smoked food and limiting condiments served. Instead, diabetics should specifically ask for fresh salads and freshly-cooked meals.
DASH Diet meals are satisfying; not only does it meet the person’s satiety but the recipes are delectable in taste. Even, when satiety is met, or the diabetic feels full after a DASH Diet meal.