The insidious thing about diabetes: It doesn’t hurt, it’s often only diagnosed years later, and if left untreated, it leads to massive long-term damage. However, type 2 diabetics can definitely keep their sugar levels in check and thus take the prognosis in hand.
Half a million people in Switzerland live with diabetes. In healthy people, the pancreatic hormone insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood. Insulin opens the way for sugar to exit the blood and into the cells. In type 2 diabetics, insulin does not work sufficiently, cells absorb sugar from the blood only partially, that is, insufficiently. The result: Sugar levels fluctuate and are often too high.
Over the years, sugar attacks blood vessels and nerves. Type 2 diabetics therefore have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke with low blood sugar levels for many years, suffer from circulatory disorders in the feet and wounds that heal poorly and are at risk of going blind due to damage to the retina.
With movement against diabetes
Kantonsspital Aarau, Monday morning at half past eight. It’s raining cats and dogs. And although we are in the middle of spring, the thermometer marks a modest ten degrees. Anyone who voluntarily steps out of the way under these conditions obviously has a clear goal in mind.
Seven people, wrapped in raincoats and armed with walking sticks, march briskly through the streets in and around the Aarau Cantonal Hospital. There are five women and two men from the local DIAfit group. All suffer from chronic metabolic disease diabetes and participate in the 12-week diabetes rehabilitation program. “The goal of the program is to encourage those affected to engage in sporting activities and a healthier diet,” explains project co-promoter and cardiologist Hugo Saner. “Weight reduction is not the top priority. I always say that it is better to be ‘fit and fat’ than ‘not fit and thin’. “Good physical shape is more important in the long run than being as thin as possible. Hugo Saner is convinced.
Today type 2 diabetes is already referred to as a pandemic. Our unhealthy Western lifestyle is considered to be the reason for the sharp increase in people affected.
Hugo Saner is convinced that the disease is not yet taken seriously enough: “I often hear from patients that they have been told they have ‘some sugar’. There is no such thing as sugar! This is diminishing.” The earlier the causes are addressed, the greater the chances of not “reaping” massive damage in the long term.
The main risk factors are a lack of exercise and a preference for a diet rich in carbohydrates, resulting in obesity. The advantage of this is that everyone has the opportunity to spin the wheel on their own.
Healthy peer pressure with DIAfit
And only training in the group obliges. Skipping the walking lesson due to bad weather is out of the question for Annelise Stampfli. During a routine checkup last year, her blood sugar levels were too high. An incidental finding, as often happens in diabetics, since the disease has not caused any symptoms and has not hurt for years.
“I retired in the fall and the surprising diagnosis suddenly made it clear to me that I really wanted to enjoy the next phase of my life in good health for as long as possible,” says Annelise Stampfli, “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.” Now he meets three times a week for group sports. And she rarely reaches for her favorite dessert, chocolate.
She proudly recounts her first successes: “In four months, I lost ten kilos through a change of diet and regular exercise, I feel better and I was able to cut down on medications. My doctor says blood sugar levels are now acceptable. However, there is no cure. Those who fall back into the old patterns also worsen their chances of success and blood sugar levels.
For Type 2 diabetics it takes a lot of discipline and motivation to be life-long drivers. Family history helped Franziska Reuss: “I saw firsthand how a relative had to have his toes removed, then his foot and then his entire leg. That scared me. ”Imagine the 59-year-old hasn’t forgotten.
“Two-thirds of DIAfit participants benefit in the long term from improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels, weight reduction and increased performance.” After evaluating around 200 participants, Hugo Saner draws a conclusion: “The sooner diabetes is detected and the sooner lifestyle changes, the better the chances of staying healthy in the long term.” You can do a significant part of this on your own.
A diabetic diet makes no sense, moderation does
Foods that raise blood sugar levels because they provide a lot of energy in the form of sugar include all grain-based foods such as bread, pasta, cakes and pastries, as well as fruit, milk and yogurt. Fats, proteins and fibers, on the other hand, have no effect on blood sugar.
People with diabetes can eat almost anything – a true diabetic diet is considered obsolete. It is important to eat healthy and balanced. As with healthy people, there should be a lot of vegetables and salad on the menu. There should also be fruit and whole grain products, lean meat and lean fish: in this way the body gets all the important nutrients it needs.
For overweight people with type 2 diabetes, weight reduction through calorie savings of fat is the primary goal to improve the metabolic situation.
Additionally, a careful look and partial avoidance of carbohydrate-rich foods can help keep blood sugar levels in check. Because carbohydrates serve us as energy donors in the form of glucose and affect the blood sugar level.
Surprising to many: Carbohydrates are not only found where they are expected to be (e.g. in sugar cubes), but also in granola or ketchup. Many carbohydrates are found in fruit, most in bananas and less in berries. And there are also a lot of carbohydrates in nuts like lychees, persimmons, and pomegranates. Special tables help those affected to distinguish “good” from rather “bad” foods.