There has been a lot of recent press about the dangers of diabetes. In this short blog, we’ve highlighted a few ways to help employees minimise their risk.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition whereby the insulin your pancreas makes cannot work correctly, or your pancreas itself cannot produce enough insulin.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include; needing to pass urine frequently, feeling extremely thirsty, cuts and grazes healing slowly and getting infections such as thrush. People often perceive some of these symptoms as not being serious, meaning they ignore them, often for many years.

Over a long period of time, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet (even leading amputations in severe cases) and your kidneys.

Some ways to manage diabetes include healthy eating, being more active, and losing weight.

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Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit and vegetables are known to be healthy for people with diabetes. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

Large-scale studies have linked a Mediterranean diet with a lower chance of developing diabetes.

What is in a Mediterranean diet?

A traditional Mediterranean diet is principally composed of:

• Oily fish
• Poultry
• Fresh fruit and vegetables
• Legumes
• Olive oil

Five ways to manage Diabetes using the Mediterranean Diet

1) High vegetable content makes for a healthy and good-looking plate of food!

One of the reasons why Mediterranean diets are healthy is that they include a strong vegetable content. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, olives, onions, rocket and lettuce are not only positive for your blood glucose levels but make for very visually appealing meals too.

Most people should be able to include a moderate amount of fruit. If you are susceptible to sharp spikes in blood glucose levels (sugar highs and lows) opt for lower carb fruits such as berries.

The diet is not a restrictive diet, and so it is not linked to vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Therefore it gets further praise as a simple diet to adopt and follow.

2) Good Fats

Lay off the “trans” fats (cakes, cookies, icing, margarine, microwave meals etc). The golden rule here is that we eat whole, unprocessed foods, as nature intended.

A Mediterranean diet typically includes a good intake of fat from a diverse set of foods including feta, halloumi and mozzarella cheeses, goats milk, yoghurt, olive oil, avocado, oily fish and nuts.

The diet is often recommended by health charities and the NHS because it has a higher proportion of unsaturated to saturated fats.

3) Varied Protein

Beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry and a moderate amount of red meat provide protein.

It’s worth noting that some diets can be too high in protein (proportionally) meaning you miss out on vital micronutrients found in fruit and veg.

Try and vary your meat sources and don’t rely on whey (protein) shakes and chicken breasts 7-days a week.

4) Be careful with your Starches!

While the thought of a baguette in France or a carbonara in Italy may be enticing, do consider; not everyone with diabetes can handle starchy foods as well as others so stick to portion sizes that won’t significantly raise your sugar levels.

Do not overload on the bread and pasta: aim for the root vegetables if you feel you need a dense carbohydrate.

Earn your carbs! Plan the higher starch meals in/around exercise, when you’re experiencing lower blood sugars.

5) Focus on Fresh

You do not need to stick to just having Mediterranean dishes but should embrace the spirit of the diet which is to focus on fresh rather than processed foods.

By steering clear of packaged foods with long shelf lives, in favour of fresh seasonal veg, you’ll be sure to thrive.

The golden rule is that you shouldn’t need to read the ingredients. You should know what is in the dish. Every component. No questions needed.

Why not try visiting your local greengrocer or farmers market. Mix it up, set challenges, like cooking with a new vegetable each week.

Employers can help their workforce by supplying fresh fruit and vegetables in the workplace and providing nutrition based seminars. Contact us to find out more.

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