It is true that high blood glucose level characterizes diabetes, either due to a relative or absolute insulin deficiency. However, it would be entirely wrong to consider diabetes as just disturbances in the metabolism of carbohydrates. For optimal health, it is necessary to understand that diabetes is a far global metabolic disorder. It is also about disturbances in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and micronutrients.
In diabetes, every cell of the body suffers from metabolic and nutritional deficiencies, and worst of all, not all the traditional diagnostic methods would provide the correct picture unless the complications arise, and by that time it may be too late to correct the damage.
Diabetes and dyslipidemia
Diabetes is about dysfunctioning of liver cells and adipose tissues along with alterations in a way our body utilizes fats. Thus anyone living with diabetes has high levels of free fatty acids, triglycerides when compared to healthy individuals. High levels of bad cholesterol in diabetes is a result of a combination of metabolic errors and wrong dietary pattern. Thus diabetes is characterized by premature atherosclerosis, higher prevalence of cardiovascular events and decreased lifespan1.
Therefore, for optimal quality of life in diabetes, it is vital to correct the changes in lipid balance. Follow a diet that is low in saturated and polyunsaturated fats. While consuming more good fats (monounsaturated fats) like olive oil, fish oil.
Diabetes and proteins
Two millennia back, Aretaeus the Cappadocian, a Greek physician described diabetes as a condition characterized by “a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine.” Muscular wasting and body weight loss are the primary symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Although in type 2 diabetes such symptoms may not be pronounced, it does not indicate that there are no disturbances in protein metabolism. In any kind of diabetes, there are issues with anabolic processes, there is wasting of muscles, and healing processes are slowed down.
Thus in diabetes, there is a need to consume more quality proteins that are high in essential amino acids. Good quality protein products may help to stimulate the anabolic processes. White meat, fish, egg, low-fat milk products, and soy products maybe an option2.
Micronutrients and vitamins
In diabetes, there are significant disturbances of various micronutrients, and worst of all most common blood tests would not help. In diabetes blood tests may show optimal levels of vitamins and microelements in blood, but at the same time cells may be suffering. It happens because diabetes is about defects of transportation of various micronutrients. Thus take an example of copper, which is often high in diabetes, although, intracellular copper levels are lower than in healthy individuals.
Therefore, a person living with diabetes needs a higher intake of vitamins and minerals. A person should increase the intake of vitamin D, B-group vitamins, and should give particular attention to the consumption of lesser-known micronutrients like zinc, magnesium, chromium, copper, manganese, vanadium, iron, selenium3.
Various clinical studies have demonstrated the relationship between better health outcomes and supplementation of micronutrients.
Thus for optimal health in diabetes, it is essential to see it as a global metabolic disorder and not merely disease characterized by high blood glucose levels. Correcting blood glucose level is just one thing to do with diabetes, equally important is to pay attention to the lipids, proteins, and micronutrients.
Thus balanced diet, exercise, optimal glycemic control, and supplementation form the basis of diabetes management.
- Tomkin G, Owens D. Diabetes and dyslipidemia: characterizing lipoprotein metabolism. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes Targets Ther. 2017;10:333-343. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S115855
- Møller N, Nair KS. Diabetes and Protein Metabolism. Diabetes. 2008;57(1):3-4. doi:10.2337/db07-1581
- Kaur B, Henry J. Micronutrient status in type 2 diabetes: a review. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2014;71:55-100. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-800270-4.00002-X