Myths about diet and exercise in diabetes

The XXXIII Congress of the Spanish Diabetes Society (SED) is being held these days in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, with a session dedicated to the myths surrounding the most recommended diet and physical activity for patients. Experts favor varied and balanced diets and exercise guidelines adapted to each person.

According to Águeda Caballero Figueroa, head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the University Hospital of the Canary Islands (Tenerife)«Concepts related to ‘forbidden’ foods or ‘special’ foods, and even more so the so-called potentially ‘healing’ foods for diabetes, can contribute to errors that worsen glycemic control, also affecting the quality of life of the person with diabetes”.

For this reason, it considers it necessary to improve and expand the training of health professionals who are responsible for caring for people with diabetes. This is precisely the objective of a course given in the prelude to this scientific meeting, which delves into two of the basic pillars of diabetes treatment: diet and exercise.

“It is intended that health professionals increase their knowledge to provide people with diabetes with the necessary tools for better control of the disease. The course has a practical content to allow, for example, to prescribe exercise as one more component of the medical prescription”, indicates the Dr. Caballero, member of the Lifestyle working group of the Spanish Diabetes Society.

The course includes a cooking workshop and clinical case presentations. It explores the importance of nutritional therapy as a fundamental foundation of diabetes treatment.

The recommendations, the experts indicate, should be aimed at achieving the goal of good metabolic control, reducing vascular complications and increasing the quality of the person with diabetes. “All this through a diet based on healthy dietary choices with a varied and balanced eating pattern, which includes ‘healthy’ fats, starches, the ‘sugars’ naturally present in foods (such as fruits) and a greater consumption of vegetable proteins, among others”, affirms the specialist of the University Hospital of the Canary Islands.

Nutritional therapy, he adds, “must be individualized, taking into account aspects such as caloric intake, the patient’s physical activity and their pharmacological treatment”; and as he points out, “some flexibility in the distribution of carbohydrates with the portion counting system is also advisable.”

exercise with control

The other pillar of diabetes treatment is the regular practice of physical exercise, with benefits that far outweigh the possible associated risks. The increased sensitivity to insulin produced by exercise plays a key role in improving glycemic control, especially in type 2 diabetes. “People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing diabetes complications. diabetes and lower mortality”, remarks the expert, who recalls that “the favorable recommendation on the practice of physical exercise clearly extends to people with diabetes”.

Exercising increases glucose consumption, as muscle cells use available glucose during and after physical activity. As muscles contract, cells use glucose for energy. This can cause a decrease in its blood levels, with the consequent risk of hypoglycaemia. “The fear of hypoglycaemia associated with the practice of exercise can make you abandon your practice; health professionals must transmit to people with diabetes what are the strategies to put into practice to avoid this and other possible complications, with modification of the insulin dose or intake of foods rich in carbohydrates », he points out.

In short, it ensures that the person with diabetes can perform any exercise, although it is necessary to know how to manage diabetes to be able to do it safely and with the necessary measures to avoid any type of problem.