Sweet treats have a way in everyone’s hearts. We have them at almost every special occasion, from weddings to graduation dates. But for those with a serious sweet tooth, one sweet treat is just never enough. Before you know it, you’ve scarfed down several pieces of baklavas, cakes, ladu, helwa etc. Not only do these tasty treats have high sugar content (carbohydrates) but also an increased fat content. We all know that too much of any things isn’t good and this goes for our food intake as well. With an increasing consumption of carbohydrates and fats, we place our selves at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and even worsening the symptoms of diabetes for those who already have the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is an endocrine condition that is manifested when an individual is unable to use insulin in their body. There is an evident reduction in insulin receptors and cell insensitivity to insulin (1). Due to this lack of insulin insensitivity, one will encounter difficulty regulating blood glucose levels back to a homeostatic state (normal range). It is an adult onset form of diabetes occurring in persons 40 years and older, indicating that it has a greater occurrence in the aging population. There are several risk factors that contribute to the incidence of this disease such as obesity, high cholesterol, being sedentary, family history, high blood pressure, stress, heritage, and impaired glucose tolerance. Older adults are also more prone to experiencing higher numbers of co-morbidities that are associated with this form of diabetes including arthrosclerosis (hardening of arteries leading to coronary heart disease), loss of vision, neuropathies (damage to nerves), and kidney failure(2).
As stated previously it is evident there are several contributing factors that are associated to type 2 diabetes. By changing some of these factors, one will acquire a better quality of life through the management of their diabetes. One of the modifiable factors is physical inactivity. The reason behind it is increase in physical activity leads to better glucose readings. This is due to a greater insulin sensitivity allowing cells to optimally utilize available insulin to take up glucose during and after exercise (1). Also when we exercise, our muscles contract and this allows cells to take up glucose to be used as energy whether there is insulin available or not (1). Psychological stress levels is another modifiable risk factor. This risk factor is most often under looked with regards to the management of diabetes. In some cases diabetes may be related to stress. This occurs when psychophysiological over reactivity (caused by stress hormones) appears to initially cause a hyperglycemic response (increase in blood sugars) (3). With people who have type 2 diabetes there isn’t enough insulin to cope with the rise in blood sugars so levels stay elevated. By helping to manage ones stress levels through numerous relaxation techniques, it can alter the physiological effects of psychological stress.
So what can you do to help better regulate your blood sugars and even prevent the risk of developing diabetes? Here are 4 tips you can start implementing to improve your quality of life:
- Engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week as recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Associate; that’s an easy 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days of the week
- Set aside 10-15 minutes of your day to simply mediate in a quite space to help reduce stress levels; this can be done during a lunch break or a few minutes before bed
- Fast on the days that are Sunnah ( Monday and Thursday); not only will you gain thawaab but you will also help lower blood sugar levels
- Reinforce healthier eating habits; this means reduce your intake of fat and carbohydrate rich foods.
Written by: Raya Haddass
Ivy, J. (1997). Role of Exercise Training in the Prevention and Treatment of Insulin Resistance and Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Sports Medicine, 24(5), 321-336.
Munshi, M., &Lipsitz, L. (2007).Geriatric diabetes. New York: Informa Healthcare.
Wilson, V., & Cummings, M. (2005).Learned Self-Regulation(3rd ed.). Toronto: York Stress Assessment and Management.