Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health challenges of the 21st century.

World Diabetes Day on 14 November is a poignant time to address diabetes in Australia, especially with current estimates projecting 700 million people to be diagnosed with diabetes by 2045.

Nuzest nutritionist, Megan Jones, explains the various types of diabetes and discusses actionable steps to take to manage blood sugar naturally.

Types of Diabetes

Today, we see four common types of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), Gestational diabetes (GDM) and Prediabetes (PD). Although the cause of T1DM remains unknown, what is understood is that it is an autoimmune condition, whereby blood sugar levels must be monitored closely to avoid long-term health complications.

In contrast, T2DM, formally known as “adult-onset diabetes”, is a lifestyle disease with strong connections to poor dietary intake and obesity. It accounts for approximately 95% of all diabetes cases; characterised by not only high blood sugar, but also by insulin resistance as a result of an overworked pancreas.

Our metabolic health is paramount in order to manage our blood sugar to support mood fluctuations and cravings, weight management and to avoid chronic diseases associated with the Western diet and lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight, and avoiding tobacco use as ways to prevent or delay the onset of T2DM.

A low GI diet is better for you

Low GI diets rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and lower in refined carbohydrates, red/processed meats, and sugar-sweetened vegetables reduce diabetes risk and improve both blood sugar control and triglyceride (fat) levels.

Eating green – the benefits of plant-based eating

In recent years, plants and their bioactive compounds rich in phytochemicals have been found to be effective in the treatment of T1DM and T2DM, without unwanted side effects. Nutrients such as Vitamin E, chromium, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, along with green tea extract, ginseng, cacao bean, rosemary extract, globe artichoke and psyllium husk all contain natural anti-diabetic mechanisms. In addition to a healthy balanced diet, and where blood sugar balance and overall metabolic health are primary health goals, including a premium, multi-nutrient greens powder in a convenient formulation to support glycaemic control and improve insulin sensitivity for those with diabetes.

Optimising protein for metabolic health

When it comes to our metabolic health, a combined high-protein diet and exercise regime significantly improves blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity.

Plant proteins are a good source of many essential amino acids, and vital macronutrients, and are sufficient in achieving complete protein nutrition. A good quality plant protein consumed at meal and snack times not only helps to fulfill your appetite, but also supports a lowered blood- sugar response post-consumption, and promotes calorie burning via thermogenesis. High protein diets can also support an increase in weight loss while preserving lean body mass.