November is Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day.
Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose but the absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes.
Now, diabetes rates are 3-5 times higher in indigenous people. While indigenous people represent 4.3% of the population in Canada, we still have prevalence rates 3-5 times that of non-indigenous populations.
So, when I was younger I used to love sitting with older people and listening to them talk.
As we enter into a time where health problems are rampant within our people, I can recall one interaction that stuck with me.
It was the time that I listened to my closest friends grandmother talk about how the sizes of food have changed over time.
When she was young, she told us that there was one size of popcorn and one size of drink at the movie theatre. Soda and chocolate were both rare treats. Her grandparents and parents grew and canned their own whole foods for the winter. She also remarked that she hardly ever seen a person that was overweight.
Today, she said, all of these things are much different. But we can expect them to be.
We live in a world where buying a salad costs three times as much as a McDouble. We live in a world where buying “no fat” foods seems like a step in the right direction, but the fats are replaced with loads of sugar instead. We live in a world where it’s cheaper to live off of a low-nutrient but high-calorie diet with many food choices stuffed with preservative chemicals. We also live in a world where majority of jobs require little to no physical exertion, but are high in stress.
All of this rolled up in one is big burrito for physical un-wellness.
And one of the main issues is the relationship that we as consumers have been educated to have with delicious sugar. Or should I say uneducated.
With diabetes being a prevalent health implication that many of my own family members live with, there is also a lot of misinformation in the food industry surrounding sugar.
If we don’t take a look at sugar for what it is; a soluble carbohydrate that is extremely hard on the heart, we like to look at fat as the unhealthy culprit instead. When in reality, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you. So we blame fat due to the sugar industry pushing for fat to be dubbed unhealthy as sugar wishes to stay a booming industry.
People with a high fat intake — about 35 percent of their daily diet — had a 23 percent lower risk of early death and 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to people who ate less fat, said lead author and investigator with the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario Mahshid Dehghan.
“The study showed that contrary to popular belief, increased consumption of dietary fats is associated with a lower risk of death,” said Deaghan.
Fat has little direct effect on blood sugar levels as well. It is a major energy source for your body, and it helps you to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients. There are different types of fats; fats that should be avoided are generally trans and saturated fats, but all fats tend to be calorie dense.
But in the context of the development of type 2 diabetes, cutting out fat and not sugar isn’t the answer.
I have seen someone slice all of the fat off of a pork chop to later eat seven dates. Dates are full of fibre though, so that’s a healthy switch right? Wrong.
Dates are commonly referred to as a healthy food for diabetics, but if you eat seven dates — that’s 126 grams of sugar going to your blood stream. That dose of sugar doesn’t include omega-3’s or protein at all.
So what really helps to reduce your blood sugar is not eating sugar, but the food industry address tell that simple truth because almost everything has unnecessary added sugar. You just have to be smart.
The next thing that contributes to the relationship that we have with food today also lies in expenses.
We automatically assume that healthier versions of foods we love are more expensive, even if evidence has proven that they are not. This is easily done because many fast food restaurants, which mainly earn revenue by selling fast food, will overprice any “healthy” options. Those options also tend to not exactly be healthy anyhow.
In reality, whole foods tend to be inexpensive with constant sales in grocery stores to get the fresh stuff off of the shelves.
Thus, being aware of what you’re eating and how much of it you’re eating, is a definitive step in the right direction in preventing diabetes.