Diabetes is a disease that spreads rapidly, while for some it is considered the scourge of the century. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 108 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in 1980 and while it was projected that the figure would reach 366 million by 2030, it reached 422 million in 2014. In Greece, 9.5% of the male adult population is diagnosed with diabetes, while the proportion of women is 8.8%.
Diabetes is a chronic illness. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin, or it produces insufficient insulin. It can also occur when the body cannot use the amount of insulin produced. There are two types of diabetes: the juvenile type 1, in which the pancreas is down-regulated in insulin production (insulin-dependent) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (diabetes mellitus), when the body cannot use insulin in a beneficial way (insulin resistance).
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 80-90% of the cases, but unfortunately the juvenile type 1 is now more frequent and at even younger ages. The excess amount of glucose produced as a result of pancreatic dysfunction can cause complications in homeostasis and other clinical conditions. Surveys show that hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose) is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, dementia, erectile dysfunction, renal failure, blindness and leg amputation.
The main symptoms that occur in pre-diabetic and diabetic patients are: polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, weakness, decreased concentration and mood, vomiting and stomach pain, numbness of the limbs, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow wound healing. Beyond genetic factors, the risk of developing diabetes is increased by obesity, lack of physical activity, high-fat diet on the one hand and low fiber, on the other hand, hypertension, increased cholesterol and, of course, heredity. The modern Westernized way of life is also considered an aggravating factor. According to data, 65% of Greek diabetics are overweight, 25% obese and 15% do not exercise.
Extremely important is the prevention of disease progression, which is achieved through diagnostic tests and changes in everyday life that can reduce the risk of developing DM. In particular, global directives recommend:
- A 5-7% of weight loss decrease the risk of DM.
- Fat must not exceed 35% of the total energy intake
- At least 1000kcal a day must come from fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts)
- 30 ‘per day physical activity
- Reducing the consumption of saturated fats (dairy products, red meat, sausages)Animal protein intake: white meat, fish and seafood
- Reducing sugar and processed foods rich in salt
- Replacement of beverages and processed juices with water and herbal tea
- Natural food for snacks (fruits, vegetables, nuts and not pastries and easy solutions such as cereal bars)
- Replace all white grains with whole grain
- Increased consumption of antioxidant foods (fruits such as berries, spices such as cinnamon and vegetables such as cabbage)
- Low glycemic index carbohydrate consumption (unripe banana instead of ripe)
- Reduced use of alcohol
- Balanced nutrition
Two widespread dietary patterns are the Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet (recommended for Hypertension), which can significantly reduce the chance of developing DM and obesity.
In addition to the aforementioned guidelines, there are natural allies in the prevention and treatment of hyperglycemia. More and more clinical studies demonstrate the benefits of cinnamon in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Clinical studies from Europe, America and Asia show that administering cinnamon as a dietary supplement reduces significant markers such as glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL in patients with DM. Such a herbal nutritional supplement is the “Cinnamon extra” of the Greek company SUPERFOODS. This product is enriched with a with specific and targeted minerals, trace elements and vitamins. It contains chromium, manganese, zinc magnesium B3 and B6 vitamins as well as antioxidant vitamins C and E.
In conclusion, a balanced diet, combined with systematic physical activity and specialized nutritional supplements such as SUPERFOODS “Cinnamon extra”, are a holistic approach to both preventing and treating diabetes mellitus.