When you think of the word ‘diet’ what comes to mind?
First off, it is important to note that diet refers to the food and drink that a person (or animal) regularly consumes and this can be altered to suit an individual’s specific needs, such as the desire to lose weight or manage an illness.
The food that we eat is responsible for nourishing our bodies. However, all too often we pay very little attention to what we consume and the benefits or consequences of adding or eliminating certain foods from our diet. Unfortunately, it is usually only when we become ill that we pay greater heed to certain foods, hoping that we can use them to ease our pain and discomfort or to simply improve our health.
We, in the Caribbean, are known to have a fondness for bush medicines and the various concoctions that we use when illness strikes. However, how many of us seriously consider the potential risks of certain foods that we eat regularly?
According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are 44.3 million people in North America and the Caribbean suffering from diabetes – a condition which affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. People suffering from this condition need to keep their glucose levels within acceptable limits. Their doctors usually prescribe the appropriate medication and they are advised to exercise regularly and, of course, maintain a healthy diet.
For type 2 diabetes in particular, diet has often been cited as one of the main causes of this illness. Managing all types of diabetes requires limiting the use of sugary foods such as carbonated drinks and candy, which can cause glucose levels to rise to unhealthy levels. Special attention must also be given to the consumption of carbohydrates, such as pasta, potatoes, white bread, snacks and packaged foods, which are all converted into glucose. Inability to effectively manage diabetes can put the individual’s life at risk.
Diabetes is one of the many illnesses that make it imperative that one maintains a healthy diet, and this also requires the addition or elimination of certain foods in order for the condition to be properly managed. While there are many factors that contribute to illness – genes, lifestyle choices, stress levels – the food we consume plays a significant role in the functions of the various organs in our bodies. Be mindful of what you consume and the effects it has on you as an individual.
This does not mean that we should regard foods like French fries and candy as the enemy. We simply need to be aware of our bodies’ needs and consume foods that nurture us.
Everything that you eat will either nourish your body or contribute to illness- choose wisely.