It is sad but true that cases of diabetes in kids are increasing day by day. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, which results in high blood sugar level in blood. Blood glucose also known as blood sugar is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the glucose in your blood get into your cells to be used for energy.
If somebody has diabetes, their body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes the way it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Without insulin, glucose can’t get into your cells and your blood glucose rises above normal.
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Types of diabetes in kids
Type 1 diabetes:
Also known as juvenile diabetes, this is the most common diabetes in kids and teens. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin. Without insulin, too much sugar stays in the blood.
Types 2 diabetes:
Not very common in kids type 2 diabetes is due to the wrong lifestyle, food habits and increasing cases of obesity in kids. Children have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if they are overweight or have obesity, have a family history of diabetes, or are not active.
Symptoms of diabetes in kids
Symptoms of diabetes in kids can start all of sudden and you should contact your doctor immediately as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms.
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unusual increase in appetite
- Heavy breathing
- Sudden weight loss ( foods to manage healthy weight in kids)
- Fruity smelly breath
- blurred vision or other eyesight problems. (how to improve eyehealthy?)
- Unusual behavior or children become more moody
- Lack of energy or drowsiness
- Slow healing sores
Causes of diabetes in kids
Type 1 diabetes is a result of the pancreas not producing any insulin. This is due to an autoimmune reaction where the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.The exact cause of type 1 diabetes in kids is still unknown. Following are some of the risk factors for type 1 and 2 diabetes in kids.
Genetics: family history or genetics plans an important role and is the major cause of both type 1 and 2 diabetes in kids. Kids with a family history of diabetes are at higher risk.
Certain viruses: Exposure to various harmful bacteria and viruses that destroys insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas.
Obesity or lifestyle: This is the most important cause of type 2 diabetes in kids. Usually it is common in adults but nowadays there is a sudden increase in cases of type 2 diabetes in kids. Overweight and less active kids are at higher risk. (How to help kids with obesity?)
For the diagnosis the doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. Also he will consider the family history of diabetes. After that the child has to undergo some blood and urine tests.
Blood test: one is a fasting blood test in which a sample is taken at least 8 hour of not eating and the other is a random blood test when there are symptoms of increased thirst, urination, and hunger.
Urine test: They may test your urine for glucose or chemicals your body makes when you don’t have enough insulin.
However there is no cure yet for diabetes, but with some change in lifestyle and precautions such children can live a normal life. These are some common things that a child with diabetes should do.
- Regular blood sugar testing to check the glucose level in blood.
- Take insulin either by injection or by insulin pump(as instructed by the doctor).
- Healthy eating that includes green veggies and fruits.
- Make sure that the child does not skip the meal.
- Regular physical workout.
Foods for kids with diabetes
Some foods affect the blood sugar level directly by raising it while others help them to manage the blood sugar level. As parents it is our responsibility to choose foods wisly for kids with diabetes. Following are some foods that you can include in your child’s diet.
Almost all vegetables are rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is considered as healthy food for children especially if the child has diabetes. They are rich in different types of fiber, which in are important for diabetes management and overall health. When you eat these foods, your digestive system breaks them down into sugar that enters your bloodstream. Insulin helps use up the sugar and lower your blood sugar levels again. Some of the vegetables are broccoli, carrot, spinach, tomato and cucumber.
Fruit provides vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and many phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants), which helps kids’ bodies to stay healthy. Fruits being rich in antioxidants boost a child’s immunity and give sustainable energy. Some of the foods with low sugar content are orange, grapefruit, raspberries, kiwis, apple, peach, plum and watermelon.
Main dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are the main source of calcium for small kids. Dairy foods are essential for the good health of kids and form an important part of a complete balance. Nonfat, low-fat and full-fat dairy products are available in the market. Check the label before buying, as a diet low in saturated fat is recommended for children with diabetes.
Whole grains are nutritious foods for kids as they are powerhouse of energy and rich in carbohydrates, protein, iron, fiber, iodine, magnesium, zinc, folate, riboflavin and vitamin E. All these nutrients help in overall growth and development of kids and manages the blood sugar level. Some of the whole grains are: quinoa, rice, brown rice, sorghum, millet, amaranth, teff, arrowroot, oats and buckwheat
Nuts and seeds:
It is recommended that diabetics should eat good carbs, fats, and healthy proteins, but in small portions. Flaxseeds/linseeds, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, chia seeds, etc are the best nuts and seeds for diabetics as they reduce and regulate the insulin levels in the body.
Herbs for diabetes in kids
Ashawagandha: Studies suggest that ashwagandha helps to lower blood sugar levels. One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Also, several human studies have suggested that it can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. Additionally, in a 4-week study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared with 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo.
Mulethi: Mutethi has a powerful ingredient that has anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties called amorfrutins. This helps in reversing and controlling the high sugar level in the blood. Mulethi is also a good source of antioxidants and therefore helps in preventing various diabetes related diseases. According to some research, licorice helps in controlling the constant sugar cravings.
Brahmi: Brahmi leaves are known for antihyperglycemic properties and are widely recommended for diabetics. Studies reveal that regular consumption of Brahmi leaves can improve the symptoms related to diabetes and help in leading a healthy life.
Turmeric: It has an active compound called curcumin which has shown to improve sugar.
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