In a world where the number of people affected by diabetes mellitus (DM) is on the rise, it is crucial to address the root causes of this chronic condition. With over 410 million people already living with DM worldwide, projected to increase to 640 million by 2040, the impact is significant. Even in vibrant Hong Kong, approximately 700,000 individuals, or one in ten, face the daily challenges of DM, with numbers expected to surge further. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive approach that combines the power of nutrition and medical insights to tackle DM head-on.
What is Diabetes Mellitus (DM)? Definition and the two types
In healthy individuals, carbohydrates are digested into glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream with the help of insulin, a protein hormone released by the pancreas. Diabetes Mellitus, or DM, derives its name from the Greek term meaning ‘honeyed or sweet urine,’ highlighting the presence of excessive sugar excreted in the urine, reflecting the elevated sugar levels once circulated in the bloodstream.
So, what causes diabetes? In simple terms, it is impaired insulin secretion by the pancreas or impaired insulin signaling. There are two types of DM with differential causes:
Type 1 DM (~20%): Insulin deficiency caused by damage to the beta cells of the pancreas from an autoimmune disease, resulting in the inability to produce insulin.
Type 2 DM (~80%): Insulin deficiency or insulin resistance, where either the beta cells do not produce sufficient insulin or the organs do not respond effectively to insulin. This type is primarily caused by lifestyle-related factors.
While both types share the common feature of elevated blood sugar levels, the underlying mechanisms and treatment approaches differ. This blog will focus on type 2 diabetes, as it is the most prevalent form strongly associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, sedentary behavior, and poor diet.
Diabetes Remission: A Promising Path
To avoid misleading promises of a permanent cure, we prefer the term “diabetes remission” when discussing type 2 diabetes. This concept offers hope as it involves consistently maintaining blood sugar levels (specifically, HbA1C) below the diabetic range (specifically, less than 6.5%). Achieving remission means eliminating the need for diabetes medication, although there is no guarantee that diabetes won’t resurface. Nonetheless, entering remission can significantly free you from daily diabetes management and reduce the risk of complications. At Eatology, we understand the crucial role of dietary habits in diabetes remission and prevention. That’s why we are here to support you throughout your journey, providing guidance and personalized meal plans tailored to your needs.
Controlling your blood sugar levels with Low-Carb Diet
Dietary carbohydrates are the primary source of blood glucose, especially postprandial levels. The most direct way to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes is by reducing carbohydrate intake. This approach is supported by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which recognizes carbohydrate reduction as the most effective nutritional intervention. Eatology’s meal plans, such as Low-Carb or Keto-Light, are perfectly suited for this purpose. With these plans, only about 20% or 10-15% of your calories come from carbohydrates, sourced from whole foods like tuber vegetables and whole grains. The remaining calories come from protein and fat, which have minimal impact on blood sugar spikes.2,3 We can customize your menu to include foods with a low to moderate glycemic index, further aiding in blood sugar control.
Weight Loss and Treating Type 2 Diabetes
Weight loss plays a critical role in the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes. Shedding excess weight can significantly improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Accumulated fat is closely linked to insulin resistance, which progresses to type 2 diabetes. Through a combination of healthy eating, regular physical activity, and lifestyle modifications, weight loss can lead to improved glycemic control, reduced medication requirements, and a decreased risk of diabetes-related complications.
Weight Loss for the Pre-diabetic
If you have prediabetes, taking control of your health can change your trajectory. The presence of prediabetes doesn’t guarantee the development of type 2 diabetes. Research shows that even modest lifestyle changes can make a significant difference. Aim to lose around 7% of your body weight (approximately 15 pounds for a 200-pound person) and engage in moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.4 These positive changes can have a profound impact on reducing your risk and preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Eatology: Your Dedicated Weight Loss Companion
Throughout your weight loss journey, Eatology is your unwavering companion. Our meticulously crafted meal plans ensure that your total daily caloric input is lower than your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which can be calculated on our website or provided by you. By adhering to this personalized meal plan, you’ll achieve a calorie deficit, a crucial element in successful weight loss. Embrace the opportunity to take the first step towards your weight loss goals with Eatology’s innovative meal plans. Let us guide you on a transformative journey towards a healthier, more vibrant version of yourself, farther away from the grip of diabetes.
Mary C. Gannon, Frank Q. Nuttall; Effect of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Blood Glucose Control in People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes 1 September 2004; 53 (9): 2375–2382. https://doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.53.9.2375
Snorgaard O, Poulsen GM, Andersen HK, et alSystematic review and meta-analysis of dietary carbohydrate restriction in patients with type 2 diabetesBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care 2017;5:e000354. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2016-000354