Abu Dhabi, UAE: Combating diabetes has been a much anticipated health issue in the UAE with health care professionals calling for greater awareness on diet.
In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked the UAE 16th in diabetes prevalence and this year, the organisation noted that 19.3 per cent of the UAE population suffers from the disease, mostly type 2, which can be controlled through a healthy lifestyle.
Therefore, health care experts today are urging for healthier, more traditional diets such as the Mediterranean or Japanese, while noting man-made chemical-filled foods, also known as ‘junk’ should be banned, or at least avoided.
Carine Tanios, senior dietitian at Nutri Nutrition Centre in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times that nutritional diet is not just a temporary regime, but a lifelong goal, if one wishes to avoid diabetes and deadly diseases.
“A diabetic must first take care of the carbohydrates, in terms of meals and timings,” she advised.
“Carbohydrate counting of the meal is vital. It should be constant and regular.”
Tanios noted that food must be low in fat, particularly saturated fats. “Diabetics are prone to heart-disease, so meals must be low in fat and cholesterol.”
Fibre should, however, be increased because “it helps decrease the absorption of sugar from the meal.” It is also important to increase foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, such as salmon, canola oil, walnuts and soybeans.
Tanios pointed out that although diet is key, physical activity should also not be neglected because weight loss helps improve blood sugar levels.
“Walking helps decrease Insulin resistance, which means the patient will require less medication to control the diabetes.”
However, as one’s insulin becomes more active during sport, meaning that the blood sugar will decrease and dizziness and shakiness occur, diabetics should take into consideration hypoglycaemia.
“The deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream means they must always carry a source of carbohydrate with them in case of emergency.”
The dietitian noted that as well as monitoring blood sugar, it is also critical to monitor the Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is an indicator of blood control over the previous three months.
She pointed out that awareness must continue to be raised, as diabetes is a proven contributor to various deadly diseases, including cardiovascular, which according to a study by the WHO in 2014, has had a death rate of 30 per cent for 9,700 people in UAE.
© Khaleej TimesApr 2016