In a couple of days’ time it’s Halloween, the day most synonymous with overindulging on sugar and sweets. Will your kids be out tricking treating? Are you planning to open the doors to the marauding neighborhood packs?
I have no problem with celebrating the fun, pagan holiday, but I am concerned about the sugar-fest that comes with it, especially when so many young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is when the cells of the body don’t respond to insulin, and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. It was practically unheard of 20 or 30 years ago for kids so young to develop this condition, but with the rise in obesity in children it’s increasingly diagnosed in young people.
The rise of type 2 diabetes
Currently one in four children in Australia is now classified as overweight or obese. In the US obesity rates in children have tripled since the 1970s. This is also the first generation where parents may outlive their children.
The crazy thing is that through diet and exercise, type 2 diabetes is so easily preventable.
Growing up we only got a sandwich and a piece of fruit at school, now many kids are having something sugary in their lunchbox every day. There’s not enough protein in their diet either – often it’s a case of sending kids off with a quick breakfast fix and getting them out the door. Package food is full of sugar, salt and preservatives – which also causes the liver to work hard.
Its critical that we change the lifestyle factors that might lead to developing early-onset diabetes. Once you have it, it’s very hard to turn the disease back. As a society we should be looking more at prevention, rather than cure.
According to Ayurveda there are 20 forms of diabetes – four are due to the vata (or air quality); six result from pitta (fire) and another 10 are caused by kapha (earth) qualities. Ayurveda has treated diabetes the same today as it did 5000 years ago – it’s all about treating the cause and not the symptoms.
What can we do about it?
Because diabetes is primarily a kapha disease though it’s important to avoid a diet which increases kapha dosha – so that means cut down on refined sugar, fats, pastry, potatoes, grains and rice.
Here are some more tips to help reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes:
Reduce sugar intake: Instead of a sugar-laden cereal, go for a low GI porridge and switch sweats for fruits – just be careful of so-called healthy snacks as they are often laden with sugar. Sugar is addictive, it releases serotonin (the body’s natural hormone for relaxation).
Avoid soft drink and artificial sugars: The pancreas cannot tell the difference about the fat or real sugar. A major Cambridge Study found that cutting out just one sugary soft drink a day, could reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 25 per cent. Meanwhile another study has found that many smoothies and juices contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar per 200ml – just one teaspoon more than full fat Coke.
Go for natural foods over processed: Processed foods tend to be high in sugar, better to eat foods made from scratch so you know the ingredients used. This way you also get more fibre and this cleans your digestive system and makes you full.
Whole grains: Avoid white bread, instead go for a loaf with grains and seeds so the stomach has to do some work – otherwise it becomes lazy, quickly absorbs the sugar and that is where disease starts happening.
Greens: Bring in more bitter foods this will help cleanse the system naturally. It’s important to eat plenty of fresh veggies, yet still 96 per cent of Australians are not eating five serves a day.
Exercise: We need at least 30 minutes of physical activity three to four times a week. This doesn’t just have to be sweating it out at the gym or swimming laps – make it fun and mix it up, maybe a brisk walk on the beach, playing a family game of tennis or yoga.
In the real world
I’m all about moderation, and not starving your body or mind – so my best advice for Halloween is just get through the holiday without too much damage. Make sure you take the time to explain to children why they shouldn’t overdo sugar and sweets – but if they must have some, just keep it check. Try to stretch out their treats for weeks, maybe let them choose one each week to put in there lunch box. This way halloween will last for months and our bodies will love you for it.
If you want some more clarity on how you and your family are doing health-wise, now you can find out! The Health Spectrum is a world first health test that I’ve created with internationally-acclaimed wealth expert Roger Hamilton. You can check it out here Healthspectrumtest.com
Next week we’ll start a four-week information series on exercise, look forward to sharing it with you.