Juvenile Diabetes – Tips For Kids To Help Manage It
Type 1 diabetes or T1D (also known as juvenile diabetes and insulin dependent diabetes) is a chronic illness characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta-cells of the pancreas. The main role of insulin is to allow the uptake of glucose by various cells of the body.
Glucose — a sugar — is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. In absence of insulin the glucose is not taken up by the cells and accumulates in the blood where it can cause life threatening complications.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disorder where body’s immune system is itself responsible for the damage to the insulin producing cells. Other risk factors include viral infection or diseases of the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes is rare and normally affects people below the age of 20. High levels of glucose in blood have many detrimental affects like:
- Dehydration: High levels of sugar increase urinary output leading to dehydration.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): In absence of glucose as source of energy, body breaks down fat leading to accumulation of ketones in the blood. This build up of ketones is known as “ketoacidosis” and can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
- Damage to your body: Long term complication of high blood sugar affects various organs like the nerves, kidneys, eyes and heart, damaging them irreversibly.
- Increased thirst and appetite
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dryness in mouth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased and frequent infections
All people with T1D require insulin injections at all times to control their blood sugar levels. Some may also need insulin pump. Along with insulin injections, following a a few easy tips for kids and properly planned diet is also extremely important.
The secret of a good diabetic diet is to have a balanced diet with vitamins and minerals along with a proper balance of good carbohydrates, protein and fats. Since T1D is more common in kids, tailoring a diet as per their likes is a challenge. A properly counseling of kids as well as parents is important. Here are some tips for kids which can be easily followed by them.
- Regular meal timings: Regularly eating at the same time every day is important. If a meal is skipped or delayed, you are at risk for developing low blood glucose.
- Managing weight: Your weight is a direct reflection of how much you have eaten and how active you are. Eating a consistent number of calories every day can help to control blood sugar levels and maintain body weight.
- Counting carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet, and include starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and sugars. It is important to count carbohydrates needed at each meal and snack, based upon your usual eating habits, insulin regimen, body weight, nutritional goals and activity level.
- Focus on fiber: Fiber is of great importance as it helps in controlling blood sugar levels and reducing cholesterol levels. Fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals like oats are high in fiber and should be a part of your diet.
- Protein power: Proteins are extremely important in maintaining muscle and repairing tissues. Proteins won’t raise your blood sugar. Certain proteins like meat and dairy products are high in fats so a lean form or low fat dairy products could be a better option to use in your meal.
- Stay away from fats: People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, and eating a diet low in saturated food (butter, ghee, coconut oil) is advised.
Apart from these, care should be taken to avoid certain fruits and vegetables like potato, banana, sweet potatoes, rice, refined flour, sugarcane, and multiple processed foods like jams and jellies as they are high in carbohydrates and have a high glycemic index which can raise sugar levels. Exercise and physical activity is also equally important for managing weight and controlling sugar levels. In addition, substance abuse like alcohol and smoking should be strictly discouraged in young adults.
Keeping Diabetes under check requires a lot of determination, but if you follow these simple tips for kids and get your children on-board to do the same, you can steer clear of this rising pandemic that is increasingly making its way through the younger generations.