When I was a teenager my grandfather died from complications related to type 2 diabetes. He was the first person close to me to pass away, so it was a hard loss for me to understand. This is when my interest in health and wellness really began.
My grandfather grew up in Macedonia at a time when type 2 diabetes wasn’t as well understood. The traditional Macedonian diet, although high in vegetables such as red peppers and tomatoes, consists heavily of starchy foods like white bread and potatoes. My grandfather had a hearty appetite and was a heavy drinker and smoker for most of his life. When my grandmother passed away, we moved my grandfather to Canada to live with us and I took care of him. My role included testing his blood sugar levels with fingerpicks daily, and I became very familiar with the up and down swings of his blood sugar levels. I also noticed he would become dizzy after consuming a beer here and there. My memories of his battle with diabetes are very vivid, and I wish I knew then what I know now about this disease. No one in my family was informed enough on how we could have helped him prevent or reduce the impact diabetes had on his body. He eventually passed away due to kidney complications as a result of his diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a complicated disease with deep correlations to many other serious ailments. Type 2 diabetes is closely related to heart disease. And high blood pressure, which is a common symptom of heart disease, can also have an impact on how your kidneys function. It narrows your blood vessels and if the blood vessels in your kidneys are damaged, they may stop functioning properly. When this happens, the kidneys are not able to remove toxins and fluids from your body. The extra fluids in your blood vessels can then raise your blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle, eventually leading to kidney failure. Which is what we believe happened to my grandfather. The best way to prevent or delay this is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and treating your diabetes as well as reducing your risk of heart disease.
Canadians living with type 2 diabetes have a much higher risk of dying from heart disease at an earlier age, and heart disease is the number one cause of death for Canadians living with type 2 diabetes. As a holistic nutritionist, I believe that the proper diet and exercise can greatly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and ultimately experiencing issues related to your heart and/or kidneys. Specifically, I recommend maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough physical activity, eating a diet low in trans fats, sodium and limited alcohol consumption.
These lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for heart disease or keep it from getting worse, as well as help you manage diabetes:
- Drink lots of water! Water can help manage your blood sugar level, while sugary drinks and alcohol will spike your blood sugar levels to unhealthy levels.
- Get active. Not only is it healthy to get some exercise every day but losing even a small amount of weight (if you are overweight) can have a positive impact on your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 30 minutes of brisk walking daily is a great form of daily exercise.
- Manage stress. Stress can raise your blood pressure and lead to unhealthy behaviours, like overdrinking or overeating. If you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, try meditation, daily deep breathing, spend more time outdoors and seek support from friends, family or a therapist.
- Quit smoking!
If you have type 2 diabetes and a history of heart disease, diet and exercise may not be enough to protect your heart. Learn more about treatments that can prolong your life by visiting www.myheartmatters.ca.
This article was sponsored by two of Canada’s leading pharmaceutical research-based companies, but opinions are my own.
I’m Elle! A Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist. I’m a multi-passionate woman, but nutrition and understanding how the body works is really my passion. Through my own personal journey, I have trained my body to heal itself using strategic, natural tools and techniques. Now I’m ready to help others!
As a new Mom, I understand that wellbeing is a journey. I hope my expertise will inspire other parents to choose nutrient-rich foods and the right products to create a happy, healthy and sustainable home. Click Here to Continue Reading